Hand sewing projects have the great advantage over machine sewing of generally being mobile activities. Even if ‘mobile’ only means moving from room to room or sofa to armchair within the home! Which is basically as mobile as sewing projects can be in current Covid restricted circumstances! Of course being mobile, even in this limited sense, does raise the need for some sort of container to carry and store sewing notions.
I had the perfect container hidden away on a shelf in my sewing room – a little fabric basket just the right size for the threads, needles, scissors and other bits and bobs I need for English Paper Piecing and applique projects. As well as being a useful container for carrying all the notions the basket also serves as a way to keep them all safely in one place – rather than thread spools rolling off the coffee table and my scissors getting lost between the sofa cushions!
Realising how useful the fabric basket has been to me over the past few weeks I decided I would make one as a gift for someone who is about to recommence home sewing after a long break. I’m really chuffed with the little basket and matching pincushion I made from a fat quarter and a few smaller scraps.
My word for 2021 is SHARE and in that spirit I thought I’d post a tutorial should you feel inspired to make a Table Top Sewing Basket 🙂 I certainly wouldn’t claim that this is an original idea. I first made a fabric basket back in 2014. I can’t remember the tutorial I followed. If ‘make a fabric basket tutorial’ is typed into a browser the choice is overwhelming! Overtime I’ve adapted that first tutorial, introduced ideas from other basket tutorials and tried different combinations of materials. So this is a hi-bred of several tutorials and plenty of experience 🙂
- One Fat Quarter cut into: one (1) 5¾” x 20″ rectangle; two (2) 4¼” x 7″ rectangles
- Contrast fabric: one (1) 1¾” x 20″ rectangle.
- Lining: Two (2) 9½” x 7″ rectangles.
- Medium weight iron-on interfacing (optional): one (1) 5″ x 19″ rectangle.
- Wadding: one (1) 9″ x 22″ rectangle.
Step One – Preparing the Outside of the Basket
- Using a ¼” seam, stitch the contrast fabric rectangle to a long edge of the 5¾” x 20″ rectangle. If either of your fabrics are directional be sure to orientate them correctly with the contrast fabric at the top of the basket! Press seam open.
- Fuse the iron-on interfacing to the back of the pieced rectangle.
- Lay the pieced rectangle face up on top of the wadding. Baste the two layers together. Try using masking tape to keep the wadding slightly stretched and in one place whilst lightly pinning the pieced rectangle in place.
- I could write ‘quilt as desired’ and imagine the howls of frustration 😀 so instead I’ll just say that I generally choose to use a walking foot to stitch gentle wavy lines along the length of the piece. But if you are keen to practice free motion quilting stitches then a project this size is ideal! Keep the stitching lines about ½” – ¾” apart to help give the basket a bit of extra rigidity.
- Once quilted use a rotary cutter to trim away the excess wadding.
- Cut the quilted rectangle into two (2) 7½” x 9½” rectangles.
Step 2 – Making Boxed Corners
- Place the two quilted rectangles right sides together. Use a ruler and pen to mark a 2¼” square in the lower left and right hand corners.
- Line up the seams and pin. Stitch the two pieces together using ¼” seam. A walking foot is useful for getting through all the layers. Use strengthening back stitching at the start and end of each seam AND over the drawn lines.
- Use scissors to cut out the marked 2¼” squares.
- Fold one cut corner so the side and base seams are lying together.
- Pin in place and sew along the opening using a ¼” seam, back stitch the start and end of the seam.
- Repeat with the opposite opening.
- Turn right sides out.
Step 3 – Make the Lining
- Place the two Lining rectangles right sides together. Use a ruler and pen to mark a 2¼” square in the lower left and right hand corners.
- Stitch the two pieces together using a 3/8″ seam. Leave a 2″ opening in the bottom seam. Use back stitching at the start and end of each seam AND over the drawn lines.
- Use scissors to cut out the marked 2¼” squares.
- Make boxed corners in the same way as for the Outer Basket.
- Finger press the seams open and leave the lining wrong side out.
Step 4 – Make the Tab Handles
- Place a 4¼” x 7″ rectangle wrong side up on an ironing board. Fold the shorter sides to the centre. Press to crease the folds. Fold along the centre line to make a 1¾” x 4¼” rectangle. Press the folds.
- Top stitch close to both long edges of the rectangle.
- Repeat with the second 4¼” x 7″ rectangle.
Step 5 – Constructing the basket
- Place the Outer Basket inside the Lining, right sides facing with the side seams against each other.
- Fold a Tab Handle in half widthways and slip it between the Outer Basket and Lining layers so it is centred on the side seams. Allow the raw edges of the Tab Handle to protrude ¼” above the rim of the basket. Pin securely in place.
- Repeat with the second Tab Handle on the opposite side of the Basket.
- Pin the Lining and Outer Basket together all around the rim. (This might be a bit of a tight squeeze as the Lining is shorter than the Outer Basket).
- Stitch a ¼” seam inside the rim – a walking foot is useful for stitching through all the layers.
- Use the gap in the bottom seam of the Lining to turn the basket right sides out.
- Hand or machine stitch closed the gap in the bottom seam of the Lining.
- Roll and pin/clip the rim of the basket so the seam is uppermost.
- Top Stitch ¼” below the rim to hold the layers in place and create a neat edge.
One last tip: Best not to use a bag wadding such as Bosal In-R-Form for a small basket like this one. I did once and turning the bag right side out was very difficult – a bit of a Call the Midwife situation if you know what I mean? :-O