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Fast Fridays: Easter Basket

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You could go buy one of those cellophane wrapped, plastic filled, neon colored Easter baskets. It’s easy, right? Just grab and go. But, you know how to sew. Plus, you know the power of handmade to create a lasting memory. And, wouldn’t you rather have a beautiful basket to fill and refill long after the chocolate eggs and marshmallow Peeps® are gone? Our fabric Easter Basket is still easy, which is why it fits into our Fast Fridays series, but it’s also prettier, sturdier, and endlessly reusable.

Not only is this a fast and easy project, it’s also a great ScrapBusters project. We reached into our Sew4Home Stash for some slightly heavier weight substrates for both the exterior and the lining plus a bit of coordinating quilting cotton for the ruffle. Regular visitors might recognize that fun exterior fabric from our popular Dots and Blocks Travel Duffle.

Fast Fridays is all about creating something wonderful in no time at all. This basket can be created in just a few hours from first cut to final topstitching, including the pretty ruched handle that holds its shape thanks to an inner plastic canvas core.

We designed a similar project several years back as a Flower Girl Basket. For that option, we incorporated some special occasion fabrics, including taffeta for the handle and tulle for the ruffle. In addition, there’s a special fabric rose embellishment and the handle is positioned front to back rather than side to side to allow little hands to more easily reach in to grab the petals inside. It’s a great example of how one design can be slightly altered to create dozens of unique outcomes.

As mentioned above, we recommend a slightly heavier substrate for the exterior and lining, such as a lightweight canvas, sateen or cotton/linen blend. There is heavyweight fusible interfacing providing the main structure, but a more substantial fabric pair is still important so the basket can easily stand up on its own for Easter goodies as well as hold-up to future storage solution jobs, such as holding soaps in the bathroom, tea towels in the kitchen or scarves in the bedroom.

You’ll notice the sharp corners of our sample basket. This is created not with stitching, but with pressing. The combination of the natural cotton fabrics and the heavyweight fusible interfacing provides a surface that loves to be pressed. When your basket is complete, in order to make the sides of the basket more square, gently fold each side and press well with steam to create four vertical crease lines. They’ll stay put until you press them out!

Because of the geometric motif of our exterior fabric, we opted for a loose accent ruffle around the top. Too tight of a gather would have produced a frilly ruffle that wouldn’t have looked right against those perfect colorful circles. The final look is, of course, totally up to you and the fabric you choose, but if you’d like a tight, “frillier” ruffle, start with a longer strip – even seaming together more than one length in order to get the best look. The top perimeter of the basket is approximately 25” and our recommended cut length is Width of Fabric (44” for quilting cotton). But, the rule of thumb for gathering is to start with 2.5 to even 3 times the finished length, so starting with up to a 75” strip would not be uncommon.

Our basket finishes at approximately 8” wide x 7” tall x 5” deep, excluding the 1½” ruffle all around.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide sateen weight or similar fabric for the exterior and handle sleeve
  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide mid-weight canvas or similar for the basket's lining
  • ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the accent ruffle
  • Scrap of plastic canvas or similar for the handle; you need a 1" x 15½" strip
  • yard of 20”+ wide heavyweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Peltex one-side fusible stabilizer
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Clips; optional to help hold handle

Getting Started

  1. From the exterior fabric, cut the following:
    TWO 14" wide x 10½" high rectangles
    Fussy cut
    ONE 4" x 30" strip for the handle sleeve; we cut to center our dot motif.

  2. From the lining fabric, cut TWO 14" wide x 10½" high rectangles
  3. From the fabric for the accent ruffle, cut ONE 4” x 44” (Width of Fabric - WOF) strip.
  4. From the heavyweight interfacing, cut TWO 13" x 9½" rectangles.
  5. From the plastic canvas, cut ONE 1" x 15½" strip.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the exterior

  1. Find the two exterior fabric panels and the two heavyweight interfacing panels.
  2. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of each fabric panel so there is ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides.
  3. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
  4. Place the two interfaced panels right sides together. The raw fabric edges should be flush on all sides. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. The top remains open.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. You are stitching right next to but not on the interfacing; this will allow your seam to lay flat without the bulk of the heavy interfacing.
  6. The next step is to box the bottom corners. Our corners finish at 5” in depth, which means our starting width is half that or 2½”.
  7. Pinch the corners, matching up the side and bottom seams. 
  8. With a see-through ruler, measure 2½" in from the point of the corner peak, and draw a line. Repeat on the opposite corner.
  9. Pin in place and stitch along the drawn line. Stitch a second line approximately ⅛ from the first seam for stabilization and security. Repeat on the opposite corner.
  10. Trim away the folded peak close to the second seam. If you are brand new to making boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions
  11. Press open the seam allowances. Turn the exterior basket right side out and push out the corners into position
  12. Press down the top raw edge ½" all the way around. It should cleanly fold along the top edge of the interfacing.
  13. Set aside the exterior basket.

