Tutorial: Simple Eco-Friendly Favor Baskets

4 Jun

My niece is about to turn 2. In the past few months she’s started seeking out her independence. She can ask for things, she can sing her favorite song, and she can pull on her boots all by herself. On her first birthday she seemed to enjoy tearing the paper off her presents, and was definitely into gobbling up her mini sized smash cake. But this year her birthday is a little more about her and the person she is growing into.

Unfortunately she lives in another province and my husband and I can’t be there to celebrate with her like we were last year. So in order to contribute and feel like I am a part of the event I undertook some crafting to help with the party decor, hats and favors.

There are only a handful of kids invited. (Something that is recommended for a party oriented around that age), so these baskets were the perfect way to do up favors. The theme is Kimmy’s Birthday Picnic Party, and what’s a picnic without a cute little basket? Each basket will be filled with goodies (bubbles and chalk, etc) for each kid to take home and enjoy.

The best part is that the basket is part of the favor and can be reused in the child’s room or anywhere else in the house Mum and Dad see fit. Cute and eco-friendly? Perfect.

Basket Weaving 101

These are VERY simple baskets. The end result is impressive but you don’t need to worry about buying special tools or learning a textbook of jargon. There are only a few things we really need to take a look at.

Baskets can be woven out of a number of materials, the ones in this project are made of reed. It is a plant material that  lives on the forest floor and can grow up to 3 feet a day. Reed is processed into different shapes/types. For this project we only need to know about three:

This is what the profile of the reed looks like. The Flat reed is used for the Stakes and Rows, the Flat Oval reed is used for the Rim and Lashing and the Round reed is used for the Twine.

You can buy each kind of reed in different sizes. For the baskets we need 5/8” Flat Reed, 1/4″ Flat Reed, #3 Round Reed, 3/8″ Flat Oval Reed, and 11/64″ Flat Oval Reed.

I purchased mine online from basketweavingsupplies.com. Usually reed comes in 1 lb bunches (priced around $7.50).

Besides the 5/8″ Flat Reed, we don’t need anywhere near that much. Fortunately basketweavingsupplies.com also sells some of the reed in yards (at a price of $.10 to $.15).  It can help you save quite a bit, especially if you arn’t looking at doing other basket weaving projects.

Now that we have the basics under our belts, lets get started.


For Each Basket You Will Need:

5/8″ Flat Reed

  • 12 pieces 14 inches long
  • 1 piece 4 feet long

#3 Round Reed

  • 1 piece 60 inches long

1/4 ” Flat Reed

  • 1 piece 20 inches long

3/8″ Flat Oval Reed

  • 2 pieces 25 inches long

11/64″ Flat Oval Reed

  • 1 piece 50 inches long

7/8” Ribbon

  • 1 piece 22 inches long


  • 1 piece 22 inches long


  • Clothes Pins or Paper Clamps
  • Strong Scissors or Wire Cutters
  • Ruler or Rotary Mat
  • Large Tub or Basket
  • Towel


1. Fill your tub/basket with water. Measure and Cut all pieces of Reed. Throw the Reed in the water to soak for 5 minutes. As you take the reed out of the water to use them, quickly wipe them on the towel to dry them off a bit.

2.  Look closely at the reed. There are two sides, one is fuzzy, the other is smooth. We want to make sure the smooth side is the outside of our basket.

3. Lay 6 pieces of reed down running vertically. Make sure the RIGHT (smooth) side is facing DOWN. Line them up so that they are square. Weave in one piece of reed horizontally through the middle of the vertical reeds. To weave place the reed under one vertical reed, then pull it over the next reed, pull it under the next reed, and continue. Under, Over, Under, Over

4. Add the remaining pieces of reed.

Weave them through the vertical pieces starting at the ends. Then wiggle them down/up towards the center.

5. Once all of the pieces of reed have been woven (these are now called Stakes), tighten everything up and try to square up the base. Make sure there is close to the same length of unwoven reed on each side.

6. Take the #3 Round Reed and bend it in approx. the middle. Slide it around a middle Stake.

7. Bring the left strand of the #3 Round reed behind the next Stake to the right. Bring the other end of the #3 Round reed (which is now on the left) behind the next Stake to the right.

