It all began in a little open-air store by the side of a road…

Little did I know back then, when Ito pulled over so I could take a peek at the ubiquitous baskets on display, that taking home that one picnic basket would get me started on a summer-long personal project/obsession to customize it!

IMG_7278Sturdy rattan baskets being made in the mountains of Benguet

Here’s what I did to custom-design my picnic basket (in case you’d like to do the same). First thing was to line it with something pretty–I found some leftover toile de jouy in my old fabric stash (I also put a thin layer of fiber padding backed with some nude-colored fabric so that the basket lining could cushion the items inside, as well as be removed and washed if it got soiled with food).

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Next was to match it with some utensils and picnic ware. I always love playing with contrasts in my designs, so I thought that some sleek, modern plates and glasses would work perfectly with the rough textured rattan.

I fashioned a board on the cover of the basket wrapped in the printed fabric and this served as the base for holding the lightweight picnic ware and utensils. I had to play around with the arrangement for a bit to find the best layout, then I pinned grosgrain ribbon to hold the items in place and to mark it for sewing.

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I also added a slim pocket in the side to hold items (Ito had this little portable solar panel that fit perfectly. It could be used for charging phones, or an iPad and also for powering a music player!).

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Over the summer, when we went island hopping, I came across another store in Palawan selling lovely woven crafts and baskets.

IMG_7075Lighter, airier baskets in the islands of Palawan

This time I found a lightweight basket that made the perfect complement to the first one (I didn’t want the baskets to be too matchy-matchy)…

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…as it could be used to carry additional items and even turned out to be the perfect size to hold two zip-up insulated containers for any food and drinks that needed to stay warm/cool.

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Now the only thing left to do was to fill the baskets with goodies and enjoy an actual picnic 🙂

*Photos by Tippi Ocampo

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