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Sewing Basket + Pincushion
This is definitely in the running as the world’s most adorable sewing basket. It has shorter sides for easy access to the inside, and we added pockets all around for tools and notions. We originally designed as a gift basket to celebrate a beginning sewer, picking a sweet Hello Kitty® cotton canvas to keep the cuteness purring along. It’s also a perfect fabric weight for the bag’s structure.
The finishing touch is our matching kitty pincushion. Embroider eyes and a nose for her face and the pins become her whiskers. There’s a free kitty pattern download below.
Of course, a beautiful fabric basket like this can have so many uses! In fact, we could post a tutorial for one every day and people would still clamor for more. They can be used in any room in the house for any number of storage solutions.
Depending on the fabric you choose, each one you make is a custom statement. We re-made this basket in a nostalgic combination of ticking stripes and vintage print cottons, changing out the original lace trim to a classic rick rack.
The original interior quilting cotton was from the Storybook Classics and Playtime collections by Windham Fabric. And, as mentioned, the exterior features two colors of ticking – again, a perfect, slightly heavier weight. The wrap-around pockets are lined with the same cute cotton.
It would make a wonderful gift basket for your next baby shower. When done, mom and dad can use it in the nursery to corral toys.
Of course, it’s still up to the original job of keep all your favorite sewing notions organized.
What you you fill it up with?
This basket finishes at approximately: 10″ x 6″ and is 6″ deep.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but very useful for handling all the layers – you could also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, like the AcuFeed™ Flex feeding system we love to use on many of our Janome studio models
- Denim/Jeans needle
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton canvas weight fabric for the basket exterior, pocket exterior and handles
NOTE: If you choose a fabric with a directional motif or a design that needs to be fussy cut , you should get ¾-1 yard of fabric.
- ½ yard of 44-45″ wide quilting weight cotton for the basket interior and pocket lining
NOTE: You will use scraps from the above fabrics to make the matching pincushion.
- 1 yard of heavyweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 71F single sided fusible extra-strong stabilizer
- A generous handful of polyester fiber fill for the pinchushion
- 1 yard of 1-1½” wide heavy lace or wide rick rack for the top accent trim
- ¾ yard of 1½” wide coordinating ribbon for the optional accent bow
- ¼ yard of ½” wide coordinating ribbon for the pincushion kitty’s bow
- All purpose thread in colors to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins for project, plus six “fancy” ball-end pins for the pincushion kitty’s whiskers
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the Kitty Pincushion Pattern.
IMPORTANT: This pattern consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the page to insure your printout is to scale.
- Cut out the pattern along the solid line. Set aside.
- From the fabric for the exterior (Pink Hello Kitty in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 10″ high x 17″ wide rectangles for the main basket body
TWO 5″ high x 17″ wide rectangles for the pocket fronts
FOUR 2½” x 10″ strips for the handles
- From the fabric for the interior (Pink Broadcloth in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 10″ high x 17″ wide rectangles for the basket lining body
TWO 5″ high x 17″ wide rectangles for the pocket lining
- From the heavyweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
FOUR 9″ x 16″ rectangles
TWO 1½ x 9″ strips
- When all your regular cutting is finishing, use the scraps and the pincushion pattern to cut ONE kitty head from the exterior fabric and ONE kitty head from the lining fabric.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Interfacing the panels and handles
- Place a piece of 9″ x 16″ heavyweight fusible interfacing against the wrong side of each 10″ x 17″ exterior panel and each 10″ x 17″ lining panel, centering the interfacing on the fabric so there is ½” of fabric showing around all four sides of the interfacing.
- Place a 1½” x 9 strip of heavyweight fusible interfacing against the wrong side of TWO of the four 2½” x 10″ handle strips. As above, center the interfacing so there is ½” of fabric showing around all four sides of the interfacing.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, securely fuse the interfacing in place on all the fabric pieces. Set all the pieces aside.
- Find the two interfaced 2½” x 10″ strips and the two plain 2½” x 10″ strips.
- Place an interfaced strip right sides together with a plain strip. Repeat to layer the second pair. Pin in place along both long sides.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch along both sides through all layers. Leave both ends raw and open.
- Trim the seam allowance back to approximately ¼”.
- Turn each handle right side out and press.
- Topstitch along both sides close to the edge. You can topstitch in either matching or contrasting thread. We chose a slightly contrasting pink thread.
Make and place the pockets
- Find the two 5″ x 17″ exterior pocket panels and the two 5″ x 17″ pocket lining panels.
- Place a lining pocket panel and an exterior pocket panel right sides together, aligning all four raw edges. Repeat to layer the second pair of panels. Pin in place along the top and bottom, leaving both ends open for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the top and bottom.
- Turn the pocket right side out. Press well.
- Place one pocket panel right side up on the right side of each interfaced exterior panel. The bottom edge of the pocket should sit 3⅝” from the bottom raw edge of the exterior panel. Pin the pocket panel in place.
NOTE: The bottom of the pocket will align with the bottom of the basket when finished, so careful measuring is important.
- Edgestitch along the bottom of the panel only.
- Measure and mark the vertical lines for your pocket divisions. The exact width of the pockets on each side is a matter of personal preference. For our basket, we wanted two pockets on each end of the basket. So we measured and marked a vertical line 3½” in from all four raw sides.
