A crochet basket is one of the most straightforward and most practical crochet projects that crocheters love, but it can be quite tricky to get the basket to hold its shape well enough to be functional. After all, you want your creation to look like a basket, not a misshapen hat or a blob of fabric on the floor, right?
Although crocheting already generates a stiffer fabric compared to knitting, creating a stiff basket that holds its shape requires some extra steps.
How do you make a crochet basket stiff? Making a crochet basket stiffer is a matter of using sturdier materials to add structure, a tighter pattern and stitch(es), and a smaller crochet hook size. You can also further stiffen a finished basket with glue or wax.
In this article, we will walk you through several tips and tricks to help your basket become its best self. The tips will cover what you can do at each step of the crocheting process to make your basket stiffer and sturdier.
Tip 1: Use a smaller crochet hook.
Before you start your project, the first step should be considering what type of yarn and what size crochet hook that you should use. For household items like a basket, it is highly recommended that you use bulky cotton yarn or T-shirt yarn since these materials are thicker, sturdier, and can maintain their looks over time.
Wool, silk, or polyester yarn are great for clothing because they drape well and feel soft against the skin, but we do not recommend these materials for household items that need to hold their shape. These materials will result in flimsy baskets that won’t look great in your lounge room.
We recommend using T-shirt yarn or rag rug yarn because it tends to be quite bulky, making crocheting much faster and easier. T-shirt yarn is recommended for crochet hook sizes 7mm – 8mm, so you can create a functional basket in just one or two days. T-shirt yarn also helps the stitches look quite pronounced, so you can see the details in your work quite easily.
You could also use stiff materials like jute for making functional, sturdy items like baskets.
When you have selected the right yarn for your project, you should pick a crochet hook that is a size or two smaller than the recommended hook size for the yarn.
Although it’s generally a good idea to match your hook to the recommend size(s) for your yarn, when it comes to making a basket stiffer, it’s even better to go down a size or two.
Using a smaller hook will help you create a very stiff and sturdy project that can hold its shape well. Although using a smaller hook can make crocheting somewhat uncomfortable, especially if you are using a tighter stitch, this step will make sure that your basket achieves the desired stiffness.
Tip 2: Use a tighter stitch.
Even when you are using a smaller crochet hook with bigger yarn, it may not help if you are crocheting a loose, big stitch.
Using a very tight, small stitch such as a single crochet stitch will help your crochet basket look air-tight, helping the basket to stay stiff and sturdy.
Tip 3: Line your basket with wires or pipe cleaners.
Crocheting a basket comes with two steps: crocheting the bottom of the basket (a circle or a rectangle) and crocheting the sides of the basket (crocheting around the circle/rectangle without increasing the number of stitches).
If you want the foundation of your basket to be strong and sturdy, which will help them form the basket’s shape, you can line the outer row with a wire or a pipe cleaner. You can also line the basket’s opening with wires to help the basket maintain its shape.
Before you start, you will need small pieces of wire or pipe cleaners with the length the same as the circumference of the bottom of your basket.
A pipe cleaner is a safer option, as it has a certain stiffness without any sharp wires poking out of the basket. However, a pipe cleaner can be a bit bulky, which will not work if you are using thinner yarn. Using a small wire would blend in seamlessly with your design in this case.
How to Line a Crochet Basket With Wires or Pipe Cleaners
Here is the step by step instructions on how to crochet a round basket lined with wires:
Crochet a circle using the single crochet stitch. Start the circle by creating a slip knot and two chain stitches. Single crochet 6 times around the same hole of the second chain from the hook. Join the round with the slip stitch.
You are now at the second row of your base, where you will make two single crochet stitches into each stitch in the first row. Join the round with the slip stitch.
Add more rows to the circle, increasing by one fewer stitches at each row.
For example, in row three, make a single crochet into the stitch below, then on the next stitch make two single crochet stitches. At row three, make two single crochet without increases, then on the next stitch, make two single crochet stitches.
If we wrote it out into a pattern, it would look like this:
Round 2: 2 sc around
Round 3: *1 sc, 2sc, repeat from * around
Round 4: *1 sc, 1 sc, 2sc, repeat from * around
…And so on.
Stop when you have reached the desired size for your basket’s base.
Use fabric clips to clip the wire to the edges of your basket bottom. If you are using a wire, make sure to seal the two ends of the wire by twisting them together so that the wires don’t poke out of the basket after some use.
Crochet the next row in your established pattern without increases. As you crochet, make sure that you crochet over the wire so that it blends in seamlessly with the basket, and remove the clips as you go.
Once you finish this row, you should have the first row of your basket’s sides lined with a wire that will help the basket hold its shape.
Continue the next row, crocheting in the established pattern to extend the length of your basket. Stop when you have the desired length for your basket.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 to line the opening or top of your basket with a wire to help your basket maintain its shape. Once you have finished this step, make a slip stitch and a knot at the last stitch to seal the basket. Weave in all the loose ends.
You now have a completed crochet basket lined with wires, which will hold its shape even after some use. You can continue to adjust the wires even after the basket is finished, which is great to maintain the basket’s shape over time.
Tip 4: Spray the finished basket with white glue.
Once you have finished crocheting your basket, if you are still not happy with its stiffness, you can add an extra coat of white glue to help the basket become stiffer.
Keep in mind that this tip will only work for items that you aren’t planning on washing since the glue can come off in the wash. If you wash your basket, you will need to repeat these steps to help the basket become stiff again.
How to Stiffen a Crochet Basket With White Glue
Here’s how to spray your basket with glue to give it more structure:
Mix three parts of Elmer’s glue with one part of warm water.
Spray this mixture all over your basket; make sure that the basket is thoroughly coated with this glue mixture. You can also use a paintbrush to coat the crochet basket with the mixture.
Let the basket air dry.
The glue will dry clear, adding an extra layer of protection as well as stability to your basket.
Tip 5: Stiffen your basket with candle wax.
If you want an option that will make your basket not only stiffer but also waterproof, you can seal the finished basket with candle wax.
We recommend this option if you are not planning on washing your basket at all. Thanks to the candle wax’s waterproof property, if your basket gets dirty, you can use a damp cloth to wipe it down, and it should be good as new!
How to Stiffen a Crochet Basket With Candle Wax
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A white candle
- A blowdryer
Here are the step-by-step instructions to help you seal your basket with candle wax:
Rub a candle all over your basket (outside and inside) to try to coat it with wax shavings. This step can get a bit messy, but you should try to get the wax shavings onto the basket as much as possible.
Use the low setting on your blowdryer to go over the areas of the basket that you just covered with wax shavings. You should go very slow in this step to make sure that the wax is melted properly without damaging the basket’s materials.
Let the basket cool and check if there are any areas that need more coverage. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for those areas if needed.
You can also try shaving off the candle with a kitchen knife and depositing the shavings on any blank spots before using the blowdryer to be more efficient with spot coverage.
Once the basket is sealed with wax, let it cool and wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any extra wax residue. Your basket should have a very stiff shape and form after this step, and it would also be waterproof thanks to the wax’s properties.
Once you finish all of these steps and implement all of these tips, you should have a highly firm and sturdy basket that is suitable to hold toys and household items without losing its shape and form!