3.12.2013

d.i.y. braided basket



My friend Anna and I recently made a braided basket for a classroom art project at our daughters' school. We had all the students make polymer clay beads and each donate an old t-shirt. We braided the t-shirts along with some extra jersey fabric we bought, threading on the beads every 18" or so, then sewed the giant braid into a basket (Anna did the braiding, I did the sewing). Time consuming? Absolutely. But it was a sweet piece that did pretty well at our school auction last weekend. 

We used about twenty child-sized t-shirts and a yard of jersey, but you could use as little or as much material as you want, depending on the size basket you are making.

materials list:
A collection of old t-shirts
Jersey fabric, minimum 1 yd. length for braid continuity
Spool of nylon crochet thread (a darker color would've been better here)
Beads with minimum 1/4" dia. holes (optional)
Thread
Sharp upholstery needles
Regular needles

step 1, cutting:
Cut the jersey fabric and the t-shirts into similarly sized strips, around 2-2 1/2" wide. You will get the most out of the t-shirts from the torso area, yielding 3-5 strips from each t-shirt. The jersey strips should be a yard long.


step 2, preparing the fabric:
Baste stitch three t-shirt strips together at a time to form longer pieces. Do as many of these as you can manage until you think you have what you need. I spent about three hours doing this with the 20 +/- t-shirts we used. Don't sew more than three smaller strips together at a time, as anything longer than that will be difficult to braid. 


step 3, start braiding:
Sew the ends of two different t-shirt strips to the end of one of the jersey strips. This will be the top of your braid. Secure that end to something stable (we used the spindle holder on the top of a sewing machine) and start braiding.

As you come to the ends of the t-shirt fabric pieces, attach new pieces to the old with a quick stitch or two so you can continue braiding. Same goes for when you reach the ends of the longer jersey pieces.

You will want to start threading your beads on only after you have finished enough braiding to make the bottom of your basket, where you don't want beads. Wind the braid up like a rug on a flat surface from time to time to find out how big you would like the bottom to be. Once you start braiding what will end up being the walls of the basket, add beads as often as you'd like. It's a really nice touch.



Eventually you're going to end up with an ENORMOUS BRAID! I wish I had measured it, but we were under time constraints so I didn't have a chance. It seemed like it was a block long.


step 4, sewing the bottom:
When you are ready to start sewing, fold the unbeaded end of the braid over and sew those two pieces together side by side with the crochet thread to form an oblong basket bottom, or start coiling the braid right from the get-go for a more circular bottom. As this was my first time making something like this, I didn't do a great job and the stitching is totally visible and ugly at the inside bottom of our basket. Once I started up the side of the basket I realized there was a way to stitch through the fabric so the stitching is only visible on one side. You can see that in step 5 ahead.




step 5, sewing the basket walls:
When you are ready to make the walls, turn the braid 90º into an upright position and sew to outer braid of basket bottom. That stitching is best done at the exterior of the basket. After that, move the stitching to the interior of the basket. Keep stacking the braid on top of itself, sewing the interior braid edges as shown in the photos below. Take care that the crochet thread does not show through to the outside. When sewing near a bead, keep your braid in position and secure all around the bead, making sure the bead stays to the exterior of the basket walls.

Keep on sewing until you get the height you want! The vertical, stacked form I ended up with just happened naturally. I would like to try this again with a more splayed or salad-bowl type form.





step 6, adding handles and finishing the job:
To create handles, decide where you want them to be located and how wide you'd like them to be. Hold the braid off of the top of the basket at the handle and add very strong, repetitive stitching at the fork in the road where the handle comes away. Leave a little slack in the handle bit, and secure it again at the other side where it meets the top of the basket again. Keep sewing that braid at the top of the basket until you reach the opposite side and add a second handle. 



To finish up, keep sewing the braid to the top of the basket again after the second handle for a few inches, then you'll end the braid in a taper. To create the taper, cut the width of each of the three pieces of the end of the top braid to just about 3/4" wide, being sure that they are still continuations of pieces already in the existing braid. Braid these thinner pieces into a much skinnier braid a few inches long and then secure to top of basket. Tuck the very end of the taper into a bigger braid at the inside of the basket, and stitch to secure in place.


And there you have it! I have to tell you, the sewing takes a surprisingly LONG time. Crazy long. Some fabrics were darn near impossible to push a needle through, some were like butter. This is definitely not something you can bang out in a night. Or two. Or three! Still, I'd like one for myself so I'll probably do it again, maybe using old cotton sheets and tapestries we have around. I love the random crazy colors of this, though. It's so pretty!










31 comments:

  1. I love it! I have a bunch of old jeans thinking I would try to make some fancy jacket that didn't look like some bad 70's flashback. But maybe using the jeans for a braid basket? I see busting lots of needles though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right, unless maybe you don't braid very tightly? I was using the wrong needle for quite a few hours on this which was totally miserable! xo

      Delete
    2. Rina, a friend of mine swapped jersey for denim for a similar floor rug she was making, and what she didn't realize was how much more resistance denim gives -- her hands were sore for a week! Definitely dig up a thimble or two to help push the needle through -- and yep, get the right needle :)

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. No way, lady. No way! I <3 your projects!

