I had this on the back burner in my head for many months and finally stopped at Ace Hardware and bought the cotton cording. This cording is about 1/4" in diameter and flexes quite nicely as you sew round and round.
If you would like to make one yourself, I can assure you they are addicting as well as slightly hypnotic (endless circles). There's no one right way to make these and certainly no wrong way.
I have a Pinterest board where I keep some photos of some nice ones that were created.
To start a circular bowl, you'll need to wind your cord in a circle and stick some straight pins through from the side to secure. Then carefully start zigzagging so the stitch catches both coils.
At the beginning, take two stitches, lift your presser foot, pivot, and sew another two stitches and repeat. At about 2 1/2" wide (see photo) you don't have to lift your presser foot so much and can start feeding it through on the curve.
I tried to sew over my pins at the beginning and ended up hitting one and breaking my needle. This is really the trickiest part of making the bowl. Keeping the bottom coils flat enough as you zig zag in stops and starts. Maybe pull your pin out enough as you pass and then stick it back in. The pins are only there for a few rounds.
I'm not real OCD here. The tutorial I read indicated she was (ocd) and, if you are OCD as well, then you'll want to count stitches, lift the presser foot, pivot the coil, sew the same count as before so your stitching ends up a little more even than mine.
I can assure you, no one will notice and, usually, there will be an apple or two hiding the bottom anyway.
At 6" across on my flat bottom is where I started lifting the bowl up, thus creating the bowl effect. A couple of rounds of stitching and it's starting to look like a bowl.
I ran through about five bobbins of thread and switched from aqua to off-white. I also didn't match the outer to the inside. I wanted the more vibrant aqua inside with a quiet turquoise-green on the outside. The cording is already off-white and contrasts beautifully with any color you choose. The five stripes of aqua as I sewed up the bowl cleaned out a bobbin-worth of thread.
Based on the Pinterest tutorials that I saved, I went with a 4.8 width to my zig zag and a 3.0 length. You can adjust a teeny bit, like me to 4.3 width but any abrupt changes will show. It's up to you if that bothers you.
I will tell you, as you are going round and round, you want to make more of these to incorporate any changes you dream up.
I wanted the sides to be a bit more straight here so I had to lift up with my left hand.
This particular cording fed very nicely allowing my right hand to keep the coils centered and the rope evenly feeding.
You can see my soft aqua on the outside here. Subtle change in color.
How to finish.
Well - you have to eventually. I liked a knot here so I sewed up to the knot as close as I could get and then back-stitched the end in place.
I've seen handles. Holes left purposely to make handles, etc.
You just sew to the place where you want a handle in place and run your zigzag so it doesn't catch the upper coil for 3 or 4 inches (5?). The handle will be a bit fuller than the previous coil so when you want to end the handle hole, you bring the outer coil down with enough give to create a visible hole. Move your zigzag stitch back so it catches both coils. Continue sewing to the other side and repeat. It probably would be helpful to mark those places with a pin or wonder clip.
I used up nearly all of the 100 feet. Maybe 90 ft and made a good-sized bowl.
My rope at Ace Hardware was not on sale and cost me $14.99. Ouch.
On the search for a cheaper alternative because now I need to send this rope to my friend in Japan so she can play too.
A close-up of my bottom - ha! not mine, the bowl's bottom. That first darker teal is where I broke the needle. The second is where I ran out of bobbin thread and started again. The thread tail got caught up in the stitching.
Maybe five bobbins too. I filled as I went because I didn't really have a plan other than the aqua stripes. If you are organized, you could pre-fill your five bobbins beforehand.
About the stripes: I arbitrarily did five rounds ( an odd amount) but also this is where a bobbin would run out.
The OCD person didn't like the looks of the starts and stops of the color switches all randomly around the bowl and wanted these all in the same line up the bowl. Thankfully, I don't see the stops and starts and that means I'm doing okay with my auto-immune, 'cuz OCD is a symptom when I am really stressed.
One very awesome sturdy decorative bowl.