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.

In pursuit of firmness..

I’m currently working on a project in my role as a Creative Blogger for Ochre and Ocre – writing a simple tutorial for fabric storage baskets using their lovely upholstery weight cottons. Getting the right amount of firmness in a project like this is essential, but easy enough with heavier weight fabrics like these which only need a minimal amount of extra heft. But it’s so much trickier if you are working with quilting weight and dressmaking cottons. Whilst I am creating loads of practice pieces, I thought it would be good opportunity to get to grips with interfacing options for these fabrics.

I have written before about my preferences for interfacing soft purses, wallets and pouches, but what about when you need more structure? Choosing interfacing is overwhelming, and it’s so easy to make mistakes when there are so many to choose from. Just check out the Vilene options available at Jaycotts or at Empress Mills – it’s a little bit scary! An added complication is that the best interfacing/interlining solution is often a combination of a couple of different types… it’s easy to spend a lot of money and not get quite the result you want, so I thought I’d share my findings so far!

For this first experiment, I wanted to practice my basket pattern using some Liberty patchwork (have to make a small hole in my mountain of Liberty scraps now and again…) and some quilting weight linen/cotton mix, so I knew that I needed a real workhorse interfacing – I don’t want a storage box with collapsing sides!  So after researching the options, I decided to try out some Vilene S320 for firmness paired with Vilene H640 fusible fleece for a squidge factor. Here’s the finished article:

Liberty and linen storage basket


Vilene S320 is desribed as firm and flexible and not too heavyweight, but when it arrived it seemed terribly heavy and stiff to me, and I was worried that it would create the ‘crispy’, easily creased effect that I really don’t like with some interfaced fabric (because why use fabric when you are going to end up with something that feels like cardboard?).  I fused it to the outer section (the linen and liberty combo) with some trepidation, but the result was good – firm but definitely not crisp or cardboardy – I love the sharp lines of the seams that you get using this interfacing! It also handled well through my sewing machine (with a 90/14 machine needle), and was a doddle to squeeze through 5″ hole I left for turning the basket through.

I always think that interfacing the lining of any bag/box/pouch is essential – it gives a much better finish. Because I had used the S320 on the outer layer, the only option I had was to use the H640 fusible fleece. I think the finish is less good here: 

Liberty and linen storage basket
Beautiful Finca threads and some sewing bits and bobs all stored away…. It wont look so nice when it is stuffed 100s of zips and magnetic snaps!

The lightweight Liberty lawn plus the fleece are a bit too puffy, and the finish isn’t as neat as I would like. I think a better choice would have been to fuse the H640 to the outer section (on top of the S320) and then used Vilene G700 (a woven cotton iron-on interfacing) on the lining fabric, to give more neatness and to add structure. This would also mean that the box would sag a bit less at the sides (it’s not bad, but I’d prefer it to have a tiny bit more structure). I shall try that next time and share my findings! Good thing I actually want to replace all the shoeboxes I currently store my sewing stuff in…