You can never have too many places to keep your stuff – especially your sewing stuff. All the bits and bobs needed for a project can easily get scattered, so having a set of baskets in a variety of sizes is a welcome way to organize it all. Of course, you aren’t required to use them for sewing supplies; they’d be just as handy as desk caddies, to organize items in the bathroom or nursery, or to tidy up that one part of the kitchen counter that always collects way too much random stuff.
We used fabric from the Gran’s Sewing Basket collection by Heidi Kennedy for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, which is covered with amazing artwork of vintage sewing notions. This is combined with a classic gingham for the lining and bright rick rack giving the whole project a wonderfully nostalgic feel.
The largest basket features full looped handles while the two smaller ones have simple tabs to make them easy to pick up or slide across a surface.
The big basket is also the only one of the three with exterior pockets front and back. At 7” high, its sides are tall enough to accommodate this extra storage, whereas the shorter baskets work best as simple bins.
There’s one other secret embellishment on the large basket: hand-stitched vintage buttons add a cute bit of texture and dimension to the pictures of the notions on the fabric itself.
These boxes are formed a bit differently than others we’ve done that use an inset base or boxed corners. But why?! Because several of the fabrics we chose had a very strict directional motif, which does not lend itself to traditional folding without leaving one or more panels upside-down. Instead, you fussy cut each side then form a large cross made up of the base with the four correctly-oriented sides extended. Finally, each side is folded-up into position and the four vertical seams stitched.
Fusible foam gives the baskets stability and a soft finish. This is combined with traditional fusible interfacing on the lining. There’s no problem loading them up with lots of stuff, and the softness of the foam offers a nice bit of padding if you have more delicate items to stow away.
Our Nested Basket Set finishes at approximately: Large @ 10” wide x 7” high x 8” deep, Medium @ 8½” wide x 5½” high x 6½” deep, and Small @ 7” wide x 4” high x 5” deep.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional; we used the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on the Janome Skyline S7
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Yardage shown allows a bit extra for the precise directional fussy cutting. In addition, the amounts needed are broken up by basket should you wish to make them individually. Add amounts together if you want all your exterior and lining fabric to match.
- ¾ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the front and back panels and the exterior pockets; we used 44” Notions in Blue from the Gran’s Sewing Basket collection by Heidi Kennedy for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the side panels panels; we used 44” Bias Tape in Blue from the Gran’s Sewing Basket collection by Heidi Kennedy for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- ⅔ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the lining; we used ⅛” Carolina Gingham in Fog by Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- 1 yard of 20”+ wide fusible foam; we used Pellon Flex Foam one-sided fusible
- 1 yard of 20"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing for the lining; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- ⅛ yard or scrap of 20"+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing for the pockets; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- 1½ yards of 1” wide webbing; we use poly webbing in white
- 2 yards of medium rick rack; we used red
- FOUR 1” rings; we used rectangle rings; D-rings would also work
- TEN small buttons; optional for front and back embellishment - we used five vintage buttons on each side in colors to match the fabric
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the exterior panels; we used 44” Buttons in Blue from the Gran’s Sewing Basket collection by Heidi Kennedy for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the lining; we used ⅛” Carolina Gingham in Fog by Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- ½ yard of 20”+ wide fusible foam; we used Pellon Flex Foam one-sided fusible
- ½ yard of 20"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing for the lining; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- ¼ yard of 1” wide webbing; we use poly webbing in white
- 1 yard of medium rick rack; we used red
- ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the front and back panels and the exterior pockets; we used 44” Bias Tape in Blue from the Gran’s Sewing Basket collection by Heidi Kennedy for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide quilting cotton for the lining; we used ⅛” Carolina Gingham in Fog by Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of 20”+ wide fusible foam; we used Pellon Flex Foam one-sided fusible
- ⅓ yard of 20"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing for the lining; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- ¼ yard of 1” wide webbing; we use poly webbing in white
- 1 yard of medium rick rack; we used red
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and webbing
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- A cutting diagram is shown below for each of the basket sizes. Remember, for our design, the Large Basket has one fabric for the base plus the front and back panels and their pockets, but it features a different fabric for the side panels. This difference is, of course, optional, but keep it in mind should you wish to exactly match our design. The two smaller baskets feature the same fabric on all sides.
