My experiments with wrapping washing-line in fabric and stitching the results into baskets have continued over the last few weeks. It's proved rather an addictive process. Or more accurately, I should say, it's proving rather an addictive process because I am still at it, in spare moments.
I've learned quite a bit since I started. In case you're interested, here are my conclusions. I hope they might be helpful to any of you wanting to give this a whirl too.
1 Cutting the strips of fabric on the bias gives a much cleaner finish. (You are so right, Nancy!) I don't mind the soft, slightly ragged edges on my first basket but the clean edges that the bias-cut strips retain after the winding and stitching process, are undoubtedly satisfying. Not so quick to rip the strips up, though - they need cutting properly, with a cutting-wheel, ruler and cutting mat.
3 I have progressed to adding handles, which, I think, are a useful addition to my prototype. Very easy. You just stop stitching the spiral continuously, for the space of your handle, and then resume when the handle section comes to an end. The next time round, you carry on stitching onto the handle section. The results are pretty sturdy. I did some extra zig-zagging along the lower part of the handle and the upper part of the basket below the handle afterwards, just to make sure, though, as you can see, in the second and third pics below.
4 Before I tracked down washing-line of the right thickness, I'd bought some thinner, cotton rope at B&Q and so I thought I'd have a little play with that too, to make a smaller basket. The rope is only 1/8" thick and that makes the process rather more fiddly. I think, ideally, I should have cut thinner fabric strips for this diameter of rope. Half-inch-wide strips may be a bit wasteful because of the way they wrap round, over the narrower circumference and smaller surface area. If I did not have a gnat-sized mathematical brain, I suspect I would have known this ahead of empirical discovery of the same, and not cut all the strips too wide, but, tant pis, mes amies!
This smaller basket came out measuring 8" / 20 cm wide at the top, 3" / 8cm wide at the bottom and 3.5" / 9cm high. It weighs almost nothing in the hand*. Deliciously light and satisfying somehow. *2.75 oz / 80 g to be precise - I've just weighed it on my digital scales. As you do!
5 Both these versions have been made with scraps of Liberty lawn collected over the years, most of which were too small really, to do anything with, but were too nice just to throw out. Some of them are so ancient they probably qualify as "vintage". Over twenty years old anyway. The shortness of a lot of them made it tricksy to get them to stay in place before stitching, but it's been a good way of using scraps that would otherwise have languished, unused, and the thinner weight of the Liberty lawn, as opposed to normal dressmaking-weight cotton fabric, is perfect for making the stitching breeze along - no more broken needles - yay! (Although I've bought some industrial strength jeans needles for future deployment!)
I wouldn't exactly go out and buy expensive, Liberty lawn for making a basket, but any scraps you have - hoard them! This is a good way to show them off and make something useful too, I think.
6 Despite my best efforts, I cannot make the basket turn up from the base at anything more than a 45 degree angle. Slightly frustrating, as I quite fancied making a more bucket-shaped version.
7 Where there's a will, though, there's a way. I'll post about that in part 3 of my little washing-line tales saga!
In the meantime my big, new basket holds the yarn for my version of the Lilypond CAL. This is a gorgeous project designed by Jane Crowfoot in conjunction with Stylecraft yarns. The patterns are free and are being released in fortnightly instalments over the next four months. Have a look at Janie's post about it here and you can find the patterns here, if you're interested. The yarn used in the original design is Stylecraft Life which is an acrylic / wool mix. I am using Stylecraft Classique Cotton in my version because I had quite a few of the colours already in my stash. Deramores, the UK On-Line yarn store, are selling blanket-making packs for this project, both in Stylecraft Special DK yarn and in the Stylecraft Classique Cotton, and you can pre-order Stylecraft Life packs from Janie's website in the first link I've given above. Have a look, if you're tempted! The colours in the Classique Cotton are slightly different from those in the original design so I am playing around with a few alternative colour possibilities. It's keeping me creatively happy (when I'm not tying myself in happy washing-line knots to make baskets, that is!)