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French Desk Set: Basket Liners

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I adore being organized. Actually ... I adore dreaming about being organized. I pour over my catalogs from Pottery Barn, Storables and Crate & Barrel, picturing my life neatly tucked away into matching bins and buckets. I even drool over those circulars from Target that show up this time of year when all the plastic tubs are on sale. Surely if I could see everything at a glance, I'd get more done. In this alternate, tidy universe, my children also pick up all their clothes and no one leaves their dishes on the coffee table in the family room. To further inspire me to coordinate my world, and you yours, we've come up with five French Desk Set tutorials, using the gorgeous French General Rouenneries fabric from Moda. These easy-to-make liners are a great way to add color and pattern to otherwise ordinary wicker baskets.

Take note that this project uses a ¼" seam allowance rather than our site standard ½". It makes a smaller, cleaner seam line at the bottom of the basket. You can find a great selection of Moda's French General fabric online from our friends at FatQuarterShop. Our thanks to them for supplying all the fabric for these French Desk Set tutorials.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of 45" wide fabric or ¾ yard of 60" wide fabric PER BASKET: we used Moda's French General in Rouenneries Roche Tournesal for the large basket and Moda's French General in Rouenneries Roche Texture for the small basket
  • 2 yards ½" cotton twill tape: we used off white
  • One or more straight-sided baskets: we found ours at Michael's
  • All-purpose thread in colors to match fabrics
  • All-purpose thread in contrasting color for topstitching
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

Measure your basket

  1. Measure the width of the front (the back will be the same measurement).
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  2. Measure the width of the side (each side will be the same measurement).
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  3. Measure the height.
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  4. Measure the base. If you've done your measuring correctly, the base should measure the width of the front by the width of the side.

Optional handle opening

  1. Measure the opening width and height. Then subtract ¼" from each measurement to account for the hem.
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Final measurements

  1. Now that you have all your basic measurements, you need to account for your ¼" seam allowances all around.
  2. Add ½" to each measurement of the base.
  3. Add ½" to the width measurement of the front and the back.
  4. Add ½" to the width measurement of each side.
  5. To account for casing and its hem, add 1" to the height measurement.
  6. Also to your height measurement, you need to add the number of inches you'd like the liner to fold over the sides of the basket. For our basket, we wanted it to fold over approximately ⅔ of the total height, so I added 4½" (in addition to the 1" above for the casing/hem): 6¾" (my starting height) + 1" + 4½" = 12¼"
  7. Measure the circumference of the basket, then add about 20" to that measurement for the ties.

Here's an EXAMPLE of the measuring formula described above, using our large basket as the model:

Height: 6¾" = 12¼" (formula described above)

Front / Back (CUT 2): 14" width x 6¾" height = 14½" x 12¼"

Sides/ Left and Right (CUT 2): 12" width x 6¾" height = 12½" x 12¼"

Base (CUT 1): 14" width x 12" height = 14½" x 12½"

Optional Handle (measurement of cut out on each side): 2¾" width x 1¾" height = 1½" x 2½"

Cut out your pieces

  1. Cut ONE base piece.
  2. With the base piece cut to measurements and laid out flat, measure and cut a ¼" angle at each corner.
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  3. Cut TWO side pieces.
  4. With each side piece laid out flat cut a ¼" angle at each corner, just as you did above for the base piece, but on the bottom edge only.
  5. Cut TWO Front/Back pieces.
  6. With each side piece laid out flat cut a ¼" angle at the end of each corner on the bottom edge only.
  7. Cut the twill tape in half to make two pieces to run through the casing and tie into a bow on either side.

Optional handle opening

  1. Fold each side piece in half widthwise and mark the opening of the handle at the top center, using the fold as the outer edge. Since your fabric is folded in half by width you must divide your handle width measurement in half. With a temporary marking pen or chalk draw a rectangle to represent this measurement.
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  2. Round off corners to curve (we used a pattern weight as a guide).  
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  3. Cut out the curve.
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At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Lay the BASE piece flat on your work surface.
  2. Line up the bottom edges of the FRONT piece to the BASE piece, right sides together, using the angled corners as a guide.
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  3. Pin together and sew a ¼” seam.
  4. At the opposite side of the BASE, line up the bottom edge of the BACK piece to the BASE piece, right sides together and using the angled corners as a guide.
  5. Pin together and sew a ¼” seam.
  6. Press all seams open. Set aside.

Finishing optional side handle opening

  1. Lay the SIDE pieces flat on your work surface.
  2. Take one piece to your sewing machine, and using a longer stitch length (about 3.5), sew a guide line ¼” away from the raw edge of the handle cut out. Clip small snips at the curves of the handle opening up to, but NOT through, the stitched guide line.
  3. Repeat for the other SIDE piece.
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  4. On both SIDE pieces, fold the raw edge over to the wrong side, using your stitched guide line as your fold line. Press and top stitch close to the edge.
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Making it into a "box"

  1. Lay out the BASE piece, and with right sides together, line up the bottom edges of ONE SIDE piece to the BASE piece, using the angled corners as a guide. Pin together and sew a ¼” seam.
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  2. Repeat for the remaining side piece. Press both seam allowances open.
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  3. Pin side seams together at each intersection of the base, and starting at the angled corners, stitch together with a ¼” seam allowance.
  4. Repeat until all four side seams are stitched together. Press all seams open.
  5. To form your casing and its hem, fold the top edge of each side ¼” and press.
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  6. Fold an additional 3/4” and press.
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  7. Re-thread your machine with contrasting thread.
  8. Top stitch close to the fold to form the casing.
  9. Place a large safety pin at the end of one piece of twill tape and thread it through one side of the casing.
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  10. Repeat for the other side. 
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  11. Insert lining into the basket and fold out and over the sides. Pull taut with the twill tape on each side, then tie ends into a bow.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Editing: Dianne LeBlanc



Comments (33)

Dee Bee said:
Dee Bee's picture

Hi, Love the project but want to know how to actually make the handle cut-out for a basket just like this one, so the handles are still usable?  See others have asked, but never see clarification on how to leave the handles open?

