How to Coil a Basket

19 Apr 2008

This is a cool craft indeed! I'm going to give you the basics here, and some ideas for jumping-off points. Let's get right to it!

So, get yourself a package of cotton clothesline at your local variety or hardware store. I buy a 50-foot pack locally for about $2.50. When you cut this stuff, the ends fray like crazy. So you'll want to wrap the cut end in a little masking tape . . .

. . . And then cut that on a diagonal.

We're going to wrap our clothesline in some yarn. I like to use up scraps of leftover yarn for coil basket-making. I've cut about three yards here, which is a nice length to work with. See how I've loosely bundled one end of it? This comes in handy during the initial steps of your basket.

Lay the end of your yarn and the end of your clothesline side by side, like this.

Then, begin wrapping the yarn around the clothesline. You're wrapping toward the end of the clothesline, as shown here. And you're also wrapping over the cut end of the yarn.

A note on wrapping: you want the yarn to be snug around the clothesline, and very close together, so it covers the clothesline completely.

You'll want to wrap enough clothesline so that you can bend it like this, and have the wrapped part cover the entire bend.

Continue wrapping then, and wrap over the end of the clothesline, covering up the cut end, and about 1/2" along the leading end of the clothesline.

Before you go any further, you'll want to unwind the yarn bundle you made in the beginning, and thread the other end of the yarn onto a big-eyed, blunt tapestry needle. And this photo shows the same wrapped end you saw in the previous photo, just pointing the opposite direction now.

Now, take that wrapped end and carefully begin to coil it. Hold it in this coil while you grab the needle-end of the yarn.

We're going to anchor this little coil now. You do this by passing your needle through the coil above, as shown.

Pull the yarn all the way through (and remember, it's several yards, so this will take a little pulling). This makes a little stitch, which anchors that coil in place.

Then, you begin the repetitive part: wrap the yarn 3-4 times around the clothesline, and then take another stitch in the coil above to anchor. Wrap 3-4 more times, and then take another stitch. Easy!

Actually, the challenging part of this craft is yarn-management. Because you're dealing with long lengths of the stuff, you can get kind of tangled up as you wrap it around and around.

Here's how I do it: I kind of wad the yarn up, literally, wadding it up in my fist, with the needle-threaded end floating somewhere in the wad. Then, I toss this wad of yarn over the clothesline several times. That makes the loose wraps you see here . . .

. . . And then I set that wadded yarn down, and pull and twist those loose wraps with my fingers until they're snug. Then, I shake that wad of yarn out, find my needle, and take an anchoring stitch.

That little system, while efficient, may create a knot or two in your yarn. If you notice one, take a moment and untie it.

You can see here that, as you coil your way along, you'll keep increasing the number of wraps you make in between those anchoring stitches. I started with 3-4 wraps for the first couple of coils. Then I went to 5-6 for the next few coils. Then I went to 6-7. This is a good place to settle in: 6-7 wraps, then an anchor stitch. You don't want to add more wraps than this between stitches, because then your basket won't hold together well.

Also, your yarn will of course get shorter and easier-to-manage as you go.

. . . Bet you're wondering how to end a strand of yarn. Well, here's how! You make one last anchor stitch, as shown here . . .

. . . And then you pass the needle under several stitches on the coil. Then, cut the end off.

To begin a new strand (or a new color, as shown here), lay the end of the new strand along the clothesline, as shown here. Thread the other end of the strand onto a needle.

Begin wrapping with the new strand, making sure you start right up against the old strand. You're also wrapping over the end of the new strand.

. . . And then proceed as normal.

At some point, the base of your basket will be as large as you want it, and it will be time to build the walls of your basket. So as you coil, you'll begin positioning the new coil above the old one, instead of next to it.

You can adjust the shape with your fingers as you coil, too. So this image shows the beginning of the walls. From here, you just keep coiling and shaping.

When you're ready to end your basket, you'd cut the end of the clothesline, tape it, and cut it on the diagonal. Then you can wrap and stitch this end down to the last coil of your basket.

There's a lot more information on patterns and variations in this book, The Fibercraft Sampler. I found my copy on Paperback Swap, and I'm sure it's on eBay, too. Keep in mind that you can use other things besides clothesline for your coil - like that paper-coil stuff, or twine. And you can certainly use your novelty yarns in the wraps, too. Happy Coiling!

