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How to make crochet fabric bakets and make your own fabric yarn

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!

How to make crochet fabric bakets and make your own fabric yarn

Let’s get started…

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 that I purchased. 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 bought my rag rope from Gypsy River but unfortunately they no longer stock it, and I’m yet to find a new source. Please leave a comment if you know where to find some.


  • http://Www.katyjane.com.au Jane

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

    • the red thread

      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.

    • Judy

      Thank you so much for this post. I have made some rag rugs for the animal shelter and the staff LOVED them.!! –They can be laundered. I used old shirts that I was going to throw out. I want to make one for my own dog know lol .. I will have to watch her with it since she is still a chewer. I never knew how to twist the rag strip but I am sooo looking forward to trying this.. As yarn keeps increasing in price, it is nice to know that I can recycle the slightly used clothing. Love this idea. Thanks again…. jc

  • http://Blahblahmagazine.com Cybele

    They look fantastic. I need to try that one x

    • the red thread

      Thanks Cybele – yes, give it a go, it’s lots of fun. Try stopping at one!

  • Suzanne

    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!!

    • the red thread

      Great Suzanne, I’m so happy to have inspired you. let me know if you run into any problems.

  • http://flip-bells.blogspot.com/ Lisa

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

    • the red thread

      Hi Lisa – yes the end result looks great doesn’t it? Have a go, I hope you love it.

  • http://Craftgawker Magda Slone

    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

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

  • jet

    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

      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.

  • Claire

    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?


  • http://candy19candy.blogspot.it/2011/01/quando-il-crochet-ti-fa-volaresu-un.html antonella


    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

    • the red thread

      Oh great work! It’s lovely Antonella!

  • Margaret

    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.

  • francesca

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

  • Sakshi Arora



    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

      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.

  • Lynne

    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.

    • the red thread

      That’s so great Lynne. And so inventive with your hubby and the powertools!

  • http://myveryowneyegoggles.blogspot.com.au/ Margie

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

    • the red thread

      Go the magic circle! x

  • Lynne

    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.

  • Sally

    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 :@)

    • the red thread

      Thanks so much Sally, your lovely comment is much appreciated. Happy crafting.

  • Jaime

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

  • Lyhn

    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

      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?

  • watercloud

    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.

    • the red thread

      I just use the crochet hook to pull it through.

  • Karen albano

    Can you tell me how much fabric to use

    • the red thread

      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.

  • Elizabeth

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

    • the red thread

      Hi Elizabeth, either one would be good. It doesn’t make much difference. Happy crafting.

  • Kathy

    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

      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!

  • http://www.meetup.com/Jacks-Crafts/ Mary

    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

      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

        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

  • Cheryl

    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?

    • the red thread

      Hi Cheryl, yes! absolutley! The fabric yarn would be perfect for a rag rug.

  • cathy

    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

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

  • Pam

    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.

  • Pam

    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

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

  • Laurie

    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 :)

  • suzy

    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

      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.

    • the red thread

      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.

  • Laura Vrydaghs

    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!

  • Sharon

    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

      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.

  • http://www.allanstark.com Rohana

    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..

  • Emily

    Thankyou for the wonderful pattern, it’s very easy to follow and I love the results! Xx

  • Sherry Creech

    I hate any part of my fabric going to the landfill. This is a great way to use any left over strings of fabric. Thank you for the ideas.

  • Ayla Ricci-White

    The bottom of my first bowl didn’t turn out flat at all. Must have miscounted. I’ve always had a hard time getting crocheted projects to be perfectly flat. Any tips for this?

  • Chrissie

    Beautiful. I went to the Web page but couldn’t find any rag rope.

  • http://robbiesbackyardandbeyond Robyn

    Thank you for you wonderful tutorial !!!! Love my basket

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  • Wendy Starling

    Lisa, I found this tutorial very easy to follow – much easier than the other few I have tried! Just one question – what should I do if I want to make the base bigger – say twice the size??

    • Jeannette Vandervorst

      Wen you have a little round you must make some stickes more evry third stich twyce stiches in one stich the next round also until you have a bigger round and then about three rounds you have anough stiches and you only have to go round until you have the good hight.Jeannette from Holland.

  • Laura

    Excellent Tutorial with very informtive pictures, thank you so much. I pinterested it and will copy your link to my blog.

  • Queen Mab, Madcap Wench

    This is a great tutorial and it’s easy to follow–thanks for posting it!

  • Mic T

    This is brilliant! Thanks so much :-)

  • Bookish Thoughts

    I’m so excited to try this. We have a few old sarees lying around and i might try to make this. If i do, i’ll share a pic with you! thank’s for the idea.

  • Joselyn Greene

    Wow, how nice of you to provide such a detailed tutorial. The baskets are just lovely. I have been repurposing, crocheting and experimenting with T-shirt strips. When I first started, although I was making a bath mat the edges starting curling into a basket. I forgot to increase the stitches, LOL. After seeing your baskets, I can’t wait to try one out. Thanks for sharing!

  • mama lola

    such a great tutorial! thanks so much for taking the time to create such a detailed tutorial! i hope it’s ok i share your project with my readers with proper sourcing and link back to your page of course!
    have a wonderful week! XO