Today I'd like to share with you the process I use to make a rectangular fabric basket!
A few weeks ago, we had an awfully hot and humid day here in Connecticut. Not one to make the logical choice and go to the beach or an air-conditioned mall, I set up shop for the day in our sunny upstairs guest room, cutting and sewing and ironing. It was hot, but I barely noticed as I eagerly sewed project after project, planning and anticipating the next one as I worked. One of my favorite things I made that day was a fabric basket that I put together on a whim.
I've been enjoying the basket ever since. I'm using it to hold my knitting notions--little ruler, measuring tape, stitch markers, stitch holders, and so forth--but it could be used for a number of purposes. I will walk you through the process, but it's really very simple, and could be modified and personalized in an infinite number of ways. Now then... let's begin!
For this tutorial, I used a light blue cotton flannel for the outer fabric. You might use any fabric you like, whether heavy or lightweight, print or solid, light or dark. I used cotton duck for the inner fabric, and though you might use some other canvasy fabric, I highly recommend sticking to stiff, heavy fabrics so that your basket will stand up and hold its shape properly. Using my sewing machine, I found the fabrics to be quite pleasant to work with, so don't worry if you've never sewn with such a heavy fabric before. You will need bias tape or some other seam binding to finish the top of the basket. I used vintage rayon seam binding ribbon in a delicate light green. Additional materials are optional and solely decorative, but give the basket its character; I used white vintage rick rack trim and yellow embroidery floss for cross stitch embroidery.
STEP ONE: CUT PIECES
Cut four 4.75 X 5.5 inch pieces out of your outer fabric, then four more out of your inner fabric. Cut one 4.75 X 4.75 inch square out of your outer fabric, then one more out of your inner fabric. (These are the dimensions I used; feel free to play with the shape and size of the basket to make it just right for you!)
STEP TWO: SEW BASKET FORMS
I used a 3/8 inch seam allowance. As for all aspects of this project, feel free to use a different seam allowance if you'd prefer. Just keep the seam allowance consistent. Sew each inner fabric side to the inner fabric bottom. Then sew each side to its neighbor. You should now have a basket form! Repeat with the outer fabric pieces, taking care to make sure right sides are together as you sew all seams. At the end of this step, you have two basket forms. Turn the outer fabric form right side out.
STEP THREE: SEW EDGE
Place the inner basket form inside the outer basket form, so that all seams are now hidden. Line up all seams. Pin the raw edges of the hem together. Pin your seam binding up against the raw edges, going along the inner fabric's edge. Sew all three layers together, very close to edges (how close depends on your seam binding; I sewed about a 1/4 inch away from the edge).
Now flip the seam binding over and out, so that its unsewn edge extends along your outer fabric. I chose to pull it out a bit further, so that some of the inner fabric shows and becomes part of my border. Pin and sew.
STEP FOUR: DECORATE
Definitely the most fun part! I sewed a strip of rick rack over my seam binding, giving my basket a happy, young, summery look, and then cross stitched in yellow beneath the binding all the way around. There are ever so many other ways to decorate these baskets, including ribbons, ruffles, lace, appliques, other embroidery, fabric dyeing, stamps, fabric pens, and so forth.
These baskets are excellent for holding sewing or knitting notions, hair accessories, beauty product bottles, cotton balls, picnic napkins and utensils, seashells, pinecones, holiday ornaments, crayons... That said, play with the dimensions, and you might think of all sorts of other uses! A shallow, wide basket might make an excellent fruit bowl. A tall, narrow basket would be perfect for holding pens and pencils. Make a taller and wider basket with a button and buttonhole at the top, and you might use it as an earth-friendly lunchbag. I'd love to hear what you come up with, too!Dream big, Louisa