Comments

Wow! And yet again another great crafting idea.. I haven't got time yet to do the smart miature woven on heavy paper from some posts ago, and now you're hitting us with yet another iressistable project.. please, don't be so creative, I can't keep up!! ;) love d^-^b


Wonderful job making the procedure! You should definitely be an art teacher or something!

-Ambi


I want to commend you on your directions for coiling a basket. I haven't made one for years and was looking for a brush-up. Your description and pictures were very clear and concise. Thank you.


Thank you so much for your very thorough tutorial. I did this in Junior High, about 16 years ago. I wanted to teach it to my fourth grade class and couldn't remember how I did it. I had my basket in front of me and was just kind of looking at it and still wondering. I did a search and looked around for a long time. Then I found this site and was completely impressed. My fourth graders will be very pleased and happy to make this as a Mother's day gift and a social studies connection.

Thanks again,

Kristy


I have to agree this is the easiest demo/instructions for making a coil basket. When I was in highschool (a very, very long time ago) I thoroughly enjoyed my weaving class. And, of course, I couldn't remember how to get it started (or ended...ha ha). Now, that I'm in the class room with 3rd graders I wanted to pass this art on to them. They so desperately need the small handwork and something that will help them focus and relax! You made my day!!


What a great tutorial! Thanks for keeping my list of "crafts to try" ever-growing. ;)


Thanks for a great tutorial. I've always wanted to try coiling with yarn but was afraid it would be too complicated. Your post makes it looks easy!


PaperbackSwap is so great, isn't it?
Love this lesson. I look forward to making a basket!


I see a trivet in my future.


This=super cool!


I haven't made those in years! I actually have a weaving that I did on a branch and then embellished with the wrapped cord. If you want I will get a picture to show you. There are so many uses for that cording! I think that I need to dig out some scraps and do that again. Thanks for the reminder!


Wow! My students will love this!!!


WONDERFUL, beautiful, amazing

I was looking for instructions. I took a class many years ago and forgot.

Your photos are a blessing, thank you.


GREAT DIRECTIONS. I'VE BEEN WONDERING HOW THESE BOWLS WERE MADE. LOOKS LIKE I'M GOING TO HAVE A NEW WINTER PROJECT.... THANKS..


I've been hunting for clear, concise details on coiling basket techniques for awhile now. This is without doubt the clearest and best set of instructions I've looked through. Well done, and thank you for this excellent tutorial.

Ginny


What a wonderful tutorial! I was on another website where I saw a coiled basket for sale and thought - hmmmm, wonder if I can find directions on how to do this. Lucky me - I found these directions - Thanks for such a clear explanation.


very good and clear directions on how to do coiling, thank you so much, i was afraid to start making a basket, but now I get it.

thank you,
Sue Collins


A great tutorial. Thank you very much indeed.


Funnily enough, before I read this I had already ordered a book to give me instructions, then I found your post, now the book has arrived, this tutorial is MUCH better. Thanks once again. [know anyone who needs a book?]
Cheers


Sister Diane, Thanks so much for your reply. I've checked both sites you've suggested, but they did not have what I was looking for. However, in the mean time another crafter gave me an idea, which I used, with slight differences, and it works great. I'm still working on perfecting this, but I know I'll be able to add almost any designs to my baskets. If you wish to see a couple of the baskets I'm working on right now, I'll be happy to email you a picture. Or you can let me know how to post it here.


Very precise instructions, thank you.
I do have a question: I would like to make some designs on a basket not just rows of changing colors. Could you give me some ideas on how to do this? I have searched the net for a long time now without any luck. Lots of instructions on making pine needle baskets and such, but nothing for baskets made with yarn. I've always admired the Native Indian art and would like to learn to make some of those designs on my yarn coiled baskets.
Thank you.


I haven't seen much information online, but you might check your local
library for some older books on this craft.

This tutorial explains how to use colors in a controlled way: http://www.pacon.com/projects/Trait-texBasket.html

This one involves striping: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/desert2.html

Hope that helps!


I'm glad you found what you needed, Kuan Yin. I'd love to see a picture, if you'd like to email me one!


i just wanted to thank you for suck a detailed clear tutorial. I make baskets out of recycled plastic and am often asked how to do it. I never seem to have the time to create a tutorial and have shared your tutorial with many. I have looked at dozens of tutorials on the internet but yours is the best. Thank you.
Sarahracha


I haven't made those in years! I actually have a weaving that I did on a branch and then embellished with the wrapped cord. If you want I will get a picture to show you. There are so many uses for that cording! I think that I need to dig out some scraps and do that again. Thanks for the reminder!


