Basket Making

A couple of years ago, I was in an art gallery in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, when I spied some rope baskets on a shelf. I admired them and made a mental note to self: I MUST learn how to make my own! I could not afford to buy one. Fast forward to 2020 and as soon as Lockdown ended, I went out and bought me some cotton rope for the job.

My very first attempt at basket making.

A little Googling and I came upon a great video of how to make them and Voila! I was up and away!! Just a note to viewers reading this…..Beware! This basket making, once you get the hang of it, is obsessive and compulsive. I love it! It is easy and there are just so many shapes and sizes one can make.

Cotton woven rope.

I am going to attempt to share some DIY instructions and hope they make sense. First off, you need to purchase some cotton rope as seen above. It has a diameter of 6-7mm. I think if you have thicker rope, you may need an industrial strength sewing machine. My sewing machine is nearly 40yrs old and very basic but it does the job.

1. First of all, start winding the rope in a Koru or snail shape. Pin to hold it in place.
2. Beginning at the centre of the spiral, start sewing with a zig-zag stitch to catch both inner and outer rope. This is the fiddliest bit. Don’t lose heart, it gets easier once this is complete.
3. Keep sewing the length of rope to the ever-growing circle of your base. Simply feed in the new length as you continue to sew in an ever widening circle.
4. For decoration, you can cut small strips of fabric to wind around the rope. Simply continue to zig-zag the new fabric-wound rope to the circle.
5. Your basket base should be growing steadily bigger.
6. You can secure the fabric wound around the rope, with pins, as shown, and you can sew right over them.
7. I have experimented with pieces of jute wound around the rope and it works well for a “zebra” effect.
A quick view of the sewing technique.
8. The fabric-wound and jute string wound rope has a decorative look to it. Note how the basket starts to take shape and you have to support it while feeding in the new rope.
9. To end the basket, simply wind some fabric around the end and tuck it back under the current rope before sewing. Voila! A little handle.
A finished basket. The rope basket takes shape depending on how you place the new coil…if you pull it tighter, it goes inward, or loosely held in place while sewing gives you a basket that leans outwards.
A video to show how the coiling of the fabric strip goes.
Several shapes of basket.

So depending on how you feed the rope into the machine will determine the shape. Have fun experimenting, there is no right or wrong shape. Remember each one is a work of art! Or so I tell myself!

10. Building the sides of the basket, one needs to lift the base up so that it can start to take shape.
A small fruit basket or key depository?
Finishing off the basket with a small handle.

These little baskets are quick and easy to make once you get the hang of it and make great little gifts. Why not fill it with little nik-naks for the perfect gift presentation? A gift designed and made with love.



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