Bread & Salt

In Germany it’s customary to give bread and salt for housewarming gifts, so when a good friend of ours migrated down from Berlin we decided to gift him with a variation on the classic theme. I had seen some adorable fabric bread baskets for sale in a little craft shop in Salzburg earlier this summer and had it in the back of my mind to try making my own ever since. So here it is! We filled the basket with 100% whole wheat sesame seed rolls à la the Tassajara Zen Master. Cute, huh? I promise it’s incredibly easy and took me less than 30 minutes! (The homemade Zen bread, on the other hand, took 4 hours and a lot of meditative OMMM-ing! ;))

Alright, here we go! Break out those sewing machines, dearest readers, and let’s get crafting!

1. I recommend a sturdy fabric. I went with grey and blue because I thought those were colors my (male) friend might like, but this basket would be super cute with really bright prints.

You’ll need a total of 4 pieces:
– 1 circle of 9″ diameter for each of your prints (i.e. I have one blue & one grey)
– 1 rectangle of 29″ x 12″ for each of your prints (again, one blue & one grey)

Snip snip snip!

Great! Nice cutting skills!

2. Now, take the circle and rectangle of the same color and sew the long 29″ edge of the rectangle around the edge of the circle. (Hint: 29″ is the circumference of a 9″ circle (+ a seam allowance), so it will just fit. Aren’t you glad I was paying attention in 6th grade geometry class?). When you’ve gone all the way around the circle, sew up the 12″ seam of the rectangle. You’re aiming for this weirdly shaped thing that kind of looks like a shirt sleeve for someone with no hands.

3. Looks great! You’re doing swell! Now repeat that procedure with your second color of fabric so that you have two shirtsleeves for the hand-less.

4. Put your sleeves inside each other with both of the right sides facing to the inside. In other words, whether you look inside or outside of your stacked sleeves, you see the seam side. At this point it looks like a bread basket gone awfully, horribly wrong:

But no sweat! Seriously, the hard part is already behind you!

5. Sew about 80% of the way around the top of your inside-out basket to secure the two layers together. Don’t sew it completely closed! You have to turn it inside out! (I  know you know that, but a little reminder never hurts – stuff happens.)

6. Stuff the whole thing through that little remaining 20% opening in your top seam to turn your basket right-side out. The stuffing and pulling-through will probably wrinkle your fabric a bit, so get out your iron and de-wrinkle, if necessary. Plus it’s always best practice to iron your seams, quoth my mother. Now it’s starting to look like something!

7. Yes, there’s actual hand-sewing involved here. You’ll need to sew the remaining little opening closed by hand. Bummer. Try not to stick yourself – no one like blood flecks on a basket used for food service. Kind of icky.8. Press your seams, cut off any loose threads, and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Pretty cute little basket, huh? 🙂 🙂 Actually I guess you could use this basket for pretty much anything….

Now all you have to do is spend four hours cultivating a yeast colony, kneading and punching down, and speaking softly and Ommmmm-ing to your bread dough to get it to grow big and fluffy and delicious, and you’ll have a great housewarming gift for a dear friend, German-style.

Lots of love to you on this October evening, faithful readers! May your week be full of creativity and procreating yeast colonies!

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