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Baskets provide storage for a variety of items and often are used in home décor. You can buy baskets online or at many retail stores. However, you also can make your own baskets using supplies purchased at craft stores, or simply using things you have around your house.They are great for decor. See step 1 to get started making your basket!
- Ensure that the squares formed by the base weaving are no bigger than 3/8 inch (.9 cm).
- If you’re going for a square shape, hold the base corners together with clothespins. This will help maintain the shape of the base.
- Continue to attach and weave new reeds through the spokes for 3 or 4 rows, depending on the desired height of the basket. Each new reed should be stacked above the reed woven before it.
- Do your best to make the weave snug and tight, but not too tight or you can screw up the base of the basket. You, also, want to make sure that the weave isn’t too loose.
- Straighten your spokes and repeat on all 4 sides of the basket, until the holes in the base are closed.
- You also don’t want your corners to be too loose, which can happen if you aren’t keeping your spokes upright and parallel while you weave.
- Stop weaving once you’ve reached your desired height.
- A properly packed basket should have a nicely arched base, straight, parallel spokes, properly spaced corners, and tight weaver rows.
- Bring the lacer up and over the reed pinned to the basket and insert it through the front of the basket into the woven rows. Now pull the lacer inside the basket.
- Continue wrapping the lacer around the pinned reed, circling the circumference of the basket.
- Glue the end of the lacer inside the basket.
- Cut the newspaper in half horizontally and then again horizontally.
- Place the stick at a corner of the piece of newspaper at an acute angle to the newspaper. Start rolling the newspaper around the stick, making sure that you’re doing so tightly.
- When you’ve rolled it all the way to the other corner, glue it onto the newspaper roll to hold it in place. Remove the dowel or knitting needle.
- One end will usually be a bit narrower than the other on the newspaper sticks, but that’s how it is supposed to look. When you’re weaving you’ll stick the narrower section of one newspaper stick into another to make them longer.
- Always use an odd number of sticks when making your base.
- Use double sided tape on the second piece of cardboard and press into place a piece of fabric, whatever color you’d like. Put glue on the side that won’t be facing out and glue the two pieces of cardboard (one with the fabric and one with the sticks) together. Put something heavy on them and leave to dry (about and hour).
- Keep the upright sticks parallel to one another and pulled upright, and keep the weavers pulled tight. You don’t want them too loose.
- At the corners you’ll want to do an extra twist (over and under) before continuing the twist down the next side.
- For every other upright stick you’ll fold into down into the basket and glue it in place. Use a clothespin to dry it in place.
- For the sticks you didn’t fold into the basket, you’ll fold down on the outside and weave into the upper part of the basket.
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About This Article
To make a basket with newspaper, first roll newspaper around a long, thin rod and glue it in place before removing the rod. Then, make a base from cardboard and fabric, and lay out your newspaper “sticks” in a spoke pattern on the base to make the uprights that will be the frame of your basket. Next, weave the sticks in and out of the uprights, adding sticks by putting the end of one tube into the beginning of the next. Keep weaving newspaper sticks in and out around the uprights until you reach the height you want, then finish your basket by gluing down the tops of the uprights. To learn how to make a basket by weaving reeds together, scroll down!
Basket weaving is almost as old as human history, taking fibres from the landscape and creating something useful, practical and beautiful. There are many many variations of materials to use, stitches, designs, techniques and processes.
Sometimes I look at the beautiful baskets I use for taking to the farmers market, or the ones holding my yarns and fabrics, the broken yet still useful basket that my cat sleeps in beside the fire, the basket my parents used for the washing basket, even the beautiful basket a local artist / craftswoman made for them for my sister to lie in as a baby (40 years ago).
These are intricate and amazing, they delight me in the way that someone’s mind and hand created it.
Often they look complicated, and out of my reach of achieveable-ness in terms of my skills, but the beautiful truth (I think) about baskets is that anyone can weave their own basket. Starting small of course is a way to begin, but once you have the fever of basket weaving inside you, it feels like ‘coming home’ and you have a hard time stopping.
So, how do you weave your own baskets?
You might even have some supplies at home, without having to go and buy more. To begin I do often suggest you use what you have, to make do with materials, but of course – whatever you use for your basket will determine the structure and the method.
