TUTORIAL :: Beginner’s crochet | make a fabric basket

Learn to crochet. Make lovely crochet fabric baskets. Use up fabric scraps and upcycle thrifted sheets and tablecloths. Make your own rag rope. It’s all here!

I love making these fabric baskets – there’s only one crochet stitch to learn and it’s a great craft to pick up when you have a spare minute. Perfect for in front of the TV or in the car when you’re waiting for the kids’ sport to finish. The chunky fabric yarn also means the baskets are fast to make. If you haven’t done any crochet before this is a good place to start and you get impressive and practical results!

the red thread fabric crochet baskets the red thread fabric crochet baskets texture

Let’s get started… click on the link below for the step by step tutorial.

I’ve made baskets using fabric yarn, rag rope that I’ve made and and rag rope that’s available for purchase. The baskets in the photos below are made from rag rope from Gypsy River. Rag rope makes a thicker and chunkier basket, although both rag rope and fabric yarn baskets are really sturdy. If you don’t have fabric to make your own rag rope – or you can’t be bothered – the bought version is great. A spool of it will make a large basket measuring about 32 x 13 cm (12.5 x 5 inches) like the one below.

the red thread rag rope crochet baskets

What you’ll need

Firstly gather your supplies. You’ll need a 12mm* crochet hook, scissors and cotton fabric. And something to wind the fabric yarn onto – I used a thick piece of dowel, but a piece of heavy cardboard would also be good.
*As far as I can see US size crochet hooks seem to jump between the equivalent of 12mm and 15mm with nothing in between. In US sizes I’d try a N/P – 15, and in the UK a 000.

The grey and blue basket – made from fabric yarn – measures 22 x 9 cm (8.5 x 3.5 inches) and I used a total of about 1.6 metres (62 inches) of quilting weight cotton fabric (x the full 42 inch width of the fabric). I used various sized pieces of different fabrics – whatever I had – to make up the 1.6 metres. For the blue and grey basket I made a deliberate choice with fabric placement, but for the others it was completely random.

Making rag rope and fabric yarn

To make both rag rope and fabric yarn you start in the same way.

Cut the selvedge edges off the fabric.

Now tear the fabric into one long strip. To do this, make a small cut on the edge of the fabric where the selvedge was. The cut should be about 4 cm (1.5 inches) in from the side and a couple of centimetres or an inch long. This is the fun bit: tear the fabric along the cut, stopping a couple of centimetres before you reach the end. Now make a cut in this end about 4 cm along from the previous cut – refer to the bottom left image below. Keep tearing the fabric end to end until you’ve done the whole piece – it will be like a big zig zag. Tear all your fabric pieces into strips in the same way.

the red thread fabric yarn tutorial

For fabric yarn

Cut the fabric strips into a manageable size. I find four to five of the zig zag sections to be about right.

Tie one end to a door handle, and walk away holding the other end until the fabric strip is pulled out straight but not taught. You might need to do this in a hallway! Start twisting the fabric in one direction, and continue until the whole length of fabric is twisted. For fabric yarn it needs to be twisted enough to form a round shape, but not too tight – see the image below.

Starting with the end you’re holding, wind the yarn onto the dowel. Untie the other end, then get started on the next piece.

the red thread fabric yarn making

To make rag rope

If you can get someone to help you will be able to use a longer length of fabric which is great because the finished rage rope will be half the length of the fabric strip you start with.

Start by dampening the fabric strip. Don’t thoroughly wet it or you’ll be squeezing water all over the floor when you start twisting. Dampening the fabric before you start will help the rope stay solid when complete.

If you’re doing this on your own follow the instructions for the fabric yarn, but continue to twist until the fabric is really tightly twisted. It should be so tight that if you give it a bit of slack it will start twisting back on itself. If you have someone to help you, both grab an end and start twisting in opposite directions until it’s tightly twisted.

Now, fold the yarn in half. Sound tricky on your own? OK, hold the end of the yarn you’ve been twisting in your left hand and stretch that arm out to the side. Walk towards the center of the yarn keeping your left arm out and the yarn stretched. Grab the center point of the yarn in your right hand. Keeping the yarn stretched, walk towards the door handle and take hold of that end of the yarn with your left hand. I hope that makes sense?! Now allow the yarn to twist in on itself. And voila, rag rope! Wrap it onto the dowel, with the open end first so it doesn’t unravel. Note, you’ll need twice the amount of fabric to make a basket from rag rope, and it will be much chunkier than fabric yarn.

the red thread rag rope tutorial

Crochet a fabric yarn basket

When I got half way through this tutorial I was kicking myself for not making a video tutorial… so many photos and instructions! If you get confused have a look online and I’m sure you can find some video instructions for basic crochet stitches.

The first thing to do is make a magic ring.

This is the trickiest part – once you get started crocheting in rounds you won’t believe how easy it is. So stick with it!

Leaving a tail of about 20 cm (8 inches) below your hand, bring the yarn up and between your thumb and first finger and hold it there.

Wrap the yarn over the top of three fingers, then underneath, and back over the top, so it forms an X on the top of your fingers (photo 1). Hold the yarn with your little finger.

Pass the crochet hook under the first part of the X and over the second part (photo 2).

With the hook facing down hook the yarn and pull it through (photo 3).

Bring the hook out and twist it so the hook part is now facing up (photo 4).

the red thread fabric crochet tutorial 1

Slide the ring off your fingers (photo 5).

Pick up the ring in your left hand, holding the knot between your thumb and second finger, and the yarn over your first finger. Hold the crochet hook in your right hand like a pencil. Wrap the yarn over the hook (photo 6) and bring it though the loop. That’s a single chain stitch.

Now, this stitch is the only one you have to learn… Pass the hook through the center of the ring (photo 7) and under the yarn.

Bring the hook over the yarn and twist it so the hook is facing down (photo 7).

Hook the yarn and pull it through the center of the ring. You’ll now have two loops on the hook (photo 9).

Wrap the yarn around the hook (photo 10) and pull it though both loops. You’ll now have one loop on the hook and that completes the first stitch.

In US terminology that’s a single crochet – in the UK it’s called a double crochet. Just to confuse you! I’ll call it a single crochet in this tutorial.

the red thread fabric crochet tutorial 2

Now we just repeat the single crochet stitch until we have eight of them on the magic ring.

Make sure your stitches aren’t too tight  – see in the photos how the yarn isn’t tight around my hook? If the hook is too hard to pull through it means that you are pulling the yarn too tight around it. Make your stitches looser and it will make life much easier.

Remember… (starting from photo 7) Hook through the center of the ring. Yarn over. Pull through. Now there are two loops on the hook. Yarn over the hook and pull though both loops.

When you have eight stitches on the loop pull the tail to close the loop. In photo 12 the tail is on the left and the working yarn is on the right.

Starting with a magic ring is a bit tricky, but it’s the best way to make sure you don’t have a big hole in the middle of your basket. You can see the closed hole in photo 13.

Now onto the basket base

Insert the hook into the first stitch and do a single crochet stitch. In photo 14 you can see where to insert the hook. If you look at the side of the magic ring you’ll see a chain pattern. The hook passes in the space underneath (photo 14). The space will be quite obvious.

Wrap the yarn around the hook and draw the hook back through the stitch (photo 15). Now you’ll have two loops on the hook. Yarn around again and through both loops.

So it’s the same single crochet stitch as before, but now you are going through the stitches below instead of the magic ring.

Hook through. Yarn over. Pull through. Yarn over. Pull though both loops.

Now repeat into the same space/stitch. The first round will have two single crochet stitches into each stitch of the previous round, so the number of stitches will double to 16.

In the second round crochet one single crochet stitch into the first stitch of the previous round, then two stitches into the second one. Repeat this alternating pattern for the rest of the round.

On the third round do one single crochet stitch into each of the first two stitches of the previous round, then two into the third stitch. Repeat for the rest of the round. That completes the base.

To keep track of where each round starts take a look at the back of the base and you’ll see the tail of yarn from the magic ring. The position of the tail indicates the start of the round.

I have amended the tutorial slightly since first publishing it. I like my baskets to be very dense so I add a lot of stitches in each round. But following feedback from a lovely reader who is just learning I have changed the pattern slightly to make it more manageable. Please email me if you need help!

the red thread fabric crochet tutorial 3

Joining new yarn

To join new yarn in a fabric basket you can just tie a double know if you wish. The knot will be mostly hidden in the texture of the basket.

Or, I prefer to do it this way: open up the end of the yarn and place the new yarn on top, overlapping them by about 8 cm (3 inches). Then roll the open end around it.

the red thread fabric joining 1

Crochet the sides

When you’ve finished the base all you have to do is continue on but with just one single crochet stitch instead of two in each stitch. As soon as you start doing this you’ll notice the side starting to curve up. Crochet 5 rounds or until you like the proportions of your basket.

the red thread fabric crochet tutorial sides

Finishing off

Cut the yarn so you have a length of about 20 cm (8 inches) left. Wrap the yarn around the hook and pull it all the way through the loop. Pull the stitch so it’s firm (photo below left), then weave the end of the yarn into a few stitches to secure it and cut the tail off (photo top right).

