Long strips of fabric – anything will work: I used knits, both cotton and acrylic. The pink neon was dirt cheap yardage in a bargain bin and the grey strips are Zpagetti yarn. You can use fabric scraps, old T-shirts or thrift sheets and tablecloths.
Cord – the neon orange is ‘Brickie’s Line’ from the hardware store ($5 for 100 metres) – or you can use more fabric or yarn like I did on the pink bowls. This is what you’ll need the most of. I used about 8 – 10 metres ( roughly 8.5 – 11 yards) for the grey bowl and it’s about 14cm (5.5 inches) wide x 8cm (3.5 inches) tall. The quantity in the photo below isn’t a true indication!
A large yarn needle with a big eye.
If you are cutting up fabric (T shirts, sheets, fabric yardage, etc) the thicker you cut it the chunkier and quicker your bowl will be. A good size for small bowls is roughly 3.5cm (1.5 inches) wide. The diagram below illustrates how to cut a piece of fabric into a continuous strip. When you’ve cut the fabric into stretch it in small sections at a time and the fabric will curl into a nice round tube of ‘yarn’.
The instructional photos are for the grey bowl with neon orange stitching, so I’ll refer to those colours from now on. Let’s begin…
Cut a length of orange cord as long as you can manage it without it getting tangled, and thread the needle with it. Mine was about 2 metres (just under 2 yards).
I used three pieces of grey fabric yarn together to get a good thickness. I cut it to roughly 1.4 metres (4.5 ft) long. If you are using one thickness of your yarn there is no need to cut it, it can remain on the ball/spool. The length of your yarn will depend on whether you want to change colours. It’s all fairly free form though – you can’t make mistakes!
Overlap the ends of the orange cord and the grey yarn. Wrap the cord around the yarn 4 or 5 times.
Fold the end of the grey yarn over to form a loop. Keep the hole in the center as small as you can – it should be just big enough to fit the needle through as it will get bigger as you stitch around the yarn. Wrap the cord around the base of the yarn loop, leaving a short tail sticking out, and tie a knot. (as in the left hand image below). Hold the yarn as shown with the short tail on top and the long piece of yarn on the bottom. Take the needle around to the back of the loop and pass it through the hole towards you (right hand image).
Don’t pull the cord tight – leave a loop at the top (as in the image below). Then pass the needle through the loop. Just like blanket stitch.
Repeat this stitch all the way around the loop. Needle into the hole from the back to the front. Leave a loop and insert the needle through it. Pull the stitch closed. The stitch needs to be firm but not tight. Keep your stitches close together and work your way around (as in the right hand image below).
Fold over the starting tail of the orange cord and the short tail of the grey yarn with the long grey yarn on top (left hand image below). Your next stitch will go through the top of your very first blanket stitch, instead of through the hole. Take the needle over to the back and bring it through the top of the first blanket stitch. Your next stitch will go through the top of the second blanket stitch. Scroll down to the next photo for a better look at where the needle passes through.
You’ve done a lot of stitches and will probably run out of cord soon. The photo below on the right shows how to add a new length of cord. Knot the two pieces together so the knot is on the outside of the coil.
Run the tails along the grey yarn and tuck them and the knot in as you continue to stitch (see image below left). As my coil grew I occasionally added an extra stitch when I thought they were getting too far apart. Remember not to pull the stitches too tight, or the base of the bowl won’t stay flat.
When you run out of yarn or want to change colours all you have to do is overlap the old and the new. As I was using three strands of yarn I cut each one a different length and inserted the new ones into the middle of them, so there wouldn’t be bulk all in one place.
As the fabric yarn tends to curl up I opened each piece up and inserted the new one into it. Then just continue on stitching.
When you’re happy with the size of the base you can start building up the sides. Make your stitches a little firmer while holding the yarn above the previous coil, instead of next to it. Continue like this until you have reached the desired height.
Finishing off. If you’re using more than one strand of yarn cut them at staggered lengths to lessen the bulk. Continue stitching around until you have just one strand left. Leave a tail of about 10 cm (4 inches) so you have enough to work with.
Weave the tail into one of the vertical stitches in the row below (on the inside of the bowl). Then weave in through a few more stitches in that row and cut the yarn off so the tail isn’t sticking out (image on the left below). To finish off the cord do one more stitch to complete the top edge of the bowl then tie a small knot and weave the cord down into the centre of the bowl. Cut the cord and tuck the end in.
And you’re done! I find this very addictive and I’ve made quite a few bowls and baskets of varying sizes now. It’s really quite easy once you get started. And it’s a great way to upcycle fabric.
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