Monday, September 20, 2010

Basket Weaving using Recycled Containers

I'm always looking for good weaving projects for little hands.  I was going thru the storage room and was overwhelmed with just how many recycled plastic containers I had.  You know the ones from yogurt or sour cream...the ones you hold on to thinking..... "one day I'll need it for a project".

Inspiration strikes and I realized "Hey you could use it as the base for a basket weaving project"........

and that's where it started.


- recycled containers
- scissors
- yarn, string, embroidery floss,  and/or fabric strips
- glue
- old book pages, newspaper, maps

Now the problem with recycled containers is they have logos plastered all over them so I decided we would paper mache them over with strips of paper.  I thought about painting them but was worried the paint would get scratched off during the weaving.

I use old books that I get from the discard rack at the library or old maps.  Newspaper also works well.  Cut into little strips and a glue/water mix in a 1 to 1 ratio.  You could also use Mod Podge.

Leave to dry overnight.

Now find out the diameter of your container.  In order to get a woven basket you need an odd number of cuts in your container.  An odd number allows you to cover the basket fully like the one holding the paintbrushes above.  I also used an odd number of cuts on the basket holding the branch with leaves.

The other basket was done with an even # but I had to alternate woven sections.

Using your scissors make cuts down the container.  Now you can make them all the same size, you could make them random sizes or you can make a pattern like one narrow strip and then one wide....lots of possibilities it's up to you.  Just remember to have an odd # if you want the fully woven look.

Select the material you want to weave with and tie it on on one of the sections in the inside.

I put a bit of tape on the section I start with so if I'm making a specific pattern I can keep count of the rows.

Then start weaving in and out of the different sections.  With an odd number of sections on the first pass you will have your yarn/string on every second one and then on the second pass the string will be on the other ones.

On this one I decided to do extra weaving on the narrow strips.....because I had to cut an odd number to get the fully woven look on the first part I need to skip a strip to get the weaving on the narrow part....that means 2 strips look exactly the same side by side but you just have that part in the still looks terrific.

When it's time to switch colors or material just knot the 2 ends together on the inside.

This is great for teaching patterns in Kindergarten and Grade 1.

Continue right up to the rim...the string just settles in nicely below it.  You also could trim the container down if you wanted a smaller basket.

Knot off the end onto one of the strings on the inside and then stuff the end in behind the strings.

The kids found the weaving easy and were planning all sorts of patterns...I have some basket weaving books and we are seeing how we can adapt those patterns...we are also looking at using different containers like a ice cream pail for a larger basket or cutting the top off a milk jug and then weaving that.

Give it a try... and if you're like me you have lots of containers waiting to be woven.

See you next time.


  1. Perfect idea!! Thank you, I think I will use it in school!

  2. What a perfect project! They turned out lovely.

  3. This is so neat! What a wonderful idea. They look very pretty.

  4. I just started homeschooling my 4th grader who absolutely LOVES art. Your blog is amazing, i can hardly wait to show him your projects!! He's going to go nuts! :)

  5. This is such a great project! Thank you so much for this.

  6. Ooooooooeeeeeeee!!!! DO I LOVE THIS! I decopage recycled containers all the time, but the weaving aspect, man, that is a whole new world. I can think of a dozen places/ways I could use this.
    Thanks for the great idea!

  7. Gail,

    As always, you are an inspiration! Thank you.


  8. What a great idea! I would probably use fabric scraps, especially from T-shirts for the weaving since my kids are so little and they could fill up the weaving faster than with embroidery thread. Those are awesome!

  9. this is a great idea, a way to decorate recycled containers while providing children with an educational activity - well done! <3

  10. I just wanted to let you know that I linked to your blog for this project and the woven tree project with pictures of my daughter's finished work. Thanks for such great projects and tutorials.

  11. I love these. They look very pretty and effective and are a great craft for any age!

    Will feature it on Recycled Get Crafty out on 1st Jan!

    Thank you


  12. This is one of my most favorite projects I have ever seen. I have to do this project. Thanks for sharing it with us. You have inspired me again.
    Thank you!

  13. Just to let you know, I featured you today on "Recycled Get Crafty" - Thank you for a fabulous craft idea!

    Many thanks


  14. My students wove onto plastic cups last year, but I like how much more individualized these become with the different shape containers and paper mache. Thank you!

  15. Doing this tomorrow and Thursday with 1st-3rd graders. Thanks for the inspiration!

  16. What a fantastic recycling lesson- I too, seem to hoard these plastic containers. Thanks, as always, for sharing such detailed and comprehensive instruction!

  17. Thank you! Great idea and I am working in Bhutan as a volunteer teacher - hard to do art with very little material. But there is an unlimited supply of empty softdrink bottles (we can cut them in half) and colourful wool is available here. I'm sure the kids will enjoy!

  18. I just found this. (Online nothing dies.) and it's perfect for my "harvest basket" weaving project with young kids - elementary school age. I think I will look for rectangular produce containers to get the harvest-y vibe. Thanks!