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Making Lined Baskets and Pincushions

Measuring Your Basket

As with anything you sew, it’s important that your measurements be accurate. As the carpenters say, measure twice, cut once. Drawing a diagram and labeling it with the measurements of your basket will help you identify any possible difficulties in advance so you can plan around them. Be sure to take the measurements inside your basket.

Determine first where you want the top of your lining to be. If there is a decorative top edge on your basket, you may want the lining to attach just below it. Measure the depth in several locations, and use the deepest as your measurement. When you attach your finished lining, you can fold the top edge under a bit more to make it fit in the shallower spots.

You will need a good measurement of the circumference of your basket. This needs to be at its largest point, generally the top edge. Remember to take it inside the basket.

The dimensions and shape of the inside bottom will determine the shape of the bottom piece of lining. Taking paper slightly larger than the bottom and pressing it into the basket, smoothing the bottom and creasing it at the side edges might give you a good pattern. Remember to add seam allowances.

Cutting Pieces and Pockets

Any fabric you’re comfortable working with can be used to line a basket. Imagine your basket lined with a bold cotton print, dark velvet, or, for a padded look, some prequilted fabric. Your intended use of the basket will help you determine what’s best to use. You don’t want items in the bottom of your basket disappearing on a busy print or fabric so dark it’s hard to see to the bottom of a large basket.

Cutting the Lining

Even a basket that is basically square can be cut with one piece of lining to go around all the sides. Take your circumference and your depth, and add ½” seam allowance all around for the dimensions of this piece.

Once it is cut out, determine where your seam should fall in your basket. A corner is a logical place. Here, the seam will be least likely to show and won’t interfere with any pockets you might be planning. Pin the seam as if it were stitched, and try the lining out in your basket. Mark the locations of the other corners on your lining with pins or chalk.

Planning the Pockets

Remove the seam pins, and spread your piece out flat. Determine what you’ll want for pockets, if any The marked corners should help you see the space available.

There are a lot of different ways to make pockets. You can hem the top and turn under the sides or use the turned method with a coordinating solid for the back, which will be the inside of the pocket. You can cut your fabric the width of your pocket plus seam allowances and twice as long as your pocket will be deep. Fold it over with the right sides together and stitch around it, leaving a gap. Turn, and the fold will be the top edge of the pocket. Topstitch it into place.

If you want your pockets to extend to the bottom of your basket, there’s no need to turn the bottom edge. Simply line the raw edge up with the raw edge of the bottom of your lining.

If you want two side-by-side pockets of equal depth, make them as one pocket. After the pocket is attached to the side, you can separate them into two with a line or two of stitching. You can even cut a piece as long as your present lining and twice as wide as your pocket depth. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, and pin it to your lining. Separate it into a row of pockets that will go all around your basket. You will probably want to separate pockets at the basket corners.

Stitching and Gluing

Construct your pockets, however you’ve decided they should be, and pin them in place. Try out your lining in the basket to see that they work the way you anticipated. You may want to make some changes before you sew them to the lining.

Adding the Pockets

Sew the sides of your pockets to the lining. Sew the bottoms, as well, if they don’t extend to the base of the lining. If you expect your pockets to get lots of use, reinforce the seams. To do this, after you’ve stitched the pockets down, pin a length of twill tape or seam binding to the back along the stitching line and stitch again. Sew the side seam of your lining and press the seam open.

Stitched-on Bottom

If your basket tapers even slightly, take a round of stitches on the side piece ½” from the bottom to use to ease or gather the lining to fit. Pin the side lining to the edges of the bottom, using the marks that indicate the corners to help you place it correctly If you are uncertain if your pockets are going to come out where you want them, do a quick hand basting around the edge of the bottom. This way, you can remove the pins and try the lining in your basket. When it is placed to your satisfaction, stitch the seam. Your lining is ready to glue in place.

Glued-in Bottom

If your basket tapers a great deal or is otherwise odd shaped, you might want to glue in the bottom instead of trying to stitch it to the sides. To do this, use your pattern to cut a piece of heavy cardboard the exact shape of the bottom of your basket. Try it in your basket, and do any necessary trimming. Mark the wrong side of your fabric using your cardboard as a template. If your basket bottom is not symmetrical, be sure to place your cardboard upside-down as well. Cut around your mark, adding 1/2” all the way around. Clip the curves to the mark, and turn the edges under. You can use the cardboard as a pressing guide, holding it in the center of the fabric piece and ironing the ends up over it.

Use fabric glue or a hot-glue gun to attach the seam allowance to the underside of the cardboard. You will glue this to the bottom of your basket after you’ve attached the sides.

Attaching the Lining

If the top edge of your basket is fairly level, press the top edge of your lining under ½”. If the edge dips, you will have to do much of your turning under as you go.

Position your lining inside your basket. Glue the corners down first, then ease each side to fit. If you are gluing in the bottom, allow the top to dry Then, glue the bottom edge of the sides to the basket bottom, gathering them to fit. Glue your bottom piece to the bottom of the basket, covering the raw edges of the sides.

Adding Trim

Trim of all kinds can be added to the top edge of your pockets before they are sewn onto the lining or around the side itself before it is glued in place. You can also attach a trim to the turned-under edge of your lining before you glue it to the basket. Sometimes trim can even solve problems that arise when you are installing the lining itself.

