DIY UpCycled Fabric Bowls & Baskets

I really enjoy being able to re-purpose what I have to make something functional. These UpCycled fabric bowls and basket can be made with whatever you have on hand – really!

So Many Ropes

As I had made the rope bowls I started to see that there are many kinds of rope. There are polyester ones and some of colour, and some are quite economical. I like the 3/16″ or 7/32″ ones but would also like to use ones that may not be the colour I like.

If you find a rope that is not really of your colour choice there are ways to still be able to use it to make pretty upcycled fabric bowls. If you wrap the rope with fabric as you sew it will transform the colour and also add some stability. Any fabric could be used but I prefer that they are cut on the bias (diagonal 45º) so that it does not fray much; but the choice is up to you.

I like the random lengths and adding them as I sew along. Wrapping as you sew also allows the machine to hold the rope as you wrap it. Cotton sheeting or even polyester sheeting can work well. Using a rotary cutter makes the strip cutting super easy. To get the most coverage I make sure to wrap it diagonally with a bit of overlap.

Patterns in the fabric become obscured quite nicely. The polyester ropes also seem to not give the sewing machine extra stress to sew through.

When adding new strips I only overlap them a bit rather than sewing them together. TIP: It also helps to not have strips that are too long as they will be troublesome to constantly be wrapping around.

The bottom center is coiled the same as the rope bowls with a ‘star’ of sewing to anchor it.

The No-fray Wrap method;

If you are wanting a super clean finish then you can wrap with a bias that is folded down at the top edge. A width of about 1.5″ to 1.75″ seems to be a good width but is not a rule, however don’t try to use strips that are too long.

When adding another strip I fold under the top 2 edges and overlap (pin it) it with the end of the last strip.

There are many many ways to make handles or not. This handle is a long wrapped piece that twisted and is attached after the basket is done. I am still working through a lot of my mom’s thread so I am partial to white but you can use any colour you like.

No Rope? No Problem!

In some of the frustration of finding the appropriate rope I decided to try some other things… (I like to up-cycle as well) I have a collection of sheets fro my eco printing resources so I thought I could figure a way to use them. Why not just use a twisted strip of fabric?!

I was thrilled that this works! Part of this method is figuring out how wide the strips should be and how thick it would end up. That will depend on the type of fabric it is. I used cotton flannel and found that 2.75″ was a good width for it. If you are not sure try a short strip as a test. The sewing machine tends to not like to sew more than 1/4″ thick ‘ropes’. Tightly twist what you have and measure it.

A reader had suggested that using a spinning wheel may be a way to make this fabric rope! Awesome, I wish I knew how to rig up one of my spinning wheels… (ya, I have a couple antique ones)

When twisting the filling fabric (ripped strips) make sure it is a different direction than the outside wrap. It may be possible to pre-twist it all but I would just sit at the machine and twist and wrap as I sewed while using a few pins to hold it in place until I get to that section.

Twisting and twisting:

To add another strip fold the top edge/corner or and pin the point to the twisted fabric and start wrapping again over the end of last colour.

The folded bias strip makes a nice clean edge. The end strip is sewn and then folded over. A piece of leather or another fabric can cover the cut end. Hot glue or a rivet can hod it in place.

If you know me… you know that once I get obsessed I tend to keep trying new versions. Before I know it, I have quite a few! And I start thinking of other adaptations… Hmmmm, there are still some more ideas in that crazy brain of mine!

When I was ‘shopping rope‘ they had some weird colour ones that is actually reflective! I could not pass up a bargain of $3/50ft soooo I combined it with some thinner bias strips. I purposely wrapped the thin strips so that there are spaces between the diagonals. It makes it look so much more like a woven basket!

Wow, they actually surprised me how well they turned out.

Maybe I have inspired you make some upcycled fabric bowls, baskets, vessels… ‘Or maybe just to crack out the old sewing machine! In any event, I am happy to get you thinking about it.

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  1. Hi Barb, another project that you converted from everyday to beautiful. I LOVE the black and white especially with the apples sets off the red wonderfully. As always, thank you for taking the time to post your projects. 🙂

    1. It’s usually late saturday night and I needed something simple! Can’t beat the simple things for a ‘still life’; I always told my students… Yes, since my world is so full of colour sometimes I need the neutrality for sanity – one of the curses of being too visual.

  2. Oho Barb you have inspired me!

    I also have taken a room(or 2) in my home for my creative efforts! After seeing how you were able to make your 2 tables into one higher, more comfortable and useable work surface, I put my husband to work on it. He raised the top 8” for me by using 2. 2 foot long 4”x4 blocks of wood attached one on top of another, then drilled out 1” x 1”deep circles for the bottom of the legs to fit in to prevent slippage. We got a 4×8 piece of melamine and cut it to size, drilled a hole for electric supply, and attached the melamine to my old tables. It sits against a wall of windows in my room! I was able to utilize the side against the wall, under the table for storage for supplies and equipment I’m not currently using.
    I used it for a few hours yesterday and what a difference! No Back or shoulder pain from hours of bending over!

    I also love rope baskets, and got some 7/32 cotton rope to try your baskets, I’ll be working on these, and other sewing projects this afternoon!

    Thanks again for your great ideas!

    1. Wow, doesn’t it make such a difference?! I tend to keep everything organized since I love the space. Only problem is I do not want to leave to things like cook etc. You will love the baskets!

  3. I echo Leslie’s comment – thank you for keeping us inspired and thinking outside the box. I see you have the old Kenmore – great machine and it has a taller harp so you can stuff things like this under it – new ones are too short for most of these kinds of projects.

    1. I did see a big rope purse being made on one of those small new singers… I was amazed they did manage. Oh, I do dream of having an industrial machine but how would I be able to hide it from the hubby?! Outside the box is where I want to be!

    2. Haha! The old Kenmore! I had one of those and didn’t know what I had. I gave it to my daughter. She discovered the value of the machine. I got it in 1987 as a high school graduation gift (used machine. 12 stitch version). Took it with me when I joined the military, moved overseas and never failed me. I knew it worked for me, but didn’t know anyone else was still using it. My daughter can now use it for the next 35 years until she buys a new one.

      1. When I was a kid I tried to sew on a toy machine with much frustration so that led to getting my own new kenmore for my 12th birthday! There’s never been one that I haven’t got going. My mother’s kenmore did burn out the motor but then again she did reupholster our furniture so many times! It must have had a million miles! I hope your daughter realizes what she has! Happy sewing!

  4. These are fantastic! They are so beautiful and useful. I make my own continuous bias tape so the color options are endless!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Wow, Barb, I love these baskets. I particularly love the fact that you can use different colored materials to make the baskets suit the space where they are kept. Beautiful!

  6. Barb I cannot believe these creative ideas you keep having!! These baskets are so beautiful and useful. I love the designs and colours! Take care and keep creating!!

  7. I have a vintage Singer that doesn’t have a zigzag stitch. Any idea of how to adapt this to my machine? I can change stitch length but it’s all straight.

  8. Hola ,soy una artista Chilena y admiro todo tu trabajo felicitaciones,sigue creando tan hermosas obras !!!❤️

    1. I used a scrap piece of leather that I stamped with an alphabet tool set. They can be found in the jewelry section of the craft store. You could use vinyl that is hot glued as well. Have fun!