HUNTING. GATHERING. MAKING.
THE GOOD STUFF.

Make a Fabric Coil Bowl

Add a pop of neon to your desk or shelf with these woven coil bowls. They’d also make a lovely handmade gift, perhaps a small bowl with a few rolls of washi tape inside? … it’s not long until Christmas!

Click on the ‘read more’ link below for the full instructions.

 

You’ll need:

Long strips of fabric – anything will work: I used knits, both cotton and acrylic. The pink neon was dirt cheap yardage in a bargain bin and the grey strips are Zpagetti yarn. You can use fabric scraps, old T shirts or thrifted sheets and tablecloths.

Cord – the neon orange is ‘Brickie’s Line’ from the hardware store ($5 for 100 metres) – or you can use more fabric or yarn like I did on the pink bowls. This is what you’ll need the most of. I used about 8 – 10 metres ( roughly 8.5 – 11 yards) for the grey bowl and it’s about 14cm (5.5 inches) wide x 8cm (3.5 inches) tall. The quantity in the photo below isn’t a true indication!

A large yarn needle with a big eye.

Scissors.

 

If you are cutting up fabric (T shirts, sheets, fabric yardage, etc) the thicker you cut it the chunkier and quicker your bowl will be. A good size for small bowls is roughly 3.5cm (1.5 inches) wide. The diagram below illustrates how to cut a piece of fabric into a continuous strip. When you’ve cut the fabric into stretch it in small sections at a time and the fabric will curl into a nice round tube of ‘yarn’.

The instructional photos are for the grey bowl with neon orange stitching, so I’ll refer to those colours from now on. Let’s begin…

Cut a length of orange cord as long as you can manage it without it getting tangled, and thread the needle with it. Mine was about 2 metres (just under 2 yards).

I used three pieces of grey fabric yarn together to get a good thickness.  I cut it to roughly 1.4 metres (4.5 ft) long.  If you are using one thickness of your yarn there is no need to cut it, it can remain on the ball/spool. The length of your yarn will depend on whether you want to change colours. It’s all fairly free form though – you can’t make mistakes!

Overlap the ends of the orange cord and the grey yarn. Wrap the cord around the yarn 4 or 5 times.

 

Fold the end of the grey yarn over to form a loop. Keep the hole in the center as small as you can – it should be just big enough to fit the needle through as it will get bigger as you stitch around the yarn. Wrap the cord around the base of the yarn loop, leaving a short tail sticking out, and tie a knot. (as in the left hand image below). Hold the yarn as shown with the short tail on top and the long piece of yarn on the bottom. Take the needle around to the back of the loop and pass it through the hole towards you (right hand image).

 

Don’t pull the cord tight – leave a loop at the top (as in the image below). Then pass the needle through the loop. Just like blanket stitch.

 

Repeat this stitch all the way around the loop. Needle into the hole from the back to the front. Leave a loop and insert the needle through it. Pull the stitch closed. The stitch needs to be firm but not tight. Keep your stitches close together and work your way around (as in the right hand image below).

 

Fold over the starting tail of the orange cord and the short tail of the grey yarn with the long grey yarn on top (left hand image below). Your next stitch will go through the top of your very first blanket stitch, instead of through the hole. Take the needle over to the back and bring it through the top of the first blanket stitch. Your next stitch will go through the top of the second blanket stitch. Scroll down to the next photo for a better look at where the needle passes through.

 

You’ve done a lot of stitches and will probably run out of cord soon. The photo below on the right shows how to add a new length of cord. Knot the two pieces together so the knot is on the outside of the coil.

 

Run the tails along the grey yarn and tuck them and the knot in as you continue to stitch (see image below left). As my coil grew I occasionally added an extra stitch when I thought they were getting too far apart. Remember not to pull the stitches too tight, or the base of the bowl won’t stay flat.

When you run out of yarn or want to change colours all you have to do is overlap the old and the new. As I was using three strands of yarn I cut each one a different length and inserted the new ones into the middle of them, so there wouldn’t be bulk all in one place.

 

As the fabric yarn tends to curl up I opened each piece up and inserted the new one into it. Then just continue on stitching.

 

When you’re happy with the size of the base you can start building up the sides. Make your stitches a little firmer while holding the yarn above the previous coil, instead of next to it. Continue like this until you have reached the desired height.

 

Finishing off. If you’re using more than one strand of yarn cut them at staggered lengths to lessen the bulk. Continue stitching around until you have just one strand left. Leave a tail of about 10 cm (4 inches) so you have enough to work with.

 

Weave the tail into one of the vertical stitches in the row below (on the inside of the bowl). Then weave in through a few more stitches in that row and cut the yarn off so the tail isn’t sticking out (image on the left below). To finish off the cord do one more stitch to complete the top edge of the bowl then tie a small knot and weave the cord down into the centre of the bowl. Cut the cord and tuck the end in.

 

And you’re done! I find this very addictive and I’ve made quite a few bowls and baskets of varying sizes now. It’s really quite easy once you get started. And it’s a great way to upcycle fabric.

 

If you’d like to link to this tutorial that would be lovely – I’m always happy and grateful for that and I’m all about sharing. But first please take a look at the FAQ page about using my content. Thanks!

 

75 Comments

  1. Juliet

    These are fabulous! And great instructions too. I am inspired to give it a go as a new project while I wait for my project-in-progress (namely, my first baby) to decide to say hi.
    Looks like a good and worthy distraction. Thanks!

    • the red thread

      Hi Juliet… well your project is much more involved than any I’ve tackled! I hope you have fun making them. Enjoy your crafting time while you can!

