Fabric Baskets

Fabric Baskets She Said Sew

Apologies for the yellowed photos. It’s been pretty dreary here and my photo quality is suffering!

My Winter 2013 Sew Easy class is making these little lined baskets–just in time to fill with Valentine’s Day treats!  (But they are perfect for every day, too.)  I keep one on my kitchen counter to hold all the odds and ends that haven’t yet found a home and a larger one next to my bed is full of magazines.  Fusible fleece gives these bags great structure, but for larger ones, try experimenting with a firmer fusible stabilizer like Pellon Craft Fuse.

The directions below are specific to my Sew Easy class, but you may size yours as you like.  Just make sure you begin with 4 pieces of fabric that are identical sizes and you’ll be successful.  (Remember that a larger basket will need a larger boxed corner.)  If you want more practice inserting linings, try making reusable snack bags which apply the same principles.

This is a great project for beginner sewing. The skills you will develop by sewing these bags are:

  • cutting straight lines
  • sewing straight lines
  • topstitching
  • understanding the concept of boxed corners
  • understanding the basics of lining a bag

Supplies needed:

  • your basic sewing supplies
  • two fat quarters or remnants in complementary patterns/colors
  • fusible fleece
  • matching thread

All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless noted

Step 1:  Fuse Fleece

Following directions on the fusible fleece, fuse to the wrong side of your exterior fabric.

Drawing your rectangle directly on the fusible fleece prior to fusing can simplify this process

Drawing your rectangle directly on the fusible fleece prior to fusing can simplify this process

Step 2: Cut Fabric

Cut two pieces each from your exterior fabric and interior fabric.  For our class, we are cutting our fabric 12″ wide by 9″ high.  You will have a total of 4 pieces.

Make sure you have two pieces for the interior and exterior (4 total)

Make sure you have two pieces for the interior and exterior (4 total)

Step 3: Prepare Boxed Corners

In our class, we will make a 3″ boxed corner.  So, from each bottom corner (there are 4 total), cut away a 2″ square.  Why 2″?  Each square will contribute to half of the bottom and there is a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Thus, by the time the the bottom is sewn, only two 1 1/2″ halves will remain for a total of 3 inches.

Making a square template out of cardboard is a nice tool to keep for future bag-making.

Making a square template out of cardboard is a nice tool to keep for future bag-making.

Make sure you cut a square from all 4 pieces.

Make sure you cut a square from all 4 pieces.

Step 4: Sew Together Exterior and Interior Fabrics Sides

Backstitching at the beginning and end, sew the sides of like fabrics together.  Stop at the boxed corner.  Do not sew inside the boxed corner.

Basket Sides She Said Sew

Note: if you want to add handles, decorative or functional, do this now by sewing them at even distances on each side of the seam.  Sew handles with a 1/4 ” seam allowance and reinforce by reversing and re-sewing a couple of times.

Sew it 1/4" so there isn't a chance of these stitches showing in the final product.

Sew it 1/4″ so there isn’t a chance of these stitches showing in the final product.

Step 5:  Sew Bottoms

For the exterior fabric, sew across the bottom, backstitching at beginning and end.  Stop at the boxed corner.  Do not sew inside the boxed corner.

Again, do not sew inside the corners!

Again, do not sew inside the corners!

For the interior fabric, sew bottom as shown in this photo.  You are leaving a hole to turn the entire basket right-side-out.  The exit strategy I use will help the fabric turn inside and make swing the hole closed much easier.

Keeping the needle down in the fabric will serve as a "bookmark" and make pivoting easier.

Keeping the needle down in the fabric will serve as a “bookmark” and make pivoting easier.

Step 6: Sew Boxed Corners

Pinch squares together, matching seams.  Open seams (pinning will help keep them open) and sew across, being sure to backstitch at beginning and end.  Do this for both the exterior and lining.  Now you will have an unlined basket that sits upright.

Line up and open seams.

Line up and open seams.

Step 7: Insert and Sew in Lining

With exterior right-side-out and interior inside-out, place exterior inside interior.  Match seams and pull gently on sides to make sure there aren’t any large gaps.  If either interior or exterior is too large, take in at the seams.