These ones here are made from raffia, which is a natural fibre from a palm tree. I dye it with natural plant dyes. It creates a structure, but is also soft and pliable, unlike say hard willow bark, for instance. What this means is that the basket you make will most likely be less rigid than a basket you’d use for your washing (which would possibly be made of willow branches or similar). More like a lovely basket as a fruit bowl, a lampshade, a trinket platter, or a display on the wall.
There’s a little photo step-by-step below if you want to make your own woven baskets, or my online basket weaving course is full of videos showing you the whole process – as if you’re sitting right beside me in the studio.
This course is available at donation rate, rather than full priced. I thank you for your support of my work, while I’m also aware that right now we need more making, mindful mending and creativity in our lives.
What is raffia & where do I get it?
Raffia is the leafy fibre of a palm tree. It comes in various grades depending on it’s length and overall structure or quality. The longer pieces are good for the wrapping method, while shorter (lower grade) can be used as the core for your basket, like the bulk to fill the inside.
What about plastic or paper raffia? I have seen plastic raffia at yarn shops, that comes in one long spool so you can use it with a crochet hook, instead of a weaving needle. Real raffia itself does have a plastic-y like feel, but it’s a natural fibre that breaks down and decomposes back into the Earth, whereas plastic raffia is …. well… plastic. So keep this in mind, if this is important to you. Paper raffia is another option, not quite as strong, but an interesting alternative if you can’t find real raffia.
I get my raffia from String Harvest, as I know Cass imports fair trade materials, but you can also find it at regular art & craft shops, fabric supply shops, and even some floristry supply shops (florists use it to tie their bunches up). You can also find it on places like Etsy, that will be in your own country for shipping, etc.
But if you don’t want to buy raffia, unsure if you’ll even love the craft, then you can use fabric, string, twine, embroidery thread, ribbon. Almost anything like that will work.
Using the exact same method as my videos show, but different materials, textures, weights and weaves you get very different outcomes and looks. It’s a wonderful way to change things up, but not have to keep learning another how-to.
You could instead get some pieces of cloth and cut them up into strips, using thread or string the weave / stitch / wrap around strips of fabric. This does make a softer, less structured basket shape – but you could always use a length of thicker string or rope wrapped into the fabric to give it more stability.
All of these options make beautiful baskets, some are more structured than others, but with time, practice and patience you can learn how to manipulate the fibres to work under your hands how you’d like.
These videos show some simple stitches to inspire you, but I have a whole online course that take you from the very basics of how to begin right through to how to create patterns in your weaves, changing colours and making different shapes.
Sure, Easter is about chocolate, but it also gives you the opportunity to spend time with your family. So why not have a go at making Melissa’s Easter basket with your kids? Since baskets can be woven from a variety of bendy materials, you can use stuff you find in the backyard or park to save money and give it a natural look. And by the time Easter rolls around, your children will have a cute basket to put all their eggs in.
WATCH: Melissa makes woven Easter baskets
One of the oldest crafts in the world, weaving is also one of the easiest. At least when it comes to basket making! You don’t need any special tools or skills, just the simple techniques for interlacing branches and vines that have been used for millennia. And there’s usually a great supply of basket-making materials in your own backyard – it’s the ultimate upcycling of your garden prunings! Add in a few items you probably already have, or can pick up at the hardware store, such as natural twine and plant ties, and you’re ready to weave your way to bespoke baskets.
Project 1: How to hang a woven log basket
Gather your supplies
- Log slice
- 100mm flat head galvanised nails
- Twisted paper rope
- Plastic or a plant pot
- Assorted plants
You’ll also need
- Tape measure
- Black marker pen
- Black texta
- Garden gloves
- Potting mix
For you to note
- The size of your woven basket will depend on the diameter and thickness of your log slice, and the length of your nails.
- For a slice about 12cm in diameter, use 100mm nails. You can also get nails that are 50, 75 and 150mm long.
Wrap tape measure around log slice, and mark nail locations, about 5mm in from the edge and evenly spaced about 20mm apart, with a marker pen.
Drill pilot holes at marked locations on the log slice so the timber doesn’t split.
Carefully hammer in a galvanised nail at each predrilled hole.
Leaving a 30mm tail in the centre of the slice, and starting at the base, weave paper rope around nails, going around the outside of one nail, then around the inside of the next. Continue around log slice in this way, then, when you get to the starting point, weave the next row in the opposite way – on the outside or inside – of each nail.
