During the heyday of wooden ships, sailors spent much of their leisure time crafting and practicing knot making. Many of the knots they invented are still in use today. Sometimes a sailor would craft a rope mat. Some were very intricate, while others were easy to construct. All were designed, however, to catch dirt and keep it out of the lower deck areas of a ship. An easy to construct rope mat is the Flemish coil. Here's what you will need to make one of your own. You could use it dockside where your boat is kept or make one for the entryway to your home.
Things You'll Need
- 50 to 75 feet of half-inch laid Dacron rope
- Flat, clean work surface
- Whipping cord
- Scissors or a very sharp rigger's knife
- Leather sailmaker's palm
- One or two curved sailmaker's needles
- Heavy twisted sailmaker's thread (polyester or nylon)
Laying the Rope
Using the whipping cord, whip both ends of the rope to prevent it from unraveling. For added stiffness, wax the whipping cord. Once the whipping is completed, cut off any extra cord and discard it.
While working on the flat work surface, coil the rope carefully in concentric circles. If the rope resists lying flat, use a twisting wrist motion to counteract the twist in the rope.
Continue adding consecutive turns until the entire rope is tightly coiled. You may opt for a circular or oval-shaped mat.
Pull off a length of sailmaker's thread and thread one of the curved needles. Then slip on your sailmaker's palm.
Starting at the innermost coil of the mat, begin making a series of overhand stitches to sew the coils together. Make the stitches approximately 1 inch apart.
Continue the overhand stitching until you reach the whipped end of the outermost coil.
Flip the mat over and repeat Steps 5 and 6. When you reach the outermost coil, your Flemish coil rope mat is finished and ready for use.
Tips & Warnings
- Your Flemish coil can be dressed up a bit if you use colored line. Laid rope, as opposed to double braid, will be easier to stitch through and slightly less expensive.
- "Good Old Boat" magazine; Rope Mats; Gregg Nestor; November/December 2006
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