Friday, December 5, 2014

Piped Basket -- Sewing Tutorial

This is a padded fabric basket just begging to be made for a teacher, neighbor, or even your East German friend who has a birthday tomorrow (or am I the only one in that situation?).  I know there are a million fabric basket sewing tutorials out there, but do many of them have all this adorable piping?  I think not!

The finished dimensions are about 6 1/2" wide, 5 1/2" deep, and 4" tall (minus the handles, which stick up another couple of inches).

Piped Basket -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials Needed:

Exterior fabric -- fat quarter or 1/2 yard (quilting cotton or lightweight home decor)
Interior fabric -- fat quarter of 1/2 yard (quilting cotton or lightweight home decor)
Fusible fleece -- one piece at least 15" x 14" and two scraps 1" x 7"
Piping -- at least 55" (about 2/3 of a standard package, or you can make your own!)
Thread to match each fabric PLUS thread to match the piping
Freezer paper (or regular paper would be okay too)

STEP ONE: Drawing the pattern and cutting out the pieces

Grab some freezer paper, and on the matte side draw a rectangle 6" tall and 7" wide.  (You don't necessarily need to use freezer paper, but I love using it because then you can iron your pattern piece onto the fabric and it will temporarily adhere to make cutting the shape out easier.  Just peel it off afterward and then you can iron it onto another piece of fabric!)

Then draw "tabs" onto each side that are 4" long.  Another way to think of it would be to draw a huge rectangle that is 14" x 15" and then cut 4" squares out of each corner.

The result should look something like this:

Iron that puppy onto your exterior fabric and then cut around it.  Ignore the cat glaring disapprovingly at your fabric choice (maybe Rocky would have liked plaid better?) and repeat that step with the lining fabric.

Do NOT iron the pattern piece onto your fusible fleece for obvious reasons, but cut a piece of it out in the shape of the pattern piece as well.

I didn't take a photo of them, but you also need to cut four pieces from lining fabric that are 2" x 7" each.  [Note - I couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted the handles to be made from all exterior fabric, all lining fabric, or a combination of the two.  For the red basket (which I photographed in process for the tutorial), I used only lining fabric.  For the green basket, I made one side of each handle from the exterior fabric, and the opposite side of each handle from the lining fabric.  It doesn't matter which way you do it!]  Cut two pieces of fusible fleece that are 1" x 7", and cut four lengths of piping that are 7" long each. Set the rest of the piping aside to be used later.

Cut list summary:

Exterior fabric:
- One from the pattern piece

Lining fabric:
- One from the pattern piece
- Four 2" x 7" pieces

Fusible fleece:
- One from the pattern piece
- Two 1" x 7" pieces

- Four 7" lengths
- One long length approximately 27" long

STEP TWO: Sewing the handles

Take one of the 2" x 7" pieces and pin a couple of the 7" lengths of piping on the RIGHT SIDE of both of the long edges, with the raw edges of the piping aligned with the long edges of the fabric.

Do NOT do what I did and use thread that doesn't match your piping.  I will explain why later.  Instead, thread your machine with the thread that DOES match your piping, pop on your zipper foot (or piping foot if you're so lucky as to have one!) and stitch right on top of the existing stitching on the piping.  Ignore the wobbly parts that I did on the bottom.  It's hard to sew with a four-year-old on your lap.

Take another 2" x 7" piece and pin it on top of the first one with right sides together and the piping sandwiched in between.

Flip the sandwich over, then sew down both sides right on top of the stitching you did in the last step.

Then you have this!

This next step STINKS, but it's the only way to get these awesomely piped handles with the piping stitched the proper way.  Unfortunately, you have to turn the tube right side out.  This is extra difficult in this case because the piping makes the tube even stiffer.  Just be patient and go slowly.  Once the tube is turned right side out, press it to make it look a bit nicer.

See why you shouldn't use green thread to sew on white piping?  I didn't stitch quite close enough to my original stitch line on one side and you can see the green thread if you look closely.  Yes, no one may ever notice but it BUGS ME!  So learn from my mistake and use thread to match the piping.

Nest, grab one of your 1" x 7" strips of fusible fleece and stuff it in the tube, taking care to keep it flat and untwisted.  I like to use my wooden shish kebab skewers to do this.  It's amazing how many kitchen and garage tools come in handy when I'm sewing!  The fleece will probably stretch while you're doing this, so just cut off any that is sticking out on either end.  Then use your iron to press the strip and adhere the gluey side of the fleece.

Change your thread to one that matches the handle fabric and stitch down both edges and down the middle while you're at it.

Repeat that whole process (including that horrid tub turning mess) so you now have two handles.

