Sunday, May 23, 2010


Wednesday is Emily's last day of preschool. Naturally I am an emotional wreck, wailing "where has the time gone?" and "but I just gave birth to her!" and generally overreacting. But she had a great year, and exceptional teachers, one of whom we lost early in the year to cancer. As part of said emotional overreaction to everything, I sent out these pieces of canvas to the kids in Emily's class, along with fabric markers, so they could draw pictures of themselves.
Then I went shopping at Home Depot for these PVC pipe bits

to make this frame.

Then I sewed all the fabric pieces together, found some print fabric (by Jessica Jones) in my stash and made a hack of those Reisenthel baskets I can't get enough of (I have two, and I want more).

But really, the kids' artwork was so phenomenal that I could have just stuck it all on a poster board and it would have been fabulous. Still, I thought a market basket (or something to throw school supplies in to cart from room to room) might be more practical.

So much fun to make. The PVC frame is inferior to the lightweight aluminum Reisenthel basket's in several ways: it is heavier, and the handle does not fold down. But I take my hat off to the folks at Home Depot - I brought my Reisenthel (and my three children) there, accosted the electrical guy (poor man was the first one who met me at the door) and said, "I need to make this. What do you have that I can make the frame out of?"

Then we brainstormed, me and the electrical guy. And we conceptualized the PVC frame and I went home and sawed away (used the wrong blade, no less) and fixed it up. I can't remember the last time I brainstormed with any of the JoAnn staff.

In anticipation of your questions, should you ever want to make this:

Q What fabric did you use?
A Canvas, duckcloth and fusible craft-weight interfacing (aka craft fuse) on the lining layer and the printed fabric which was floppy.

Q And what else?

Some 1/2" foam to pad the handle,

five metal purse feet and PVC glue for the pipes. And some drawstring cord for the piping around the base.
Q What keeps it from collapsing?
A Faith. No, seriously - a flexible
Ikea cutting board -from this I cut the base board (it is hidden between the outer layer and lining) and four supporting spines for the sides of the basket.

Q And what pattern did you use?

A Made my own to fit the frame. Used simple geometry.

Q And what special feet did you attach to your sewing machine?

A None. Used the regular presser foot most of the time, and the zipper foot for the piping.

Q And was it cheaper than the Reisenthel?

A Let's just say that I didn't do this to save money. Especially not after already buying two Reisenthels. I did this for the teachers and the kids. But well, let's total everything up. All the PVC stuff came to about $8 per basket. The glue - a few bucks. The fabric and interfacing - I'd say maybe $10 per basket. The foam - a few cents. The Ikea cutting board - $1 per basket. That would make it about $20 per basket.

Q I'm disinclined to go shopping at the hardware store. Can I buy a ready-made frame?
A Sure, if you want to mass-produce Reisenthel hacks - try here. Or if don't mind a much-poorer finish aluminum frame with two handles (they fold down), Target has a smaller, zippered-cover picnic tote for $10 that you can buy and throw the fabric part away.

Q Will you be doing a tutorial?

A And deprive you of the fun of putting it together in your head yourselves? Heavens, no.

Come Wednesday, the kids will get to see what their artwork has become. I can't wait. They are such amazing kids. And the teachers, of course - they'll get to keep their baskets!


  1. I must say that is such a great idea, when I get the chance I really would like to give it a go.

  2. I love this idea!! It's so personalized and turned out so lovely!

    * * * * *

    And I must say I AGREE on your little comment about JoAnns staff. The only advice I've ever heard them give poor unsuspecting customers is really BAD advice! :o)

  3. You are amazing! This is a great idea, and must be so much fun for the teacher to receive!

  4. This is a such sweet teacher's gift. It turned out beautiful.

  5. Simply amazing!

  6. Amazing idea! What a great (and useful!) end of year present for teachers. Why do none of my parents think of these things?

  7. This is a very thoughtful, useful, crafty teacher gift! Covers all the bases! Great job!!!

  8. One word: Genius!

    Some more words: this is being filed away in my brain for the next time I go to a DIY shop!

  9. What a perfect teacher gift! I know they will love it!!

  10. Fabulous! That is an awesome teachers gift. I love that you incorporated the kids artwork. I have to agree with you on.... where has the time gone. My little girl is growing up and it seems like it is all going by so fast.

  11. Your baskets are amazing; what an amazing teacher gift!

  12. Amazing! So thoughtful because it's useful AND personal for the teachers.
    I like your funny asides, too. If I ever attempted something like this, I would swear a lot. And probably not finish. So I like admiring yours.

    By the way, I have to agree, after shopping there for years, that JoAnn's staff is abysmal - so grouchy and unhelpful. They need a staff inservice on attitude!

  13. It is such a great idea, that will be a lovely gift for the teachers. I love it. Can I copy (next year, that is ) ?

  14. Wal-Mart has baskets just like this, if anyone wants to make one with a metal handle. They are $8.00.

  15. that is a great teachers gift idea.

  16. Incredibly clever & cute! I suspect it would take me forever to actually make one though.

  17. Oh, I loved the look of this so much I blogged about it.


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