Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ribbons, Bows and Baskets

Level: Easy

Baskets have been used decoratively for years but they are also great containers for organizing and keeping things in place. Baskets in the kitchen, bath, or the bedroom add a new dimension to storage. We all seem to need more storage, whether it's for kitchen tools, bath towels, or hats and gloves.

The use of decorator fabric makes an ordinary basket into something extraordinary. Use a strip of left over drapery fabric or something that coordinates with your decor and even a small basket becomes noticeable. This project can be done by anyone who doesn't sew but loves to accessorize his or her home with unique and colorful custom-made items. First, find a sturdy and sizable basket for the things you need to store and then decide on the fabric for your ribbon and bow.

Decorating a basket with fabric allows you to match the decor but also allows for making a generous and full bow with flowing streamers. The fabric is treated with a fabric stiffener, which makes the bow molding an easy and fun project. After the fabric stiffener dries it is permanent and humidity resistant. If the bow eventually needs to be dusted a damp rag can be used and it won't hurt the finish on the fabric.


- 3/4 yd. fabric
8 oz. Fabric Stiffener
Hot glue gun


1. Cut a long strip of fabric after determining how wide the bow and streamers will be on your basket. The bow and streamers used on the basket in the photo are 3 inches wide. The fabric was cut in 8-inch-long strips because the fabric is folded so that the raw edges are hidden on the underside.

2. The streamers are formed before the bow is created and uses a separate strip of fabric. This streamer is gracefully draped over the shape of the basket and therefore the length of the strip will be determined by the size of the basket. This basket starts with a 50-in. strip, for example. Using your iron, press this strip so that the raw edges are overlapped on the underside and the strip is about 3 inches wide. Don't trim the ends until the streamer has been stiffened and placed where you want it to be.

3. Cut two more strips - 8 in. by 24 in. and 8 in. by 16 in. - to form the bow

4. Cut a final strip to form the center of the bow - 6 in. by 5 in.

5. Press these strips as you did for the streamers with the strip for the center of the bow being only 2 in. wide when overlapped.

6. The product for stiffening is water based and non-toxic and is easily cleaned but looks like white glue when used. It stiffens as it dries so it is necessary to give things a shape before it dries completely. Saturate the strips of fabric that you have pressed and place them on a waxed paper covered surface to dry 45 minutes until slightly damp. If your have excess fabric stiffener on the strips don't squeeze the fabric but use a rubber spatula or your fingers to remove the excess.

7. When the strips are still damp, but no longer sticky, you will form them into the shapes you desire. Start with the long streamer and decide where on the basket it will sit. It looks good to make the streamer rippled as it sits on the basket, so make the necessary tucks and folds to accomplish this look.

8. The bow is constructed rather than tied so use each strip you cut to form the loops of the bow. To maintain the shape while the stiffener is drying stuff the loops of the bow with plastic bags after you have shaped them. Use the small piece - 6 in. by 5 in. - to make the center tie for the bow. It will be only 2 in. wide after you fold the raw edges under. While the fabric is still damp wrap the center part around the loops and around the streamer in the appropriate position. The placement of the bow depends on the shape of the basket but slightly off center looks best. Pin or paper clip the raw edges together to cinch the bow together in the middle and make the final adjustments to the shape before it dries completely.

9. After the shapes are dry, the bow and streamers are attached to the basket using a hot glue gun. Use the glue only where needed to secure the bow and streamers.

10. Trim the ends of the streamer using sharp household scissors - not sewing scissors - tapering the ends.

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