Upcycling // wicker laundry basket

unpicking_laundry_basket

I headed off to university accompanied by a newly bought laundry basket, a fabric symbol of soon to be tested self-sufficiency and independence. It was perfect for my transient life – just material and a spring, it folded down flat for storage during the weeks outside of term-time. Ten years on, my life is a bit more settled but that laundry basket is looking pretty tired.

With all that in mind I picked up a wicker basket from a charity shop for £4 to replace it. The only thing it lacked was a lining. I wanted to make one with what I already had lying around the house and was immensely satisfied to realise the fabric from the old basket would be  more than sufficient. The fabric basket was a tube of fabric, closed at the bottom, with a section of bias binding enclosing the spring around the outside of the tube. To turn it into a lining for the wicker basket I needed to remover the spring and make it smaller.

two_laundry_baskets

Upcycling tools needed: unpicker | scissors | thread | button | sewing machine

How I did it:

  1. I unpicked the top seam to enable me to extract the metal spring that gave the basket its structure. I also unpicked a gap in the bottom seam, so that I could push the spring from the bottom as well as pulling it from the top. This made it much easier to ease out of the fabric. Using scissors instead of unpicking would be a quicker method, but the thrifter in me wanted to preserve as much fabric as possible.
  2. As the fabric basket was bigger than the wicker basket, I then unpicked the top section of the fabric to make the lining the right size, including the bias binding that had covered the spring.sewing_laundry_basket
  3. I sewed that bias binding over the raw edge of the top of the tube of the lining to create a neat edge.
  4. I sewed shut the gap in the seam at the bottom of the lining from removing the spring.
  5. I now had a neat lining the right size for the wicker basket. I needed something to hold it tight over the top of the basket. Ideally I would probably have sewn in some elastic, but I didn’t have any in the house. Instead I raided my box of buttons for a bright yellow button (because why not?) to fasten the fabric tight around the top of the basket. In case this doesn’t work I made sure the lining was big enough to add elastic later if necessary. A month later, I’m happy to report my button method seems to be working.

finished_wicker_basket

Simple to do and costing nothing more than the basket itself. My ideal kind of upcycling!

As I dismantled the original basket, I was struck by the fact that somebody else had been responsible for putting it together. Their hands had constructed the very seams I was unpicking. It was a fresh reminder to consider the people behind the things that we buy. I wrote more about this a few months ago here.

Today’s soundtrack: Daughter // If You Leave

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