8. Continue around the basket, turning the base as you go.

9. Tuck both ends into the starting loop.

10. Bend each Stake inwards, tight to the Twine.

11. Take the two Stakes in the corner and clamp together using Clothes Pins or Paper Clamps. Repeat with the other three corners.

12. Using the 5/8” Flat Reed start to weave the Rows. Begin the bottom row 3/4” covering and outside Stake. Make sure you weave opposite to the pattern on the bottom. When you come to a corner remove the clamp, weave the reed in, and then put the clamp back on. Bend the reed slightly at corners to help give the basket shape.

13. When you come to the end measure the reed so that it will overlap the starting point and can be tucked 3/4 behind the next Stake.

14. Repeat again with the second Row. Start and stop on the opposite side of the basket as you did with the first row. If you find the reed moves too much, clamp the starting point as well. When the second row is in place straighten the reed up, pulling the rows down to tightly butt up against the base.

15. Cut the piece of ribbon and copying the weaving of the second row, insert it into the basket. It will sit on top of the reed of the second row.

16. Weave the 1/4″ Flat Reed around in the same method as the 5/8″ Flat reed.  Tidy up the rows and tighten up the reed. Cut each Stake that is inside flush with the 1/4″ Flat  reed row (also known as the Rim Row). For each Stake that is on the outside of the basket fold it and tuck it into the first Row of reed.

17. Clamp one end of 3/8″ Flat Oval to the inside of the basket, overlapping about half of  the 1/4″ Flat Rim Row. Make sure the rounded side is facing outwards. Bend around the basket, overlap the start by 1″ and clamp together. Do the same with the other piece of 3/8″ Flat Oval on the outside of the basket, again with the rounded side of the reed facing outwards.

18. Place the piece of Raffia between the two pieces of 3/8″ Flat Oval, covering the ends of the Stakes. Overlap the Raffia about 1″

19. Tuck one end of the 11/64″ Flat Oval under the rim row, flat side out. Pull the 11/64″ Flat Oval up two inches between the two pieces of 3/8″ Flat Oval. Push the 11/64″ Flat Oval back down between the 2 pieces of 3/8″ Flat Oval and pull out on the inside of the basket.

20. Lash around the basket, pulling the  11/64″ Flat Oval through the spaces between the top Row and Stakes into the basket, and then back out through the space between the next top Row and Stake. Push the end piece up through the middle of the 3/8″ Flat Oval and back down, the same as in the start.

21. Trim up any long pieces of reed from the Twin and Lashing

Your basket is finished!

Make a coordinating Bunting Banner and some Party Hats and you have a whole party package.

I had the banner and hats done and off the list a few weeks ago. I followed instructions from a couple of other bloggers for the most part and added a few twists of my own.

There are a ton of tutorials out there for these, but if you are interested in the specific one I used leave a comment and I’ll put together a little post about them. (I’ve now added a post about these: Show & Tell: Birthday Bunting Banner and Party Hats)

I had to wait for the basket making supplies to come in (there was a mix up with my order) and almost didn’t get these done in time! Thankfully they are now officially Off the List and on their way to my sister’s.

While I was making these I had a few ideas float into my head for gifts I could do.

You could stain the baskets a rich chocolate brown and make a custom lining with an elegant stenciled monograms. What an amazing Christmas gift that would make for my Mother-in-Law.

Is there anyone on your Christmas list that you know would love getting a handmade basket set? It’s never too early to start thinking Joel Noel. Or is that just me?

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8 Responses to “Tutorial: Simple Eco-Friendly Favor Baskets”

  1. Nancy June 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Your baskets turned out very sweet!
    What a wonderful party favor.

    • checkitoffthelist June 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

      Wow Nancy that means so much coming from you! Your Youtube videos are an amazing resource, thank you so much for sharing you’re knowledge with all of us.

  2. Elodie September 8, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    Hello ^^ I just want to say that you are really good at explaining things. Your tutorials are very clear and understandable 🙂 So well, thank you ! I’m starting an english/french facebook page about crafts using natural fibers, so if you’re ever interested in sharing your ideas, feel free to do it by posting on the wall!(http://bit.ly/bdzPyS) For myself I’ll come again and look at your new posts, this blog is sososo nice! Elodie

  3. Seagrass Baskets June 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    I can only say wau, that look so great..


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