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Origami Picnic Basket




  • Five-foot square of oilcloth


  1. Step 1

    Fold your tablecloth in half a few times, and it can be easily stowed for your trip to the picnic spot.

  2. Step 2

    Fold it a little more and, through the magic of origami, it will be transformed into a handy picnic basket. Begin with a five-foot square of oilcloth, and then follow the illustrated instructions below to create your own carryall.

Martha Stewart Living, July 2002



Reviews (64)

  • Bobin 28 Jun, 2014

    For someone with such attention to detail it is insane how useless this tip is. "Get a cloth, fold it a bunch of times then it is transportable" ...Genius! LOL. needs to get more people on staff to keep up with making sure these tips are complete and relatively usable. I understand the down-turn in the economy but dang this tip is from 2002, why is it so lacking?

  • haricotvert 23 Jun, 2014

    Where are the illustrated instructions for the folded picnic tablecloth? There's nothing shown.

  • Sewsirius 9 Jul, 2013

    I may be missing something here, but I don't see any folding instructions...have they gone missing or something?

  • Kellyck 19 Jun, 2012

    This folding method is exactly like the newspaper seeding pots I'm making with my nephews this week. Go to and simply substitute a tablecloth for newspaper.

  • dlemke 14 Jun, 2012

    totally agree with the above statements. A cool idea, but the instructions are too vague and the pictures are too small.

  • hopefullyw 1 Jun, 2012

    I liked the idea ! shd try it ,, but yeah the pic's are not so clear, i used my little origami experience to understand them!

  • Charlaf 30 May, 2012

    looks like a great idea, but pictures are not clear enough to copy without some instructions to go with them.

  • ironside99 27 May, 2012

    Would love a larger picture and of course text on the project. But as USual with the Martha Stewart Empire they would Charge you for it. Most of their ideas are recycled or ideas from o0ther places.

  • Mimo 27 May, 2012

    What a neat idea , i did a practice round with plain ol' paper, the instructions leave a bit to be desired though ... and i think this could be made into more permanent baskets using some fabric starch and ironing the folds

  • dsreed5 27 May, 2012

    It took a few tries but I did it! Written instructions would help.

  • gulten62 27 May, 2012

    origami picnic basket

  • juhlie 27 May, 2012

    Please include printed directions along with pictures. The photos are not easy to follow - I tried, but just couldn't make it work. Thanks in advance for written instuctions.

  • nmclnmcl 21 Dec, 2010

    i must be kraft challenge.... i cant' seem to follow the instructions... and picture are sooooo small.... not good for people like me....

  • mcdriggs 5 Jun, 2010

    i've done alot of origami but the oilcloth is hard to work with and doesn't hold crease well; very frustrating.

  • RobinM61 5 Jun, 2010

    I don't usually have problems with MS instructions, but these diagrams are not user friendly. They are so tiny, it makes it really hard to see what to do-especially near the end where someone on MS staff must think we don't know that the 5 foot square cloth is going to end up as a smaller box, so the pictures get tinier and tinier to illustrate this. Thank you to those of you who posted other web site info to help understand this!

  • DDKD 5 Jun, 2010

    These diagrams leave out a crucial piece of information.
    This fold is based on a rectangle with a simple sink fold at middle
    (just like the start of a bow tie fold). The rolled down sides can be
    "secured" with office clips.**************A variation on this is useful for traveling. Using some sheets of heavy weight plastic, along with office clips. VOILA!!! you have water proof collapsible boxes of various sizes for washing fruit, clothes, holding stuff!!.

  • klpsnow 5 Jun, 2010

    Wow...MS is recycling ideas this week. This is the second daily feature this week for this particular idea.

  • AuntieBetty 2 Jun, 2010

    If you open "Google / videos" and search for origami boxes you get a lot of videos. Here's just one (of many): Warning .... it's addictive ... you'll be searching out all sorts of other how-to videos!! :>)

  • honeydays 2 Jun, 2010

    I see Svilena beat me to it by a minute! Sorry for the duplicate...

  • westyluv 2 Jun, 2010

    The web site is not in english

  • CKATHY 21 Aug, 2008

    how can i view the directions and pictures from carottelychee?