STEP THREE: Sewing the main body pieces

Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the EXTERIOR piece (trust me -- it looks better this way rather than fused to the interior based on my experience) according to the directions.  Then pin each of the corners together with the right sides facing.  It should look something like this:

Repeat with the lining while you're at it.

Grab the exterior piece and sew the pinned edges together using a 1/4" seam allowance.  I like to switch to thread that matches the exterior fabric because this is a seam that will have stress on it and may expose the stitching (especially if you use a longer stitch).  

When all four seams have been sewn, it should look like this:

Repeat with the lining piece and now you have two little baskets just waiting to be merged together.  Switching your thread to a color matching the lining is probably not necessary because those seams will not be stretched and the stitching won't tend to be exposed.

Now grab your remaining long piece of piping and start pinning it to the exterior piece.  NOTE:  When I took these photos, I must have been drunk because I pinned them to the wrong side of the fabric.  So ignore that part.  

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO is turn the exterior piece so that the right side of the fabric is facing out and THEN pin the piping (matching raw edges) along the top.  Start in the middle of one of the short sides, and leave a 1" trail at the beginning unpinned.  Just pretend that the piping is being pinned to pretty red polka dot fabric instead of the fusible fleece.

Yup, this photo still has the piping pinned to the wrong side of the fabric.  Do as I say, not as I photographed!  Make sure you pin open the seams to reduce the bulk at the corners.  It's not fatal, but it makes for an easier sew down the line.

(Yup, still wrong side out in the photo.  Sorry about that.)  When you get back around to the beginning, overlap the piping by about 3/4" and chop off the excess if there is any.

Take your handy-dandy seam ripper and rip out about 3/4" worth of the stitching that holds the piping together.  Peel it back to expose the cord inside.  Feels kind of naughty, doesn't it?

Cut off the exposed cord at the point where the other intact side of the piping meets it when you nest it inside the open side.  It should look like this after you cut off the excess cord.

Take the flap of piping fabric from the opened end and fold about 1/4" or 1/3" of it back to the inside of the piping.  Just finger press it at that point - no need to get crazy and involve your iron.

Close the folded end around the intact end to make the continuous piping join all nice and neat.  Pin it into place.

Sew the piping into place (remembering that my photo is WRONG and that your piping should be on the RIGHT side of the fabric!) by stitching right on the piping's stitching line.  Again, I should have been using white thread at this point to match the piping.  Once I realized my mistake and ripped all of the piping off of the wrong side of the fabric, I switched to white thread to sew the piping onto the correct side.

See?  Now it's all fixed (after a lot of swearing and sighing).  The piping is sewn onto the RIGHT side of the fabric (with raw edges matching the raw edge of the fabric) using white thread to match the piping.

STEP FOUR: Assembling the basket pieces

Grab one of the handles and pin it to one of the short sides of the exterior piece of the basket, on the RIGHT side (the same side as the piping).  The outside edge of each end of the handle is 1/2" from the corner seam.  Baste them on within the seam allowance (between the raw edge and the stitch line for the piping).  Make sure the handle isn't twisted or anything.  It should look like this:

Turn the exterior piece inside out (so that the pretty side of the fabric is facing inward).  Take your lining piece and turn it so that the pretty side of its fabric is facing outward.  Nest the lining piece inside the exterior piece and pin into place (matching the short sides and carefully lining up all of the corner seams).  Triple check to make sure the right sides of the basket pieces are facing each other before you sew.

Stitch right on the seam line where you sewed the piping around the top of the exterior piece, BUT LEAVE A 4" GAP UNSEWN ALONG ONE OF THE LONG SIDES.  Turn the basket right side out and press everything into place.  Pin the opening shut, then topstitch closely to the piping all around the top edge of the basket (going slowly over the bulky corners and the handles!).  I got fancy and used red for the top thread to match my exterior piece and used green for the bobbin thread to match the lining.  It makes for a nicer finished product that way, especially if your bobbin stitching isn't as nice-looking as your top stitching.  Clearly, I am not afraid of rethreading my machine 49 times in the same simple project.

I took my iron and gave it all another good press for good measure.  Then, I folded the basket and pressed a bit where the corners of the basket should be around the bottom to give the basket a little more definition.  All done!

If you used a 1/2 yard of each fabric instead of fat quarters and have boatloads of piping and fusible fleece lying around, you will have enough to make two baskets.  Go wild and switch up the lining and the exterior.  Too bad I'm giving one of these away tomorrow, because they are pretty cute as a set.

Fill with treats or goodies and you have a nice little present!

Tutorial for personal use only, please.


