Weave a Road Map Basket

Craft & Design Paper Crafts
Weave a Road Map Basket


Maps can be amazing design elements, with all their intricately drawn lines and minute details. But what do you do with a regular paper map that is starting to fall apart from use? In CRAFT Volume 05, crafter Jane Patrick suggested we weave maps into baskets, a fun and interesting way to reuse castoffs and weave a little memory into a functional item.

Woven Memory Baskets
Weave your vacation road maps into an attractive souvenir
By Jane Patrick

Think of basketry as three-dimensional weaving. If you ever wove paper as a child, that’s the basis for this plaited basket. You begin by weaving a flat base, and then upturn the strips (called stakes or weavers) to make the sides, in what is referred to as bias plaiting. You’ll be surprised by how sturdy your paper basket will be.

Baskets can be called a true handcraft because almost any basket you’ll see anywhere in the world has been woven by hand. It’s one craft they just haven’t learned to make well by machine.
This project repurposes maps from your travels to weave a practical, attractive basket full of memories of trips taken and experiences had along the way.


2-3 large road maps
Contrasting string or thread
Cutting mat
Rotary cutter
Awl or tapestry needle
Small tweezers
White glue (optional)
to further stiffen the basket


Step 1: Prepare the strips. Cut off any parts of the map you don’t want to use. With the map turned lengthwise, cut 20 weavers 2″ wide (the longer the strips, the larger your basket can be). I made my weavers 37″ long, based on the longest length of the map.
Fold each strip in half lengthwise. Then fold the edges to the center, and finally, fold these edges together, creasing tightly. The more uniform and crisp you make the strips, the better your basket will be.
Step 2: Weave over, under, over, under (plain weave) for a square base, 10 weavers in both directions. If you point the folds toward the center of each side, you’ll have a better result when you weave the corners.
Step 3: Using string or thread, mark the base by twining around the edges. Measure a length of lightweight string 10 times the circumference of the base and fold it in half. Fold this string around a weaver so that one end of the string is underneath the weaver and the other end is on top. To twine, simply twist the ends together between the weavers, then place the top end underneath the next weaver while leaving the bottom end on top. Repeat until you reach the beginning, and tie the ends together.
Step 4: Weave the sides, working one side at a time. Divide the weavers on one side in half and weave the halves together. Beginning with the center weavers, cross them, and weave both out to the edge. Weave the remaining weavers in the same manner. Tighten the weavers by pulling out the slack. The weaving will poke out where the weavers cross. This is as it should be, and will be the new corner.
You’ve now woven a diamond. Secure this side with a clothespin. Repeat for the other 3 sides.
Step 5: Join the diamonds by weaving them together. Continue weaving until your basket is as tall as you like it, or until you run out of weaving material. You’ll notice that if you follow one weaver, it travels from one side of the basket to the other.
Step 6: Finish the edge. Working in pairs, fold one weaver over the other and down into the weaving on the inside, then repeat for the other weaver. Do likewise with all the weavers.
Step 7: If you have holes in the bottom or sides of your basket, this means it’s not tightly woven. You can fix this by pulling the weavers from the bottom of the basket to the top, to take up the slack. Keep tightening weavers until they are snug against each other.
This is well worth the effort in the final product. Once you’re satisfied with the tightness of the weave, check the top edge to see that it’s even and then trim the ends on the inside.
Step 8: To create a flat, sturdy base, I place the basket over a container and then weight the bottom with something heavy, like a rock.
After a few hours, I crease along the bottom edges for a basket that sits flat and stable on the table. If you want a very stiff basket, you can dilute white craft glue with water and paint the basket inside and out.

Variation: Newspaper Baskets

The Sunday funny papers are a colorful choice for basket weaving. I choose the funnies with the brightest colors. A monochromatic alternative is a basket woven of pages devoid of photos with lots of small print, such as want ads. After weaving, I treat the surface with melted beeswax for a muted, aged appearance.

20 thoughts on “Weave a Road Map Basket

  1. Nancy Jacobs says:

    Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. It is much appreciated.

  2. Rach W. says:

    I love this!
    I’ve done some small mat/coasters out of old magazines using this technique, but I’m loving the thought of a basket! Thanks!

  3. Mara says:

    This is awesome — I have a bunch of maps that I use frequently and wanted a nice container for them. I love the idea of weaving a container out of other maps. Beautiful!

  4. peppy says:

    Plaiting! Woo! Nicely done!
    A little bit mean of you telling people to finish it like that though ;) I finish all mine on the outside, making it way easier to adjust the tension.
    And the twining around the base is a sort of an unnecessary step. As a beginner I would outline the base with masking tape, that’ll keep it together and keep you from getting lost. Leave the masking tape on the inside (your first basket isn’t going to be perfect, use tape). I use 4 clothes pins in the 4 corners to keep it together while turning. But thats because I’m an ‘expert’
    And instead of weaving the 4 diamonds then weaving those diamonds together, I would turn one corner then weave it into the last corner. building the sides in one go instead of going back to finish parts after. Any undone parts WILL fall apart. The less ‘open’ edges the better.
    I recommend finding weavers you don’t have to build first (or that have folds in them) for beginners. Go to the dollar store and buy cheapy cloth tape measures. Or stiff ribbon. I’ve used laminated paper with success. I just mean to say that basketry is labour intensive enough. Try not to to have to make the materials too.
    Sorry for all this…I don’t mean to sound negative. I love your basket and it’s a very nice step by step. It’s just that I’ve spent a LOT of days weaving baskets so when I stumble upon’d this it made my day. I’m one of the very few that did indeed graduate with a basket weaving degree.
    I hope your still weaving, maybe your into hexagonal plaiting now?

    1. Kasha fletcher says:

      love this! I do a lot of non traditional basketry and was very excited to come across this. I promise I will not use this to brag about my skills, just can’t wait to give this a try!

  5. kitty says:

    Hermoso tutorial. Muchas gracias.
    Saludos desde España.

  6. Rosa says:

    Gracias por la explicación. Me pongo ahora mismo a ver si me sale.
    Un saludo.

  7. Cheryl Pickard says:

    Thank you, I remember this from the 70’s we used gum wrappers to make key chains. I just bought a coin purse made of chip bags this past summer in California. Thank you for the directions on how to make it. It’s GREAT!!!!!!

  8. Mabel says:

    Very beautiful!

  9. rui says:

    gracias por todo

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    This was a great tutorial….trying this out today….Have you ever painted the baskets?

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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