- As you look at the cutting diagrams, pay careful attention to the directional arrows. The sides of the basket are sewn flat to the base, then fold up. If you are using a strong directional print (as we did with our cute sewing motif fabric), you really need to check, double-check, and triple-check that everything is going the right way.
- Don’t forget to cut panels for both the exterior and the lining. And for the Large Basket only, you’ll need to cut TWO panels for the two side pockets.
- In addition to the cuts shown on the diagrams, you will cut the webbing as follows:
Large Basket: TWO 18” lengths and TWO 4” lengths
Medium Basket: TWO 4” lengths
Small Basket: TWO 4” lengths
- The rick rick should be left as one length. It will be cut to exact size during construction.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: The steps are shown below for the Large Basket since it has the most unique features with its exterior pockets and full handles. The Medium and Small Baskets follow the same basic construction steps simply without the exterior pockets and with small side loops rather than the full handles.
Fusing the foam panels
- Find the four side panels and the base panel, and the five pieces of fusible foam interfacing. Center the foam on the wrong side of each panel. On the base panel, there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. On the front, back, and end panels, the foam should sit ½” up from the bottom raw edge and ½” in both side raw edges, but along the top, the foam should sit ¾” down from the top raw edge. This allows for a smoother fold along the top edge when finishing, accommodating the approximate ¼” thickness of the foam itself.
- Following manufacturer’s directions, fuse each panel in place.
Create and place the exterior pockets
- Find the two 9” x 11” panels and the two 4” x 10 pieces of mid-weight interfacing.
- Fold each pocket panel in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 4½” x 11”. Press to set a center crease line.
- Open each panel wrong side up so its crease line is visible.
- Place the interfacing against the top half of the panel on the wrong side, aligning one 10” edge with the fabric’s center crease line. There should then be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on the other three sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place on both panels.
- Flip over one panel so it is now right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Cut a length of rick rack to fit the top raw edge of the pocket panel.
- Pin the rick rack along the top raw edge so the center of the rick rack “waves” sits ½” down from the raw edge, or in other words, along the ½” seam line. Pin in place.
- Baste the rick rack in place, staying within the ½” seam allowance so you won’t have to remove the basting stitches later. As shown, this means your basting seam is running close to the edge of the rick rack trim.
- Repeat to add the rick rack to the remaining pocket panel.
- Fold each panel in half, right sides together, along the original center crease line. The 11” raw edges should be flush with the rick rack sandwiched between the layers. Pin in place.
- Stitch in place, using a ½” seam allowance. This seam will be just to the left of your machine basting seam.
- Press open the seam allowance.
- Turn right side out through the open ends and press flat. One half of the rick rack trim should be visible along the top edge of each pocket.
- Find the front and back panels, which should have their foam fused in place.
- Place one panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place one pocket right side up on the panel. Remember, the folded edge is the pocket bottom; the rick rack is the pocket top. The bottom folded edge should sit ¾” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. Pin the pocket in place.
- Measure 3½” in from both the right and left raw side edges and draw in a vertical pocket division guide line at each of these points. When complete, this will give you a pocket with two 3” wide outer pockets and one 4” wide center pocket.
NOTE: As always, when working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air of the heat of an iron.
- The machine should be threaded with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bottom. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along the bottom folded edge of the pocket.
- Then, stitch along each vertical pocket division guide line.
- Repeat to attach the remaining pocket to the opposite panel.
- Because of the super cool vintage notions motif on our fabric, we added a special little bit of embellishment to the front and back panels – just above each pocket.
- Find five vintage buttons, similar in both shape and color to those within the motif. Position the buttons in a random pattern above the pocket. You can even overlap a real button onto the printed button on the fabric.
- Hand stitch each button in place through the fabric and the foam.
- Repeat to stitch five buttons on the second panel.
Create the exterior box
- Find the four panels and the base panel that make up the exterior box.
- Along the top raw edge of the four panels, press back the fabric ½”. Press well to set a crisp, visible crease. Then unfold, so the crease line is visible but the panels are once again their full size with all edges raw.
NOTE: This “pre-folding technique” makes it easier to place the rick rack as well as to create the final finished edges once the box is complete.
- Place the base panel wrong side up and flap on your work surface.
- Align the front and back panels along the 11” sides of the base panel. With the panels right sides together, pin in place. You are aligning the bottom edge of the front and back panels (the bottom of the pocket) with the base panel.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance, creating a larger flat panel consisting of the front, base, and back.