Place the exterior inside the interior.  Right sides should be together.

Place the exterior inside the interior. Right sides should be together.

Free the arm of your machine and place basket over the arm.  Starting at one seam, sew all the way around–don’t worry, you aren’t sewing it shut because you left a hole in the lining where you will turn it right-side-out.

Modern machines should have a piece that is removable to make it possible to sew around a tube.

Modern machines should have a piece that is removable to make it possible to sew around a tube.

Step 8:  Finish Basket

Using the hole in the bottom of the lining, turn basket right-side-out and sew the opening closed by hand or machine.   Tuck the interior inside the exterior fabric and press the top.  Finish with a topstitch 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the top.

This is how it looks once the exterior has been pulled through.

This is how it looks once the exterior has been pulled through.

I am using an applique foot to attempt to show you how closely to sew to the top.  Please don't use an applique foot yourself, though!

I am using an applique foot to attempt to show you how closely to sew to the top. Please don’t use an applique foot yourself, though!

Make sure the handle stays to the right (if sewing handles)

Make sure the handle stays to the right (if sewing handles)

Fill with treats and pass it along to a friend.  You can even creating a nesting set!

Sew a few and create a nesting set!

Sew a few and create a nesting set!

Reusable Snack Bags (Two Ways)

This is a great project for beginning sewing, which is why it pops up in my Sew Easy class again and again.  The skills you will develop by sewing these bags are:

  • continuing to develop cutting and straight-line sewing skills
  • sewing in a circle (sewing around)
  • how to advance while sewing
  • sewing with hook-and-loop tape (Velcro)
  • learning basic bag construction (which is easily applied to cosmetic bags and handbags)
  • understanding the basics of lining
  • sewing boxed corners (optional)

Supplies needed:

  • your basic sewing supplies
  • ripstop nylon (sold in the utility section of the fabric store)
  • woven fabric (anything from quilting cotton to duck cloth works well; nothing poly or too heavy)
  • hook and loop tape*

*A note about hook and loop tape (aka Velcro).  You can buy it packaged or by-the-yard.  My favorite kind to use is Snag Free Velcro because there is only one piece of tape as opposed to a hook (scratchy) and loop (soft) side.  It is significantly more expensive but using it saves me much time and prevents much frustration (and bloodshed–those little hooks can pierce skin!)  If I can’t find Snag Free, I prefer Velcro Soft–the kind that is recommended for baby clothes.  It is a much more pliable product and easier to sew with that the inexpensive, very plastic-y regular Velcro or hook and loop tapes.

Other notes:

Seam allowance is 1/4″ (often the right side of your presser foot), unless noted otherwise.  If you feel 1/4″ is too narrow, sew with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Just know your bag will be a wee bit smaller and you may want to trim your seam allowance.

To see any photo larger, just click on it!

Option 1:  A Basic Reusable Snack Bag

Step 1:  Prepare your fabric

If your fabric is non-directional, cut each fabric (the nylon and cotton) into 8″ x 16″ rectangles. If your fabric is directional, cut each fabric into two 8″ x 8″ squares.

Step 2:  Sew exterior

Place your cotton fabric right sides together. For the rectangle: sew each side that is perpindicular to the fold. The top should be open and opposite the fold. For the squares: sew all three sides leaving the top open.   (Remember to backstitch at start and end.) The direction of the fabric should make sense when the square is looked at with the open end on top. Regardless which shape you begin with, you will end with an 8″ x 8″ “pocket” that is inside out.

Step 3: Sew lining

Repeat this step for the lining EXCEPT on one side you will advance the needle and leave approximately 3″-4″ not sewn.  (Remember to backstitch at start and end.) This hole is where you will turn the entire bag right-side-out. To advance, stop sewing and lift the needle and presser foot.  Pull the fabric (gently!) away from you until you have reached the desired second starting point.  Lower your presser foot and put your needle down.  Continue sewing.  (Note:  Make sure the opening is at least 2″ from each end.)