      Delete
  3. This is awesome, I love it!!!!!!!!! I definitely have some old stuff lying around that we could use to make one. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Emily! I spent some time reading your blog tonight. You're getting so close! :)

      Delete
  4. This is so cool! I work with kids, and I could see this being a great group project for them. Yours came out so beautifully... thanks for the idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Cyndie! Thank you for taking the time to comment, and let me know if you ever do make one!

      Delete
  5. Oh wow - this is INCREDIBLY beautiful! I love it and would totally love to tackle a similar project - maybe in shades of white, black, cream?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jordana! That sounds so pretty. I wondered how it would've looked if it wasn't so crazy with the random colors. PLEASE follow up here if you do make one, I'd love to see it. I'm going to check out your blog tonight!

      Delete
    2. Hi Tiffanie!
      This post inspired me! I spent today's cold, grey day to tackle this DIY. I am almost - almost - done. A few more rows to stich and it'll be done. Let me just say - thank goodness for thimbles! Saved my finger from lots of pokes. :) I did mine in black, white and red with some of my old clothes that were headed for donation. I will post or send pics hopefully this week. Anyway - I have a question for you. Mine is about 10 rows high and I think I have about 5 more to sew. It's getting floppy though and so I was wondering if you used anything to structure/stabilize your basket? I don't know what I'm going to fill it with yet - but if I leave it empty I'd like it to stand up as much as possible. Any ideas?
      Thanks again! I REALLY LOVE it! (And thanks for being honest about the time commitment - it's a long project - and I even used adult clothes and a sewing machine!) .
      Jordana
      p.s. Thanks for checking out White Cabana.

      Delete
    3. Hi Jordana! I cannot wait to see how yours came out. I know what you mean about the thimbles...I didn't have one and my fingers were calloused for weeks afterwards, literally! I also was silly and tired and pulled the needle a bunch of times with my tooth and made a little divot in it so now I can't cut a piece of string with my teeth on that side anymore. Foolish!

      It is a bit of an issue that it is a bit floppy. I tried to make mine keep growing wider and wider so that it would support itself well, but in the middle somehow it tightened up a lot and then it lost some structural integrity. I think vertical ribs with some of the higher rows secured up high on those ribs would help keep it standing well. The people who bought this basket at our auction use it to store bath towels, so I'm sure it's standing up well for them. Sorry I can't be more help. I am totally impressed that you did so much work in one day. PLEASE send me photos, your color scheme sounds so nice! And your blog is really lovely. :)

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Annick!

      Delete
  7. This is so beautiful! I'm the least crafty person ever but I love this so much.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have a lot of fat quarters of regular ole fabric. Do you think that this would be doable with that? Just took all my old t-shirts and made them into a quilt....sure with I would have saved the backs now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca, I'm not sure. I think the t-shirt jersey was hard enough to push the upholstery needle through, I bet any other fabric is going to be even tougher to get through when braided, but I might be wrong. Maybe do a few test braids? Good luck! :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks, I will try that for sure! This is awesome and I would love to be able to get rid of all that extra fabric! :)

      Delete
  9. Tiffanie, this basket is so beautiful and I cannot wait to try it out. I plan to ask the parents of my daughter's preschool class to donate 1-2 old tee shirts so the basket can be given to her teachers at the end of her school year. Hopefully that gives me enough time lol! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this DIY : )
    Happy holidays!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bekah! I am so glad you're going to give it a try! It was really rewarding. Be advised, the basket is a bit floppy and you will need to put things in it for it to look perfectly upright. Good luck and PLEASE let me know how it goes! :)

      Delete
  10. So I finished mine. I had some trouble with it closing in on me as I went up. I had to rip out a few rows and then I finally got it right but the bottom is still wider than the top! Oh well I think my yarn and knitting has a nice little home in it. That was my trial. I think I will do better next time when I make one for my daughter'a preschool teachers! Is there a way to post a pic?
    Thank you again!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bekah! It is really hard to get it perfect. Mine is shaped more like an hourglass when nothing is in it. Challenging! I wonder if wrapping the braids around something like a cylindrical waste paper basket while sewing it would work. You'd have to sew it inside out I think, but something to think about. I would love to see a photo. If you are on Instagram, take a photo and tag it (at) sfcornerblog, or just email me a photo at sfcornerblog (at) hotmail (dot) com. Thank you, and happy new year!

      Delete
  11. Hi Tiffanie,

    What a cute project! I love it so much that I decided to feature it in our roundup of old t-shirt crafts! Check it out here: http://www.favecrafts.com/blog/fc/t-shirt-crafts/

    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Julia! It certainly has been making the rounds on blogs and now in two German magazines. Crazy! I appreciate you featuring it and for letting me know. :)

      Delete
  12. Hi Tiffanie,
    Thank you for sharing a great idea, love the basket. wondering how important is jersey fabric, can it be done with t-shirts only?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tejal! Sorry for the delayed response. I am not sure what other materials could be used. I thought it would be easy to sew the jersey, but because of the way it pulled it was actually hard to get through with my upholstery needle a lot of the time. I wonder if I had used a regular needle if it would've been easier. I think maybe you should just do some test braids of the fabrics you are thinking of and see if it's going to drive you crazy or not! PLEASE let me know if you make one, I'd love to see it!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...