Bowling Tutorial

Bowling Tutorial
Let's Make A Clothesline Bowl

You Will Need
  • Ami-Dyed Clothesline
  • Water-soluble thread (I forgot to throw that in the picture)
  • Two 500-yard spools 30 weight thread, variegated is fun
  • Microtex size 90/14 needles
  • Sturdy zig-zag sewing machine, cleaned and oiled (if required)
  • "Open-toed" appliqué foot, such as the Bernina #20 (or regular straight-stitch foot, but you will be limited to sloping or flared bowls. It's much harder to make bowls with straight sides using a foot without an "open toe.")
  • A bunch of bobbins (I used FOUR bobbins and part of a fifth on this bowl!)
  • Tape measure or small ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Aleen's tacky glue. The new glue pen is fabulous!


Step #1: Blunt-cut the end of the clothesline and wrap the end with water-soluble thread to keep it from raveling.


Step #2: Coil clothesline counter-clockwise as tightly as you can. Wrap the coil with water-soluble thread to keep it from unwinding.


Stick a pin in the coil to use as a "handle" in Step #3.

Step #3: With a WIDE zig-zag (about 3/16"), begin sewing the coil. Start at the very center. BE VERY CAREFUL!

Your fingers are dangerously close to the moving needle! If you do not have sufficient control of your sewing machine to take ONE STITCH AT A TIME, hang it up; this project isn't for you.

At this point, the coil is not large enough to be moved along by the feed dogs. You must rotate the coil using your fingers and the pin. BE VERY CAREFUL! Keep your fingers away from the feed dogs too. And don't sew over the pin!


Step #4: After about 20 stitches, remove the pin. Once the coil is about the size of a quarter the feed dogs will engage. You must still manually rotate the coil throughout the entire sewing process.

See why an open-toed foot is the best to see what you are doing? Did I mention that your fingers are incredibly close to the moving needle!




Keep the stitch centered between the toes of the foot as shown.

Feed the clothesline from your lap, unrolling it as needed.

DO keep the clothesline from twisting. It should be sewn to the growing coil without twists. If you notice it begin to kink, stop and untwist it.

Push the "new" clothesline firmly against the coil as you rotate the coil. Continue building the bowl bottom.

Step #5: When the bowl bottom reaches between 6" and 8" in diameter (usually about the time I run out of my first bobbin) it's time to make a decision. Begin the sides of the bowl at 6" and you'll have a narrow, tall bowl. Wait until 8" and you'll have a wide, shallow bowl. (Sorry, I can't get any more precise than that.) I made this bowl narrow and taller.

Tip: After loading in a fresh bobbin, over-sew the previous stitching by about 1/4" to keep threads from coming undone, more if using slippery rayon thread.

Step #6: To make the sides of the bowl, angle the bottom up as close to the machine as you can. (It should touch the side of the machine.) Continue pressing the next length of clothesline against the coil. Continue in this manner, keeping the bottom of the bowl flat up against your machine, and you will get a gently sloping-sided bowl.

Note: The sides of larger bottomed bowls will fit over the top of your machine, making it a little easier to sew the sides of the bowl—keep pushing the bowl against the side of the machine.

To make a straight-sided bowl, take advantage of the open-toed appliqué foot and lift the "new" length of clothesline through the gap in the foot. Line up the left hand side of the foot with the edge of the previously stitched coil. It looks mighty peculiar, but it works! Just make sure the new length of coil is stitched down.

Here's a side view.


And a close-up.



Step #7: As I haven't figured out how to join pieces of clothesline that haven't been wrapped with fabric, I stop sewing the sides of the bowl when I think I'm going to run out of clothes line. A rim like the one shown on this bowl takes a lot of clothesline and if you run out part way through I've got no suggestions for you. So, periodically measure the circumference of the bowl and the amount of clothesline you have left. Allow for 20 times the circumference. So, if this bowl measured about 12" around the outside edge at the rim, I had to have about 240" or 20 feet of clothesline saved for the rim.

Step #8: You will first need to create loops all along the rim. They should be fairly small, with the inside "hole" a tad smaller than a dime. They should also be consistent in size and even all the way around the bowl. (Don't worry, these bowls are very forgiving.)

Loop a length of clothesline as shown. (Make sure the clothesline is free from kinks, otherwise this will be nearly impossible.) Lift the presser foot slightly, push the loop against the coil and very CAREFULLY ziz-zag in place. You can exhale when the needle pierces the new loop to secure it. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO SEW YOUR FINGERS! PLEASE!

If you can, find a reference point on your machine. I use the little dimple on my throat plate (directly above my right index finger in this picture). When the center of the loop moves so that the dimple it in its center, I begin a new loop.

It does look fairly peculiar sewing INSIDE a bowl.

Step #9: Access the video below to watch how the rim is hand-crocheted. There's no speaking, so don't turn up your volume.




Step #10: Artistically place the remaining clothesline into attractive swirls, loops, and twists. Pin in place (straight through into bowl interior, careful). Gently lift pinned clothesline up and away from bowl and sneak in some glue. Press clothesline against bowl for a few seconds until glue holds. Let dry overnight. Remove pins. Dab center of bowl bottom with wet Q-tip or tissue to remove water soluble thread. Enjoy!

Get my specialty hand-dyed clothesline here.