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Michael Miller Fabrics' Citron-Gray Nursery: Fabric Storage Basket

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No nursery series would be complete without some type of storage solution tutorial. I remember back when I had my first baby; it was a shock to realize how much stuff this one tiny person needed. A nursery is often filled to the brim with little things that have to be organized: creams, diapers, diaper wraps, wash cloths, toys, pacifiers, and more! Our Storage Shelf Basket tutorial is fast, easy and fun to make. So much so, you can make lots. Line the shelves with color-coordinated sets so there's a place for everything (we cannot guarantee 'everything in its place'!). With the side handle facing out, it's easy to grab a basket and find exactly what you want. This terrifically-tidy project is just one of eight pieces in our new nursery series sponsored by our good friends at Michael Miller Fabrics. We created the entire Series using their Color Story concept. Our choice: the Citron-Gray Color Story with its cool colors and bold designs.

Our nursery storage basket is based on our original Structured Fabric Baskets tutorial. These original baskets have a different handle configuration and come in two sizes. Why not make BOTH types for your nursery... or kitchen... or sewing room... or....?!

The basket finishes with a 9" x 6" base and 8" sides. The top opening is an approximately 9" diameter circle.

Michael Miller's Color Story concept combines hues that consistently work so well together, they create their own ambience, their own feeling... their own story. These fabric color pairings are also currently prominent in other areas of fashion, interior style and pop culture: Citron-Gray, Aqua-Red, Cocoa-Berry, It's a Boy Thing, It's a Girl Thing, Lagoon, Orchid-Gray, Retro, Rouge et Noir, Sorbet and Urban Grit .

Like good friends who hang together over time, Michael Miller's eleven Color Story pals will evolve from one release to another. Their stories will update and build momentum as color trends evolve, but their compatibility will remain. You'll be able to add new fabrics within the same  Color Story , knowing they'll fit in and work well together.

Welcome to the Citron-Gray Color Story and our custom baby boy nursery. It's a story with a very happy ending.

For more baby projects, take a look at our original Shower Power Baby Gifts.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric for the PRINT stripes: Scraps or ⅛ yard EACH of EIGHT 44-45" wide fabrics; we used the following seven designs from the Citron-Gray Color Story by Michael Miller Fabrics: Citron Stitch Petal, Citron Play Stripe, Citron Feeling Groovy, Citron Dumb Dot, Citron Good Gingham, Citron Dot 'n' Square, Charcoal Dumb Dot and Charcoal Disco Dot
    NOTE: Each design will be cut into a 12" x 3" vertical strip. If you have a fabric with a strong veritcal directional design, ⅛ yard may not work as you need the 12" in height and then would have a lot of waste. It's really best if you can find scraps from which to cut your strips.
  • Fabric for the SOLID stripes and handle: ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric; we used Blanca-White Cotton Sheeting by Michael Miller Fabrics
  • Fabric for the LINING: ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric; we used Citron Dumb Dot from the Citron-Gray Color Story by Michael Miller Fabrics
    NOTE: This ½ yard of Citron Dumb Dot leaves enough to cut one of the print stripes noted above.
  • Fabric for the PIPING around the top: 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric; we used Citron Tiny Gingham from the Citron-Gray Color Story by Michael Miller Fabrics
  • ½ yard of lightweight batting
  • ¾ yard of heavyweight fusible, such as fusible Fast2Fuse or Heat 'n' Bond
    NOTE: These type of products are normally 18"-20" wide. We found and bought our interfacing off the bolt at our local fabric store so getting ¾ yard wasn't a problem. If you have to by packaged interfacing, carefully check the amount; you may need more than one package. You will be cutting TWO 12" x 17" rectangles so you will need enough for that much.
  • 2 yards of ¼" diameter cotton cording
  • All purpose thread
  • Cotton quilting thread (optional)
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins

Where to Buy

Michael Miller Fabrics recommends the following online retailers as great places to shop for and buy the beautiful fabrics within the Citron-Gray Color Story as well as many other Michael Miller collections:

Hancock's of Paducah: 10% discount on Michael Miller Citron-Gray Color Story fabric. Use promo code: Citrongrey

Fat Quarter Shop

Quilt Home

Fabric Depot

CityCraft Online

Hawthorne Threads


Getting Started

  1. From EACH of the eight printed fabrics, cut ONE 12" x 3" strip. As noted above, these strips are vertical, so fussy cut each of your fabrics to best feature a vertical motif.
  2. From the solid fabric (white cotton in our sample), cut the following:
    EIGHT 12" x 3" strips
    ONE 9" x 5" strip for the handle
  3. From the lining fabric (Citron Dumb Dot in our example), cut TWO 17" x 12" rectangles.
  4. From the batting, cut the following:
    TWO 17" x 12" rectangles.
    ONE 8" x 4" strip for the handle
  5. From the heavyweight fusible interfacing, cut two 17" x 12" rectangles.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Cut and join the bias strips for the piping