- Flip this larger panel right side up and place it flat on your work surface.
- Find the two side panels.
- Pin one side panel to each remaining raw edge of the base panel. Since the front and back panels are already sewn in place, these side panels will overlap the existing panels by ½”. This is correct. You will start and stop each seam ½” in, giving you a free edge to use to accomplish the final corner matching.
- Place and pin one panel, then overlap and place the opposite panel. Remember to leave that ½” free at both ends.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each side panel in place, starting at stopping at your ½” points, which is (handily enough) at the corner of the fusible foam.
- You now have a large cross made up of your five pretty panels. Here is a view from the wrong side…
- … and from the right side.
- Fold up the sides of the "cross" to form a box, aligning the raw edges of each pair of sides, placing them right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each side seam from the bottom up to the top. Drop your needle in at the exact corner point to start, which you can do since you left the ½” free edge at each end of the side panel. Back tack twice at the beginning to fully secure the bottom corner point.
- When finished, you have a lovely box. And, you remembered to check the direction of all your panels, right?
- Turn the exterior box right side out.
Add the rick rick and the base tab loops for the handles
- Find the four 4” lengths of webbing and the four rectangle rings. Slip a length of webbing through each of the rings.
- With the exterior box right side out, measure in from each side seam 2” along the front of the box.
- This marks the position for each handle base tab loop: two along the front and two along the back. The photo below is just showing how the loop is positioned. You should actually place your rick rack first.
NOTE: When doing the Medium and Small baskets, rather than forming a full handle, simply place one loop (without a ring) at the center of each SIDE panel.
- Measure a length of rick rack to fit all the way around the top of the exterior box plus about 2” for an overlap.
- Starting at a side seam, pin the rick rack around the top raw edge of the exterior box. As with the pockets above, the center of the rick rack “waves” should sit ½” down from the raw edge, or in other words, along the ½” seam line.
- Overlap the ends to finish, bringing the ends downward. Do your very best to simulate a continuous wave pattern at the overlap.
- Place the base tab loops back into position.
- Baste the rick rack in place, staying within the ½” seam allowance. This basting also secures the base tab loops.
- Fold the top raw edge of the exterior box along its original ½” crease line (remember when you pressed in that crease line way back when?). This fold brings the raw edge to the inside and allows the rick rack and the base tab loops to stand up along top opening. Pin the fold in place.
- Set aside the exterior box.
Create the lining box
- The lining is made is the same manner as the exterior, except your interfacing is the lightweight standard fusible interfacing rather than the foam, and there are not pockets or rick rack.
- Fuse the interfacing in place on each panel. Then assemble the panels into the same large cross. Remember you’ll still need that ½” free for the side panels.
- As we did with the exterior panels, you can see that we also pressed back the top raw edges of the lining panels ½” to help with alignment later.
- Use ½” seam allowances throughout to stitch the seams, and don’t forget to start and stop ½” on the side panel seams.
- When the all four base panel seams are stitched, fold up the sides and pin, forming a box.
- Stitch from each bottom corner point up to the top raw edge to finish. Remember, just like with the exterior box, you do need to open the ½” fold at the top prior to stitching these seams; you want the seam to go all the way up to the raw edge at each corner.
- When the box is stitched, re-fold along the original ½” crease line all around the top. Leave the lining box wrong side out.
Assemble lining and exterior and add handles
- Find the exterior box; it should be right side out. Slip the lining, which is wrong side out, inside the exterior so the two boxes are now wrong sides together.
- Align all the corner seams of the two boxes and make sure the top folds are flush all around. If the folds are not completely flush, adjust the lining for the best match. Pin in place all around.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the exterior in the top and to match the lining in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch all around through all the layers. If your machine has a free arm, now is a good time to use it. Go slowly, keeping your stitching precise and the layers as nice and flat as possible. We used the AcuFeed™ fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7, moving the needly to the right to keep a nice narrow seam allowance.
- Find the remaining two lengths of webbing. Since our webbing was polyester, we were able to simply melt the raw ends by lightly passing them through an open flame. If you use a cotton webbing, you could use a seam sealant instead.
- Insert each end through the open side of each rectangle ring to create a looped handle, passing the end through from front to back. Pull the end through about ½” and pin in place. Double check that your handle loops don’t have any twists or turns.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the webbing in the top and bobbin. Stitch the ends in place. We used a dense zig zag to secure.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild