This coil basket weaving method uses a rope made with plastic bags, wrapped with yarn. By working the cord into a spiral and holding rounds together with yarn, you can shape it into a basket. The yarn completely hides the plastic bag cord.
Many coil basket weaving techniques start with soft plastic grocery bags. But for this coil basket tutorial we’ll use plastic cereal bags. They form the core of this coiled rope basket.
The secret to this coil basket weaving method is the rope braiding technique. We’ll make an even, solid core or i-cord from plastic cereal bags.
At first, I struggled to get the plastic cereal bag strips to form a smooth sturdy rope. I tried twisting, braiding and tying them into chains them, only to end up with a lumpy, loose mess. Then I found out about kumihimo. Many thanks to Darlene Michaud and her DIY plastic rope weaving tutorial. It’s adapted here to use cereal bags.
How to Make a Rope from Plastic Bags
Rope braiding with kumihimo
Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding method that produces smooth round cords. Kumi himo means “gathered threads” in Japanese. Usually weavers work with silk strands or other beautiful thread to make jewel-like cords. But as it turns out, kumihimo braiding can also turn strips of plastic cereal bags into a round rope cord that is a great i-cord for our coil rope basket. They’re not nearly as pretty than silk cords. But they make a good core for this coil rope basket.
The coil basket materials you’ll need for this method are:
- Clean plastic cereal bags (about 4 or 5)
- Hole punch (optional)
- Yarn or twine
- The lid from a yogurt container (or something similar), about 4.5 inches in diameter
- Permanent marker
Step 1: Make the loom
Cut off the rim of the food container lid so you have a flat disk. Then cut 8 notches evenly around the edge, about 1/2 inch long. You don’t need precise math here. You can do it by eye.
Cut a hole in the center using scissors or a hole punch. I used a hole punch, which made my hole a little small. You can see the plastic tore a bit. A bigger hole would be better
Step 2: Cut the plastic bag into loops
Open the ends of your plastic cereal bag to form a tube. Leave the seal that runs top to bottom closed.
Trim the width of the seal to remove any extra plastic that isn’t fused together.
Lay the bag flat. Place a ruler along the top crease and mark every half inch with a marker. Do the same along the bottom crease. These are your cutting guides.
Cut from each bottom mark to top mark. Try to keep your strips an even width as much as possible. Now you’ll have several half-inch wide plastic loops.
Step 3: Join Loops into 7 strands of different lengths
Chain loops together into 7 unequal lengths
The nice thing about using loops is they are easy to tie together in chains without tricky knots.
Take one loop and lay it flat on a work surface, opened slighly into an oval. Hold another loop (we’ll call this the working loop) and pass it halfway through the open loop. Then open one end of the working loop and pass the other end of the same loop through the opening. Now pick up the resting loop and the working loop and pull away from each other, until you have a snug knot between them. Go easy – no need to pull it tight.
Make seven chains. Add more loops, or shorten some loops so that the ends are different lengths. The idea is to stagger the joints.
Step 4: Make a rope from plastic bags by weaving kumihimo style
Join your seven strands with a knot at the top.
Pass the knot through the center hole in your kumihimo loom.
Put each loop into a slot in the loom. You’ll have one empty slot.
Now begin weaving!
Start with the empty notch. Moving clockwise, count to the third notch, take that strand out and move it into to the empty notch.
Keep repeating this process. Chain more plastic bag loops onto your strands as you need to.
It helps to keep turning your work so the empty notch is always in the same place. I like to keep the empty notch up.
Keep going until you have the cord the length you want to start working with. Hold the loose ends with a clip.
Step 5: Wind yarn around the plastic core to form your basket
Start by wrapping the knotted end of your cord. Cover the knot completely with yarn. Keep going about an inch (2.5cm) along the cord.
Bend the cord around the knot and pull your yarn through one of the loops around the knot to secure the coil shape.
Here’s a great tutorial by Jen Alexander Arts for starting and building up the sides of your coil basket.
About every 10 wraps, attach the current round to the round before by going through the previous row.
When your basket sides are as tall as you like, end the basket. Stagger the ends of your plastic strands so the cord gets thinner. When you’ve run out of cord, weave the end of your yarn down through the rows below. Knot it if you like, weave in the end after the knot, and trim close to the inside of the basket.
Here’s the first basket I’ve made with plastic bag rope. I hope you enjoy making your own.
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