Note how the thread is long behind the presser foot.

Here is another view from behind the presser foot.

Another view of the side opening after the advanced thread was snipped.

Step 4: Insert lining into exterior

Begin by clipping corners so your corners will be crisp.  If you leave the triangle of fabric all that bulk will fill your corner and it will look sloppy.

First, clip the corners at bottom, being careful not to cut your stitches!

Turn the lining right side out and insert it into the exterior (which remains wrong side out).  You’ll note the basic sewing principle of “right sides together” is in place here.

Exterior (butterfly) is wrong side out; lining (ripstop) is right side out.

Slide lining inside exterior, careful to match up seams. Double check to make sure neither is greatly bigger than the other. Sew in seams to adjust if this happens.

Step 5:  Sew lining to exterior

Remove cover and expose smaller arm of your machine and slide the exterior/lining over it.  Beginning at a seam, sew all the way around remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end.

Step 6: Sew on hook and loop tape

Turn the bag right side out (through opening in lining), stuffing lining back in bag and pressing (ironing) it flat.  Now is also the time to make sure the corners are pushed out nice and crisp.

This is how it will look when you first turn it right-side-out. Simply push the lining inside the exterior after you turn it.

A cotton setting should be fine. You won’t melt the nylon unless you expose it to an open flame or leave a very hot iron on it for an extended period.

After pressing, turn bag inside out and slipping it over the arm of the machine.  Place the hook and loop tape on top of the lining, matching it up with top of bag.  Sew close to the edge, trying to only sew on the edge tape.

When you return to the starting point, stop before you sew a double layer.  Backstitch and cut the hook and loop tape trying to match it up as closely as possible.  Sew the second side.

If you ever run into a situation where there is a gap between the two ends, you can use a zig-zag stitch (with a 1.5 stitch length, if possible) to close the gap.

Step 7: Close hole in lining

Pull lining out and pinch the hole closed by tucking in the raw edges and pulling the sides until the hole is sealed and fabric is flat.  Place under presser foot and sew as close to the edge as you can, being careful to catch both sides.

Turn it right-side-out and you’re finished!

Option 2: A Reusable Snack Bag with Boxed Corners (flat bottom)

Begin by cutting two 8″ x 8″ squares of each fabric (you’ll have 4 pieces total).  Then, cut a square from the bottom corners of each piece.  I use a 1 3/4″ square so that my bottom will be 3 inches wide.  How did I figure this?  You divide the width by two since you have two pieces of fabric or two sides.  Then you add your seam allowance and this is the number you square for your corners.

3″ wide / 2 (each side) = 1.5 inches

1.5″ + .25″ (1/4 inch seam allowance) = 1 3/4 inches

So, if you wanted a 2″ bottom and were sewing with a 1/2″ seam allowance:

2″ / 2 = 1 inch

1″ + .5″ = 1.5  inches

Step 1: Prepare the bottom

Mark and cut a square (in this case 1 3/4″) from the bottom two corners of each fabric.  If your fabric is directional, be sure you cut the square from the bottom!!!

Step 2: Sew sides

For the exterior fabric, place right sides together and sew the three sides that touch the missing squares (left, right and bottom).  DO NOT sew the cut-out square parts!  In other words, no pivoting, etc.  Leave the top open and sew both sides and the bottom.

For the lining, sew each side and the bottom, just as you did the exterior EXCEPT leave a 3″ hole in the middle of one side.  Advance just as described in the basic snack bag above.  As you did for the basic bag, please be sure the ends of your hole do not come closer than 2″ from each end of the sides.

If you can’t see the stitches, be sure to click to see this image better. It will show exactly how and where you should sew.

Step 3:  Sew boxed corners

Pinch the corners together, matching seams, and sew closed.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each of the four corners.

After the corners are sewn, you will have two mini bags that look like this:

From this point on, you follow steps 4-7 for the basic bag.  When completed, you’ll have this:

Remember that we took away three inches from the bottom and sides by making those squares, if you want your bag to be bigger, begin with a larger square!

Congratulations!!!