    • the red thread

      Jacqueline thank you! It’s really nice to get feedback like that. I hope you enjoy making some bowls.

  2. Tanith

    I love this idea, I HAVE to try it now! I’m always trying to find ways to reuse old clothes. And I have a few skeins of yarn tucked away as well.

  3. Maria

    I love that you are promoting coiled baskets. I have been making linen coiled baskets for over twenty years. Thanks for sharing.

    • the red thread

      Wow Maria you must be an expert to say the least. I’m so happy to have discovered coiled basket making, I love it!

  4. Jenny

    I’m really sad I can’t figure out how to do this. I cut up my shirt, coiled it onto something to make it more manageable, now it doesn’t want to coil correctly for the bottom – I can’t get past the first inch. Ah well. I guess I’ll put this away for now and try later.
    Thank you for the beautiful tutorial, though!

      • Mary Ellen

        Thanks so much for your gift! This is just what I needed. BTW this is how to make the Vintage Pine needle plates, baskets , bowls, etc… Instead of fabric you use a bundle of pine needles. They look neat with brilliant yarn or the more subdued neutral, earthy colors.

        Again, Thank You and have A Wonderful Holiday and the best New Year everT

        • the red thread

          Hi Mary Ellen, I must have missed your comment before… I LOVE the idea of using pine needles and natural materials! The holidays are long gone, but I hope yours were lovely too.

    • the red thread

      Hi Irina!! Thanks SO much – that’s very sweet of you. I’m really happy that you found my blog and hope that it continues to inspire you. Thanks for following!

    • the red thread

      Hi Melissa – no need to be sorry, but some constructive criticism would help rather than just saying they suck. I’m always open to improving things!

  5. Moira

    Hello! I have a stack of old t-shirts that I would love to use up, and I can always use more basket-like containers for small odds and ends. I was wondering if you could give some tips on how to do this if I opt to only use strips of fabric ‘yarn’ made from the cut up shirts, and not any thin (actual) yarn or cord. It seems that this what the pink and gray bowl is like. I am having a hard time envisioning how I would get the fabric through a needle and in such tight stitches as are demonstrated from beginning the base of the bowl.
    Cutting up some shirts now and very anxious to try this fabulous project. Thank you for posting it!

    • the red thread

      Hi Moira, you need to use a needle with a huge hole and cut your T shirt strips as narrow as you can if you don’t want to use any other yarn. Best of luck with it!

  6. Tc37

    Hi Lisa! I saw your FAQ page before I posted your neon coiled bowls. The bowls are wonderful! I believe I correctly listed your site on my blog: allkindsofthingsblog.wordpress.com. I am going to try to make the bowls bigger to fit my cats for a cat bed. What do you think? I can’t forsee of any problems with them being larger. I love your site and tutorials. Thanks!

  7. Diane

    I love these!! Do you think they could be made large scale and hold up to baby dolls and accessories being store in them?

    • the red thread

      I’m not sure if a large scale would work with this method and T shirt yarn Diane. You could try it with very thick strips of Tshirt bunched up tightly and make sure that your stitches are very firm as well.

  8. Samantha

    Hi there!, This is such a fantastic idea! I’m really excited about using some leftover tshirt “thread” for this project. Unfortunately I originally came across this from someone on pinterest who stole your idea and posted it on a bogus website. :( I reported them as spam and their website can be found here: [edit: I deleted the link. Lisa] Not sure what you can do about it but I at least wanted ya to know. :)
    Thanks again for the awesome idea!

    • the red thread

      Thanks Samantha, I’m glad you like it!
      I removed the link in your comment – thanks so much for alerting me and reporting them. I went to the blog and saw that all the content is other people’s work, with no credit given. They have a note that saying that because things are published on the internet they are copyright free… which is totally incorrect! It’s really disappointing to see this sort of behaviour and disrespect of people’s original work. But hilariously they have a copyright notice on the blog! I’ve emailed the blogger, I don’t expect a response – I think they already know that they are doing the wrong thing.
      Thanks again x

  9. Ernestine

    Normally I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at
    and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thanks, very nice article.

  10. Deb

    This looks like a good technique for a T-shirt rug! Much easier than crocheting with the benefit of the contrast cording – thank you!

  11. Padmashri Sudarshan

    The coil coasters and baskets just ‘jumped’ off the screen!! Thanks for sharing..definitely going to try this. I have a pile of old tshirts just waiting to be used:-)

  12. cucicucicoo

    Hi Lisa, another Lisa here! These bowls are just stunning! I always love a blanket stitch, but I’d never seen it used in this way. I also have been working on various baskets with t-shirt yarn, so I definitely want to give this tutorial a go! Thanks so much for the instructions! :) Lisa

  13. Alejandra Fernandez

    Hi Lisa, I love what you do. Did you named this job? I mean if there is a name for this technique you use to do these bowls?

    Thanks in advance!!!

    • the red thread

      Hi Alejandra, I’m not sure if there’s a ‘real’ name… maybe woven coil bowls?

  14. Anna

    Hi!i Just want to say that i love your idea and to say COMPLIMENTS!!!i want this obiettivi in my House :) i’de like to try if i can do them. Can i use an old t shirt?

  15. Sammy

    These are great Lisa! although i dont know why i cannot figure it out! my friends birthday is coming up and one of these would be great. I cut up an old T and made it long but i dont own a needle like that. is there any possible way i could do it without a needle and a little bit less quality orange yarn?? email me and let me know please. thanks for the wonderful tutorial

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