DIY · Tutorial

Errybody Loves a Rope Bowl – dying tutorial

I totally caught the rope bowl fever at the end of last year. I made about 15 for Christmas gifts. They are really simple and super fun to make!


I used a combination of tutorials from Bernina’s We All Sew blog (here) and this one from Craft Stylish to make both baskets and bowls with and without handles. I used 100% cotton clothesline that I found on Amazon. A friend of mine told me that she was able to find some cheaper in the hardware department of WalMart.

I used different types of thread (matching, contrasting, variegated) to give each bowl their own look. One thing to be prepared for before starting one of these is it takes a LOT of thread! Like a LOT! I had quite a few bowls that had different colors of thread because I simply ran out of the color that I started with. If you want to use the same color thread throughout your project, I suggest having 2-3 spools of the same color thread (maybe fewer if you use large spools) and 2-3 maybe 4 bobbins already made.

I had read about people dying the rope before making the bowls, so I wanted to give that a try.  All the tutorials I read for dying rope used a bucket or laid the rope on plastic and poured the dye over the rope. I’m all about reducing the amount of cleanup needed after a project. I’m also really good at making huge messes and I could just see myself covered in blue dye after if I tried one of these techniques. So I was hesitant to try dying rope at all. That was until I remembered that I had dyed a dress a few years ago using my washing machine. It was pretty simple, I didn’t make a huge mess, and cleanup was pretty easy.

So I bought some dye and went for it. The bluish bowls pictured above are made from rope I dyed using the Teal powdered dye by Rit. I dyed about 100 feet of rope at a time and I have a top-loader washing machine. I’ve dyed rope three separate times now. I’ve learned a few things in the process. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set the washer to hot wash and warm rinse and fill it enough to cover the rope (but don’t put the rope in yet.
  • I used some of the hot water coming out to fill the washer to fill a glass mason jar about halfway.
  • Use this jar to mix the powdered dye with the warm water.


**NOTE I skipped this step the first time and just poured the powder directly into the water in the washer. Later that day I noticed that there was teal dust EVERYWHERE in the laundry room! It luckily wiped off easily and didn’t stain anything, but it made quite a mess. So don’t skip this step!

  • The powder dissolves easily in the hot water. There is no need to stir it with something (this cuts down on what you have to clean up later), I just swirled it around in the jar a little before carefully pouring it into the water in the washing machine.
  • Once the dye seems to be evenly dispersed in the water, add your rope.


  • You can use the bottom of the jar to push the rope down into the water so that it is totally covered by the water. If the washer is still filling at this point, you can use the clean water pouring in to rinse the jar.


  • Let the rope soak in the hot water and dye for 30 minutes. You can let it soak for longer depending on the saturation of color you’re going for.
  • After 30 minutes of soaking, run the washer through a regular rinse cycle.
  • Once that first cycle is over, run it through another rinse cycle (do not add detergent). This ensures that the color will not run.
  • Once that cycle is over, lay or hang the rope somewhere to dry. I used my clothes drying rack from IKEA. The rope comes out of the washer pretty tangled up, but I never had any issues with it getting caught on the agitator or anything. I lay it out to dry right out of the washer, then untangle it once it’s dry (takes about 24 hours). It’s way easier than trying to untangle it when it’s still wet.


  • Now it’s time to clean up. This is my least favorite part of any project, but your washing machine does most of the work. Set your washing machine to hot and the highest water level setting and add 1 cup of bleach. As your washer is filling, wet a rag in the water/bleach mixture and wipe down the underside of the washing machine lid and anywhere else you see any dye residue. And that’s it! I LOVE how easy it is to clean up! You can even add some detergent and toss that rag you just used into the washer right away!

In addition to the Teal dye, I’ve also used the Royal blue. This turned out more purple than blue, but I really like it!

Please ignore the un-trimmed threads. This was the first rope bowl I made to keep, so I was really excited to finish it!

Hope this is helpful! Thanks for reading!



2 thoughts on “Errybody Loves a Rope Bowl – dying tutorial

  1. I have done this before. I made hanks like dying yarn and dipped it in a bucket. I did some 2 colors and some ombre. I also made some bowls 1st and then dyed. That gives a diffrent effect. I like how you make the loop on the edge of your bowl.


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