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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  • This is the perfect idea for my closet and new bookshelf! Nice that you can make them exactly the size you need, too. I wonder whether it would work to sew or découpage fabric onto cardboard; or would that be too thick? Probably would be sturdier, though… worth a try!

    Oooh, I’d also make a few for cupboards and cut shelf liner to fit inside the bottom – one for baking stuff, one for sauces, and it will be an awesome spice “drawer” until I get a proper rack!

  • I’m doing it with news paper and with some staples (i don’t have a sewing machine and my stitching is not good enough) and it’s looking pretty good!!

    • Can you send me the instructions on how you used staples. I don’t have a sewing machine either!

  • Would this work with non-paper materials like 3.5 mil plastic sheeting? There are a lot of outdoor/wet applications for custom baskets or holders that are very hard to fabricate out of wood or solid plastic so being able to sew something up would be great.

  • I love this post and have sent it to lots of my friends. I knew that there must be a use for this paper which is stuffed into Amazon parcels. I also cut it into smaller pieces, double thickness, and seam down the side with my sewing maching to make envelopes – it was your post that gave me the idea.

  • Me encanto la propuesta, muy útil sobre todo a las q haces trabajos manuales……..besitos

  • This almost reminds me of those trendy seatbelt bags…they finish them with one strip folded in half along the top :)

  • I think I am going to make baskets out of Christmas wrapping paper and fill them with popcorn balls for gifts. :o) Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Great idea, the kiddies and I have made similar baskets before out of newsprint, but I never though to sew them! They look brilliant. Will definitely be making some more.

  • I love it! I’m going to use wrapping paper and make baskets for cookies –really very cute! Thanks for posting this.

  • I always see small magazine versions of this which wouldn’t really help me, my dad has a massive roll of brown paper that he got when he left his job years ago along with some other things. This would be perfect to put all of my needles and wool in for knitting :) perfect.

  • LOVE this! My 11 YO just made a similar version using paper bags…not as big as this but still adorable! Instead of sewing around the edges, she just drew a broken line around it…one of my favorite 4H projects this year!

  • I saw this on Pinterest a while ago and thought this was an awesome idea! Well, I finally have a ton of that paper packaging and will finally have a chance to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

  • Any reason newspaper would not work? I know the ink might rub off, but seems you could spray it when finished and add a little more stiffness/sturdiness to the basket?

  • I didn’t have enough paper strips, so I substituted some birch bark strips (from found fallen logs.) Thanks for the tutorial! Looks great.

  • Such a great idea. Paper inside for the stiffness and cloth outside for the decor. All natural baskets and ecolo too. Thank you for the instructions.

  • Hi love this storsge basket tutorial I love to weaving things together such as (paper,magazine etc); so I found this as an excellent way to organize stuff & honestly I’m that sort of person who don’t like to throw away stuff; I’m a keeper; so I thank you for sharing this tutorial as a way to get organize & I’m in the process of organizing stuff; but I’m.taking it one day at a time doing abit of tidying up & so forth.I look forward to your response A.S.A.P & TA & for Enoughing Me to Get Organize.

  • Brilliant idea and just what I needed. I was looking for a project to use up a big roll like the one you have. Thanks a million. And I have a roll of wallpaper left over from a feature wall in my bedroom so I can even have one in there too. Who knows, I might even keep my bedroom tidy!!

  • I made one today with chicken feed paper bags !! too bad I can’t post a picture :-) TNX for the inspiration!! Yvonne (the Netherlands)

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