Prepping to Make Fabric Bowls

This is a follow up to my 12/30/17 post “Throwing Pottery” on the Sewing Machine in which I shared images from making this fabric bowl from batik strips sewn onto clothesline:


In the post I mentioned that I do not make a lot of these baskets because the preparation to make these baskets is so time consuming.

Recently I was cleaning out old projects and found the start of a prep for another set of fabric bowls. I thought: “what the heck, let’s finish up the prep and maybe make some more bowls”.  This time I enlisted the help of Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) to help me with the prep.

Below I will share a summarized overview of the cumbersome prep and where I currently am on my journey to make more fabric baskets.

It Starts with Strips

The pattern I originally used, Bali Boxes pattern by Aunties Two, appears to have been designed/inspired by the famous (and addicting) Hoffman Bali Pops. I know not everyone reading this blog is a quilter, so let me share an image of the packages of 42 pre-cut 2.5″ color coordinated/themed batik fabric strips:

image from eBay, photographer unknown

Did any of you who are quilters, get addicted to collecting sets of Bali Pops when they came out in the 2000s? Hoffman still makes them but for me the novelty wore off (as did the novelty of buying “jelly rolls” which are another configuration of 42 2.5″ coordinating fabric strips).

I still have 3 – 4 Bali Pops leftover from my Bali Pop days; and all the fabric baskets and bowls I have made are from Hoffman Bali Pop sets. One set actually makes a couple baskets – 2 or more depending on how deep you make each basket. I am thinking I could get 3 bowls out of a Bali Pop.

I do not know the name of the Bali Pop I am currently using (they all have cute names for their color combinations like “Green Tea” and “Citrus Grove”) but I think it had to something to do with the ocean as you can see the colors are blues and greens.

The Tedious Steps Begin

This post is not intended to discourage you from making a covered clothesline fabric bowl or basket, but I want to show that a bit of patience with tedious tasks is required to make these items via the Bali Boxes pattern method.

First you have to sew forty-two (42), 2.5″ strips which each measure 44″ long, end to end. Do the math – that is one mega long strip you are creating. Not accounting for all the 1/4″ seams you are creating sewing end to end, 42″ x 44″ = 1848 inches, or 154 feet (46.94 meters).

After that is done, you have to fold each strip in half and then fold into itself again, to create a pocket/tunnel to nestle the clothesline.

Now for the steps above, this time I enlisted (or would this be considered “abused”) TTQH. He amazingly created this ball of batik strips after much work:


It is a large ball and tightly wound/packed. I am amazed at his patience to do this for me, especially to double fold like 140+ feet of sewn strips (I used some quick and suspicious math to subtract 42 quarter inch seams).

Creating the Coil

I am on the last part of the prep to make fabric bowls/baskets – and it is equally as tedious. I have to stitch cotton clothesline into the center of the 140+ feet of sewn strips to create the coil.

But first I had to decide what coordinating thread to use, so I put together some options:


I let TTQH select the thread (he likes to make design choices like that) since he did all that work to create the “Ball-o-Batiks” for me. Here is the thread he selected from the options above:


After winding coordinating bobbins (making a basket or bowl on the sewing machine used a lot of bobbin thread) I was ready to start making the coil on my sewing machine:


I set the ball of clothesline and the “Ball-o-Batiks” on the floor side to side as I work them together through the sewing machine:


Here is what I have finished so far, not very much but I plan to work on it at a leisurely pace:

2 feet down, 138 feet more to go…

I will share a photo of my progress in a future post.


In yesterday’s post, Oh Scrap!, I mentioned that I had moved the fabric scraps from their organization in color themed boxes to a large bag. Well after completing this process I also ended up re-arranging my tiny sewing room again and thought I would share a photo:


I’ve added this photo as an update to my page tierneycreates Studio Tour, where you can see a tour of my entire studio.

Although I could use the space for something else, I always try to find a way to keep my old futon chair (it coverts to a bed for a very small person) in my studio to always have a cozy place to sit and think (about my next studio reorganization project, ha!)

33 thoughts on “Prepping to Make Fabric Bowls”

  1. I did a lot of fabric art in the past plus sewing clothes so I’m familiar with what you’re doing and I applaud you big-time, also TTQH. I look forward to seeing the results. And, I love your studio.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness! That is quite the process. At least you don’t have to make piping, turn and then insert the cording. Love the colors and the thread TQH chose! I like your sewing space. It looks so warm and inviting. I would want to keep the chair in there too. Especially for pondering my next rearranging escapade. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Cindy and you are right that could be worse if I was making piping like that! I do love my old chair – I have it covered with a quilt my “Quilt Momma” (the woman who got me into quilting) made, a couple old afghans and some thrift store pillows!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I had no idea how these bowls were made but this is very interesting to me. I don’t have any 2.5″ pre-cuts BUT it have a lot of scraps I could sew together to make very colorful fabric bowls. I am already thinking about Christmas gifts for next year, yes a plan is formulating…thanks for the idea! Love your sewing space, thanks for sharing pics!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks and I think you could just sew together scraps! I originally learned to make these bowls/baskets in a class at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon. The instructor did say (now this is just her opinion) that they look best with batiks as she tried them with non batiks and did not like it as much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see why batiks are the fabric of choice because of all the shading. Maybe I will start with a mini bowl and work up to a bigger one, just to see how it goes. I am thinking with a mini bowl I might use piping instead of clothes line. What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I guess once you get organized and start sewing the line that seems fun. I am curious how tedious it is to manipulate the bowl around the sewing machine. I hope you post a little video clip. I am sure curious. Also, what size needle and pressure settings do you use.? Interested to learn more and see more. Thanks for sharing your talents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kathy and I do not want to put the whole process on the blog as I do not want to disrespect (or violate) the copyright of the Bali Boxes pattern by Aunties Too. I used like a regular 80 needle and I used my normal machine pressure for the Bernina (42?). 🙂


    1. Thanks so much and I had a disaster my first time making the baskets and working with the clothesline but I took a class and had the teacher to help me. It does take a lot of patience to get the seam correct. 🙂


    1. Hey Lisa – yes most definitely a walking foot as you have the layers of the batik strips and the clothesline to get through. The trick is trying to center your seam through the clothesline while catching just the edge (like a 1/8 – 1/16th seam) of the folded over batik strips. Sometimes (okay like all the time) the clothesline in trying to roll around inside the folded over batik strips. I am starting to think only insane people make these bowls/baskets – ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! Thank you so much for the ideas! I have so much left over binding scraps, but not quite enough to bind a quilt that I think I’ll put them to good use one day in a project such as this. Thanks for the inspiration.


    1. Tina – that would be an awesome way to use binding scraps. For regular clothesline you will need your binding scraps to be 2.5″ strips originally. And then you open the folded strips and do another fold inside on each side (like if you were making bias ribbon tape) so that they meet in the center.


Comments are closed.