Lining

  1. Find the two lining panels and place them right sides together. The raw edges of both layers should be flush all around. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. As above with the exterior, the top remains open.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  3. Create box corners in the lining, following the same steps as above. As we mentioned, check out our How To Box Corners tutorial if you are brand new to this technique. 
  4. Fold down the top raw edge ½" all the way around. Press in place.
  5. Set aside the lining basket, keeping it wrong side out.

Accent ruffle

  1. Find the 4” x WOF strip.
  2. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 2” x WOF. Press well.
  3. Run a gathering stitch the length of the strip, approximately ½” from the raw edges.

    NOTE: If you are new to machine gathering, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting.
  4. Find the exterior basket.
  5. Gather the ruffle strip to fit the circumference of the basket top.
  6. Pin the bottom gathered edge of the ruffle to the wrong side of the top folded edge of the exterior. The bottom edge of the ruffle should align with the folded-down raw edge of the exterior, which means the top folded edge of the ruffle is extending up above the the top of the exterior basket.
  7. Starting at a side seam, pin the ruffle in place around the top, adjusting the gathers as needed as you go.
  8. When you reach your starting point (at the side seam as recommended), fold under the raw end approximately ½”, trimming away any excess.
  9. Overlap the starting point with the clean finished edge of the ending point.
    NOTE: You can, of course, finish the ends of your ruffle with your favorite method, overlapping as described or seaming as you would a binding. If overlapping, consider hand stitching a short vertical seam to keep the ends together.
  10. Machine baste the ruffle strip in place all around the top of the exterior basket.

Handle sleeve

  1. Find the 4" x 30" handle sleeve strip. Fold it in half lengthwise so it is now 2" x 30". Pin in place along the 30" side. 
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along the 30" side, leaving both ends open. This forms a long tube.
  3. Press open the seam allowance and turn the tube right side out through one of the open ends. Roll the seam around to the back so your fussy cut motif is centered. Press flat.
  4. Find the strip of plastic canvas and insert it into the handle sleeve.

  5. On one end, push back the plastic canvas strip just far enough to allow you to sew a ½" seam across that end. 
  6. Slide the plastic canvas back down until it butts up against this sewn sewn. Return to your machine and stitch a second seam just inside the first and through the plastic canvas, securing it in place and keeping it snug against the ½" seam.
  7. Slide the sleeve along the plastic canvas, gathering the sleeve to fit the length of the plastic canvas. 
  8. Repeat to stitch the opposite end of the handle sleeve, holding the "ruched" look of the sleeve.

Two options to secure the exterior to the lining

  1. Find the basket exterior. It should be right side out with the ruffle strip basted in place. Find the lining; it should be wrong side out.
  2. Carefully slide the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together. Match up the side seams and the boxed bottoms of the two pieces.
  3. Pin the layers together all around the top. The top folded edges of the exterior and lining should be flush to either side of the ruffle.
  4. Find the handle. Slip one end of the handle in between the lining and the exterior layers at each side seam. The handle ends should be inserted about ½”.
  5. The handle should sit so the ruffle is in front of it when viewed from the exterior.
  6. If your machine has a free arm as well as a Walking foot or a Built-in Fabric Feeding system, you can stitch around the top with one seam to secure the exterior to the lining. Make sure your machine is threaded with thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  7. If you do not have a free arm on your machine and/or any type of fabric feeding option, instead start by attaching the handle in place on the exterior without the lining in place. Machine baste each handle end in place through all the layers.
  8. Insert the lining and pin in place all around
  9. Hand stitch the lining in place all around. We suggest a slip stitch/ladder stitch, using tiny stitches in a color to match the lining for the best finished look.
  10. Remove any visible basting stitches.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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