  1. On your cutting surface, lay out flat the fabric you've chosen for the piping (Citron Tiny Gingham in our sample), right side up and with the selvage running along one side.
  2. The selvage is the woven edge of your fabric where it was originally attached to the loom. The fabric's pattern does not continue onto the selvage, but there is likely to be some information printed there that identifies the manufacturer or designer.
  3. Fold the fabric back diagonally so a straight edge is parallel to the selvage.
  4. Press the fold and use this crease as a guide to mark your parallel lines.
  5. Use a straight edge to make parallel lines 1½" apart.  
  6. Cut along these lines with good, sharp scissors or a rotary cutter and straight edge.
  7. You need approximately 36" of piping to go around the basket. If you need to join strips to make one that is the required 36", take two of your strips and place them right sides together at right angels to each other.
  8. Stitch straight across with a ½" seam allowance.
  9. Lay flat, press the seam open and trim off the overlapping edges.
  10. Place one 36" bias strip right side down on a large flat surface.
  11. Lay one 36" length of cord in the center.
  12. Fold the fabric over the cord, keeping the cord centered and matching the raw edges of the fabric.
  13. Pin to hold in place.
  14. Carefully move to your sewing machine and adjust the piping so the raw edges line up on your seam allowance marking and the wrapped cord pokes out to the left of your foot.
  15. Using the Zipper foot or Narrow Base Zipper foot, stitch slowly staying close to the cord and keeping your seam allowance as consistent as possible. Remember to remove any pins as you go so you don't sew over them.
  16. Cut one end of the cording close to the raw edge, so it has a sharp, flat end.

Assemble the print and solid strips into two panels

  1. Lay your eight 12" x 3" print strips on your work surface, alternating them with the 12" x 3" solid strips. Follow our sample design or mix and match your own fabrics until you have an order you like. It's best to alternate lights and darks as well as small and large motifs.
  2. With right sides together, pin the first print/solid pair together along one 12" side. Sew together, using a ½" seam allowance.
  3. Pin the next print strip in the sequence to the remaining 12" raw edge of the solid strip of the just-sewn pair. Sew together, using a ½" seam allowance.
  4. Repeat until you have one sewn panel made up of eight strips.
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  5. Repeat to create a second panel with the remaining four print and four solid strips.
  6. Press all of the seams open.
  7. Place a piece of lightweight batting against the wrong side of each exterior panel you just created.
  8. Align the two layers on all four sides, being very careful to make sure both pieces are super flat. Pin in place.
  9. Pin vertically from top to bottom inside the solid stripes, so the heads of the pins are facing towards the bottom edge. Run pins ⅛" from each seam and straight down the middle of each solid strip.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: We used these lines of pins as our guide for the topstitching that holds/quilts the print panel to the batting. You could also use a fabric pen or pencil (one that will FOR SURE easily erase with water or air exposure; test a sample first) to draw a line to follow that is ⅛" from each seam line and straight down the middle. Or, you could use a cool foot with lots of helpful markings, like Janome's Clear View Quilting Foot & Guide Set.
  10. Place matching thread in the top and bobbin; we used white cotton quilting thread.
  11. Following the lines of pins you have created (or your drawn lines or your presser foot markings),

Create the handle

  1. Place the 8" x 4" batting strip against the fabric, aligning its edges with the four crease lines. Re-fold the fabric's edges and press well again.
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  2. Fold the layered pieces in half lengthwise, lining up the folded edges.
  3. Edgestitch around all four sides in matching thread (white in our sample).
  4. Add a final line of topstitch down the center of the handle. In other words, your handle now has the same topstitching pattern of three lines as the solid strips on the panels.

Create the lining

  1. Following the manufacturer's instructions, adhere a piece of heavyweight fusible interfacing against the wrong side of each lining panel.
  2. Align the two layers on all four sides, being very careful to make sure both pieces are super flat.
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  3. Pin the two fused lining panels right sides together.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
    NOTE: I used my Janome walking foot since I was dealing with layers of different thicknesses and types.
  5. Clip both corners, and turn right side out through the top opening, pushing out both corners with a long, blunt tool, like a chopstick or large knitting needle. Press all three sides flat.

Sew the front and back exterior panels together

  1. Place the two completed exterior panels right sides together. If you are using directional prints as we did, make sure both panels are lined up top-to-top. Also, carefully match up your strips so they create a continuous vertical column.
  2. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. I'm still using my Janome walking foot.
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  4. Clip both corners, and turn right side out through the top opening, pushing out both corners with a long, blunt tool, like a chopstick or large knitting needle. Press all three sides flat.
  5. Pin across top raw edge and sew the layers together using a ¼" topstitch. This secures the layers in place so they will be easier to work with later, when we are attaching the piping. (You are not pinning the top closed; you are pining the layers together.)

