Divide and conquer! When it comes to organizing your stuff, it’s one of the best ways to tackle the mess and contain the chaos. We created one of our famous fabric baskets, then added some extras: both inner and outer pockets, double carry handles, and a removable center divider. It’s a great caddy for the car, as we’ve shown in several of our photos, or customize it for any room in the house.
There are no fancy patterns needed for this project. All the cuts are standard rectangles and strips. Fusible foam provides the exterior structure along with an inset base sleeve that wraps a plastic canvas panel.
For our sample, we went with a preppy color combination, pairing a rich blue green canvas with classic navy twill tape binding, then adding pocket and handle accents in an excellent railroad denim stripe. Mid-to-heavy weight canvas and denim are great options for the exterior to help give the basket the proper structure.
We recommend rip stop nylon for the lining. It’s a wipe-clean surface and tough enough to withstand frequent loading and unloading. There are several types of rip stop, and for this project, look for a heavier weight – something similar to what you might choose for a banner project.
There’s a handle on either end of the basket so it’s easy to “tote the tote” wherever you need extra organization. From the car to the kitchen to the bath, the design is wide and deep, and there are pockets a’plenty so you have lots of room for things in a variety of sizes.
There are four exterior pockets plus two lining pockets that can be left full or divided however you’d like to hold specialty items. We kept one lining pocket open and divided the opposite one into two equal sections.
Dritz Double Cap Rivets secure the handles and strengthen the main panels as well. We were very pleased with how well the rivets went through all the layers and sealed securely. Use the proper tools to make sure you cut cleanly and precisely, and make sure you do the required hammering on a very solid surface. We like to use a small granite block, which is easy to move onto our work surface.
Great DIY gifts for guys can be hard to find, but we feel this is a winner. Pick out your guy’s favorite canvas colors, and give him the perfect car carrier to keep track of all his important “Guy Stuff” when he’s on the go.
Our basket finishes at approximately 13″ wide x 8″ high x 10” deep.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- 100/16 Denim Needle
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful when working with the multiple layers – or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system.
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 54″+ wide mid-weight canvas or similar in a solid color for the main exterior; we used 60” 9.3oz Canvas Duck Cloth in Caribbean Sea
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide mid-weight denim or similar in a coordinating print for the exterior pockets and handle accents; we used 48” Railroad Denim by Robert Kaufman
- ¾ yard of 54”+ nylon rip stop or similar in a coordinating solid for the lining; we used 59” nylon rip stop in navy, purchased locally
- 1 yard of 20″+ fusible foam; we used Pellon One-Sided Fusible Flex Foam
- ⅓ yard of 20″+ mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- ½ yard of 1” wide cotton twill tape in a color to best match the lining; we used navy, purchased locally
- 2 yards of 1½” wide cotton twill tape in the same color as the 1″ to best match the lining; we used navy, purchased locally
- ONE sheet of plastic canvas or similar for the base insert; you need an apx. 13” x 10” sheet
- ½ yard of ⅝” wide sew-in Velcro® in a color to best match the lining; we used black
- TEN Dritz® Double Cap Rivets in nickel
- Dritz® Cutting and Setting tools for Double Cap Rivets
NOTE: We also recommend an Awl for help starting the rivet holes in the thickest layers.
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and Velcro
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth; to protect the rip stop nylon
- Straight pins
- ⅝” fusible seam tape; optional for holding Velcro® in place
- Seam sealant; optional for the raw, folded-back ends of the handles
- Small hammer to set rivets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface
- From the main exterior fabric (blue canvas in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 14” wide x 8½” high rectangles for the front and back panels
TWO 11” wide x 8½” high rectangles for the side panels
ONE 14” wide x 11” high rectangle for the base
- From the accent fabric (railroad denim in our sample), cut the following (we fussy cut so our railroad stripe ran vertically on both the pocket panels as well as the handle accents):
TWO 14” wide x 11” high rectangles for the exterior pockets
TWO 8” wide x 1¾” high strips for the handle accents
- From the lining fabric (navy rip stop in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 13½” wide x 8¼” high rectangles for the front and back panels
TWO 10½” wide x 8¼” high rectangles for the side panels
ONE 13½” wide x 10½” high rectangle for the base
TWO 10½” wide x 12½” high rectangles for the interior pockets
ONE 11¾” wide x 15” high rectangle for the divider
ONE 13½” wide x 20” high rectangle for the base sleeve
- From the mid-weight interfacing, cut TWO 13” x 5” rectangles for the exterior pockets.