If the top edge of your basket is so uneven you can’t turn your lining to fit, or if your turned edge shows through your basket’s loose weave, cut the top edge instead. Trim it as near to the exact shape of the top of your basket as possible. In fact, you may want to glue it first and trim it when the glue dries.

Cover the raw edge with a round of flexible ribbon or ruffle with a finished edge. If you want to make your own ruffle, sew it to bias binding. Or gather it onto the wrong side of a ribbon.

You can cover the point where the ends of the ribbon or ruffle meet with a bow, a small embroidered appliqué, or other decoration.

Removable Lining

The lining of a basket, especially one without a lid, is going to get dusty The nozzle attachment to your vacuum cleaner can clean up most of it, but there’s nothing like being able to remove the lining and wash it. If you’re lining a basket that will transport food or a sewing basket that will set out, consider one of these alternatives to gluing.

Self-Gripping Fasteners

This particular method works best if your basket top is level. You will also have to sew the bottom on, rather than gluing it, of course.

Get a strip of self-gripping fasteners long enough to encircle the entire top of your basket. Glue the hook, or stiff, half to your basket top. Don’t put the hook half on your lining or everything in your wash will stick to it when you put it in the washer. You can sometimes find adhesivebacked fasteners that will save the trouble of gluing. You will still have to sew the half to the lining since the adhesive may not hold in the wash.

Turn the top edge of your lining under. Sew the soft half of the fastener to the lining, leaving a little of the folded edge above the fastener. This will help to hide the edge of the fastener itself. Sewing a round of ruffle to the top before you add the fastener will help even more.

Tied-on Lining

Another alternative is to make an extension to your lining that comes over the lip of your basket and ties on the outside. This method works best with baskets that have level tops. You can make your lining to accommodate handles and lids.

Make your lining in the usual way, sewing the bottom to the side piece. Measure the outside circumference of your basket. If you have a bow handle on your basket, you will cut two extensions and tie them together beneath the bases of the handle. If your basket has a lid, measure around the basket up to either side of the hinge. Add ½” on each side of your extension pieces for hems. Two side handles will be dealt with later; measure your extension as if they aren’t there.

Determine how far you want your lining to extend down the outside of your basket. Add 1” for a bottom casing, ½” for a top seam allowance and a little more for the thickness of the basket itself.

Sew narrow hems on both ends of your extension(s). Sew the bottom edge in a hem that can be used as a casing. Make a row of gathering stitches across the top. With the lining in the basket, determine the placement of the ends of your extension piece(s). If your basket has no handles or hinges to worry about, the edges of your extension piece will meet at whatever location around the basket that looks best to you.

With right sides together, pin the extension(s) to the lining, gathering it to fit. Sew along the gathering stitches. Make a narrow hem with the seam allowance along any part of the lining edge that isn’t covered by the extension. Run a ribbon, cord, or shoestring through the casing, and gather the lining extension to fit.

Accommodating Side Handles

If your basket has two side handles, you have a couple of choices. If the handles are squarely on the top edge of your basket, simply leave that stretch of the top unsewn. Backstitch on either side of the gaps so the seam doesn’t open up father. Press the seam open, and topstitch on either side of the gap. This will help the seam allowance lie flat, and the raw edges will be hidden.

If your basket is fairly thick and the handles are narrow, as is the case in bushel baskets, the handles may seem to be more under the extension than at the seam. In this case, mark their exact location with chalk or pins after the extension has been added. Cut along this line and then edge the cut with narrow double fold bias tape.

Another way to finish the edge for the opening is to make a lining square 2” longer than the handles and about 2” wide. Turn under the edge, and stitch it. Put the lining piece on the marked location for the cut, and sew ¼” on either side of the line and at each end, making a box. Cut the slit, and clip to the corners. Turn the lining through this hole and press it flat. Topstitch it to keep it in place.

If your basket is very big around, you might want to make your extension in two pieces simply to make it easier to pull the ties up around it. Hem both ends of both, and bring the ends together when you sew them to the lining.

Lining the Lid

Lids of baskets are often lined in a fashion similar to the glued-on bottom. This works fine, but a few little additions can make your lid more fun.

If you are lining a sewing basket, consider adding a pincushion to the lid. The entire lid can be made into a pincushion with a couple of layers of batting, or you might designate a small area for one.

To make the latter, pin a backing piece to the back of the lid lining and machine-stitch around the area you want for a pincushion. This might be a single motif of your lining fabric or a circle or a square. Make a small cut through the backing fabric and stuff with pillow stuffing. Finish as you would a glued-on bottom.

You can put pockets on the lid before you glue it to the cardboard, but don’t plan to use them for anything but fairly light objects or they will pull the lining off. Adding ribbons to use to tie on a small pair of thread scissors is another suggestion.

Instead of using cardboard, the lining can be glued directly to the lid. If it’s hard to get the edges turned correctly, cut the seam allowance off and glue the fabric directly Or you might edge the piece with bias tape or sew a ribbon or ruffle around it. You can cover the edge with ribbon or ruffle after it’s glued down, if you’d rather. Be sure your trim doesn’t interfere when you close the lid.

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