UPDATED! You can now watch this tutorial as STEP-BY-STEP video on YouTube, and download a PDF tutorial guide with measurements and written instructions. Have fun sewing!
I didn’t invent the idea of the fabric basket/bucket–nothing like–but I am certainly more than happy to walk you through how I made the ones I’m using in my studio. After discovering–purely by accident–that a smaller (prototype) bucket fit neatly inside the larger size I settled on, it occurred to me as I prepared to put together a tutorial that a set of nested buckets would be pretty cool. So, here they are: a set of three nested fabric buckets to mix-and-match at will. I’m even thinking the littlest size would make a sweet handbag for the spring, don’t you?
I’m really digging on the graduated sizes, and still completely in love with the idea that these can be used as dividers, so that the biggest basket isn’t so super huge that there’s a ton of wasted space. I’ve moved over all the hexies from their shared basket to this set, with the cut pieces (piles and piles and piles of them) in the largest bucket, the paper foundations and the finished hexies in the middle basket, and my embroidery scissors, thread, needles and an assortment of pins all in the itty-bittiest, most portable basket.
These are all batted with a fusible fleece that I had on hand (supplemented when I ran low with some off the bolt at the shop), so they’re fairly soft-sided. Shooting photos was no easy feat on this blustery day we’re having! The flexibility of the shape makes them even more useful for me, though, since they can be filled with handwork and then smooshed up into a bag to take in the car or off to the in-laws. Heaven forbid I leave my sewing behind.
The steps are delightfully simple–I made all three of these in a single evening, between when supper ended and when I went to sleep. The tutorial (after the jump) gives finished sizes, but really, you can make them to accommodate whatever scraps you have on hand! I used the same fabrics for all four sides, but imagine how fun one would be in a different fabric from each angle? Delicious!
Gather up your supplies and let’s Learn As You Sew ™!
There are three bucket sizes: large, medium, and small. If you’re shopping for fabric, you can make the outer bucket of even the largest size out of a single fat quarter if you’re willing to make the base of a different fabric–I so love a project that doesn’t take a ton of fabric! The two smaller sizes can easily be made of one fat quarter for the outer fabric and one fat quarter for the inner, lining fabric.
I liked using a heavier, Waterford linen for the base of these, both because I like the fabric and think it’s got a great look, and also because I think it will wear better over time. You are certainly free to make the base of the same fabric as the sides, or to use another quilt-weight print–no worries!
For these images, I used the middle size, but construction is the same regardless of the dimensions.
Begin with your base piece. You’ll notice that the side pieces, both long and short, are slightly smaller than the base piece is. That’s to allow the base to have sides in all four directions. Take your two short sides, place one right sides together and raw edges even with the base piece, and center the side so that you have approx. 1/4″ of “extra” base piece at either side of the centered side panel. Stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance through the double thickness. Repeat on the opposite side with the other matching panel.
See that teeny overhang at the corners? That’s good–we want that. Now, take the remaining side pieces and repeat on the remaining sides, placing the raw edges of the remaining side pieces flush up against the seam you just stitched, and centering the panel on the base piece. Stitch the side panel with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat with opposite panel.
Press the seam allowances toward the side panels, keeping the base piece nice and flat. Press again from the right side, opening out those seams so they’re really crisp. You should now have a T-shaped construction. Repeat all these steps with the lining fabric so you have two T-shaped pieces that are the same size as one another.
Lay this piece wrong side down on a piece of batting or fusible fleece. For extra stiffness, you could use Peltex or Timtex or something along those lines (or interface the lining in addition to batting the outer fabric). I’m only showing the batting here. Cut around the T-shape of your bucket and make a duplicate of your batting, all one piece.
Fuse, if your batting or fleece is fusible. This is nice in that it stabilizes the whole piece, since in the next steps, we’ll be treating the two as one. Having said that, it’s about the same level of difficulty whether your batting is fusbile or not, so if you don’t have access to fusibles, don’t sweat it.
Fold the T-shape right sides together so that two of your edges come together at the corner. This is how we’ll make the sides stand up on your bucket. Pinch them where they intersect with the base and begin stitching there, using a backstitch. Sew all the way up the side seam (the image shows only the outer fabric, not the batting, for clarity). Repeat for the other three corners.
Now for the straps. These are entirely optional, and can match your bucket but don’t have to. Cut two scrap pieces that measure about 7″ x 2.5″ish–give or take. Press in about 1/4″ along each long edge, then press again in half so that the two folded edges lie on top of one another.
Topstitch close to both long edges, catching the strap closed as you do. Then, pin them to the bucket, right sides together and raw edges even. Spacing is by eyeball–just put them as far apart as you think they’ll look pretty. For all three sizes, straps should be pinned to the 7″ x 7″ish end.
Take the lining, all boxed and seamed at the corners, and place it right sides together with the main fabric, sandwiching the straps between the two, keeping all your raw edges even (if you’ve done the tote bag project in Stitch by Stitch, this is the same concept as how the handles are attached for that project).
Stitch a 1/4″ seam all the way around the upper edge, leaving an opening along one side through which you’ll turn the bucket right-side-out. Backtack at the beginning and end of the opening to give it some strength.
Ready to turn this puppy right side out and see some magic happen? Reach in through the opening you left and grasp the outer fabric. Pull it through the opening, bringing the lining along with it, until both fabrics are right side out.
With the outer fabric and the lining right side out, tuck the lining back inside the outer bucket. Press, press, press all the way around that upper edge to make it nice and smooth, tucking in any seam allowances that are still peeking out from the opening you left for turning your work. Then, topstitch all the way around the upper edge, close to the edge, catching the opening closed as you do. Voila!
I am currently updating the tutorials page, and once it’s all done (no promises on when that will be), you’ll be able to find this tutorial by clicking the link at the top of the page. Have fun, y’all!