Tutorial: Sew a simple fabric basket

Tutorial for simple fabric basket by Very Berry HandmadeHere’s a simple sewing pattern for a pretty and practical fabric basket, using Bosal-in-R-Form fusible foam interfacing to give the completed basket a sturdy sides, without any crunchy stiffness. This tutorial is really great for beginner stitchers, as the sewing involved is quite easy – the basket and lining are cut all in one piece, and the Bosal interfacing is easy to work with. So I’ve written the sewing tutorial with beginners very much in mind, and used a generous seam allowance of 1/2inch to allow for any mistakes – if you are more experienced sewist, just enjoy the nice relaxed sewing experience of working with generous measurements!

If you want to print the sewing pattern, the easiest way is to download this PDF:

Fabric Basket Sewing Pattern – Step by Step instructions – PDF

Note – if some of this seems a bit familiar, it’s because the last part was published as a mini-tutorial previously. Lots of people have asked me for this pattern though, so I thought I would share the whole thing… generous soul that I am! 

Pattern notes

  • The finished basket will be approximately 10 inches long, 7 inches wide and 5 inches deep.
  • This pattern works best with non-directional fabrics.
  • The seam allowance is 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted.
  • Press all fabrics before you start.
  • You will need some single-sided fusible Bosal In R Form, which is widely available for example at Lady Sew and Sew. It seems a very odd product when you get it out of the bag, but don’t be dismayed, it is brilliant to work with and creates really firm sides for your basket. The fusible side of Bosal is the rough side. Once the fabric is fused to the Bosal, it will crinkle a bit as you work, but these iron out very nicely once you have finished your project.

Cutting list

  • Cut 1 piece outer fabric measuring 19in by 22in
  • Cut 1 piece inner/lining fabric measuring 19in by 22in
  • Cut 1 piece single sided fusible Bosal In-R-Form measuring 18in by 21in
  • Cut 1 piece woven iron-on interfacing (Vilene G700 is a great choice) measuring 19in by 22in.

Step 1
Cut squares measuring 5.5in from each of the 4 corners of both pieces of fabric, the Bosal and the interfacing.

Step 2
Place the rough side of the Bosal, positioned centrally, against the wrong side of the piece of outer fabric. There should be an approximate half inch overlap all the way round.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 1 - showing layout of Bosal interfacing

Pin the Bosal into position, with just one pin near the edge of each of the four sides – like this:

Fabric basket tutorial - step 2 - showing how to pin Bosal interfacing

Flip this over so that the fabric is on the top, and take it to the ironing board. Remember, the fabric must be uppermost – NEVER iron directly on the Bosal.

Using a wool setting and no steam, and with gentle pressure, iron the middle section, smoothing the fabric out towards the edges and fusing it to the foam. Once the middle is secure, remove the pins and finish fusing the fabric, remember to carry on pressing from the middle towards the edges to avoid wrinkles and bobbles.

Step 3
Apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining fabric. Use the cotton setting and steam and glide the iron over interfacing, applying gentle pressure, 5 or 6 times.

Step 4
Take the outer piece, and bring two short sides of one of the corner squares right sides together:

Fabric basket tutorial - step 3 - showing how to sew the sides of the basket

Pin, then stitch with a scant half inch seam, reverse stitching at either end of the seam. You will be tempted to sew along the line of the Bosal – DON’T! Just ignore it (it might be a bit wobbly and keep to the scant half inch seam allowance and don’t worry if you sew over the edge of the Bosal or not). Repeat for the short sides at the other 3 corners. You will have to manipulate the basket quite a lot and the Bosal will wrinkle a bit. Don’t worry, this will iron out later on.

Step 5
Repeat step 4 with the lining section, this time making the seam a generous 1/2inch (this will allow the lining to sit more neatly inside the basket when finished).

Step 6
Keep the outer wrong side out and turn the lining right side out. Pop the lining into the outer, and CHECK to see that the seams all line up. Then take the 2 pieces apart again and trim the seams to approx 1/4inch.

Step 7
Keep the outer section wrong side out, and turn the lining section right side out again. Put the lining into the outer. Starting with the seams, line up the two pieces, pinning at the corners first, and then adding pins at the side. Insert the pins at right angles to the edge of the fabric. You can either finger press the seam allowances open, or press the lining seam allowance to one side, and the outer seam allowance to the other side.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 4 - showing how to sew the lining into place

On one of the long edges, mark a section of about 5-6 inches, to remind you to leave a gap in the seam in Step 8.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 5 - showing how to mark the turning gap

Step 8
Take the cover off the base of your sewing machine so that you can use the free arm. Manoeuvre the basket so that part of it is under the free arm so that you can sew round the edge.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 6 - showing how to stitch the top seam

Stitch round the edge of the basket with a 1/2in seam – reverse stitching at either end of the seam. Start stitching at the end of the marked section that you made, and finish when you get to the other mark.

Step 9
Turn the basket right side out through the hole you left in the top edge. Press the seam to create a sharp edge at the top of the basket. Fold the edges of the turning hole in, in the line with the rest of the seam and press. Pin or use a little washable glue to secure the edges of the turning hole.

