A picnic basket turns into a handy-dandy all-in-one craft station

August 30 | Guest post by Chae-Bird

My partner, who I'll call Mr. Bear, and I frequent a lot of thrift stores. All of my burlesque costumes are made out of thrifted items, we have lots of thrifted furniture, and I have a mish-mash tea set made of thrifted cups and saucers that I have embellished with porcelain pens.

A thrifting trip is pretty much hit or miss. If it's a good day, we'll walk out of there with a bag of clothes, some furniture, and sometimes one or two little oddities that make our home more personal to us. Today was a day like that. I found a pile of shirts that will be transformed into an awesome Day of the Dead wedding outfit for next Saturday, Mr. Bear found a nice camping chair, and just before we finished ringing up, I spotted a picnic basket.

I have a penchant for picnic baskets. I already had three, in varying levels of complexity. But I did not have a briefcase-style one, like the above, so I was thrilled when I saw this beauty. It came with three mugs, four plates, and four sets of cutlery and was priced at a measly $3.98. My lovely Mr. Bear is nothing if not indulgent, so he added it to our pile at the register. I already knew what I'd be making with it.

I'd seen a few suitcases-turned-craftcases on Pinterest, like these:

Photo courtesy mojezielonewzgorze.blogspot.com.
Photo courtesy Playful Learning.

I would still love to have an adorable vintage suitcase to turn into one of these, but my thrifting mojo has not been that good yet.

The picnic basket provided a stylish alternative to the vintage suitcase, with the added benefit of already being lined and outfitted with several straps for holding dishes. I decided to use the four straps meant for cups to hold skeins of yarn in place on the lid, and strapped my copy of the Beekeeper's Quilt pattern in the center.

I tucked my yarn needle into the fabric lining behind the pattern for safe-keeping.

I plan on adding some dividers in the lower half for organization. For right now I'm keeping a ziploc of polyfil tucked against one side and just tossing my hexipuffs in as I make them.

Now instead of having my knitting project taking over the end table in the living room, I can pack it all away in my travel basket and put it on the bookseller's shelf (also thrifted!), keeping it all out of the way while still being close at hand and ready to go at a moment's notice.

Eventually I will reline the basket in a fabric I like better, and replace the shoelaces holding the top and bottom together with thrifted leather belt buckles.

I still keep needles, polyfil, and a ball of yarn in my purse for knitting during commutes and the like, but this project makes taking the whole shebang to a friend's house or the park for a day's knitting easy peasy.

  1. Very cool. Slightly off-topic, but I use all of my many, many canvas bags for my crafting supplies: a bag for card-making, a bag for crocheting, a bag for quilting. It keeps every craft with like items, portable and easy to clean. I don't know about anyone else, but I have canvas bags up the wazoo.

    • Me, too! So many canvas bags! I like to throw small projects in them to work on when I'm on the bus, etc.
      The picnic basket is just kind of fun and more to take big projects somewhere to work on them. :)

      • I'm so bad for buying canvas bags for shopping then end up using them for storing projects in. I really should finish some projects instead of buying more bags!

        Love this idea though and I guess you could still use it as a picnics if needed… Or even a place setting for two on the one side and a project on the other ;)

  2. That is supremely awesome. What an awesome idea! I now want to get my behind in gear and make myself something better to transport my stuff. I think I'd prefer something soft just for ease of hauling it to work, but still, having a carrying case set up properly would rock!

    • Yeah, it's pretty rigid, which makes some things difficult, but I like knowing I could take a delicate project on the road and not risk crushing it.

  3. Such an awesome idea. I've seen vintage suitcases converted into all-in-one picnic baskets too, but the craft basket is even more appealing to me. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to find a vintage case in good shape that fits the bill. I'm on the hunt!

  4. Julie: I have canvas bags for my knitting and sewing too. The fun part is, they're easily to decorate. On my last one, I painted a cherry branch with several chinese characters across the side. Or if painting isn't your thing, you can always sew on trim from the fabric store. =)

    OP: The picnic basket is a great idea though. Love how it keeps everything nicely organized.

  5. Ooh! I have a picnic basket that looks really similar–the same weave and coloring. I think they're the same brand! It doesn't have such a nice closure and it's not lined, however. This might just inspire me to make a lining. It came with a set of pastel dishes. Woo woo thriftstore finds!

  6. HEXAPUFF FEVER HAS HIT OBH. ALERT THE AUTHORITIES.
      *buries self in hexapuffs*
    erm… don't suppose you want to share what the top two skeins are?
    As a burlesque-studying anthropologist hexapuff knitter i feel strongly in support of this post, and adorable picnic baskets.

    • Hexipuff-knitting burlesque anthropologists UNITE!!!
      They are mill ends from Jimmy Beans Wool, the reds and pinks pack. I already knit the upper left skein and swapped the upper right one, but I have a few miniskeins left in the upper right colorway(I ended up with 5 skeins; 1 unique one and two each in two colorways).

    • Rules of the OBE: You cannot employ a fantastic, fascinating collection of words like "burlesque-studying anthropologist hexapuff knitter" and NOT go into more detail.

  7. Adorable craft case! I'm another crafter who loves having my current works in progress each in their own little bag or box. Makes it so much easier when I want to grab a project and work on it on the road… or just in a different room in the house, so I can be with my husband or friends and productive at the same time. I'm inspired to make some of those project boxes be prettier now, though.

  8. This is PERFECT! Thank you for this inspiration! I just moved, so all my yarn (I'm an avid knitter) is in cardboard boxes still, and my mother-in-law gave me an old yet totally unused picnic basket months and months ago that I had nothing to do with. This idea is just PERFECT!

  9. Oh em geeeeee Hexipuffs!!! I too am knitting the Beekeeper's Quilt and want to bury myself in hexipuffs. :-) Love the basket idea and love seeing other people as excited about hexipuffs as I am!! Weeeee!

  10. I have the exact same basket! Only it has some scrappy plastic liner I'm changing out. It currently holds all of my beads, stringings, tools etc. =)

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