This=super cool!


I see a trivet in my future.


What a great tutorial! Thanks for keeping my list of "crafts to try" ever-growing. ;)


Thanks for a great tutorial. I've always wanted to try coiling with yarn but was afraid it would be too complicated. Your post makes it looks easy!


PaperbackSwap is so great, isn't it?
Love this lesson. I look forward to making a basket!


Wow! And yet again another great crafting idea.. I haven't got time yet to do the smart miature woven on heavy paper from some posts ago, and now you're hitting us with yet another iressistable project.. please, don't be so creative, I can't keep up!! ;) love d^-^b


Thank you so much for your very thorough tutorial. I did this in Junior High, about 16 years ago. I wanted to teach it to my fourth grade class and couldn't remember how I did it. I had my basket in front of me and was just kind of looking at it and still wondering. I did a search and looked around for a long time. Then I found this site and was completely impressed. My fourth graders will be very pleased and happy to make this as a Mother's day gift and a social studies connection.

Thanks again,

Kristy


I want to commend you on your directions for coiling a basket. I haven't made one for years and was looking for a brush-up. Your description and pictures were very clear and concise. Thank you.


Wow! My students will love this!!!


very good and clear directions on how to do coiling, thank you so much, i was afraid to start making a basket, but now I get it.

thank you,
Sue Collins


I've been hunting for clear, concise details on coiling basket techniques for awhile now. This is without doubt the clearest and best set of instructions I've looked through. Well done, and thank you for this excellent tutorial.

Ginny


GREAT DIRECTIONS. I'VE BEEN WONDERING HOW THESE BOWLS WERE MADE. LOOKS LIKE I'M GOING TO HAVE A NEW WINTER PROJECT.... THANKS..


Wonderful job making the procedure! You should definitely be an art teacher or something!

-Ambi


I have to agree this is the easiest demo/instructions for making a coil basket. When I was in highschool (a very, very long time ago) I thoroughly enjoyed my weaving class. And, of course, I couldn't remember how to get it started (or ended...ha ha). Now, that I'm in the class room with 3rd graders I wanted to pass this art on to them. They so desperately need the small handwork and something that will help them focus and relax! You made my day!!


WONDERFUL, beautiful, amazing

I was looking for instructions. I took a class many years ago and forgot.

Your photos are a blessing, thank you.


What a wonderful tutorial! I was on another website where I saw a coiled basket for sale and thought - hmmmm, wonder if I can find directions on how to do this. Lucky me - I found these directions - Thanks for such a clear explanation.


A great tutorial. Thank you very much indeed.


Funnily enough, before I read this I had already ordered a book to give me instructions, then I found your post, now the book has arrived, this tutorial is MUCH better. Thanks once again. [know anyone who needs a book?]
Cheers


I can't tell you how much this tutorial has helped me. I have been teaching coiling forseveral years in my Fibers & Fabric Design classes and have collected illustrrations and various pictures through out the years. This was one of those full proof lessons I had with classes of 35. Unfortunatley our school flooded with 6 feet of water this summer and all of my instructions and examples were ruined. A wonderful coworker of mine came to my aid and found your site.I now have this wonderful tutorial to use to get the students involved and indendent support lessons. Many Thanks, E. Hader Milwaukee


wow! you're so helpful...i'm going to make one of these right now!! :)


Thank you! I promised my cat a new bed made this way about two years ago, but have yet to get to it. Which he never tires of reminding me of. :-)


Thanks, very clear instuctions and photos!


Oh my goddness! We are doing this in school for arts class and we are using a thing called fiber flex for a core, and it is good to know another thing i can use, because i cant find it anywhere!


I started to make a 10' coiled basket from fabric strips over cord, but the bottom circle wasn't firm enough, and it sagged. Any ideas for fixing this? Where did I go wrong?


I think the firmness of that bottom circle really comes down to how tightly you're stitching each new row of coil to the previous one. It can get a bit fiddly in this early stage, but if you're seeing sagging, I think the thing to try is stitching those coils more tightly together. Another thing to look at is, does the fabric you're using have any inherent stretchiness? Maybe it's "growing" in length once you've wrapped the coils together. Since you're using fabric, I suppose you could also use a needle and thread to help re-inforce the connection between the rows. You could stitch in and out between the rows, and the stitches should stay pretty hidden.

Hope that helps!


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