Turn the basket upside down (photo bottom left) and pull the tail in case the hole has opened up. Weave the end into the bottom of the basket and cut the remaining tail off.

the red thread fabric crochet tutorial finishing

I think that might be the longest tutorial I’ve ever done! I hope you find it useful and the instructions are clear. The fabric yarn baskets are really solid and sturdy and fun to make. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

the red thread fabric crochet baskets tutorial

the red thread fabric crochet baskets stacked

I usually buy my rag rope from Gypsy River because the colours are amazing, I love it and I can’t usually be bothered to make my own. To make one of the baskets for this tutorial Gypsy River gave me some to use. This isn’t a sponsored post.

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lisa! Can’t wait to have a go at this..

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Oh you’re welcome! Let me know if you get stuck on anything Jane. And I have another beginners crochet tutorial coming up soon. Stay tuned.

  2. They look fantastic. I need to try that one x

  3. F.A.B. cant wait to try this out!! I have done a crochet course but found it very tricky!!
    This looks great!! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Would love to have a go at these – they look so good.

  5. Thanks for the thorough directions & practical end result. I love to crochet but struggle with completing my projects due to inability to make things turn out the way the directions say they should.

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      You’re welcome! I hope you find this easy – it’s pretty basic and fast, so you should have no trouble completing it.

  6. they look lovely and so happely of the funny colours and designs of the fabric you used.
    I always used those old sheets like your methode for weaving. But this is a great idea as well. My mother used to knit with those self made yarn. She learned the children in her classroom to knit with it.
    All the boys as well. but that’s in the ends of the 60ths and starting the seventies.
    As a kiddo i had to help her by making those yarn of sheets.;XD
    I have made alot of yarn by cutting yarn of tshirts, they looks like spagettiyarn but i like the recycling of it much better of mine;-D
    thank you for the sharing and the great tute.

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Sounds like you are well into the ‘fabric as yarn’ thing! It would be lovely knitted, I might have to try that too. Thanks for sharing your little family history of fabric yarn.

  7. Such a good tutorial! I just finished my first bowl :)
    Im just wondering whether there is a rule for if i want the base to be bigger… what is the stitch pattern for a larger bowl?

    Thanks!

  8. Hi,

    if you like ,look this ,i made with old pulls:http://candy19candy.blogspot.it/2011/01/quando-il-crochet-ti-fa-volaresu-un.html
    by antonella

  9. Margaret says:

    I’ve just stumbled onto your website; I’ve been making rag rugs & was thinking how they’d make nice baskets but never got around to trying. Now I will! They look very pretty & I want ‘squishy’ containers for our camper, that can be packed away while travelling & dragged out to put fruit etc into once set up.

  10. francesca says:

    Gracias me ha encantado me habia encallado y no sabia como seguir gracias.

  11. Sakshi Arora says:

    beautifullll…:)

  12. KAREN MANASCO says:

    I just fell in love. Hard. While I’ve tried, but failed to learn to crochet over the years, thank goodness there are sites like this to adore. Thank you for sharing!

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Karen, Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Good luck with your crochet… I have to say that it took me some time to get my head around it initially.

  13. I saw this tutorial ages ago and have been totally absorbed making fabric rope and crocheting a big basket ever since. I even got my hubby involved and he would help me spin the rope by attaching it to the “chuck” of his electric drill. Anyway my basket is now finished and it is brill.
    Wish I knew how to send you a pic.
    Regards and loads of thanks for the inspiration.
    Lynne

  14. Hey Lisa, thanks for this love! I’ve not tried the magic circle method before – it’s a winner! xo Margie

  15. Hi – I was so inspired by this tutorial – I made two . Wish I could send you a pic but don’t know how to do it.
    Lynne

  16. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. I followed your clear instructions and my bowl worked the first time! You are a natural and gifted teacher indeed!

    Sally :@)

  17. Wow! Very well written tutorial. I can’t wait to try it out.

  18. I’ve stumbled onto this tutorial a year after it was made. I’ve looked at the Gypsy River website, and I don’t find rag rope. Do they still have it, do you think? And do you think they might ship to the eastern USA where I am :-) Thanks for the lovely photos and instructions!

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Lyhn, Gypsy River don’t seem to have it any more, sorry. Anthropologie had it for a time. Otherwise try searching for supplies on Etsy maybe?

  19. watercloud says:

    Lisa, thanks so much for this tutorial and for sharing pics of your beautiful baskets. You inspired me to try this! Just one question: what do you use to weave in the ends when you’re done? The usual darning or yarn needle just wouldn’t be big enough for doing this. Thanks.