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  1. I think this is the first fabric basket I've seen with piping, Niki. I LOVE the effect!!! As well as looking great, the piping will add extra structure to the basket.

  2. Great tutorial! I've been meaning to make some baskets for ages...Im going to use your tutorial now as its the bet i've seen in a while :) thanks for sharing!

    1. You are so welcome! Did you make one? Share pics if you do! : )

  3. What gorgeous baskets and thank you for the great tutorial! Very clearly explained and fab photos!

    1. Thank you!!! It's nothing compared to the gorgeous quilts you sew. You could totally make one of these baskets with some beautiful quilting too.

  4. Super-cute baskets. What a great idea--and a great tutorial too. The photos help so much. BTW, I too host a linky party on mondays and would love for you to share your projects.--Shannon with Modern Tradition Quilts

    1. Done! I love your quilting -- you do gorgeous work!

  5. Thank you for this great tutorial. I appreciated it most for the piping part. I pinned in my sewing board. Thanks again.

    1. I hope you make it! I would love to see pics if you do.

  6. I'm adding this project to my must-make list for 2015! I love making baskets, and this style is just a bit different. I LOVE your sense of humor!!! "Do as I say, not as I photograph" is cracking me up! Well done!

    1. Thank you so much! I would love to see the end result if you make one. Glad my attempt to distract you all from my idiotic rookie mistake was successful. : )

  7. Love this! The piping is just the perfect extra punch! You almost lost me at turning the handles -but the end result is so worth it.

    1. Darn it! I just wrote a long reply to this but it seems to have gotten lost in cyberspace when I pushed publish?? Anyway, I totally feel you on the turning the handles thing. I HATE doing that. It's totally worth it, because trying to put the piping in by pressing the raw edges under and sandwiching it in between just looks terrible. Trust me -- I tried it. Cutting the handles wider made turning easier, but the handles were ridiculously out of proportion to the rest of the basket. The end result does justify the technique though! Please do send pics if you make the basket. I would love to see if anyone else can interpret my crazy directions well enough to recreate this basket! Thank you for the kind words.

  8. These baskets are just too cute! What a great tutorial, Niki. So detailed and well written! Nice job!

  9. Great Tutorial. I can't wait to make some. I know some people who will be begging for me to make them one, too. :)
    Happy Holidays, and thanks for the tutorial.

  10. Thanks so much for the free tutorial, I'm going to make this for this summers picnics with a clear glass bowl for watermelon. too cute

  11. Thank you so much for this tutorial: The baskets are beautiful and your tutorial is so well written there should be no problems making them. Thanks again!

  12. Kids crap storage baskets here I come.. I think I can, I think I can! Beginning sewer here but I think I can do this (or I'll call my mom for help lol). You had me at fat quarters :)

  13. Oh, so cute! I just made the 'Scrap Basket Buckets' for Christmas gifts . . . started out intending only to make one for my now 2 year old granddaughter . . . made one for each of my 4 kids, son-in-law, younger daughter's boyfriend and a Girl Scout friend. Have fabric picked out for several more - ran out of time to even try to do them for Christmas. And now, you have this cute basket . . . saving this one to my files and will have to try this after the first of the year. Hummmm, what fabric and who will get these???? Instructions are very clear . . . and I have the same issue in putting things together and taking pictures and then realizing that I did it backwards! In our quilting/sewing group at Church we are always looking for cute ideas to share, by teaching each other how to make something . . . this may be the project I pick to share in 2015! Thanks for the cute basket!

  14. Great project! I love all details!Thanks for sharing this clear tutorial.
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Hugs and love from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft

  15. totally awesome! so easy to customize with different fabrics to match any decor or mood or depending on use. Love the tute, thanks for sharing!

  16. A great tutorial with great photos. Thanks for sharing. Very cute finished basked too!

  17. Great tutorial! The baskets are so cute with the piping!

  18. Sooo cute! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays at 9AM eastern time :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  19. Congratulations! This post is featured over at Diana Rambles today and has been pinned in the Featured at Diana Rambles board at Pinterest, Tweeted, and Recommended on G+. Please grab a featured button off my button page or via the post guidelines graphic. Thanks for sharing this awesome idea!

  20. Wow, I love these. :Pinned! Would love it if you'd stop by my blog, Ducks 'n a Row, to share this next Wednesday at my blog hop!

  21. Great tutorial, thank you! I like the cat critic too. I'll definitely be giving these a try.

  22. Your tutorials are so well written! One of our writers sews and she was excited to see your explanation of how to use piping. Thanks so much for linking up to Awesome Life Friday - I hope you'll come back again. We'll be featuring this post this week.