This post is part of a series about my journey making baskets from punctured bicycle inner tubes. To see them all, click here.
I’d look for examples in leather or paper, as I could see some similarities between the materials when handled in certain ways. I came across an interesting looking tutorial for a paper basket from The Craftaholic Witch, and thought I’d give it a go with tubes.
Quite simply I wanted to see if this could work. I had some strips already cut – they were for a normal basket, but didn’t quite fill the form I had in mind.
At this kind of early stage I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, I just wanted to stay curious, so I didn’t even time myself.
I used a size 6 form (more info on what that means in this post) as it fit the width of inner tubes (all about 4 cm wide). Even though the tutorial didn’t use one, I knew inner tubes could be an absolute floppy nightmare if I didn’t have a structure to clip them to.
It was still a bit of a pain to be honest – the structure of the basket isn’t really set until it’s complete (I’m not sure how else to explain that…it felt a little like knitting a row without needles?). Somehow the basket turned out really well. Call it beginner’s luck!
Spiral Basket 1
- Size: about 13 cm across at the bottom and 11 cm tall to a point.
- Rivets: 12
- Hand Press Presses: 24
It’s a bit lacking in stats like I said.
The above picture isn’t my favourite angle though – check out the gallery below for some absolute gorgeousness.
Other Angles and Thoughts
The top view is my favourite.
It was interesting to see the differences between this and the paper version, namely that slight twist the top develops. It looks like some kind of flower, I’m absolutely obsessed.
My husband is a huge fan of this kind of basket, too. Although he’s very supportive with my business, I could tell the other baskets I made weren’t really his thing. He actively questioned me making ones with valves – but he’s not my target customer so I just ignored him and laughed about it with his sister (of A Good Talking To, who I do markets with).
With this one though he kept talking about it, and more or less made me bring them with to the Wasteless Market last weekend. It wasn’t for sale though.
Notes for Next Time
I wasn’t sure I was happy with how I finished off the top. Was there some kind of way to fold the ends under for a neater look? I had an idea to try next time.
But what I struggled with most was not knowing how to plan and cut my materials.
With the straight basket weave, I could easily measure out how long everything needed to be, even if I’d never used the form before, reducing waste. I could picture how it would come together and plan ahead to make sure as much of the writing, patches, and other interesting bits of character would be visible on the final basket as possible.
This was like writing in some kind of foreign language I didn’t speak or really understand.
Needless to say it took me a while to make another one.
It was long enough between my first and second attempts that it almost felt like starting from scratch. I didn’t have any lengths of inner tube cut ahead of time, so I tried to use full tubes.
I did try something a bit different with construction, too, using clothes pins like in the paper tutorial I followed. The bulkiness of the peg made it hard to work with the form, and they didn’t have enough strength to keep the unwieldy inner tubes together.
While I did end up making a basket, I can’t say I was very happy at the end of it.
I thought there had to be a better way, so I disassembled this and regrouped.
Being a bit more systematic
Often when I’m sewing I’ll do a mock up in a similar material. For bags I’ll often use paper, as I have a lot of it around with one or both sides covered in writing or misprinted sewing patterns.
I thought if I could cut some strips to the right width I could assemble the basket, then take it apart to get a rough guide of what I needed to cut.
It looks so orderly laid out like that, though I wish I’d marked the “over” sections of the weave so I could use them as a template for featuring patches or writing.
But with having a rough idea of what lengths to cut, I felt more confident having another go.
Inner Tube Construction
I swapped out my clothes pegs for something more suitable working on a form – a spare band of inner tube I’d riveted together for another basket but hadn’t used.
There aren’t any pictures of this assembly either, but it did make a difference in helping me keep everything from just going everywhere.
The other difference to my first attempt was I went one row (?) higher in the weave because I could, and to see how that would change things.
Oh and I did try folding the ends under, but it made everything too bulky and complicated so I just trimmed it off as I had before. That look is growing on me.
Spiral Basket 2
I used the same form and size of inner tube as attempt 1, but this one’s slightly higher (about 14 cm total).
There is another difference I wasn’t expecting, best seen in the top angle below.
Other Angles and Thoughts
Hmm, maybe you can’t really see! The twist is more pronounced, so the top is more closed in than the lower basket. There’s also an issue of a slightly wonky point, which you can definitely see in the picture below.
It curves in more than the others – maybe one of those tubes is a bit too short or long – stretched or given too much slack with all the faffing about I did attempting the initial folded under finish.
Nevermind, it’s still lovely to look at.
Thoughts for Next Time
That second basket made me feel more confident with this style. The idea of making a paper trial for every size of inner tube/basket I want to attempt this with does put me off a little, if only because that would increase the price of the final product.
But I think this style of basket is slightly more limited in the variety of baskets I can make, especially with the forms I have right now.
In my head all the tubes need to be the same width and I need construct it with strips cut in multiples of four. Though I’ll have a play around with some paper to double check. I’ve also seen oblong examples as purses, which I may have to try out as well…eventually.
Although it’s still like a foreign language, I’m starting to grasp bits here and there.
This Blog Going Forwards
We’re finally caught up to where I am with this process! So going forward don’t expect to see the same kind of leaps of style as there have been. Each basket is a unique construction, with its own characteristics and quirks, and in future I’d love to feature more detail of each one I make instead of breezing on through.
I may post a little less frequently or (gasp) write about something besides baskets.