Rope Basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial | Yellow Spool

For the last seven years, our family has hopped around twelve times.  Twelve.  We were moving every six months or so, and when your life is that transitional, you don’t exactly let yourself root in anywhere and make meaningful connections with people.  I was getting by on friendly smiles and small talk, essentially, for years.  That is, until this last move,  This time, we knew we’d be staying put for two years.  For the first time since college, I allowed myself to get to know people – to be vulnerable.  I invested myself into new relationships, and let me tell you, it’s been good for the soul.  It has felt real.  Raw, even.

One of these new, deep-rooted friendships had been on my mind a lot.  She was going through some difficult circumstances, and even amongst her own pressures, she was making time for me, and for my children.  She’s a good egg, this one.

Sometimes there’s just no better way to express your gratitude for a person than to put pen to paper and tell them in a note.  And even then, sometimes words come up short.  When this happens, you make a simple basket to hold said note, as a gesture of thoughtfulness and hope that they understand what you’re trying to say.  

I recently shared with you how to make your own rope using fabric remnants, and today I will be showing you how to use that rope to make a basket (or a coaster/hot pad/rug, whatever).

1. Start by coiling the end of the rope until there is about a 2″ diameter, and pin through all the layers of the coil. Sew a large X across the coil, to hold it in place.  This will just make the beginning of the process a bit easier to sew in the next step.

rope basket tutorial

2. Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch.  With the tail of your coil coming down from the right (pictured above) begin sewing the coil together. 

rope basket tutorial

If you are using handmade rope, it might have a bit of stretch to it.  In order to keep the basket flat, you will want to twist the rope tighter, if possible, as you sew.  This won’t be applicable with store-bought rope. 

rope basket tutorial

3. When the base of the basket is the size you’d like, tilt the entire base onto its side and continue sewing in the same way.  This will form a lip and begin the sides of the basket. 

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

4. When the basket is as tall as you’d like it, tuck the rope tail into the basket and sew back and forth over the end a few times.  Cut off the excess rope. 

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

Steps 1 & 2 can be used to make coasters, hot, pads, or even a rug.  If you run out of rope, you can always twist more onto the end as you go.

Who doesn’t love a great basket? And they make for lovely gift baskets, too!

rope basket tutorial

rope basket tutorial

Rope Making tutorial

rope making | yellow spool

It’s been much too long since I’ve added a tutorial to the Yellow Spool blog!  This is one that I’ve been meaning to share for a long time.  Rope making.  It’s such a useful skill to have, whether you want to make rope for a project, or you need to make rope in an emergency, this is the way to go! There’s no need to buy any materials, because it’s no-sew, and can be made with scrap fabric, or even your tattered old clothes!

rope making - step 1

Start by cutting your material into strips.  For this rope, I used 1″ strips, but you can make it smaller or larger.  Experiment!  Tie your first two fabric strips together to begin.

rope making - step 2rope making - step 3

In order to get the rope to stay twisted together, you need to twist each strip in one direction, and then twist them together in the opposite direction.  I like to twist my individual strips to the right, and then twist them together right-over-left.  You may find it more comfortable to twist in the opposite direction (twist strips left, twist together left-over-right).  Be sure to twist tightly, to make the rope as strong as possible!

rope making - step 4

When you near the end of one of your strips, you will need to join a new piece.  To do this, start by cutting a small vertical slit into the ends of each strip of fabric.  Pull the new strip (in this case, the orange), through the original strip (the mint color).

rope making - step 5

Then pull the other end of the new strip through itself, creating a loop.

rope making - step 6

Carefully pull from both ends of the joint, and you can continue to twist your rope as usual.

rope making - step 7rope making - color connection

See how clean and strong that “seam” is? All that’s left is to turn on Netflix, grab a snack, and keep twisting!

rope making | yellow spool

learning nativity

This has been one of my most popular posts, so I’m revisiting it today, even though I realize Christmas is in four days and it’s a little late in the season… woops.

A nativity set is one of the fundamental Christmas decorations.  Problem – most of them are fragile, and my little hooligans have Inspector Gadget hands that would manage to destroy a ceramic nativity no matter how high I put it.  So I set out to find a way to make a simple wooden nativity, and it turned out better than I had even hoped!

Not only is it durable, but it can also be used as a learning tool to help teach my kids more about the nativity as they play.

Each piece has six different parts (one on each of the six sides of the block): an image, title, block letter, description of their role in the nativity, scripture reference(s), and a characteristic or fact.