  20. Karen albano says:

    Can you tell me how much fabric to use

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Karen, it would be a few yards/metres. I apologise that I didn’t take note of that. I just took to my pile of scraps and started tearing them up.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! What would be better to make the baskets out of rag rope or fabric yarn?

  22. I can’t wait to try this. I have never crocheted but this inspires me to learn…I love the bowls! Do you have this post in a PDF or printable version? Thanks for sharing this awesome project!

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Kathy, thanks! I don’t have it in pdf version, but I’ll add it to my list of things to do! Have fun making these – you can do it!

  23. I am so excited about this adorable bowl! I am going to try to ‘teach’ it at a MeetUp group in August! Can you give me a rough estimate how much of the single ply rag yarn is needed? Thanks for sharing the pattern!

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Mary – it’s a great project to work on in a group. I hope everyone enjoys it. If you look under the ‘what you need’ heading in the post I itemise how much fabric I used.

      • Mary Christensen says:

        We did this little bowl at our Meet-Up this month. We had a great time with this pattern. The trick we found making our rag rope was to tie one end to a chair and the other end was threaded through a hole in another chair and then tied to a knitting needle. We could keep nice easy tension on the ‘rope’ between the two chairs and twist the needle to get the rope action going. And best was when your arm got tired of twisting the knitting needle kept it from untwisting! Again thanks for sharing the pattern, we loved it! Mary C

  24. Thank you for just the perfect tutoria. l I have been trying to find directions for this method for a long time. Could I use the fabric rope for a rag rug?

  25. Just want to be clear before starting,… : ) so, in making the rope… you are folding it in half, so your rope is actually TWO strips (layers) of fabric, but they are twisted together to look like ONE?
    I’ve made crocheted fabric placemats and table runners, but those were just a single strip of fabric and not twisted. I’m anxious to try this! LOVE the idea of fabric bowls! THANKS for sharing!

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Cathy, Yes, that’s correct – the finished rope is two stands twisted together. I hope you enjoy making some bowls.

  26. Hi, I am trying my first basket after making rugs and doilies. I did the double stitch and then switched to the single. My edges have begun to roll up for the sides a little but isn’t uniform all the way around. My basket is bigger than yours I’m sure. Can you offer any advice for this? Will it be okay in the end? Thanks for your help. Your baskets are beautiful.

  27. Hi, I am trying my first basket after making rugs and doilies. I did the double stitch and then switched to the single. My edges have begun to roll up for the sides a little but isn’t uniform all the way around. My basket is bigger than yours I’m sure. Can you offer any advice for this? Will it be okay in the end? Thanks for your help. Your baskets are beautiful.

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Pam, if you’ve made the increases evenly then the sides should turn out to be uniform. It should work out OK.

  28. Love these and your instructions…can’t wait to try one. I made some little fabric acorns and I wanted a basket to make to put my acorns in for a gift…gonna give this a try and see where it takes me :) Thanks again!
    Don’t forget to share a smile along the way,
    Laurie :)

  29. So excited to try making these bowls but do not know how to crochet – yet. Have finished making my fabric yarn but when I twist it up, I end up with a lot of the reverse side of the fabric showing which is not as vibrant. Can you tell me if I am doing some thing wrong? Your fabric yarn photos seem to show much more of the front side of the fabric. Thank you for sharing the wonderful tutorial!

    • Lynne Shaw says:

      Yes this happens to me when I make the yarn; I think this adds to its appeal though. I am currently collecting old shirts as I have exhausted my stock of old bedding.
      I still sew each scrap of fabric together on my machine – wish I could conquer your technique of overlapping the join it would save such a lot of time.
      Lynne

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Suzy, When I’m twisting I turn the fabric over at intervals so the right side is facing out. It makes things a bit slower, but is worth it.

  30. Laura Vrydaghs says:

    I tried the crochet pattern this morning. I love the results! I cheated and use “fettuccine” yarn from my local store. It worked great – I wasn’t sure if I could make my own yarn. Now I have new gift ideas. Thanks!

  31. Hi! Out of all the baskets out there, you have the best pattern! Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. Some of the baskets in your pictures look like the side get smaller towards the top. Did you skip some stitches to bring the sides in?

    • the red thread the red thread says:

      Hi Sharon. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. No I didn’t decrease the stitches. It was some time ago now, I think that it just pulled in like that when I did the last round.

  32. Hi,
    I’m a lefthanded, so I guess its abit difficult to see and try to hold the fabric on the ‘wrong’ side of hand.. But I have to try it anyway.. But this is awesome..
    Thanks..

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