This tactical / survival material is not only useful when in the wilds, it's also a really versatile and inexpensive material for making indoor projects like these durable paracord baskets.
One of the benefits of using paracord vs. cotton rope is that the nylon paracord won't mold or get musty making it perfect for holding both organic and inorganic stuff.
Now let's get started outfitting the great indoors...
Step 1: Supplies
- 100 feet of 7 strand 550 paracord in your desired color (per 6" x 7" basket)
- polyester threads in cord complimenting colors*
*Changing out the thread color as you sew allows you to make more visually dynamic/fun baskets = stripes are rad.
- standard sewing machine
- as many bobbins as chosen thread colors (not pictured)
Step 2: Pre-load
Pre-load your bobbins with all the colors of thread you plan on using. This will save you time and make swapping out the thread colors less of a hassle.
Step 3: Getting Started
Prep the sewing machine with the color you'd like to have on the bottom/lower portion of the basket. (dark teal in my case)
Find the end of your paracord coil and set the coil to the left of your machine with a long tail free and ready to start sewing with.
Step 4: Trim
Trim the end of the end. :)
Bend the end as if to start coiling it up like a nautilus shell and snip off the core threads that poke out of the outer sheathe.
Step 5: Machine Settings
Set your machine to:
1. medium/long zigzag stitch
2. stitch length of '2'
3. tension of '4'
NOTE: Since there are so many different sewing machines out there, you may have to tweak the settings for your particular machine. I recommend doing a small test before diving in.
Step 6: Starting the Coil
You will be sewing the paracord in a flat coil to create the floor/bottom of the basket.
To get this started, fold 1/4" of the end over on itself and then fold it once more. It should look like what I'm holding up in the first image of this step.
Pinch the tiny coil 'seed' and carefully place it under the foot of the sewing machine, lowering the foot once it's in place.
Pressing gently on the pedal, go back and forth over the tiny coil with your zigzag stitch until the shape is secured. (like pictured)
Step 7: Coil and Repeat
Wrap one more coil and repeat the back and forth zigzag stitch.
Step 8: Go Big!
You should now be able to turn the coil while you sew without having to remove and reposition it.
Go slowly until you figure out the best position and turning technique so that the stitch is catching (and connecting) the outer two paracord coils (like pictured).
The diameter of your flat coil will be the approximate diameter of your basket, so keep going until you've made it your desired width.
I made this one for a 6" plant pot, so I stopped just past 6".
Step 9: Building the Wall
Now it's time to change directions from horizontal sewing to vertical in order to make the basket wall.
To do this, you'll need to change the setting on your machine to a simple straight stitch.
Then, lift the tail of the coil up so that it's sitting directly on top of the outside ring of the coil. (like the second image above)
Slowly sew up the paracord 'ramp' making sure that the cord stays directly on top of the coil below it.
Sew one rotation/coil with a straight stitch down the middle. Stop when you're back to where the top coil started.
**DO NOT CUT THE CORD. This step won't happen until the basket is done.
Step 10: Lean Into It
Set the machine back to a zigzag stitch.
Put the top coil you just sewed on under the machine foot, holding the flat coil at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. The goal is to sew the next coil on at a Right angle to the basket 'bottom' using the last coil as an anchor for that directional transition.
The first coil will be a bit tricky, so just go slowly and don't sweat it if the 90 degree angle doesn't happen right away. It may take a couple of coils to achieve Right angle-ness.
Step 11: Make Pretty + Straight
After a few more coils, you might want to change thread color to make the basket more decorative.
I went from a dark teal to a light grey.
As you're sewing up the wall, stop and pull out the basket occasionally (cutting the thread each time) to make sure the wall is going straight up instead of out at an angle. If it is angling, start gently pulling the paracord tail as you sew it on. This will add tension and tighten up the circumference, cinching in the coils. Do this gradually to correct the wall angle.
NOTE: If you're feeling adventurous, you can also use this technique to play with the shape/profile of the basket. I haven't tried this yet, but I imagine you could get some fun results. For inspiration, check out the mind blowingly amazing work of Doug Johnston.
Step 12: More Color!
I swapped out the thread again about 2 1/2" up the wall to add a couple of pink stripes.
Step 13: Measure Up
When you think you've made the wall high enough for your application (my plant pot was 4 3/4" high = a 5" wall) cut off the paracord leaving about 1 1/2" tail.
Step 14: Finishing It Off
Leaving the setting on zigzag, fold the short tail over the inside top of the basket and sew it in place with some back and forth stitching, making sure to sew down the wild and frayed end bits.
Step 15: And That's How It's Made!
You're now ready to store things, hold stuff, and display goods in a great looking (and homemade) way.
Step 16: Bask in the Your Baskets!
Like so... :)
Happy making everyone!