* Rope Bag

Posted on April 14th, 2003 by maitreya. Filed under Projects with Instructions, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

Mark has recently taken up rock-climbing. We made a rope bag to carry his climbing rope in. These things are $40 at REI, and it wasn’t too hard to make. This one zips up into a tube around the rope, and cinches at each end. When you open it, a tarp folds out to make a nice size area to throw your rope.


  • 1 yard x 4 feet piece of waterproof fabric (Joann’s only had one type), on sale: $5.50
  • several yards of webbing: $0.89/yard at Joann’s, but similarly cheap and of better quality at REI
  • 2 pieces of yard long webbing with clip buckles on it (cheaper than the buckles at Joann’s): $2.00 each at REI
  • strong thread
  • buckle for adjusting the handle: $0.80/3 at REI
  • 2 yards of shot cord: $0.15/foot at REI
  • 2 cord holders, like you might find on the strings on a jacket: $1.25/2 at REI
  • 2 foot long zipper: $2.00 at Joann’s

The fabric is really up to you. Mark wanted it waterproof, so we chose a flimsier fabric than we might’ve if Joann’s had a better selection. Their waterproof fabric is a piece of nylon with a coating on one side of some rubber-like substance (which is empirically not ironable!). A piece of canvas would be nice, too.

First, cut the fabric into 2 2 foot x 3 foot pieces. This is exactly in half if you got the yard of Joann’s fabric. One piece is for the bag and the other is for the fold-out tarp. Fold under and sew down 3 sides of the tarp piece to make a nice edge.

cord sleeves and fold-out tarp

Fold down about an inch on each long side. Pin it so it makes a nice seam. It is ideal to pin the fold-out-tarp piece under one of these seams so that you only have to make 1 seam. (When I made this one, I neglected to think that far ahead, so it has an extra seam.) Since you can’t iron the seams before sewing them down, try to keep things even as you go through the machine. These are the sleeves for the cinching cord. If you want to use grommets or buttonholes for the cinch cord holes, you need to put them in before you sew the channels. Since my fabric doesn’t fray, I just cut slits (see cord part of instructions).

zipper and internal webbing loops

On the short ends of the bag-piece, position the zipper so it topologically works out. Fold the piece around to make sure that it’s right. (I managed to sew mine on inside out, and Mark had to undo the little metal rivit to get the zipper part off to turn it around.) It’s easiest and strongest and looks nice if you first position the tape edge flush with the edge of the fabric, sew down that with a zipper foot. Now, fold it back so the zipper teeth are facing the right way and you have a nice folded-over area next to the zipper. Top stitch this part down, again with the zipper foot. At the same time, position a couple of webbing loops under this seam so you can tie in your rope if you wish. If you burn the cut edge of the webbing, it won’t unravel.

webbing for handle reinforcement

You want to put the handle about a quarter of the length of the fabric in from one short edge (i.e. parallel to the zipper). This puts the zipper and the buckles on the side of the bag when you carry it. Pin one piece of webbing (with burned ends) along the length of the bag (not including the cord channels) and sew it in place.

cinching straps

These straps run perpendicular to the piece you just sewed on, and are for cinching the bag around the rope so it’s snug. Use the 2 pieces with the snap buckles, or use 2 normal pieces and put the buckles on later. These need to be loose for some of their length so the fabric can gather. Start with the buckle end close to the zipper and pin it about a quarter to a third of the way in from the cord channels and about a quarter-length from the other end of the fabric. This should leave long tails. When you sew it down, reinforce the ends with a little crossed square since these will take some stress.


Thread a short length of webbing through the adjustable buckle. Fold in half and sew down both ends flush with the end of the reinforcment piece. Cut a piece of webbing long enough for a handle, with a tail for adjusting it. Sew one end flush with the end of the reinforcement opposite from the one with the buckle on it. If you want, you can buy a piece of padding to put on the handle.

If you didn’t sew on the tarp earlier, you can do it now, along one of the cord channel seams.

cinch cords

Cut the rip cord in half. Cut a little slit in the middle of each channel for the cord to come out of. Thread the cord into the slit so the end’s all the way at the zipper seam. Sew back and forth over this to secure it. Do the same 3 more times until there’s a length of cord in each channel, secured at both ends. Thread a cord-holder on each one to use to cinch it.

Sorry to take so long to add pictures.  This is still in active use in 2010!




3 Responses to “Rope Bag”

  1. Kyle Says:

    I would love to see a picture of that. I copied your directions and they seem to make sense but a visual would be great. I’ll be making one in the next few days. Thanks

  2. nick Says:

    ditto. i’d really like to see a picture of how this turned out.

  3. tito Says:

    i hate this theres no pic


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