Project 16 Week 20 – Newspaper Basket

As soon as I spotted this project on the Nifty Thrifty Things blog I knew I had to try it.  I dreamt of making big baskets for fabric, small baskets for my jewelry, and on and on.

And then I tried it.

Lets just say this project has a special place in my heart right now because there were a good 30 minutes last night when I wasn’t sure it would make it out of the hot mess stage!  You all know the one, where the project in your hand looks so different from the one in the tutorial, and you’re not quite sure what went wrong but you know that somewhere along the way that easy sounding tutorial turned into your current nightmare.

Well, my basket made it, thanks to a whole lot of paper clips and some deep breaths.  And I figured I’d share some tips I learned along the way.  I followed the tutorial from Nifty Thrifty and it worked, but there were just some little tips that could have helped me so I figured I’d share them.

I found that my strips didn’t stay as neatly folded as hers did, so I glued each fold down with a glue stick.  And remember, you can use as many or as few strips as you want, but you need an even number going each direction.  I missed that memo the first time I tried.

The woven square that you first make is going to mostly be your base, but not entirely.  In my early attempt I was having trouble keeping my base together so I taped the square on the underside with packing tape.  Then I realized that the corners of your square actually end up wrapping around and becoming part of the sides of your basket, and the packing tape I had used made it difficult for that to happen.

Then we got to the ‘hot mess’ stage.  I got all the sides woven up, but it was very very loose and every time I tried to tighten the strips, it loosened up in a different spot.  That is when I discovered paper clips.  As you tighten a few of the strips, use the paper clips to keep them in place while you tighten the next couple of strips.  Keep going around and adding paper clips until your whole basket is tight.  I was so happy to have reached this stage that I just went ahead and stapled the pieces into place on the top edge.  I’m sure I could have done it in a nicer way, but I was terrified my basket would disintegrate in my hands!  And in the end I don’t think they are too horrible to the look.

Have you tried your own newspaper basket?  Have any tips for the basket challenged like myself?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment!

And don’t forget to check out all of my 30x30x3 projects in the 30x30x3 Project Log.

Ciao, Allison

*UPDATE:  For anyone else struggling, I found an awesome tutorial for this type of basket here.  She made hers from old maps, how awesome, I just picked up a bunch of those at my parents house.  Now I have an idea of what to make with them, sweet!

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20 Responses to Project 16 Week 20 – Newspaper Basket

  1. Our Bower says:

    I saw your post on craftgawker and had to try it out immediately!

    What I found was if I folded the papers into eighths, I struggled more as the paper wasn’t too stiff. I was defintely more successful with a slightly thinner version by folding into forths. But I used magazine paper.

    Another thing I found was with longer paper strips it was definitely easier! I used magazine paper and so it tended not to catch as well.

    Thanks for the inspiration and tips, they definitely helped! Will be posting my end product once I can get a photo of it!

    • Fantastic! I’m so glad to hear I inspired you to try out this fun little project. And its always great to hear what other people found helpful, maybe next time I’ll try magazines instead of newspaper, and a thinner version might also help. I was worried about my basket being too flimsy, but thats because newspaper is so thin, magazines certainly have more heft to begin with.
      I can’t wait to see photos! Thanks!

  2. Serena says:

    I see handbags made like this for sale at retail, so thanks for sharing. I saw this demonstrated on the show, “Craft Lab,” awhile ago, and in that program, the demonstrator used recycled candy wrap, the shiny, plasticy kind, to make a little clutch. She ended up hand sewing all the pieces together by running thread thru them. Sorry, I can’t give you specifics, but thought I’d share this bit of info in case it helps.

  3. Yes, I’ve seen those bags and purses for sale too. I’m sure you could make any shape you want, depending on how many strips you start out with. Maybe if you only have a couple going one direction and many more going the other direction you’ll get the rectangular shape of most of those bags. I think another reason to sew them together is it helps strengthen the overall shape, especially if you are using lots of smaller pieces like candy wrappers. Its a great way to recycle any sort of paper product so it certainly would be fun to see what else you could make. Maybe a tiny cup for earrings out of gum wrappers or something!

  4. doggietrail says:

    I tried it and probably spent record time in the hot mess stage on this. My brilliant idea to use a flower magazine from my junk mail pile became my ninth level of hell. Pretty flower magazine paper is simply shorter then pieces of newspaper. Wish I figured that out earlier. In fact, I had to give up and try again with a smaller number of paper pieces just to prove that. *sigh*

    I really disliked the directions and lack of large corresponding pictures on the Nifty Thrifty Things blog. I did love the project idea though. It just could have gone SO much smoother. I actually had just gotten done making these, so I was all about the folding. Perhaps I will re-tackle this again tonight with better results.

