A few years ago, I was in a skirt making phase (which I never quite left to be honest) and the lure of an “Empty the bolt” sale got to me. This is a sale my local fabric chain store holds where they give you a discount if you buy the entire rest of the bolt of fabric. I bought some sunshiny yellow flowery fabric. I say “some”, it was about 6 meters. Which I used entirely in a double-circle skirt. The skirt was… terrible. The fabric was too stiff to really be happy in a double-circle skirt. I wore it once and then put it away to “fix” later. By the time I got around to fixing it, I’d gone right off the fabric. The colours I still loved, but the design did look like toilet curtains. It’s been hanging around for ages, so this weekend I decided to use up the fabric and make a basket.
This is going to be a long post with lots of pictures, so I’ll show you the finished item first. The rest is a tutorial of sorts – these baskets are really easy to make and I’d love for you to have a go. You only need to know 2 crochet stitches – chain and single crochet.
It’s deliciously squishy, you should know this right up front. Mine is quite roomy, but this “pattern” (I really do use that term loosely) is completely adaptable to whatever size or depth you want. It’s one of those nifty things where you can follow the tutorial and end up with something utterly different and totally yours.
Ready? Then let us away.
You Will Need
– Fabric. Cotton works best, but anything will do if you have a lot of it. You need a LOT of it. Bedsheets work well. Or lots of different fabrics. Use up some stash, I say.
– Big fat crochet hook. I’d go with a 10mm at a minimum, this one was worked with an 11.5mm.
– Scissors, sharp sharp scissors. You can rip your fabric after snipping the end if you don’t mind a fluffy edges look. Since my fabric was mostly already made up into a hideous skirt, the ripping didn’t work. A rotary cutter also works, if you have one handy.
– Something good on the telly is a help, or perhaps a natty audiobook.
First, we make the yarn.
For cotton, about 1 inch wide is perfect. Thicker fabrics can be used, if you make thinner strips (and thin fabrics work well in thicker strips). You don’t have to watch “Waking the Dead” if you don’t want to, but you might like it and Trevor Eve is always good company.
Once you have all your strips cut, it’s time to join them together. This is the larks head sort of method. It probably has a real name but I don’t know what it is.
First, cut two small slits in the two ends to be joined – you’ll need a smaller slit than you expect (it’s no disaster if the slits are big, don’t panic). Easiest way to do this is to fold the end over and snip the fold.
I’m going to call the already joined strips the “ball” because that’s what they are – the ball of yarn you’ll be working with. So, now take the strip of fabric that isn’t part of the ball, and poke it through the other slit. Fold the same strip over, and pull the rest of the strip through the slit.
Pull the whole thing tight, gently. I have no idea if that makes any sense at all. Think of it as a larks head knot, where you’re looping the new strip of fabric to the ball end. You could also take a peek at this tutorial which is much clearer than mine!
(If you’d like a smoother finished look to your basket you can also sew the ends together by hand or machine, just overlap a little bit and zap a seam in. If you’re happy with a really lumpy look you could just tie them in a knot, but knots can be tricky on the making-up bit)
This is what we’re aiming for, a lovely bit ball of fabric yarn. Also if you look at my hand for too long in this picture it starts to look like a velociraptor claw. My gift to you.
For the bottom of the basket, work a flat crochet circle. Now, you thought I was bad at explaining how to join the fabric, wait till you read this! Note that I’m using “Single crochet” as the US term – it’s Double in the UK. I think.
There is a formula for working flat circles. In this project, I started with 6 single crochet stitches in a magic loop (link for tutorial on that, no way I’m going to try and explain it to you because it would end in disaster). You can also chain 4 and do the 6 stitches into the hole in the middle. The important thing, here, is that you have a small circle of 6 stitches. Six is now our magical number, because that is how much each round will increase by.
Round 1: 6 sc into loop (or chained ring). (6 stitches)
Round 2: 2 sc into each st around (12 Stitches)
Round 3: (Sc in next st, 2 sc in next st) around (18 stitches)
Round 4: (Sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st) around (24 stitches)
You can see the formula coming out. Each round increases the gap between the increases by one stitch. Which ever round you’re on, the number of stitches between the increase will be two less than the number of the round. So for round 7, you’d do 5 stitches between your increases. Just keep on adding rounds, following the formula, until the base of the basket is the size you want.
You can either do it in a spiral, or you can slip stitch and chain 1 to turn at the end of every round, whichever makes you happiest. To keep track of the start of new rounds, a stitch marker is handy or if you don’t have one laying about you can use a scrap of wool, a paper clip.. anything that will sit in place while you work the round. Lay it over the top of the stitch in the round below before you start the next round and you can pull it out later. Easy pie.
This is what we’re aiming for, a nice circle to serve as the base of the basket. Now, you may or may not be able to see that this “flat” circle is actually a bit bowl shaped. The reason for this is pretty simple – I can’t count. My increases were uneven, so the shape bowled up a bit. It’s no drama if this happens.
Once you have the base size you want, you just single crochet around. And around. And around. Without increases, just one stitch per stitch as you go you’ll find the sides of the basket form all by themselves.
At this point I realised I wasn’t going to have enough of the yellow fabric to get the depth I wanted, so I added the band of other fabric in the middle. Dropping different colours or fabrics into the middle is simple, you just cut the ball off the end of your work, and repeat the larks head knot from before to add new colours in. Once you’ve done that, you can attach the rest of the ball and be on your way.
You can just keep going around and around until you’re finished or your yarn runs out, but I like a handle. They’re dead easy to add, so you might as well, right?
When you get to the spot you want to put your handle, instead of working into the next stitch, do some chains. I did seven, you can decide how many you’d like. Seven worked for me as it covered the width of my hand. Once you have your chains, skip that number of stitches (or thereabouts) and then work a single crochet into the next stitch after the ones you’ve skipped. Do the same on the other side if you like. Or just have one handle. It’s up to you.
On your next round, work the single stitches into the chain. Hooray! Handles! Told you it was easy.
When you have the depth you want, you can just stop. Finish off the usual way, pulling the rest of the yarn through one loop and pulling tight. You can then weave your end in as you would with normal yarn. Now you have a basket! You can store things in it, if you like, or fold it in half and use it as a handbag.
Since I don’t have any kittens and the dogs are too big, here’s McPedro in a basket. You’re welcome.
There’s a million options for these things. Well maybe not a million, but you could change up the stitches around the side for a decorative look. You could fold your fabric first to keep the raw edges hidden away and you could also dye them, which is something I’m thinking of doing with this old bed sheet here.
Hope this was helpful, have fun!