One of my readers asked me to do a tutorial showing how to make a traditional tobacco basket. The pattern is available for free here, but sometimes when there are no pictures to go along with a pattern, it just gets confusing, so I was happy to help.
The free pattern indicates that it is a "miniature" tobacco basket, but it actually makes a decent sized basket, as it is made on a 10" market basket handle.
I am guessing that they are normally much, much larger, but since most of us won't be using it to collect tobacco leaves, I think this will do!
Here is a picture of what the finished basket will look like:
Let's start with the materials needed:
1- 10" market basket hoop/handle
1" flat reed
A heavy-duty stapler
A staple gun
*Note: Normal basket construction typically does not incorporate the use of staples, but in this case, it works and is appropriate.
Step 1: Mark each of the four sides of the handle (on the outside) at it's center. Cut 10 strips from the 1" flat reed that are 13 1/2" long. Soak them well.
Step 2: Staple a strip of reed to the outside of the handle on one side, then staple the other end of the reed to the opposite side of the handle. (You will do this with five (5) strips of reed.)
Begin with the center strip, lining up the reed with the center mark you made on the handle. Staple the reed to the outside of the handle, being sure to line up the edge of the reed with the edge of the handle. Staple it about 1/2" from the edge.
NOTE*-I found that it was necessary to put my stapler at the edge of my counter (a corner works best) and place the handle so it is hanging down, and then give the stapler a good hard THWACK! Sometimes the staple didn't go in "nicely", but as long as it holds, it will be fine. You'll be covering them up later anyway. Sometimes the reed split a bit, so I just added another staple to hold it down.
Next, staple another strip of reed to each side of the center strip, placing them on the handle just before where the handle starts to curve around.
(see photo below)
Now place the remaining two strips of reed between the center strip and the outside strips. Be sure to center them as best you can.
The following photo shows all five strips stapled to the handle.
Step 3: Now you will weave the remaining five strips across the ones you just attached to the handle, stapling them as you go.
Again, begin with the center strip and weave it across,making sure that it goes OVER the center strip already in place. See photo below.
Again make sure to line up the edge of the reed to the edge of the handle. You do not want to pull too tightly so there is reed sticking up above the edge of the handle, nor too loosely so that the reed edge sits below the handle edge. This will be a little harder to control during this step.
Now weave the two outside strips ...
(in this photo, I have the basket turned 90 degrees from the one above)making sure to weave them exactly the same as you did the center strip.
Staple them in place.
Finally, weave the remaining two strips between the center strip and the two outside strips and staple.
Your basket should now look like this:
These strips will be stapled to the handle but NOT WOVEN into the basket. Please look at the following photo carefully for placement:
*Note: I stapled these four strips to the INSIDE of the handle.
I have labeled the sides of my basket A, B, C, and D and also numbered each strip on each side. As you can see, each strip lays ON TOP OF the basket's bottom and form a diamond pattern. Clothespin them in place as follows before stapling to make sure you have the strips placed correctly.
You will staple one end of a strip of reed to A2, and the other end of that strip to B4.
Then staple another strip to D4 and the other end of that strip to C2.
Now staple a strip to A4, and the other end to D2.
Lastly, staple a strip of reed to B2, and the other end to C4.
Again, I used my heavy-duty stapler for this step, and held the basket as shown in the photo above to staple the strips to the inside of the handle.
When you are finished stapling, trim off any corners that may be sticking up over the handle edge (see below).
Step 5: The last step is applying the rim. I used my staple gun for this step. The staples I used were 1/2" and went through all layers and out slightly to the other side.
(You might want to use a slightly shorter staple, but this was all I had!)
I just hammered down the sharp points that came through the other side.
I also stapled from both the inside AND the outside just to be sure everything would hold together securely.
Simply take two longer strips of 1" reed and clothespin them around the outside of the handle, and around the inside of the handle....just like you would for any basket rim. Overlap the ends by a couple of inches.
I stapled the rim at every single stake, first from the inside, then from the outside.
This basket was quick and easy to construct, and I was pleasantly surprised by how sturdy it actually was!
I also kind of like the rugged look that the staples give to it!
So give it a try and as always, if you have any questions, just ask!