- On the sides of our basket, we chose to make one side a full 10″ pocket and so made no additional vertical seams on that panel. On the opposite side, we added one vertical seam in the exact center of the panel, dividing it into two 5″ wide pockets. Again, you could make more or fewer pocket divisions based on what you’d like to store in your basket.
NOTE: As mentioned above, be extra diligent to insure your pockets are placed super straight onto the panels and that your edgestiching is true. If you’ve measured and placed correctly, the bottom of the pockets will become the bottom edge of the finished basket.
Seam panels and box the bottom corners
- Place the two exterior/pocket panels right sides together. If you are using a directional print, make sure both panels are lined up top-to-top.
- Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Remember the heavyweight fusible interfacing is cut back ½” to stay out of the seams and make them less stiff. Therefore, you are stitching right along the edge of the interfacing, which makes it easy to keep your seam nice and straight.
- Repeat to create the lining basket.
- With both the exterior and the lining baskets still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners. Our photos show this being done on the lining basket; the steps are identical for each.
- Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner.
- As you keep pulling, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top and a seam line running down the middle of both sides. Precisely match the two seams front to back.
- Work first from the wrong side, then look down inside the basket to see if your seams are lining up. Below is a photo looking straight down into the basket, making sure the side and bottom seams are lined up. (That really is what the picture is… even though it kind of looks like a chubby pink man holding his breath.)
- Our basket has 6″ sides. To create this width, you need to figure your boxed corner seam at half the finished width. Therefore, measure 3″ from the tip of the corner peak and draw a horizontal line with a fabric pen or pencil.
- Pin your folded and measured ‘peak’ and stitch along the drawn line. For stability, we recommend stitching straight across, locking at the beginning and end, removing the project, then replacing it under the needle, and stitching straight across again.
- Trim away the peak on each side to about ¼” from the seam lines.
- Repeat these steps to form the opposite corner on the lining basket and both corners on the exterior basket.
NOTE: If you are brand new to this technique, we have a full step-by-step tutorial on boxing corners you can review prior to starting.
- Turn the baskets right side out and push out the boxed corners.
- Leave the exterior basket right side out. Turn the lining basket inside out again. You will work with the baskets in these positions for the remainder of the project.
Add the lace trim to the exterior basket
- Our 1″ wide lace had a definite top and bottom. We wanted a ½” of lace showing all around the top. You can adjust your lace for a narrower or wider reveal if you choose. Our steps below are to achieve our ½” reveal with a 1″ trim.
- Center the lace over the top raw edge of the basket exterior. What will be the TOP of the lace should be pointing DOWN, what will be the BOTTOM should be pointing UP.
- Start pining at a side seam and “pleat and dip” the end of the lace to hide the raw edge.
- Continue pinning the lace in place all around the top, measuring often to make sure you are keeping the lace centered and the ½” reveal even. When you get back to your starting point, overlap the ends and again make a little “pleat and dip” to hide the raw edge. Pin in place. You can trim away any particularly long tails on the lace.
- Here’s the view from the inside of the basket.
- Machine baste the lace in place, staying close to the raw edge.
- Fold down the top raw edge of the exterior (with the lace based in place) ½”. This will cause the lace to pop up into position with its ½” reveal. Press well.
NOTE: We forgot to take a picture at this step, but you can see the top folded down and the lace sitting in its correct position in the photos below of positioning the handle. Sorry ’bout that.
- Fold down and press the top raw edge of the interior ½” all around, creating a nice finished edge. Pin in place if need be, but as with the exterior, just pressing it down should be enough.
- Position each handle on the exterior basket, positioning them so they arch over the side seams. Each inside edge of the handle should be 1″ from the side seam and each raw end should be 1½” from the top folded edge. Pin in place.
- Machine baste each end of each handle in place. We used the original basting line on the lace as a guide.
Assemble the two baskets into one
- Slip the lining inside the basket exterior so the two layers are wrong sides together. Push the lining down into place so the side seams match up, the top folded edges are flush with one another, and the lace is sticking up.
- Topstitch all around the top of the basket through all the layers, keeping your seam line 3/8″ from the top folded edges. We’re using a Janome Even Feed foot, which is great for handling these thick layers. It will be easier to feed the basket through the machine if you stitch with the interior facing up
NOTE: For the best finished look, re-thread your machine with thread to match the interior in the top and thread to match the exterior in the bobbin.
- Find the two kitty head pieces you cut earlier. Place them right sides together, aligning all the raw edges. Pin the two layers together, leaving a 2″ opening along the kitty’s chin.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, and carefully following the curves of the pattern, stitch around the kitty head. Remember to leave the opening along the bottom edge and to back tack to secure your seam at either side of the opening.
- Clip into the corners to allow to seam to ease when turned right side out.
- Turn the kitty right side out through the opening. Poke out the curves and the points using a long, blunt-end tool, like a chopstick or knitting needle. Press flat.
- Use the paper pattern and your fabric pen or pencil to draw on the position of the eyes and nose.
- Fluff up your polyester fiberfill and gently poke it into all the nooks and crannies of the kitty head until you reach your desired plumpness.
- Using floss or heavy thread, embroider the kitty’s eyes and nose. We used black for the eyes and yellow for the nose to match the Hello Kitty® motif on our fabric. We used a small running stitch outline the edge of each oval, then filled in the oval with a satin stitch.
- Find the thin coordinating ribbon and create a small bow to fit the kitty’s ear. Hand stitch the bow in place.
- We inserted our fancy pins to create the kitty’s whiskers.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild
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