As you might know my blog’s title includes the motto “caring for tomorrow”. This may not become obvious or be in the spotlight in every post, but it is a very important aspect of my life.
Maybe one of the biggest steps towards a more sustainable life is to realize what plastic does to our planet and to our health and that we do good avoiding it as good as we can (I won’t go much into detail here because I don’t want to proselytise. If you want to inform yourself a quick online-seach should give you a good start) This is anything but easy, in fact so much of our daily life is made from plastic, it is next to impossible avoiding it completely. So the best we can do is to check our every day routine, where can I avoid plastic with little effort, what can be substituted with something else and so on.
One of the easiest and yet most important things is to do without plastic bags. The vast majority of plastic bags is discarded after having been used only once. And during my years working in a bookshop I have even come across some clients who complained about being used as an advertisement panel when carrying plastic bags, really, what a first world problem! We are used to not forgetting our keys, our handkerchiefs, our gloves at home, but I always encounter the same excuse “I simply forget to take a cotton bag with me”.
Interesting how our brain works sometimes, for me it’s all about prioritising and if I don’t want to forget that bag, I won’t.
I don’t want to talk about cotton bags today, I do have too many of them and I don’t sew any more of them as long as I have all these that somehow gathered in my broom closet over the years. And yes, I do keep one with me in my handbag, always.
But sometimes, a cotton bag just isn’t the right mean of transportation. Think of berries and salad from the market or a cake from your local bakery. So when my mother asked me last year if I was interested in an old basket I said yes immediately. I had planned to get a basket for already some time, but I thought this was something I could easily find on a flea market or in a charity shop and didn’t want to buy a new one, so when my mother said she had been given this old one and didn’t need it, it was just the perfect timing.
My joy ceased abruptly when I saw it the first time:
This was most probably the ugliest basket I had seen my entire life. That yellow stuff you see at the sides is yellow pvc-tablecloth and was supposed to cover the basket but the elastic inside was a little out of shape, so it just hung down very poorly, looking even more horrible.
The naked basket I liked much better:
But it has a little problem: As I said, it is old. I don’t know how old, but old enough for the material to get brittle. It still can hold weight, but the single stalks break very easily, especially at the bottom. Carrying a bottle of milk is fine, but you have to be careful not to throw anything directly onto a single stalk or it could break, therefore destabilising the whole basket. Here you see the problem:
Well, I had two choices: Leave it as it was, knowing that the basket would be completely damaged and unuseable in the foreseeable future (and risking to cover the street with my groceries one unlucky day) or I could face and solve the problem.
You can imagine that I wouldn’t write this post if I would have went for the first option 😉
I decided to copy the pattern from the ugly yellow cover and to add a lining (could you call this a lining in this case or is there a more appropriate word?). The bottom piece of the lining I attached to a piece of cardboard, so that the basket underneath would be protected from anything heavy falling on one single stalk.
I used an old lavender coloured tablecloth I got years ago for free because it has some stains. I wasn’t able to cut away all the stains, but they are on the lining so not visible because of the cover (and I can’t wash the lining, so it will be even more stained in the future, I suppose). The tablecloth had a darker stripe woven around the edges, some 10cm away from the hem, I placed these stripes vertically in the lining (below the handle) and included it in the design of the cover as well.
Somehow I made a massive mistake when calculating the lining, you see I had to add a quite wide strap to make it fit. Here a photo how it looked before I added the cover, you can see the dark woven stripe below the handle:
Let me tell you, sewing something onto a basket is NOT funny. I attached the lining with a straight needle and it was not easy at all, for the cover I used a curved needle. I have to admit, it worked better, but my fingers started to cramp because of the unfamiliar form. I am quite sure that this was the first and the last basket I ever made a cover for.
I decided to add a little embroidery to make it less plain. I went for a design I found in an early 20th century pattern sheet for machine embroidery, I already briefly mentioned it in this post. I searched for the book it belonged with (“Das Sticken mit der Nähmaschine”) online and it is dated around 1910-20 (no year was printed on it, these are the seller’s guesses) And no, I didn’t machine embroider it, but used back and stem stitches which resulted in a rather naive and plain embroidery effect, but I like it pretty much.
You can see how I included the dark stripe into the design.
I overlapped the two sides as the yellow pvc had done also, don’t ask me why the two sides look so asymetrical, they should be identical (and it is on purpose that I didn’t put one side on top of the other, this would have looked even more odd).
The pattern sheet I copied the embroidery from is in a very fragile condition and tears when I unfold it, so I will try to use it at little as possible in the future. The pattern I used for this project I had traced onto tissue paper. To keep it, without manipulating the pattern sheet again, I digitalized it. And because I am so kind I will share it with you, klick on the image to enlarge it (and tell me when you makee it, I am curious to see your version):