- From the fusible foam, cut the following:
TWO 13” x 8” rectangles for the front and back panels
TWO 10” x 8” rectangles for the side panels
ONE 13” x 10” rectangle for the base
ONE 9½” x 7” rectangle for the divider
- Cut the Velcro® into TWO 7¾” lengths.
- Cut the 1” twill tape into TWO 8” lengths for the handles.
- Cut the 1½” twill tape cut TWO 14” lengths for the exterior pockets, leave the remaining tape intact; it will be cut to length for the top during construction.
- From the plastic canvas, cut ONE 12½” x 9½” rectangle.
NOTE: You may end up trimming this a bit smaller at the very end for the best fit, but this is a good starting size.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the exterior panels and their matching foam panels. Place a foam panel on each exterior panel: front, back, sides, and base. On the front, back, and sides, the foam should be flush along the top but sit ½” in along the sides and bottom. On the base, there should ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam on all four sides.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions fuse the foam in place.
- Find the two exterior pocket panels and the mid-weight fusible interfacing.
- Fold each pocket panel in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 14” wide x 5½” high. Press to set a center crease.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Align the top edge of the interfacing along the crease line. There should then be ½” of fabric extending beyond the interfacing along the sides and bottom.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions fuse the interfacing in place.
Create and place the handles
- Find the two 8” lengths of 1” twill tape and the two 8” strips of the handle accent fabric (the railroad denim in our sample).
- Along each 8” edge of each fabric strip, fold back the raw edge ½”. The raw edges will overlap a bit at the back, which is okay; it adds extra strength to the layered handle.
- Center a folded fabric strip right side up on each twill tape strip. There should be ⅛” of twill tape showing along either side of the fabric strip. Pin in place.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the accent fabric in the top and to best match the twill tape in the bobbin. We used navy in both the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Edgestitch along each side. The ends remain open and raw.
- Add a line of seam sealant across each raw end. This is optional. If you feel your fabric is not prone to raveling, you can skip this step.
- Fold back each end of both strips ½” and pin in place.
- Find the two exterior side panels, which should have their foam panels fused in place.
- Place the top of the handle 1½” down from the top raw edge of the side panel, centering the handle side to side. Then, ever so slightly bow the center of the handle to allow it to be grabbed. You don’t want a big loop, just enough room to slide in two fingers.
- Pin either end in place.
- Edgestitch across each end through all the layers.
NOTE: Our Janome studio machines have great power and precision, and so we were able to use a standard presser foot for this edgestitching. If your machine traditionally has problems with multiple layers, you may want to switch to a Walking or Even Feed foot.
- Create a hole for a rivet at each end. The center of the hole should be ⅜” in from the end of the handle. Make sure you are working on a very hard surface. We like to use a small block of granite.
NOTE: We used the Dritz Rivet Setting/Cutting Tool for this step. If you have trouble cutting through the layers (we did not), you could start the hole with the point of your scissors or with an awl.
- Insert the rivet cap from front to back, making sure the rivet’s post comes all the way through at the back.
- Snap the rivet back into place. Turn over the panel so it is once again right side up, set the post over the cap, and hammer to set the rivet.
- Repeat to add a second rivet at the other end. Then, repeat all the steps to add the second handle to the remaining side panel.
NOTE: If you’re brand new to the technique, you can take a look at our Metal Rivets tutorial prior to starting the project.
Create and place the exterior pockets
- Find the two pocket panels, which should already have their interfacing panels fused in place. Re-fold the pocket panels wrong sides together. The folded edge will be the bottom of each pocket. The raw edges will become the top of each pocket.
- Find the two 14” lengths of the 1½” twill tape.
- Fold each strip almost but not quite in half. You want one side to be about ⅛” longer than the other side. When stitching the pocket binding in place, this will give you just a bit extra to work with to insure you can catch the front and back in one pass.
- With the slightly longer side of the folded tape to the back (what will be the inside of the pocket), slip the binding over the top raw edges of each pocket. The raw edges of the folded pocket panel should sit right up against the crease of the twill tape. Pin in place.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the twill tape in the top and bobbin. We continued to use navy thread throughout. The stitch should still be lengthened.
