Sunday, January 11, 2009

Foldable fabric baskets

Here's a project I've made several times and thought others might like to try also. You've probably seen baskets similar to this in gift shops in varying prints and sizes. We see them often in gift shops here in New England and I always admired them, but would often tell myself, "I could make those...". I came across some instructions for these in an old magazine, but have tweaked them quite a bit.

The baskets are great to hold lightweight gift items or a set of coasters or napkins for giving. They also make a nice serving basket or a container for napkins on a buffet table.

Here's what the finished product looks like. I love the vintage-looking fabric on this one and how the background looks like birch bark. The fabric is not actually old; I bought it at Jo-Ann's several years ago.

To make a foldable fabric basket, you will need:

2 11-inch squares of fabric
8 5 1/2-inch lengths of 3/8” ribbon* in color to coordinate with fabric
1 5 1/2-inch square of plastic canvas**
4 pieces of plastic canvas**, each cut 2 1/8 x 5 1/2 inches

Here's what to do:

1. Fold and press under 1/2 inch on all sides of the fabric squares.

2. Pin the fabric squares together with the WRONG sides facing.

3. Pin the ribbon ties in place between the two layers of fabric. Position two ties on either end of each side of the square, placing them 5 1/2 inches apart.

4. Topstitch close to the edge on THREE SIDES ONLY of the pinned fabric squares.

5. On the fourth side, topstitch only through the ties, leaving the 5 1/2 inches between the ties UNSTITCHED. (This is so you can insert the plastic canvas reinforcements into the basket.)

Here is a very rough sketch that shows how the ties should be placed.

6. Insert three of the smaller plastic canvas pieces to form three sides of the basket. Stitch to enclose these pieces.

7. Insert the 5 1/2-inch square of plastic canvas to form the bottom of the basket. Stitch to enclose this piece.

8. Insert the last small piece of plastic canvas to form the fourth side of the basket. Topstitch to close the opening on the fourth side.

At this point, the basket looks like this:

9. To form the basket, tie the ribbons on each corner into a bow.

* Instead of ribbon, you may prefer to use a similar width of bias tape or even make your own matching fabric ties. Ribbon is easiest.

** I think the folding baskets you can buy are reinforced with cardboard, and you could certainly use heavy cardboard if you prefer. I use the plastic canvas so that the baskets could be washed if necessary, or at least spot cleaned more safely.

Have fun with this idea!

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