  • CKATHY 21 Aug, 2008

    where am i missing the instructions from carottelychee. i went to her name and clicked on it. only found something on baby bibs

  • chickengranny 19 Aug, 2008

    OH I must really be dense! I can't get it...........yup video would be really nice

  • erinluvstocraft 18 Aug, 2008

    I love having new ways to fold things. I also love Martha's Origami Nesting boxes - I stitch her "Baby Booties" (

  • darlawang 18 Aug, 2008

    Our family uses this pattern all the time to place table scraps (bones, shrimp shells, etc.) Take a magazine, catalog,or other heavy paper at least 8" x10". Don't worry if it's not square. Follow the steps 1-14 for the first box. Make additional boxes steps 1-13, flip over and store flat side down in the first box until needed. Use at the table at mealtime. Kids will like cleaning up the dishes when most table trash is already in the boxes.

  • terrie-bear 17 Aug, 2008

    carottelychee---HURRAY -- FOR YOUR PICTURES OF THE STEP BY STEP. Origami is new to me and frankly I had given up. Even my husband said "OH I can figure this out"--NOT!. The pictures were a must!!! Has anyone bought the oil cloth and actually tried this? Let us know!

  • carottelychee 17 Aug, 2008

    Thank you rij12861 for the tip about using a cardboard at the bottom of the basket! I'm also glad to know that my pics helped some other crafters :)

  • mrsnarbonne 17 Aug, 2008

    This fold is actually quite popular in Taiwan - lots of families fold scratch paper (fliers, printouts you don't want, etc.) into little baskets and keep them in the dining room. They're great for holding seeds, chicken bones, etc. when eating - then afterwards you can easily toss it all into the trash.

  • snowgooseltd 16 Aug, 2008

    Martha.....please hire the ladies from Carotte

  • LindenBlossom 16 Aug, 2008

    Thanks CarotteLychee, you photos really made it simple. Try making individual sized ones out of paper or starched linen napkins. Pop something inside (bread roll, floral bloom, cup cake, party poppers, small gift, etc) to enhance your table setting.

  • rij12861 15 Aug, 2008

    carottelychee, just a hint for you., If you are using soft fabric, make a cardboard bottom to give the picnic basket some strength. Great how to picture! Kudos to you.

  • rij12861 15 Aug, 2008

    terrie-bear, yes, there are two sides. It is as if you are making roll down handles.

  • terrie-bear 15 Aug, 2008

    Are there 2 sides to fold down 3 times or do I roll them down together in step 12? This is where I am lost! Can someone help? How do I unfold this?

  • rij12861 15 Aug, 2008

    Thanks cindynelson for advising that you started with paper. This is actually a breeze. Especially when you realize point 12 is folding down the paper three times. Now using cloth, it is wonderful! I have a cozy picnic planned for my living room.

  • maryomoerlins 15 Aug, 2008

    if you make sure to start with a square of stiff fabric it will work out rather well. This definitely doesn't work with softer fabrics. I reccomend using an oragami sized piece of paper to practice as it makes the folding a lot easier when you get to the full size.

  • EagerLearner 15 Aug, 2008

    Cindysnelson- Trying it with Paper first was such a good idea! I just tried it, and it topk me a while, but I finally got it to work!! Also, I saved each individual group of pictures from above and blew them up using my photo editor. The lines were a little fuzzy put you could see which way the arrows were pointing better. Can't wait to try this with the real thing!

  • EagerLearner 15 Aug, 2008

    Cindysnelson- Trying it with Paper first was such a good idea! I just tried it, and it topk me a while, but I finally got it to work!! Also, I saved each individual group of pictures from above and blew them up using my photo editor. The lines were a little fuzzy put you could see which way the arrows were pointing better. Can't wait to try this with the real thing!

  • Trillian 15 Aug, 2008

    So cool! We picnic a lot, so I can't wait to try this.

  • ladyhenry 15 Aug, 2008

    Good idea. I too tried it with paper. It worked also. For those having trouble maybe practicing some Origami would help. Just an idea. I know I have done some in the past.

  • pelican66 15 Aug, 2008

    id say print out these directions and keep in the picnic basket for how to refold it back once the picnic is over!

  • caitirose313 15 Aug, 2008

    Fold square in half vertically L 2 R then in half horizontally top to bottom Fold in half vertically L 2 R
    There r 2 layers of paper on the right Take the top layer of paper on R

  • calicomom 15 Aug, 2008

    Most of the directions are straightforward origami folds until step 12 (flip over between steps 11

  • Photographer 15 Aug, 2008

    What a cute idea! I, too, just tried it with a piece of 8 x 11 paper and it worked. My only confusion was in Step 12 - written directions would definitely have been helpful. In that step, you fold (sort of roll) each side down toward the pointed end. Those are the handles. Then you open it up - the pointed ends become the bottom of the basket.
    Hope this helps.

  • harper 15 Aug, 2008

    Neat idea but I tried it with a piece of paper, did fine until step 12. It felt like the Garly Larson cartoon of a scientific formula "step 13 - a Miracle occurs, step 14 - a box." Maybe a tutorial in the symbols used in origami would be helpful.

  • lsparks 15 Aug, 2008

    I would like to congratulate cindysnelson for figuring this out so quickly. The directions are very difficult, and I have given up. A bit of explaination would have been nice.

  • craftd1orig 15 Aug, 2008

    Very, very confusing...I got lost at about step 5. VIDEO please!

  • craftd1orig 15 Aug, 2008

    Origami always blows my mind!! I just cannot do it without a video or very, very explicit instructions. I got lost on this one at about step 5. This was more complicated than most!! VIDEO please.

  • kristinef 15 Aug, 2008

    I have tries to fold this a few times, but seem to get stuck at the end.

  • cmarlow41 15 Aug, 2008

    I made it to step 10 but couldn't figure it out from there. Ditto on the video.

  • Xiomara 15 Aug, 2008

    cindynelson...maybe you can bring some light to this project?
    It sounds neat, but hard to follow.

  • meanjeanms 15 Aug, 2008

    Yes Martha, we need a video. Explain as if we are 8 years old. I was never good at origami. Love the idea.

  • Summerstead 15 Aug, 2008

    I just fumbled my way through using a piece of paper. It would have been easier with instructions that werea a little more clear.

    However, I plan to make several paper baskets, fill with candy, and that's what we'll give out for Halloween.

    I am also thinking about making some for organized storage in the trunk of my car. I'll probably place something in the bottom to make it a little more sturdy.

  • frinkles 15 Aug, 2008

    The illustrations are not user friendly at all! A video or a better how-to illustration would be appreciated for this great idea.

  • Pampered1 15 Aug, 2008

    The instructions are a bit vague, can we have a video or more details instructions please?

  • seahorse73 15 Aug, 2008

    I'm trying this at work with paper and the directions are not that clear. A video of the folding process would help this great project.

  • lbuser 15 Aug, 2008

    Actually, these instructions are clearer than most origami instructions. If you try it out with paper first, it will become clear as you work through it. By the way, all those curved lines ARE arrows. I love the idea of the changing pad for a baby shower - and filled with little item, it will be especially nice. This is a fun craft idea - using origami to make something big instead of tiny.

  • ireneturrin 15 Aug, 2008

    Great idea! I really wanted to try this and like "Cindysnelson" first attempted it with paper.....but unfortunately, it was impossible to follow the tiny diagrams.....dear MS crafters -- could you please revise the diagrams and instructions, ideally add a video doing the step-by-step, or at the very least....."Cindysnelson" could you please explain how you did it?

  • Rubybagonia 15 Aug, 2008

    It would have been great if the instructions were clearer or showed on video.
    Very hard to follow. Can you make a video for that craft?

    Thank you

    Ruby Bagonia

  • angelfish 15 Aug, 2008

    I'd like to see a video of this. Think it would be easier to follow directions.

  • Sokkie 15 Aug, 2008

    This is a neat idea! Just tried it on paper too, and it's good I've got already some experience in origami. It's not difficult, but a first-time try on origami needs some explanation of the signs.

  • northwoodsfroggy 15 Aug, 2008

    It WORKS!!!! Wow! I like thw idea that cindynelson had about using idea for baby shower and I can even see this for wedding shower, house warming etc....

  • cindysnelson 31 Jul, 2008

    I just saw this and tried it with paper. I thought if I tried it out small, I could figure out the folds easier and actually made it work the first time.I think it is a really cute idea, and I can't wait to try it with fabric. I am even thinking about using this idea on a smaller level. How about a water proof changing pad for a baby shower?

  • tonipete 31 Jul, 2008

    This sounds like a neat idea, however, the directions are not very clear. It would help if there were arrows showing the direction of the folds, or a video. I tried, but finally gave up.

  • firenzebella 31 Jul, 2008

    This project would benefit from a short video showing how to do it - the illustrations are not very clear!