- Topstitch the binding in place across the entire width of the pocket, catching the front and back in this one seam.
- Find the front and back exterior panels, which should have their foam panels fused in place. Lay them right side up on your work surface. Place a pocket right side up on each exterior panel. The bottom of each pocket should sit just a bit above ½” from the bottom raw edge of the exterior panel. You don’t want it right at ½” or it will get caught up in the base seam. Pin the pocket in place.
- Measure to find the exact center of each pocket, and draw in a vertical dividing line.
- Keep the thread colors and the lengthened stitch the same.
- Edgestitch through all the layers along the bottom folded edge of each pocket, up along each vertical dividing line, and stitch along each side edge, staying within the ½” seam allowance. These side seams are simply to help keep the pockets from shifting during the balance of the construction.
- Along all bottom and sides of each foam panel, use your scissors to trim back the foam at a diagonal. This will help reduce bulk along the seams.
Stitch the main exterior seams and insert the base panel
- Place the side panels right sides together with the front and back panels and pin in place.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin and re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each of the four vertical seams to create a tube. We switched to the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7. We would suggest you engage your machine’s built-in system or attach a Walking or Even Feed foot. You are stitching right along the edge of, but not on, the fusible foam.
- Find the canvas and foam panels that make up the exterior base.
- Center the foam on the wrong side of the canvas panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam on all sides. As you did with the body panels, trim back the edges of the foam at a diagonal. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the foam in place.
- Find the center points along each side of the base and along each side of the open bottom end of the exterior tube.
- Insert the base into the tube, matching all the center points, then filling in with pins between the points.
- Clip into each corner at a depth of about ⅜”. This frees up the seam allowance so you can more easily stitch each side of the basket independently, starting and stopping at each corner.
- The base panel is right sides together with the exterior tube. It’s a little like setting a lid upside down into a box.
- Adjust the seams at each corner. They should be as flat as possible to keep the corners sharp.
- Starting at one corner of the fusible foam, and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the first side. We like to start with a short side. Stop the seam at the opposite corner of the foam. In other words, your seam is starting and stopping ½” in from the edge of the fabric panel.
- Remove the project from the machine. Reposition to stitch the next side in the same manner, and continue in this manner to stitch all four sides. Here’s how the base should look when you’re finished stitching. This photo is looking down into the basket when it is still wrong side out.
NOTE: If you are new to inserting a base panel, check out our step-by-step tutorial: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.
- Press open the seam allowances as best you can and turn the exterior basket right side out. Set it aside.
Create the lining
- Find all the lining panels and the two lengths of Velcro®
- Find the exact center of both the front and back panels and draw a vertical line at this point on each panel. As shown in the photo below, the Velcro® is flush with the of the lining panel and a little over ½” up from the bottom raw edge.
- Pull apart the Velcro® and position the loop side (the softer side) along the marked center line on each panel. Center the Velcro® over the drawn line. Pin or clip in place.
NOTE: You could also use a strip of fusible seam tape to adhere the Velcro® in place. Just make sure you use a pressing cloth when fusing to protect the rip stop from the heat of the iron.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the Velcro® in the top and bobbin and slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along both sides of each of the Velcro® loop strips.
- Find the two pocket panels. Fold each panel in half, wrong sides together (rip stop doesn’t really have a right and wrong side), so the pockets are now 10½” wide x 6¼” high. Using a pressing cloth, press the folded edge of each pocket.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the rip stop in the top and bobbin and re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Edgestitch along the folded edge of each pocket to insure the crease will remain crisp. This line of stitching also helps stabilize the top of the pocket a bit.
- Find the two lining side panels. Place a pocket panel right side up on the right side of each lining panel. The side and bottom raw edges of the layers should be flush. Pin the pockets in place.
- You can divide one, both or neither of the pockets. We drew a vertical center line on one pocket to divide it into two equal compartments, leaving the other pocket as just one opening.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch and sew each pocket in place along both sides, across the bottom, staying close to the raw edges in both cases, then stitch along any drawn dividing line(s).
- The panels and base of the lining are assembled in exactly the same manner as the exterior.
- When pressing open the seam allowances, remember to use a pressing cloth.
