Tutorial: How to Make Your Own Memory Basket from Old Clothes Guest Post by Nancy ShafeeFrancesca Palange
Nancy Shafee never can throw anything away! She has been collecting fabrics since she was about twelve years old and now makes ‘memory baskets’ for people from their own hoarded fabrics, no-longer-worn clothing or saved children’s dresses, so they have a useful item that still holds all the memories and saves their favourite fabrics at the same time!
You can do this yourself too – here she gives you the instructions for an oval basket, as this is easier to start than a round one.
What you need
All you need is:
- a sewing machine that can do a zigzag stitch
- strong needles – denim needles are best
- cord that will fit under your machine’s foot and that is not so hard the needles won’t go through
- your favourite fabrics, ripped into 25mm wide strips
- teaming or contrasting thread
- mini bulldog clips or similar
Lay your cord on a strip of fabric at a 45degree angle, turning over approximately 10mm at the top and then wrapping the cord around and down the cord.
When you have wound a good length – about 40cms or so – clip it in place with your bulldog clip or if you don’t have one, hold it with a safety pin so the fabric doesn’t unwind.
Fold the fabric covered cord about 4cms at the top and starting at the fold, zigzag along the cord to catch the two bits of fabric together. When you come to the end, tightly turn in the next bit of fabric covered cord and stitch round the corner and down the next length
Tip – your zigzag size can be whatever you want it to be as long as it is long enough to catch both sides of the fabric covered cord. The picture shows the settings Nancy uses but all machines are different. You can choose to use a toning or contrasting thread – it’s up to you!
Continue like this until the base is the size you want. It will become easier going round the corners as your work grows and the angle is not as tight.
Each time you run out of covered cord, wind on a bit more fabric and clip in place again. When you need to add a new strip of fabric, just catch the new piece under the end of the finishing strip to help anchor it.
Tip – feed the cord under the foot regularly so that you keep the base flat.
When you have the base the size you want it, now comes the fun part!
Just hold your work up at the angle you want your sides to rise. If you have made your base as large as the height of your machine, you will be able to make straight sides, otherwise they will be angled. As you continue to stitch hold the base at the same angle and pull it slightly tighter as you go to encourage the sides to rise at the angle you have chosen.
Tip – if you have to join cord pieces, cut away some of the ends so you can wrap them together without creating a bulky join.
When your basket is as high as you want it, you will need to cut your cord, leaving the fabric about 4cms longer than the cord. Cut the end of the cord at an angle or thin it out. Twist the fabric as you get to the end of the cord to make it a thin cord in itself. As you stitch to the end of the cord pull the last fabric piece down and inside your basket and stitch over it to hold it in place.
Every basket is different, because every angle is different, and every fabric combination. You can make baskets for collecting keys, or stationery, bigger ones for hair accessories or make-up, use them for biscuits with the cheese course of a meal or make long thin ones for serving French bread . They make lovely gifts – on their own or filled with something for an extra special present.
You can also make lids for your baskets – you just need to make sure they are the right diameter, so check every so often that they will fit over the base
Nancy Shafee is a member of The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen. She runs basket making workshops as well as felting workshops near Guildford in Surrey. More examples of her work can be found on her website, Flickr and on Photobucket. You can also follow her on Facebook.
The latest issue of the print magazine packed with interviews and features on eco and heritage artists and artisans is available now.
You can talk to No Serial Number Magazine too. Join our Twitter conversation (#noserialnumber) as we talk to eco artisans and designers changing the way we think about our lifestyle choices. You can also share your views and keep up to date with our latest articles by joining the newsletter or following us on Facebook.