Step 10
Position the basket under the presser foot of your sewing machine so that you can work on the INSIDE of the basket:

Fabric basket tutorial - step 7 - showing how to top stitch the basket

Adjust the stitch length to about 3mm. Leaving long tail threads, and without reverse stitching, stitch round the top of the basket, about 2-3mm from the seam edge. Work slowly, and stop frequently (with needle down) and manoeuvre the basket so that the edge of the basket sits straight under your needle – it will make all the difference to the finish. When you get back to the start, DON’T back stitch or overlap, leave long tails instead.

Step 11
Pull all the long threads through to the outer side of the top edge of the basket. Pull bobbin threads until the spool threads show (you can see the loops in the photo) then use a needle to pull them through.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 8 - pulling up the top stitching threads

Fabric basket tutorial - step 9 - pulling up the top stitching threads

Knot the threads in two pairs:

Fabric basket tutorial - step 10 - knotting the top stitching threads

Take a hand-sewing needle with a large eye, and thread up one pair of threads.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 11 - threading the thread ends

Make a large stitch along the line of stitching and pull the knot between the layers of fabric (in stitchy jargon this is called burying the knot):

Fabric basket tutorial - step 12 - showing how to bury the knot

Fabric basket tutorial - step 13 - showing knot has been buried between the layers of fabric

Snip off the loose threads:

Fabric basket tutorial - step 14 - excess thread snipped away from the thread ends

Repeat for the other two threads.

Fabric basket tutorial - step 15 - tying off the other set of threads

Fabric basket tutorial - step 16 - invisible finish for top stitching is completed

Finally, fold over the top edge of the basket and give it a really thorough pressing to finish. Here’s another version I made:

Showing completed fabric basket made with Michael Miller fabrics from a free pattern by Very Berry Handmade

Enjoy your sewing, and don’t forget, you can download the pdf for this free sewing pattern for this basket if that’s easier for you.

Mini-Tutorial: Finishing top-stitching and machine quilting invisibly

So, you’ve spent time sewing, stitching and pressing and your lovingly handmade bag or fabric basket is nearly finished. Now you are top-stitching the completed seam, spending time ensuring that the stitching is neat and even, perhaps even using different spool and bobbin threads so that the you coordinate exactly with lining and outer fabrics. So no way do you want to back stitch or reverse stitch at the beginning of your row of top-stitching – if you are anything like me, you will want it to look absolutely perfect. Or maybe you are doing some beautiful machine quilting and your bobbin has run out, or your design means that you can’t hide the end of your stitching in the binding – this method will work for you too!

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Firstly you need nice long tails of threads to work with – 5 or 6 inches is ideal. If you are machine quilting and you’ve run out of bobbin thread – just unpick a few stitches to create some tail to work with. If you are top-stitching, this is not the time to use the automatic thread cutter on your sewing machine!

The picture below shows the beginning and end of my row of top-stitching. You need to work on the wrong side of your project, so the first step is to pull the threads on the right side through to the wrong side. Pull on the bobbin threads on the wrong side, and the loops of the spool threads will appear – use a needle or pin to hook the loops and pull the threads through.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Here’s how it should look when you have everything through to the wrong side:

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Knot the threads together in two pairs, like this. Obviously, if you’re quilting, you’ll only have one set of threads to worry about – yay, you’ll be done in half the time!

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Thread up one pair of the thread tails onto a needle with a reasonably large eye. This is a slightly cheaty short cut. If you are working with very fine fabrics or you are quilting and don’t want to make great big needle holes on the back of your quilt, you can use a smaller needle and deal with the thread tails one at a time.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Insert the needle really close to the knot that you made in this pair of threads, and make a long stitch back along the seam line:

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Pull the threads through and keep gently pulling until the knot disappears beneath the fabric.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

The stitchy jargon phrase for this is burying the knot. Only one lonely knot left to go now – and if you are quilting you are all done. Snip off the excess thread tails before you deal with the other knot.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Now you can repeat for the other set of thread tails, if you need to.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

And that’s that! Hope you find this a useful – old hat to many I am sure, but now I am teaching beginners I’m realising it’s definitely worth sharing these tips.

Sewing Tools of Note 6: Seam scraps

Part of a series on my favourite sewing tools.

Where can I get one of those, you are probably wondering… and what, err, exactly IS a seam scrap?

Well, big hurrah, you’ve already got one. This is the name I give to the piece of paper or scrap fabric that I pop under the presser-foot of my sewing machine when I’m beginning a seam, especially when I’m stitching fine fabrics (like Liberty Tana Lawn or cotton voile for instance). It stops that really annoying problem of your fabric getting scrunched/bunched or otherwise sucked down into the innards of your machine.

I made a little film to show how it works. It’s the first film I ever made… and it is probably being laughed at by Vimeo geeks as we speak, but hey, got to start somewhere… (please excuse my gardener nails…)

So there you have it! I learnt (sort of!) a new skill and hopefully you learnt a tip that will help avoid those annoying little bumps at the start of your seams.

More Sewing Tools of Note…