- We used a simple pinked finish for all the lining seam allowances.
Assemble the exterior and the lining
- Keep the lining wrong side out. Find the exterior bag, it should be right side out. Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together.
- Push the lining all the way down and align the two base panels. Then, adjust the side seams of the lining so they align with the side seams of the exterior.
- When the lining is sitting straight inside the exterior, pin or clip in place around the top.
- Baste around the entire top perimeter through all the layers, staying within the ½” seam allowance.
- Find the remaining length of 1½” twill tape. Fold it almost in half, as you did above for binding the exterior pockets, with one side just a bit longer than the other.
- Starting at the center of one side panel, place the bottom half of the twill tape against the right side of the exterior with the crease line of the twill tape sitting along the top raw edges of the basket. The slightly longer side of the twill tape should be the free side that is standing up. Pin in place along the bottom edge of the tape.
- When you get back to the starting point, overlap the start by about 1”. Fold back the end of the twill tape ½” and trim away any excess. Finish pinning in place.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the twill tape in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. The stitch should still be slightly lengthened. Again, we stuck with navy thread throughout.
- Edgestitch in place along the bottom edge of the twill tape around the entire top opening of the basket.
- Generously back tack across the twill tape overlap to secure.
- Bring the free edge of the twill tape around to the inside, re-folding it along the original crease line. Pin or clip in place.
- Hand stitch in place, with tiny, invisible stitches, to secure the back edge of the twill tape to the lining.
NOTE: We recommended matching the lining to the twill tape to best hide these finishing stitches.
- Insert three rivets along the center line of the front and back panel. One rivet should be as close to the bottom as possible. The second rivet should go through the center of the pocket binding. And, the third rivet should go through the center of the top binding.
- Follow the same method as used above for the handle rivets, but since it will be hard to keep the now three-dimensional basket flat, it will be easier to make the rivet holes with an awl.
- Set the rivets through all the layers.
NOTE: As above, if you’re brand new to the technique, you can take a look at our Metal Rivets tutorial prior to starting the project.
Create the plastic canvas sleeve
- Find the 13½” x 20” lining panel.
- Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 13½” x 10”.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the side and one end, pivoting at the corner. The opposite end remains open.
- Finish the seam allowances. We used a simple pinked edge.
- Turn right side out and slip the plastic canvas inside the sleeve.
- Fold back the raw edges of the opening ½” so they are flush, and pin or clip in place.
- Topstitch across the open end, staying very close to the fold.
- Insert the plastic canvas sleeve into the finished basked, pushing it all the way down so it sits flat against the base panels.
Create the divider panel
- Find the remaining 11¾” x 15” lining panel and the remaining 9½” x 7” fusible foam panel. As above with the other foam panels, the edges should be trimmed back at a diagonal.
- Fold the lining panel in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 11¾” x 7½”. Using a pressing cloth, press the fold to set a visible crease line. Open the panel wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Place the fusible foam on one half of the panel. It should be centered with one side along the crease line. There should be 1⅛” of fabric visible beyond the foam along each side, and ½” visible along the bottom. Using a pressing cloth and following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the foam in place.
- Re-fold along the crease line, but this time the panel should be right sides together.
- Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom, leaving a small opening along the bottom for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock the seam at either side of the opening.
- Clip the corners and finish the seam allowance with your favorite method; we stuck with a pinked edge.
- Turn right side out through the opening.
- Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long, blunt tool works well for this, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Using a pressing cloth, press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Pin the opening closed.
- Edgestitch along the top and bottom (the longer sides). Along the top, this acts to stabilize the top edge of the panel. Along the bottom it both stabilizes and closes the opening used for turning.
- Along each side edge, topstitch ⅝” in from the finished edges – so you are sewing along but not on the edge of the foam. This creates a little “wing” along each side and acts as your guideline for placement of the final Velcro® strips.
- Find those final Velcro® hook strips (the scratchy side). Trim the strips to 7”.
- Place a strip along each “wing.” The strips are on opposite sides of one another: one facing forward and one facing back. Pin or clip each strip in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the Velcro® in the top and bobbin and slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch each Velcro® strip in place along both sides.
- To insert the divider, fold one wing forward and one wing backwards and slip the divider into the basket. Press the wings against the center Velcro® strips of the lining.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild