I think we can all agree little things tend to be pretty dang cute: babies, puppies, kittens, Barbie® shoes... but let's face it, sometimes you need BIG to take care of business. This fun storage bin lives up to its jumbo name. It's a large-and-in-charge fabric basket that's ready to take on your bigger storage tasks. From books to blankets to balls of yarn, if you have a lot to keep track of, this project is for you. We chose two bold fabrics in organic cotton. And what is that dynamite looking "rope" ringing the top and creating the handles? Piping cord! Inexpensive yet just the right soft and strong combo.
We originally used an organic cotton canvas for our exterior fabric, which provided enough natural heft that a single layer of heavy fusible interfacing was enough to allow the basket to easily stand up on its own. We recommend this type of medium-weight substrate for the best results.
The Birch Fabrics cotton canvas we originally used is currently on back order at Fabric.com. However, they carry a wide selection, and we found two new prints from the same Birch Fabrics' Charley Harper collection that would be a great alternative: Foxsimilies in Grey from the Organic Canvas collection by Charley Harper Nurture for Birch Fabrics for the exterior and Feathers in Mineral from the Organic Cotton collection by Charley Harper Nuture for Birch Fabrics for the lining.
In addition to the heavier-weight exterior, the top ring of piping cord adds to the stability and helps hold the round shape.
As with any large project, wrangling the big sections of this basket through your machine can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Remember our top tips: 1) make sure you test your stitch length, needle type, and tension settings on scraps first to insure your machine is firing on all cylinders; 2) go slowly and stop as needed, with your needle in the down position, to adjust the fabric under the foot; and 3) if you're getting frustrated, take a break... even if you walk away with the project still in the machine.
The tote finishes at approximately 17" high x 16" in diameter.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome 4120QDC)
- Zipper foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot (optional, but helpful for the topstitching)
- Ditch Quilting foot (optional, another option for topstitching)
- Denim needle
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies shown are for ONE bin and yardage is figured to allow for a vertical motif. Should you choose a different fabric with a more random motif, you may be able to get away with a smaller cut. See the actual cut sizes in the Getting Started section below.
- 2 yards of 44"+ wide light to medium-weight cotton canvas or similar for the exterior; we used 44" Cardinal Stagger in Red from the Organic Canvas collection by Charley Harper for Birch Fabrics
- 2 yards of 44"+ wide quilting-weight cotton for the lining; we used 44" Flight in Paprika from the Organic Flight collection by Birch Fabrics
- 2 yards of 20"+ heavy, one-sided fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 71F Peltex Fusible Stabilizer (#0307088) from Fabric.com
- 2½ yards of 1½" piping cord** (also called welt) or a similar width of soft rope; we use Conso cotton piping in a size #8, purchased locally
NOTE: **At these larger sizes, we found two distinctly different sizing methods. Some companies used the diameter of the cut end, which is this case is ½". Others used the circumference, which for our sample is 1½". You want it to be thick enough to stabilize the top and create easy-to-grip handles, but it also needs to fit through the casing and the grommets.
- FOUR extra-large eyelets/grommets; we used a Dritz Extra-Large (7/16") Eyelet Kit in Nickel
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- Heavy topstitching thread in a coordinating color for topstitching accents; we used Coats Heavy in Natural, purchased locally
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Fabric glue
- Duct tape or similar
- Download and print out FOUR copies of each of the TWO pattern pieces: Canvas Basket Pattern Piece-A and Canvas Basket Pattern Piece-B.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out all eight pattern pieces along the solid lines. Using the printed arrows as your guide, align each A piece with a corresponding B piece to create four quarter circle segments. Then, again using the printed arrows as your guide, match up the four quarter segments to create one full circle. As an alternative, you can print and assemble just two quadrants into a half circle and cut on the fold, as shown below. For all matching, butt together and tape; do not overlap.
- From the fabric for the exterior (Cardinal Stagger in Red in our sample), fussy cut the following:
TWO 24½" wide x 17" high rectangles
Using the pattern, cut ONE circle for the base
NOTE: This is a wonderfully large tote. Take the time to use the both the gridlines on your cutting mat and your see-through ruler to carefully fussy cut your fabric for the most striking look.
- From the fabric for the lining (Flight in Paprika in our sample), fussy cut the following:
NOTE: Although "just" the lining, you should still take the time to carefully fussy cut in order to create a a nice motif for the top band of the lining that folds over the top.
TWO 24½" wide x 20½" high rectangles
Using the pattern, cut ONE circle for the base
- From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
NOTE: The dimensions don't need to be precise; you simply want the interfacing a bit larger than your exterior fabric pieces.
TWO approximately 25½" wide x 18" high rectangles
ONE 17" x 17" square
- Cut the piping cord (or rope) into ONE 50" length and TWO 18" lengths. Tape all the raw ends to prevent them from raveling.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Center the two exterior rectangles and the exterior base on the corresponding interfacing panels. The wrong side of the fabric should be against the fusible side of the interfacing. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
- Trim the interfacing flush with the bottom circle...
- ... and the panels. If possible, use a rotary cutter on the panels for the cleanest edge.
NOTE: Once fused, these pieces will be quite stiff and a little tricky to maneuver, but will result in a nice large tote that can stand up on its own.
Create the exterior body
- Place the two exterior rectangles right sides together along one 17" raw edge. Pin together.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Press open the seam allowance from both the back...
- ... and the front so it lays as flat as possible. You will need to press firmly to flatten.
- Re-thread the machine with the heavy thread in the top and bobbin. If possible, attach either a Quarter Inch Seam foot or Ditch Quilting foot. Lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch ¼" to either side of the seam. Using a foot with a flange guide is optional, but will make the precise topstitching so much easer.
- Place the opposite 17" raw edges of the exterior panels right sides together, forming a tube. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- As above, re-thread and topstitch to either side of the seam. This side will be a bit trickier since the panel is now a tube. Work slowly, flattening the fabric in small sections as you stitch. If you see wrinkles, don't worry, the fabric will press out beautifully.
Insert the base into the exterior body
- Find the fused exterior base circle. Fold it in half, top to bottom, and place a pin at each edge of the fold.
- Open up and re-fold the opposite direction, again placing a pin at each edge of the fold. You can also use your paper pattern to help find these points.
- You are creating quadrant pins around the circle, like the points on the face of a clock: 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00.
- Repeat this process with the exterior body. First, bring together the two seams of the body; these are your 3:00 and 9:00 points. Then, fold the opposite direction to mark the 12:00 and 6:00 points.
- Set the base into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together. Align the quadrant pins of the exterior body with the quadrant pins of the base circle.
- Pin at the quadrant points first, then fill in around the circle. Don't be afraid to use a lot of pins in order to get the two pieces to lay flat against one another.
- This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with standard thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch all the way around the circle. We used the edge of our standard presser foot as our guide. Go slowly, holding the layers flat with your fingers if necessary to avoid any puckers.
- Turn the basket right side out and iron the seams. It will be very stiff, but proper pressing will help ensure the basket sits flat. If you have a pressing ham, this might help with the curved edge.
Create the lining with its top casing and piping
- Find the lining rectangles and base circle. They are assembled in the same manner as the exterior body.
- First stitch the side seams and topstitch to either side. Remember to re-thread the machine with heavy thread in the top and bobbin for the topstitching.
- Mark and insert the base into the tube.
- And stitch all around, using a ¼" seam allowance. Remember to re-thread back to standard thread. As mentioned above, if you are new to this technique, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial on inserting a flat circle into a tube.
- Fold down the top raw edge of the lining basket ¼" and press. Then fold down an additional 3" and press again. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with the heavy topstitching thread in the top and bobbin.
- To form the casing tunnel, stitch 1" away from the top folded edge, leaving a 2" - 3" break in the seam to insert the cording.
NOTE: Our Janome machine has great plate markings and we were able to use the 1" guide on the plate to keep our seam straight. If you do not have a 1" plate marking, you might want to consider measuring and drawing in a guideline with a fabric pen or pencil.
- Remember to lock your seam on either side of the 2" - 3" opening.
- Find the 50" length of piping cord. Feed one end into the casing opening. The cording is thick though that you should be able to work it through on its own rather than needing to attach a large safety pin to one end, which is a common practice with thinner cording.
- Thread the cording all the way through. When it comes out the opposite side of the opening, place the two raw ends together and lay the piping down against the fabric. If it doesn't lay flat, trim away a bit from one side until it does.
- Use a small dot of fabric glue to adhere the butted-together ends. The, wrap the joint with a small strip of duct tape to secure.
- Let the piping circle slide back into position within the casing tunnel.
- Refold the top hem back into position and pin in place.
- Attach a Zipper foot and stitch the remaining section of the casing seam, carefully matching the new segment with the beginning and end of the existing seam.
Attach the lining to the exterior
- Turn the lining wrong side out. Find the exterior basket; it should be right side out.
- Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two are now wrong sides together. Carefully align the seams of the two pieces and make sure the base of the lining is sitting flat against the exterior base.
- Fold the top of the lining over the raw top edge of the exterior. The piping should fit snuggly against the top edge of the exterior and the bottom folded edge of lining should extend another 2" over the exterior. Be VERY careful to line up the topstitching on the lining with the topstitching on the exterior. Pin in place, using LOTS of pins.
NOTE: If you are new to working with firmly structured 3-D items, you may want to consider hand basting the overlapping lining in place. Maneuvering the basket through the machine for these final two lines of topstitching can be a bit of a challenge. If you have a free arm on your machine, this would be a good time to use it. As with all challenging parts of any project, go slowly and stop as needed, with your needle in the down position, to adjust the layers and align the seam.
- Using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around the top of the basket, following the exact path of the original casing seam.
- Switch back to a Standard foot and stitch all the way around the bottom of the lining overlap. Run your seam ¼" from the folded edge of the lining.
- Press well.
Grommets and handle loops
- Find the four grommets and the two 18" lengths of cording/rope.
- Measure to find the exact center point along the top lining panel on each side. Remember, the topstitched seams are the actual front and back of the basket, so the handles will be opposite these seams. Fold the top of the basket together, matching the seams, where the basket folds to the left and right of the seams are the side center points. Mark these points with pins. If you want to be more precise, you can use a tape to measure from the center of each seam 11⅞" around to each side. Again, mark each side center point with a pin.
- Measure 2½" to the left of each side center point and mark.
- Then measure 2½" to the right of each side center point and mark. These two outer points are the positions for the grommets.
- Following the manufacturer's instructions of our own great Sew4Home step-by-step Grommet Installation Tutorial, insert one grommet over each marked point.
- You are inserting these grommets through some thick layers. Don't be afraid to whack that hammer with purpose. It's a great way to take out some frustrations!
- Find one of the 18" lengths of piping cord. Thread it through one set of grommets. Thread from back to front through one, then from front to back through the second.
- Tie a secure knot in one end and pull the knot firmly against the grommet.
- Adjust the loop of the handle for a 3½" drop.
- Tie a knot in the opposite end of the loop to secure this drop length.
- Trim the excess cord flush against each knot.
- Repeat to attach the remaining handle. Apply a seam sealant to prevent the cording from fraying.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Leah Wand