Continue weaving paper rope to the top, pushing down the rope as you go to create a tight weave, stopping just under the nail heads. Tip: Tuck in the tail left at the base.
Take paper rope over the top row to outside of basket, then weave it under 2 rows of rope to the inside. Bring it back up, then over and under in the next section between 2 nails. Keep going and, when you have gone around the entire basket to form a top edge, trim rope with scissors and tuck tail into the weave.
Use a thick black texta to blacken the top of each nail head and leave to dry for a few minutes.
Line basket with plastic or a pot, part-fill with potting mix, position plants, then add more mix, firming it down gently. Water in.
There are many ways to weave a grass basket. The following technique is just one of many. Every basket weaver has his/her own preferred method. You don’t have to do everything like it says in this tutorial. Grass basket weaving is so simple, you will get nice results no matter what. Dare to be creative!
long, blunt needle (buy here*)
Collect an armful of grass. You can use it as is or simply let it dry for a while. The longer the blades, the better. It works with shorter blades of grass too, but it might take a little longer.
Start with a small bundle of long grass blades. The bundle should be about as thick as your finger. Tie it together with the yarn on one end.
Wrap the yarn around the end a few fingers width.
Start to coil the grass like a snail. It can be a bit stubborn in the beginning. Maybe it helps if you loosen (or tighten) the yarn a little bit more.
Form a tight loop and tie it with the yarn.
Now the fun begins! The grass is coiled and stitched together with the yarn. (I like to twist the grass as I coil it, to give the basket more density, but this step is optional)
At this point you will need a long, blunt needle. (buy here*) To stitch the grass, wrap the yarn around the loose grass and stitch down through the grass coil just underneath the wrapped yarn. This is how the grass basket will get its stability.
The new yarn always passes through the grass and underneath the yarn. If the gaps between the stitches get too wide, just make an additional stitch.
Your bundle of grass should have the same thickness all throughout the basket. If it gets too thin, add a few new blades. It works best, if you hide the new blades in between the old ones. So the ends will stay hidden.
Work your way around the coil. Add new blades if your bundle gets too thin. Make extra stitches if the gaps get too wide.
Continue with the coil until the base has the diameter of the basket you want to make.
Take a look at your grass coil from both sides. Usually the stitches on the topside form a nice, neat pattern. The stitches underneath look a little more messy.
Before I start with the sides of the basket, I turn the coil upside down. That way the “neater” side will later be on the outside of the basket and the messier one will be on the inside.
Now you can start with the sides. For this you simply stop sewing the rounds next to each other, but start sewing them on top of each other. In the first round you can stitch them together a little off-center for a softer transition.
Always make sure that you grass basket is even. Sometimes you’ll have to bend the basket a little. If the walls are higher or lower in some places, it can help to stitch down the grass a little tighter (or looser) in that area.
If you are happy with the size of the grass basket, you can stop adding new blades into your bundle.
Once your bundle starts to get very thin, you can sew up the ends slightly on the inside of your grass basket.
Secure everything with a tight knot and cut off the excess blades.
And that is all you have to do to weave a simple grass basket! It is surprisingly sturdy and keeps its shape even months later. Grass basket weaving is so much fun, that this will surely be just one of many more baskets! 🙂
I made a whole set of them. 🙂
You can also use this techniques to make different shapes of baskets. If you want a more rounded basket, you need to stitch the rows together slightly off-center. This way you can direct the shape in- or outwards as you wish.
Try to use different materials. Straw works really well. You can get amazing results with raffia (buy here*), rushes or other plant fibers. Even wood wool can be worked into a rustic basket.
Have a look at our new tutorial if you want to know how to make a lid for your basket: Link >>
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Basket weaving is an ancient craft that uses naturally grown materials and a few very simple tools.
Basket weaving is a great hobby that can add charm to your house and your own personal touch when you use the baskets you make as a gift.
Outlined below are some of the basic things you need to know to get started.
Tools of the Trade
Only a few simple tools are necessary in basket weaving.
- Good strong scissors and a sharp knife are needed for cutting and pointing the osiers.
- Side cutters work great for chipping off ends.
- A pair of round-nosed pliers are valuable for kinking the stakes before bending them, particularly when the angle has to be sharp.
