Many people at Lehman’s on Saturday asked if we had a tutorial on how to make the coil basket from grocery bags. About half of the people who picked it up had no idea what it was made of, and most people were shocked at how beautiful it looked in spite of literally being made from trash! I promised that we would post on how to make it, in detail this week, and here it is!

 

This project is perfect for seat of the pants crafting, since there are no new items to be purchased. If you have a tapestry needle, VHS tape from inside a cassette, scissors and a million plastic bags you are in good shape.

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To get started off, thread your needle with an arm’s length of VHS tape, then fold a plastic bag in quarters, removing all the air. (Please note this tutorial is very photo heavy and the rest of the images will be thumbnails. If you need to see something in more detail, click on the image to see it full size.)

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Looking at your folded bag from the side, you will see at the bottom there is a pocket from where the factory has sealed the bag shut. Fold this pocket open and enclose all of the other layers inside it. This aides in keeping the bag uniform while twisting it into coils. Snip a small hole in the bottom of the bag so that the trapped air will escape and prevent the inflation of a balloon at the end of your bag.

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Now, turn your bag around to the end with the handles and tie the end of the VHS tape into the handles and begin to twist up the bag, and wrap the VHS tape around the coiled bag to secure it.

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As you continue to wrap the basket into a coil, continue to twist the bag around itself into a tight rope. Secure the newest twisted bag to the coil by inserting the needle into the space between the two previous layers of twisted bag-rope. It gets easier to find this space as the basket gets larger.

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Eventually you will run out of bag to twist into rope. When this happens cut a one and a half inch slit through all of the layers of the bag you are working with. Prepare the next bag in the same fashion as the first, and then insert the handles of the second bag through the slit in the first.

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Bring the end of the second bag through the loop made by the handles and keeping the bags as flat together as possible pull the end through to make a flat knot.

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Continue twisting the bag, coiling it, and securing the layers with the VHS tape. As you can see, when the basket gets larger, the VHS tape makes a spiraled stripe pattern. For uniformity try to keep these lined up. When you come to the end of the VHS tape on your needle, cut a new length and tie it on with a simple knot. Wrap the loose ends in while you coil up your basket.

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As your basket becomes larger you will probably want to stop weaving a flat disk and begin to coil upwards. To do this just lay the new layer on top of your previous layer and stitch the VHS tape in the same as before. The method is very similar to making a coil pot with clay.

To make a handle on your basket continue to twist your bag, but instead of securing the new layer into the space between the previous layers as before, just wrap the VHS tape around the bag-rope until you have the length of handle you want. Then secure the handle end to the rest of the basket by returning to the main stitch pattern into the previous layers.

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To make a second layer on your handles, when you come back to the handle after making your way around wrap the VHS tape around the first layer of the handle. Continue with the regular stitch pattern when you’ve reached the end of the handle. (Excuse the fact that this picture is of a different basket. These take a long time to make!)

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When your basket is finished trim your last bag off and wrap the VHS tape around it a few times to secure the end. Finally weave in the VHS tape in the same manner you would finish a knitting or crochet project. Cut off the end and there you have it– a traditional style of basket, made with modern materials salvaged from the landfill!

Happy Earth Day!