Box the bottom corners of the lining and the exterior

  1. Turn the exterior basket WRONG side out (batting side out).
  2. Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner.
  3. 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. Fold one seam allowance to the right and the other seam allowance to the left.
  4. Precisely match the two seams front to back. I work first from the wrong side, then I look down inside to see if my seams are still lining up.
  5. Our bag is sized for 6" sides and base. To create this width, you need to figure your boxed corner seam at half the finished width. Therefore, in our sample, we measured 3" from the tip of the corner peak and drew a horizontal line.
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  6. Pin your folded and measured 'peak' and stitch along the drawn line. With most boxed corners, I would recommend stitching and then backstitching to reinforce. Stitch straight across, locking at the beginning and end, removing the project, then replacing it under the needle, stitch straight across again.
  7. Trim away the peak on each side to about ¼" from the seam line.
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  8. Repeat these steps on the opposite corner.
  9. Turn the exterior basket right side out and push out to form the boxed corners.
  10. Repeat all the steps to form boxed corners in the basket lining.
    NOTE: The folding and stitching may be a bit more difficult on the lining due to the thickness of the heavyweight fusible/ sew-in interfacing. You can use a walking foot to help power through the layers without shifting.

Attach the handle

  1. Pin the handle in place so it is centered over one side seam of the exterior basket. One end of the handle should be 1½" down from the top raw edge; the other end should be 1½" up from the boxed corner. This will produce a handle that is curving out from the box (like the handle on a coffee mug).
  2. Stitch each end in place with an "X" box-stitch.
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Attach the piping and finish the top edge

  1. Pin the piping to the top edge of the exterior basket, lining up the raw edges of the piping with the raw edges of the basket (remember, you stitched the exterior layers together to help keep them in place). If you pinned things correctly, the piping itself should be facing down towards the inside of the basket at this point.
  2. Using the Zipper foot or Narrow Base Zipper foot, sew the piping in place, staying as close as possible to the cording and keeping your seam line consistent.
    NOTE: Don't try to start on the side seam line of the exterior basket; you'll end up with two many layers to fight with later on.
  3. Create a clean wrapped finish where the two ends meet.
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    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, you can follow our tutorial: How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping. You can also look through the other two projects in the Citron-Gray Nursery Series that feature piping: the Animal Appliqué Pillows.
  4. Flip up the piping so now the raw edges are facing down into the basket.
  5. Press well all along the top edge.
  6. Find your lining and make sure it is right side out.
  7. Fold down and press the top raw edge of the lining ½" all around, creating a nice finished edge. Pin in place with the pins on the right side of the fabric.
  8. Slip the lining inside the exterior basket. Push the lining down into place so the side seams match up and the top folded edges are flush. The raw edges of piping will now be sandwiched in between the exterior and the lining and the piping itself will make a nice clean line all around the top edge.
    NOTE: If your lining doesn't perfectly match up with the top edge of the exterior, un-pin the lining and adjust the top fold to get a better match.
  9. Pin around the top edge through all the layers (you can re-use the pins you placed to hold the lining's finished edge in place).
  10. Stitch ¼" from the piping/exterior seam around the entire top edge of the basket, through all the layers to secure the lining to the exterior.
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    IMPORTANT: You are sewing through a LOT of layers. Be prepared! Our Janome machines power through tough jobs like these, but even I was extra cautious and hand-cranked over the thickest part: the side seams. By 'hand-crank,' I mean I took my foot off the pedal and used the handwheel on the side of the machine to walk the machine stitch by stitch across the super thick layers of the side seams. Once I'd cleared this area, I put the pedal to the metal again. Not all machines are up to the task. I would suggest testing your machine with a multiple layer ‘mock-up' first, such as a stack of folded scraps.

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    Project Concept: Alicia Thommas 
    Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson



    Comments (6)

    InaMae said:
    Thanks for the great tutorial! I'm new to sewing, and this makes everything just that much easier!
    Editor AllFreeSewing said:
    Editor AllFreeSewing's picture
    Hi Liz,

    Your project is great! I will be adding it and linking back to you on AllFreeSewing.com soon.


    Maryanne said:
    Maryanne's picture
    Great tutorial-I really appreciate the piping details. These fabric colors are gorgeous! Matching burp cloths would look great in this bag.
    Zoe B said:
    Zoe B's picture
    Your tutorials are amazing. I love the color combo used on this project. So fresh and clean and happy. Even the bottle matches ;-b.