- A bodkin is a pointed metal tool in a wooden handle. It is very helpful, both for making a space between woven work and for pushing a rod in position after the gap has been made. But, if necessary, you could use a good strong knitting needle instead of a bodkin.
Other useful items while working include a measuring tape, protective waterproof cloth to work on and clothes pins work great to hold your work if you get interrupted.
If you decide to go on to more advanced basket weaving, a rapping iron for pushing down the weaving rows would make a welcome addition. There are also specially made work boards to hold your baskets at a convenient angle to work on.
What are the Basics?
The principles of basket weaving are the same whether you work with willow or cane so that there is very little difference in the two techniques.
Young willow shoots are called osiers and are cut into rods of various colors and sizes to be used for basket making. They are prepared in a surprising number of different ways, some are cut when very thin, some allowed to grow thicker; some are stripped of their bark, some dried, some boiled, some steeped in water, some split. The result is that there are many weights available, suitable for both light and heavy work.
There is also an attractive range of natural colors too – from a gleaming white, to a more golden tan to a rich dark brown. Of course, though many people prefer to keep the natural country look, there is nothing to stop you from painting your baskets in bright colors.
Discover what types of basket weaving material your craft store stocks. Remember that for many articles you can, if necessary, substitute cane for willow and the results will be perfectly satisfactory. In general, willow osiers are somewhat heavier and thicker than most cane, so be careful to check that you have the right weight for the work that you intend to do.
For example, it would be pointless to try to make a substantial pet basket in a light cane because it would have none of the necessary body and firmness for such a shape. You would have to use much heavier material. On the other hand a small decorative table basket could be made in a lighter willow or cane without ill effects.
Most craft stores these days carry synthetic cane and this is a useful substitute for natural materials for some smaller items. Also, unlike willow and cane it does not have to be soaked and kept damp to make it flexible.
Stakes & Weavers
In all basket weaving you work with two basic weights. A heavy, thick osier or cane is used for the stakes, which form the skeleton and structure of the basket or container.
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In one piece of work you may use more than one thickness of stake, heavy for the bottom of a basket and slightly lighter for the sides, for example.
But both of these will be thicker and stronger than the rods that will be used for the actual weaving. If the material you buy is graded by a number, then the difference between the stakes and the weaving rods is usually at least two sizes. The weaving rod is often referred to simply as a 'weaver'.
Soaking & Dampening
Both stakes and weavers should be soaked thoroughly before using to make them easy to manipulate and to prevent them from breaking or cracking badly. After soaking for half an hour or so take the rods out of the water and wrap them up in a damp cloth for another short period of time.
Osiers that you intend to use for stakes should be kept straight during this process but weavers can be soaked in coils of about 3 yards long and only straightened out before you use them. You will find that, as you work on your basket making, the osiers may dry out too much, so have a damp cloth or sponge and bowl of water handy to remedy this.
It will also be necessary at some stages in the work to soak a half-finished piece. This would commonly be necessary when you have made a basket base and have inserted extra stakes (known as bye-stakes) into it and are then going to bend them up at right angles to form the skeleton for the basket sides.
It is obvious that the bottom of these stakes will have to be very malleable and damp so that they can be kinked with pliers and bent up without breaking. Extra dampening may similarly be necessary when you are about to bend down the ends of the stakes to make a final top border to your work.
Really traditional basket weaving is made with willow or cane throughout, including the base. There are various ways of starting a base depending firstly on whether the shape is going to be oval, round or squared off. Another consideration is whether the item needs to be dense and close for hard wear, or it is intended to be more decorative than sturdy, in which case it can be more open.
The thickness of the rods to be used will also affect whether the design is intricate or simple. But in practice almost all versions start with stakes being arranged in some form of cross formation.
One set may be inserted into another set that has been split open for a few inches to hold it. Or the cross can be bound and woven with rods to keep it in place. The difference between oval and round bases is established at this very early stage by the number and arrangement of stakes in the cross.
Figure 1 shows a selection of different woven bases. Figure 1A is circular and shows how the bound method is worked. Figure 1B is an oval bound version. Figure 1C is oval and uses the slit and slot technique. Figure 1D is a more complicated round openwork center that uses lighter weight rods.
If you study these diagrams, you will see that after the first step, when the centerpiece is made and secure, the stakes are then fanned out into evenly spaced spokes for the weaving to be worked on. It is also necessary sometimes to add extra spokes to prevent the spaces from getting too big.