Thank you!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Dee Bee - We actually added this to our You Asked 4 It list a while ago, because it requires a new sample with new measurements. It hasn't made it into the Editorial Calendar yet, but is a pending project. Until then, I'm afraid I don't have a succinct way to describe the steps - it really requires an alteration to the design. Thank you for your patience. 

salemdogs said:
salemdogs's picture
Liz, the radio looks like a Stromberg Carlson. I also love the old radios, especially the art-deco look. I hope you knew how many times I talked to you yesterday while putting my project together. Were your ears burning? I would ask you lots of questions like, "are you sure?" and "how'd you do that?" I finished my basket and made several items to put in it (placemates, napkins, oven mitt and am still loading it up). Send me a note at salemdogs@aol.com and I'll send some pics.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ salemdogs - ha! that radio is from my personal collection. I have dozens of them - they are so pretty!
salemdogs said:
salemdogs's picture
Thanks for the clarification on the angles Liz. Someone was interested in the desk set, I LOVE the radio! That is a radio isn't it? Where did you get it? Family heirloom probably. Really cool.
Petunia said:
Petunia's picture
gorgeous! I'm going to modify this for a laundry basket. Thank you so much!!!
Kristy_L said:
Kristy_L's picture
Hi, this is a lovely project. Can you tell me, did you also sew the placemat with the glass top, also shown in the picture? If so, could you tell me how?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ salemdogs - I think perhaps you're seeing a bit of distortion in the photos. The baskets we used weren't wider on top; the sides were straight, which is why all our cuts were 90˚. You could certainly adjust the angels if your basket is different. If that's too much math, if the difference from top to bottom is pretty slight (about and 1" or less), I would recommend going with the wider top dimension and letting the inside be a little loose in the corners. Since the baskets will likely be filled, that is the area least likely to be seen.
salemdogs said:
salemdogs's picture
How did you take into account that the top of the basket is wider than the bottom? I see all cuts on a 90 degree angle.
titian. uk said:
titian. uk's picture
Love this project , I am going to make one to put my little dogs toys in. It will look great .
fourbartons said:
fourbartons's picture
Love your discussion of the organized universe. I, too, am trying to find this universe! Oh, and your tutorial is great toosmilies/smiley.gif
amylynne2 said:
amylynne2's picture
Thanks! That description really helps me visualize how to make it happen!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ amylynne2 -- working in three dimensions is a challenge when you are new to sewing ... good for you for diving in. I don't have any additional photos. Looking at the photo above Step 3 -- the basket liner flat -- you see the raw edges at each corner form an "L" -- place these two edges right sides together. Although actually straight, it will feel a bit like a diagonal. Pin together and stitch from the "pointy end" closest to the base out to what will become the top edge of the box. Do this at each corner. Sometimes when I'm struggling with a 3-D challenge, I make a prototype out of scrap fabric or even just paper.
amylynne2 said:
amylynne2's picture
Making it into a box is a bit confusing to me (this is my first sewing project!). Do you happen to have a photo of step 3 under the "making it into a 'box'" section?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Le - no you're not crazy -- you don't have to do the handle step -- see my note just below your post.smilies/wink.gif
Le said:
Le's picture
Hi! Great tut....why did we measure the basket handle? The fabric wraps around the basket and covers the handle entirely. Am I crazy? Thanks so much...
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Nelloyello11 - good question - that is a bit confusing. The "optional" part is going to the trouble to figure out the opening and the curve, if you don't want to do that, simply leave a break in your stitching when you create the casing.
Nelloyello11 said:
Nelloyello11's picture
If I don't make it with the optional handle openings, where would my ties come out?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@usha - glad you like tutorial - we don't have an oval/round version yet but will put it on our "You Asked 4 It" wish list.
usha said:
usha's picture
Loved this tutorial. I've some round and oval shaped baskets too, and would love to have some help with those. Also, I've a divided-in-four basket with a handle. now HOW do we deal with that?
tab said:
tab's picture
Love the basket liner.......I've always wanted to do one, but it seemed complicated. You make it seem easy once I saw the tutorial. I did think it was odd doing the handle opening part. You measured the handle opening width and height and then in the pics of finished product there was no opening where the handle was, just a cut out where the bow is tied. Not sure why the handle on basket needed to be measured at all. But other than that it's beautiful and I will be sewing some soon.
Souri H said:
Souri H's picture
Thanks for tutorial and beautiful fabric. I try to do one for my basket.
Dhilma said:
Dhilma's picture
Hi, This is absolutely lovely1 I am going to try this. I thought the handle part was for the actual handle but find it is not so, but is to pass the cord. Anyway going to do this soon. Thank you for a great tutorial!
ruby3232 said:
ruby3232's picture
I love the basket liner. I would love to do this for a round basket for an Easter basket. Do u have a tutorial for that or know where to point me.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Kgraas -- you can see hints of them in the photo above. The Frame and the Journal Cover will be posted this week on Tuesday and Friday respectively. Then on 3/23 comes the Desk Blotter and on 4/01 the Pencil Cups. Hope you enjoy them all!