101brett baraDIYdiy projectssewing 101

sewing 101: recycled paper basket

by Brett

Thanks to a few recent online purchases, I had an enormous pile of long brown packing paper strips in my studio. I couldn’t bear to just recycle it; it seemed to have so much crafty potential. So tasked with the challenge of creating a project to help get organized for the new year, I decided to turn that pile of paper into a woven basket. Folded into strips and edged with stitching, the paper took on a whole new quality that calls to mind upholstery webbing or even leather. This project is super easy to do, takes only an afternoon and is a great way to give new life to leftover materials. Let’s get started! — Brett Bara

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • long lengths of paper (I used packing paper, but wallpaper scraps or gift wrap would work great, too.)
  • sewing machine
  • glue or hot glue
  • paperclips



1. Fold and sew the strips.

Starting with a large piece of paper (mine was 30″ wide), begin folding the strips. Simply fold up the edge about 1″, then continue folding it over and over onto itself, creasing the paper well with each fold. The number of folds you make will depend on how heavy your paper is; I folded mine so that there were about 10 layers total. The goal is to make strips that feel sturdy but not so stiff that they won’t be able to bend around the curves of the basket.

Next, sew along one edge of the strip, about 1/8″ or so from the folded edge.

Then repeat along the other edge of the strip. Repeat this process to make as many strips as you plan to use for the base of your basket. I used eight total.

2. Weave the strips.

Weave the strips together so they create a large cross shape. If there is a wrong side to your strips (i.e., a side where you see the raw edge of the paper or any other flaws), situate these so they are facing up, which means they’ll be hidden on the inside of the basket when it’s finished.

It helps to secure the overlapping strips around the perimeter so that things won’t slip around too much while you’re working.

Next, measure the width of one side of the cross. Add about 2″ to that measurement then multiply by 4. This is the length your strips will need to be to create the sides of the basket. Make several strips to this length, using the same method as above.

Then begin weaving the long strips to create the sides. The first round is the most awkward — I find it helps to temporarily hold the strips in place with paperclips as you go.

To finish off the ends of the first round, just overlap the two ends and tuck them in (you will probably have to trim them so that the ends will hide behind another strip rather than poke out). At this point, you can either paperclip the ends or secure them with a dab of hot glue.

Then simply continue creating rounds in the same way, moving the paperclips up on each round as you work. I did four rounds total, but you can make your basket as shallow or as tall as you like.

3. Finishing

To finish off the top edge of the basket, fold all the strips to the inside . . .

. . . and then trim the raw edges and tuck them into strips from the rounds below. Secure all the folded strips in place with a bit of glue so none of them sneak out of place.

And that’s it! Use this basket to corral household clutter or craft supplies, and if you get tired of it, well, just recycle it. Happy organizing!

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