  5. I totally sympathize, this is the first project in a while to give me so much trouble! (In fact I have my first attempt sadly still sitting on my desk, it didn’t survive the hot mess stage either.)

    I agree about the directions on the Nifty Thrifty blog and wishing they matched up with photos. I had to read the instructions multiple times before I got it. I am sure there are better directions out there in cyberspace, since you see this sort of project in so many different places. You could try googling for a better tutorial. And maybe next time, before folding your strips you can glue to pages of magazine together so they are longer? It would probably work with the size you have, but would result in a very small box, and you’d probably want to do very skinny strips for the base.

    I hope you have better luck tonight, come back and let me know how it turns out, a flower magazine certainly seems like really pretty source material!

    And don’t forget the pile of paper clips, they helped me out of quite a number of jams! It was either that or I would have needed about 10 hands to hold all the different spots in place.

    • doggietrail says:

      I actually did resort to Googling. I was taunted with final result pictures from only one site (she sells a book apparently). I then tried to Google basketweaving. Then I looked at my cup of pens and thought it would be easier to torture myself with some good ol stabbing.

      Apparently, most basketweaving instructions (in this general form) are a rare find that at best appears on other sites as plain complicated text directions with no pictures or diagrams.

      I did have better success with the smaller version. I used four by four strips and a buttload of bobby pins. Although, ten hands would be like a fun game of twister. I skipped the twine on the small scale and just used some bobby pins to hold the base together. This was my ‘test’ after all. My savior was that cup of pens afterall. I used it as my mold during the tightening process.

      I may just ask the second set of hands to photograph the missing steps tonight. If he’s willing to put up with this one more night! ;)

      • Interesting. I don’t have a second set of hands, which is why I didn’t photograph the process steps. But, maybe I’ll see if I can set my camera up on a tripod and capture some of the trickier steps. I found that when you start weaving the sides, that was the most ‘oh no oh no oh no’ step, but then once they were all in place (but very loose) it became the hot mess where I thought ok all my pieces are in the proper places, but its just not coming together… That’s when I just had to keep tightening and tightening and tightening (once I figured out the paper clips to hold pieces tight.)

        And I skipped the whole twine step too, that looked too complicated… I might try it with strips only folded in quarters like another reader suggested. And maybe magazine. I’ll probably try to get around to that tonight, and see if I have more success. Hopefully we’ll both have success stories tomorrow!

  6. doggietrail says:

    Success!! I’ll see if I can get around to posting the pics I took. Thanks for the idea to glue the pieces together to make a longer strip. That was the key. I have a pretty decent size basket now. I’m still not sure I’d like to torture myself to do this project again, but the final product is really cute. I wonder if different shapes are possible. Like a long rectangular basket might get me to do this again.

  7. Pingback: Magazine Basket « doggie trail

  8. nancy says:

    Oh my gosh I love this and it will be great to store jewelry stuff in wow what an idea I am going to have to try this out.

  9. Terry says:

    I have newfound respect for women and children in third world countries who make these for a living! I work with underserved youth and thought this would be an inexpensive, easy project. I’m rethinking that. Inexpensive, yes. Easy, not so much! I finally got it, and like that I folded the strips into eighths and got a more delicate look than the Nifty Thrifty example. Wish I’d read completely through your post before I jumped excitedly over to Nifty Thrifty. I used paper clips early on, but would have been better served using them later.
    On a side note, you are my new favorite blog! I’m still reading backwards to project #1, and can’t wait to start reading forward in the future. Yay, you!

  10. Charlotte says:

    A really good hint for this, as i found out after trying it about 5 times is if you can’t paperclip it, is to stick straight pins into the weave as you go along and it will end up a lot tighter and cause a lot less trauma

  11. Brynne says:

    I’ve made a few of these in varying shapes and using a variety of materials. Slippery papers (magazines, shiny wrapping papers) can really make life difficult but the results are really satisfying. I often use clothespins to hold the pieces together as I’m working.

    I once used a paper shredder to make strips to weave with. I used a TON of bobby pins while working to keep that one together but it made a pretty lovely drinking glass cozy when I was finished.

  12. Kiki says:

    What a great way to use up all those newspapers that come through our mail slot – here in Holland you get two or three free local newspapers delivered per week, whether you want them or not, and other free papers can be picked up in all kinds of odd places. I never know what to do with them all, as I rarely read them. Aside from saving a few to drain bacon or deep-fried foods on (why waste paper towels?), I was out of ideas – until now! These will look really cute in my living room or studio, thanks for the inspiration!

    BTW, just discovered your blog today and I’m smitten =)

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  15. rachel says:

    This made me lol, I hit that hot mess stage making something similar yesterday & was shocked to make it out.

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