When I decided what I wanted to do I turned to google for a simple method to transfer a printed image onto wood.  Bingo.  The tutorial found HERE was exactly what I was looking for.  I did have to make a few adjustments because my hp printer doesn’t have waterproof ink like her epson does, and I was going to be printing images onto all six sides, rather than just one, but it still worked well.


nativity template FOUND HERE.
white cardstock
foam brush
washable Elmer’s glue
1 1/2″ Wooden blocks (the nativity is 11 pieces, but get a few extra to practice on)- I got mine at Hobby Lobby, they come in sets of 6
Mod Podge
inkjet printer


① Using your foam brush and Elmer’s Glue, coat 3 pieces of cardstock with a thin, smooth layer of glue.  Just glue one side of each page.  Let it dry. I was super nervous about running glue through my printer so I let mine dry overnight, but it looked ready after about 2 or 3 hours.  If you’re nervous about this, I bet transfer paper would work instead of the Elmer’s glue method.
② Print the mirror-imaged nativity template using an inkjet printer, with the image printed onto the glued side of the paper.  Each piece of the nativity is organized into columns, so cut out the pieces for your first block.
③ Coat one side of your block with a thin layer of Mod Podge and press your image with PRINT SIDE DOWN onto the Mod Podge. Hold it firmly in place for about ten seconds.
④ Label your first piece to help keep track of the direction the images are in on your block, and fold the corners out to help you peel the paper away after it’s dried.  Don’t peel it off yet.
⑤ Prep all six sides of the block and let it dry for 12 hours.  You may want to test one block before you do the entire nativity set, in case you need to make some adjustments.  I did.
⑥ After it’s sat to dry for 12 hours, peel away each piece of paper.  My printer (hp) doesn’t have waterproof ink, so I tried to do as much of it without water as possible, but you can try dipping it in water before you peel the paper away to see how your ink holds up, water makes it easier to peel.
⑦ If you have any stubborn paper residue just get it a little bit wet and use your fingertip to peel it off.

If it works how you’d like, do the same thing to the rest of your nativity pieces, and your nativity is ready to play and display.  All in all, it takes about a day, but almost all of that is wait time for the elmer’s glue and mod podge to dry, the actual work is really quick and easy.

click here for the mirror imaged nativity pdf
click here for the original nativity pdf

Quick question for you all:  I have access to a laser engraver that could engrave these images onto the wooden blocks, and I’ve toyed with the idea of making some to sell.  Do you think there’s a market for that?


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bandana dress \\ yellow spool

bandana dress

When I was pregnant with Lenna I had a little stash of random bandanas that I was just dying to make into tiny little dresses.  When I started to look for tutorials for bandana dresses, all I could find were patterns that used more than one bandana.  The problem was, none of my bandanas matched.  I laid a bandana out and stared at it.  It seemed like enough fabric to cover a tiny little baby, I just needed to find a way to do it.

That was when I came up with my shirred bandana dress.  I realized if I cut a hole from the center of the bandana for a waistband, I could make a “circle skirt”, or in this case, a square skirt, using a single bandana!

The shirring at the top of the skirt makes it stretch enough for your little one to wear for a LONG time.  I would use the same dresses for one baby to wear as a dress, and the other to wear as a skirt.

I made a ton of them and gave them away as baby gifts, because they cost about $1 to make, and can be put together in about 15 minutes.

I haven’t thought about these dresses for a long time, because my girls have grown out of them, but then I saw some bandana fabric recently and thought, I can make my own, bigger bandana, and make a bigger bandana dress!

And I did just that.


1 Bandana (or a piece of square fabric)
Matching thread
Elastic thread
Ribbon (for dress option)


Start with your bandana.  If you’re making a dress/skirt for an infant, a standard bandana works perfectly.  If you’re hoping to make one for a little girl, older than about 12 months, you can make a larger “bandana” by sewing a double hem around all four sides of a piece of square fabric, or by zigzagging 4 bandanas together into a larger square.

Use a bowl with a circumference slightly larger than your child’s waist to cut a circle from the center of the bandana.

Double hem around the raw edge of that circle using a zigzag.  It doesn’t matter if this looks perfect (it won’t because you’re folding under a rounded edge), because it’s going to be gathered and no one will ever know it.

Wind elastic thread onto a bobbin.  You’ll want to pull the elastic slightly, about 1/4 of it’s stretching capability, as you wind it.

Set your stitch length to the longest setting.  Start at the very upper edge of the waistline, and start sewing in a spiral, using the edge of the presser foot as your guide.  Spiral around 6 or 8 times, until you have a nice little “waistband”.  Reinforce at the beginning and end of the spiral.

That’s it!  Unless you want to add some quick ribbon straps, which really work best with the infant size.


DIY snap suit

Every time I make/ buy a swimming suit for my babies, I add snap tape.  Why the baby bathing suit industry does not add snaps in standard is a mystery to me.  Have you ever tried to finagle a wet suit off of a squirmy baby to change their diaper?  Worst.

Luckily, you can buy snap tape by the yardage at most fabric stores.  No fancy tools needed.

1. Cut a piece of snap tape to size.
2. Cut the suit open at center-crotch (is it wierd to say that?)  There’s no need to finish the raw edges here, because the knit material will not fray.
3. Move the needle all the way to the left, and sew around the edges of the snap tape to secure it to either side of the suit.

This year I have one potty trained, and one potty training.  It really doesn’t matter if they’re in diapers or not, these snaps are so unbelievably convenient.  I don’t know how we’d ever get through the summer without them.

I linked up here >>