Here I have a step-by-step guide taking you through how to weave a rectangular basket with a handle. This is a simple basket pattern to follow. Its actually based on my very first basket. I hope you are inspired to try this project.
Gathering Basket Pattern
- 8”x12” “D” Handle (See Beginners Guide to Basket Handles for more on handles)
- 8 stakes from 3/4” flat reed @ 30” long (8” bottom + 8” wall x2 +6” for stakes to fold over top= 30″)
- 7 stakes from 3/4” flat reed @ 32” long (10” bottom + 8” wall x2 +6” for stakes to fold over top)
- 1/4” flat oval reed for weavers
- 3/4” flat reed for one row- weaver
- 5/8” flat oval reed for rim
- Seagrass #3
- Round reed
Calculations of feet needed per basket (this is an estimation and may differ depending on the tension used while weaving):
- 43 ft of 3/4” flat reed for stakes and one row- weaver
- 78 ft of 1/4” flat oval for weavers and lashing
- 6 ft of 5/8” flat oval reed for rim
- 23 ft of seagrass #3
- 9 ft of round reed for base
- 1/4″ flat oval reed (purchase from Basket Makers Catalog here)
- Round reed #1 (purchase from Basket Makers Catalog here)
- 5/8″ flat oval reed (purchase from Basket Makers Catalog here)
For a basket kit with all the materials to make this basket, check out my Etsy shop.
Set up workspace
Set up your workspace. For details on tools I’m using, visit this post.
Before you begin weaving lay a towel down on your work surface. This will catch any excess water as you work with the damp/wet reed.
Set another towel down to one side and place a bin of warm water on top of this towel. This bin will be where you soak the reed to keep things damp.
Finally lay out your tools in easy reach to one side where they won’t be in your way.
For details on tools I’m using visit Basket Weaving Tools: What you Will Need to Get Started.
Cut stakes. See my post The Beginning of it all…Learn to cut basket stakes for more information on how to do this.
Mark the stakes center
Mark the half way point on all stakes, make the marking on the wrong side of the reed. The wrong side of the reed is rougher and has more “hairs” coming off of it. The right side feels and looks smoother.
Place stakes in water to soak for a few minutes (only while you prepare for the next steps)
Laying out the base
Along with handle lay out the stakes perpendicular to handle alternating one under one over. The mark you just made should be facing up and centered onto the handle. Place stake weight on stakes to hold them in place.
Using a tape measure evenly space the stakes you just placed on and under the handle.
Weave the stakes going the other direction. Start at the handle and work out using the plain weave under one over one method.
Using a tape measure evenly space the stakes you just wove into the base.
Double check that the base measurement of the basket corresponds with the base measurement in the basket pattern, or the design you created.
Twining the base
Decide whether you are going to twine the base. If so do so now. In my post Twining the Base: Creating a Stable Basket I show how to twine the base of your basket to hold all the stakes in place. This keeps them from moving when you start weaving the walls.
Make sure everything is damp.
Upsetting the stakes
Upset all of the stakes directly at the edge of where the stake meets the edge of the base. Gently fold over completely, creating a crease, don’t force or it will crack the reed.
Choose a base weaver reed (I usually use one about 1/8 inch smaller than my stakes). Anchor reed end with a clamp on outside of a weaver. Start with at least four stakes before the corner. Weave this around the basket, folding the reed at each corner to create a nice angled corner to work with.
Clamp the beginning of your weaver to the stake you start on
Create a nice crisp corner by folding and making a crease in the weaver
Add one clamp to each side of the basket to hold the working weaver in place
Coming back to the beginning
When you get back to the starting point unclamp the end while holding it securely so it doesn’t pop out of place. Clamp it again five stakes away. Weave the working reed so that it overlaps the starting edge of the reed. It should overlap on four stakes ending behind so that it is hidden behind the stake.
Overlap beginning of weaver with the end of the weaver on four stakes, ending behind the fourth reed
Cut reed to the right outside edge of the stake
Continue building the walls of the basket using the weaving technique or pattern of your choice. Pack down the reed as you go so that the weaving is tight.
Keep the corners neat and tight by creating a crease in the working reed
As on the first row, overlap the end of the working reed and the beginning of the working reed on four stakes
Tuck behind stake, in this case, the handle
Continuing to build the basket body
As you weave make sure that all the stakes, and the weavers stay damp. As you work pull down the rows, pack them down. The reed shrinks a bit as it dries, so loose rows will mean gaps in the basket walls and the possibility for breakage.
When you near the top of your basket add in a few rows of seagrass. This just needs to be tucked behind one stake and then clipped behind that same stake when you get back to the beginning.
When the walls of the basket reach the height you desire weave one last row using a flat reed half the width of your intended rim reed (For instance if you are using a 1/2″ flat oval reed for your rim then use a 1/4″ reed as your final weaver).
Cut and tuck
Make sure everything is damp.
The stakes will be sticking up at this point.
Looking at the basket from the outside there will be some stakes in front of the last weaver and some that are behind. Using the basket shears cut the stakes that sit behind the top weaver.
Those that are in front will get folded over and tucked into the walls of the inside of the basket. To do this fold one of the stakes over that is in front of the last weaver. Using your basket shears cut the stake so that its length reaches down to the length of the third or fifth row down inside the basket. Now using your awl tuck it down behind the weavers against the stake and gently tuck the folded part of the stake into the space created. Do this process for all in-front stakes.
Preparing the rim
Using a flat oval reed that is double the size of your last weaver (typically rims run between 1/2” and 1”) whittle down the end so that there is a two inch length of the reed that is half as thick as the rest.
Clamp the end of the rim reed to the top edge of the basket (anywhere but over the handle). Clamp the reed around the top edge of the basket about every 5 inches.
When you get to the start of the rim cut it so that it overlaps the two inch whittled section. I like to cut it and then trim the corners of the reed down a little so that its rounded, not just a raw straight edge.
Follow the same steps to place a rim reed inside the basket. Don’t put the end of this part of the rim in the same place as the first one. I usually put them on opposite ends. Clamp so that the clamps span both the rim reeds and the basket body between.
Tuck seagrass into the space between the two rim pieces. Start at the edge of the handle and place it in until it reaches the edge of the handle on the other side. Do this for both sides of the handle.
Lashing the rim
With the lashing reed go ahead and use your chosen technique to lash the rim. On this basket I am using a basic one way whip stitch lashing.
Make sure to keep your lashing reed and all the rim wet as you work. Pull tight on the lashing as you go. Again, a reminder that the reed shrinks as it dries. A loose rim is easily broken and looks sloppy.
When the rim is complete do any final shaping or moulding of the basket while it is still wet. Allow the basket to dry overnight.
If you have any questions leave them in the comments.
Sign and date the bottom of the basket using a Sharpie or other permanent marker. I love doing this because then I can look back at when I made any of my baskets, and when I give them as gifts its a stamp of “made with love, especially for you, from me” sort of thing.
Use a water based stain or sealer and apply to basket to alter the shade of the reed, or seal and protect the reed in its natural color. Apply and allow to dry according to manufactures instructions.
Here is the final basket….
I still need to sign this basket….
These are the basic instructions for weaving a gathering style reed basket. Follow these steps to create most any open bottom rectangular or square basket.