No plastic is good plastic

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: - Embroidered Basket V
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. - Embroidered Basket I
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. - Embroidered Basket III

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). - Embroidered Basket II
The edges are the original hem of the tablecloth, on the back of it I attached some cotton ribbon to thread the elastic through. Now it closes properly again.

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): - embroidery pattern


I like the result very much and love to take it with me to the market. And though I know I won’t try to sew with baskets again, it was well worth the effort. - Embroidered Basket IV
See you soon, love,









18 thoughts on “No plastic is good plastic

  1. How dare you, tempt me with pretty emroidery? Don’t you know that’s one of my weaknesses? *sobs theatrically*
    Ahem, yes… Calming down again. I really like your basket, it looks so sweet and dandy! I can imagine you trapsing off to the marking with that. How do you handle the plastic bags at the market though? I always try and tell them it’s fine if they only put the fruit in those cone-shaped paper bags and they don’t have to give me a plastic bag as well, because I come prepared, but it’s like pulling teeth or something, they just want to give me plastic bags so bad! I’m actually glad in a lot of the shops you now have to pay extra for a plastic bag, so that way they will ask you before just giving you one. Often I have enough free space in my backpack anyway (which I carry on regular days), or when I have a handbag I usually have a cotton bag or foldable bag with me as well.

  2. I love this post so much, your ideas about plastic which are so true, the way you remade the basket and also the embroidery!

  3. Was für ein toller Korb! Wir benutzen einen Plastikkasten (seit ca 10 Jahren) und Baumwolltüten. Ich habe auch eine in meiner Handtasche und nehme die immer zum einkaufen! Den Markt besuchen wir fast nie, der ist nur auf wenn wir arbeiten. Ich muss zugeben, im Moment achten wir mehr auf Fleisch und Tierprodukte in Biolandqualität als auf Plastikumverpackung. Aber das kann als nächstes kommen!

  4. So schön. Ein bißchen wie Rotkäppchen. Da ich ein absolutes Faible für Körbe habe (ich habe wirklich viele, meine Liebsten stammen aus Ligurien und sind aus Kastanienholz geflochten), bin ich schwer neidisch. LG mila

  5. Der ist echt schön und praktisch geworden. Der kommentierte Weg dazu, mit Fotos und Anmerkungen… ich bin stolz auf dich.

  6. Yes, I know 😀
    I have learned to be very quick, almost yelling that I don’t want a bag. And if I have a basket with me or the fruits aren’t too delicate (apples, no tomatos) I just take them without any wrapping, I will wash it anyway and if the cotton bag gets dirty I can wash it, too. I am almost shocked at how confused the sellers get, “but your bag gets dirty!?” Yes, so what?
    Even worse, here in the supermarket they try to put anything possibly wet in a small plastic bag, salad, stuff from the freezer and such things, or otherwise if you buy for example socks they want to put these in the bag so they won’t touch the food. Sometimes I just don’t understand this world…
    And Switzerland is not EU, nearly all plastic bags are free, there are days I am close to go mad when I am working at the cashier’s desk because I can’t stand how careless all the people are.

  7. Thank you so very much. And still I feel I should do much more, there is still so much plastic wrapping in my household, even without the plastic bags.

  8. Ja, zum Markt geh ich leider auch zu selten. Oft ist es aber auch einfach Faulheit weil ich weiß, dass ich im Supermarkt alles bekomme. Wenn ich auf dem Markt war müsste ich ja trotzdem nochmal einkaufen gehen, um andere Sachen zu bekommen. Aber ich möchte in Zukunft mehr drauf achten und die Märkte oder kleine Hofläden unterstützen. Vor allem weil im Supermarkt das Bio-Obst in Plastik eingeschweißt ist (sonst könnte man es an der Kasse ja als billigeres, konventionelles ausgeben).

  9. Aber lila und rot beißt sich doch 😛
    Wow, geflochtenes Kastanienholz klingt sehr speziell und sehr schön.
    Ich mag Körbe sehr gerne, aber sie nehmen leider so viel Platz weg, daher will ich es bei dem einen belassen, bring mich nicht auf die Idee, noch eine Sammlung anzufangen.

  10. You make really elevates the basket. Such a spring color and the embroidery is spot on. As always, Ette, you make lovely things!

  11. Sehr hübsch!
    Ich hab für meinen Einkaufskorb einen alten bestickten “Deckel”, aber auf die Idee, dazu noch ein Korb-Futter zu machen, bin ich bisher nicht gekommen. Setz ich gleich mal auf die Zu-Nähen-Liste. Danke für die Inspiration! 🙂

  12. I completely agree with your view on plastic (bags)! Since I moved to the UK a year ago I have been buried under a pile of disposable plastic bags – and it is driving me insane. Here in the UK almost every shop you go to gives free plastic bags – the thin ones that get a hole in them after 1 use. In some stores, like the 99p stores, you hardly even get the chance to bring your own bag because they pack everything for you and they don’t have a counter where they can put the stuff on so when you bring your own bag you are actually inconveniencing everyone. It is seriously ridiculous. The store I work in doesn’t do free plastic bags and it actually makes people mad, complaining about ‘bad service’!

  13. Ja bittesehr 🙂 Ich hatte als Kind einen Korb der mit einem Punktestoff gefüttert war, daher kam mir das sofort in den Sinn, als ich überlegte, wie ich den Boden aus der Schusslinie nehmen könnte.
    Wie ist denn bei deinem alten das Muster? Ich habe ja einfach wahllos eine Vorlage genommen und habe gar nicht nach historischen Vorbildern gesucht, daher weiss ich gar nicht, ob man das so bestickt hätte^^

  14. Thank you so much for your comment. I grew up in Germany and despite the fashion shops, who give free plastic bags, you don’t get them at the grocery store. Here in Switzerland you can have the thin bags everywere, I see people who carry their whole weekend food in ten of these because they refuse to buy one large one. And in the bookshop we do occationally have cotton bags. But how often I have asked people if they would be interested in a cotton bag and the answer I got always was “No, I wouldn’t use it anyway”. Nothing left to say from my side…
    I am happy that I can ask the clients if they can do without a bag or need one, I know the day I would be forced to just give them without asking (as some shops do because it is cheap advertising) I would quit.

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