Introduction: Braided T-shirt Yarn Basket

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 A good way to pass an afternoon or lazy night in front of the TV! This basket is made from old t-shirts that are made into a braid and then sewn together. It'll take a few hours to make a basket, but it's pretty easy. And it's a great way to use old t-shirts. You can make cute baskets to store ALL THE THINGS!

Don't have any extra t-shirts but you've got a load of plastic shopping bags? Check out my instructable on making a basket out of plastic bags!

Step 1: What You'll Need:

  • old t-shirts you can turn into yarn and then braid!
  • scissors
  • thread
  • needles
  • optional: thimble & beeswax

Step 2: Make T-shirt Yarn!

The first step in our amazing basket journey. It's pretty easy and shouldn't take long at all. :D

I've put up a separate instructable for this because it was definitely too long to fit in this one.

Click here to find out how to make your own t-shirt yarn!

Step 3: Braid the Yarn!

Now for the fun part - braiding the t-shirt yarn. Pick three colors that complement each other nicely and sew together the ends of the yarn as shown in the second picture. It'll take just a few stitches to secure them together!

Once that's done, get to braiding!

It will get fairly tangled because the ends are so long (see picture four - it braids itself lower down!), but this can be helped a bit by attaching the end of the braid to something and trying to keep the t-shirt yarn in three separate piles. I hid in out back bedroom (storage room?) from the ferocious t-shirt yarn hunter cats and pinned the end of the braid to my dressmaker's mannequin and got going!

Don't braid too tight or pull the yarn too hard, it can warp the braid! Braid firmly without pulling. :)

I got roughly 24 feet of braid from three t-shirts, so not bad at all!

If you would like to continue braiding but are about to run out of yarn, sew three new strands of t-shirt yarn to the ends of the one in the braid. That way it'll get the braid nice and flat. :)

Step 4: Sew the Bottom of the Basket

You'll use a double threaded needle for sewing the basket together. :)

Start by turning the braid on its side. Turn in the very end of the braid as shown in the second picture. Take your needle and sew the folded over bit of braid together by going through the very top edge of the braid's fabric.

Keep winding the braid around, securing each new edge to the previous edge. Always start from the inside edge, push the needle through to the outer edge, and then carry the thread back to the inner edge.

The photos give a better explanation of this!

Make sure to add a stitch every 2-3 braid segments, otherwise the bottom of the basket will be sewn too loosely and won't be strong enough.

To knot off when you come to the end of the thread, push the needle through the inner edge and outer edge of your braid and few times and then tie off. Picture seven shows this pretty clearly!

Another good tip - don't pull the braid taut and then sew it. I tried this at one point, and when I tied it off and let go of the bottom of the basket, it curled up on itself. So don't work too tightly or you'll have to do lots of work over again. ;)

Step 5: Sew the Sides of the Basket

Get another super long bit of doubled thread through your needle! If you've got beeswax around, it will be very useful for this part - it'll keep your thread from tangling and snagging. :)

Start where you tied off your last bit of thread holding the bottom together. Pull the braid coming out of the bottom of the basket up so that it begins to rise above the bottom of the basket.

Push your needle through the edge of the basket bottom so that it comes out below the braid that you've raised up. Pull the thread all the way through, keep it tight, and loop it over the braid. Go down through the edge of the basket bottom once again a few segments away and go over the braid once more.

Keep pushing the needle through the lower layer and bringing it up over the current bit of braid you're working on, going around and around. Make sure to keep the thread tight but not too tight - too tight here means the braids can curl and turn in, which will make it look funny.

Try to keep your stitches even - I did this by figuring out with fabric the needle passed through the easiest (in my case, the pink!) and tried to always insert my needle through the pink segments.

To tie off the thread once you get to the end, anchor your current braid to the braid below it using tiny stitches and tie the thread off on the inside of the basket. You don't want any knot on the outside!

If you're having issues understand this bit, please check out my previous basket instructable! If that doesn't explain it either, leave me a comment and I'll do my best to clear up any confusion. :)

Step 6: Finishing the Basket

Once you get to the end of your braid, tuck the end into the inside of the rim of the basket. Keep doing the under and over stitches until the very end. At the end of the braid, anchor the top to the top of the basket, and anchor the bottom to the inside of the basket and tie off!

You're done!

Step 7: Final Thoughts :D

All in all, this was a really fun project to do, but I feel like it could be improved upon!

I think it would be nice to work with a thicker braid, use embroidery floss or yarn to sew it together, or add handles to the top of the basket. I also want to look into different ways to sew together the basket - I feel like it could be tons stronger than it is now. I originally thought about using a machine, but I had a feeling it'd turn into a big fight if I did that. Sometimes my machine is a jerk.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, leave them in the comments. :D

Want to make a basket of your own? Post it in the comments and I'll give you a free 3 month pro membership! I hope I'll get to see some baskets!