My friends and family like to give me their worn-out clothes to upcycle into my crafts and sewing projects. These baskets are from the overalls of a friend’s father, who passed away. Instead of taking the overalls apart and adding them to my denim pile, I decided to use them to make my friend’s mom a set of baskets for everyday use, as a small way to keep a piece of her husband nearby.
I knew my friend’s mother’s home décor was simple, with accents of earth tones, and I knew she loved nature and birds. The liner fabric I found was the perfect blend of the two. The embellishments and trims for each basket are pieces from my stash, which add a pop of color and make the baskets even prettier. I also decided to use little twigs as an accent, which just goes to show that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make things pretty, and it’s always nice when you can bring a bit of the outdoors into your home.
Because I wanted the baskets to have some stiffness and not flop over, I used Fairfield Structure medium-weight fusible interfacing, which comes with fusible webbing on the back. It saved an entire sewing step, and it gave the baskets structure. Ironing the interfacing to the lining also gave the baskets a crisp feel while retaining the soft, worn look of the denim.
This is a great project for anyone, even beginners. It only takes about two hours to make all three baskets.
I made the small basket 7-1/2 by 8 inches with a 2-inch box corner, the medium basket 7-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches with a 1-3/4-inch box corner, and the large basket 7-1/2 by 9 inches with a 1-1/2-inch box corner. You may need to alter these measurements to use the jeans or overalls you’ve set aside for this project.
Step 1: Choose a straight section of the jeans leg where the top and bottom of your cut piece will be the same width. Using the dimensions above, measure and cut out one piece for each basket. You can adjust the sizes as preferred. Then, cut the lining fabric, but add 1/2 inch to the width for the seam allowance, and 3 inches to the length so the lining will overlap the top of the jeans bag.
Step 2: Pick up a jeans leg section, and turn it wrong side out. Sew a seam across the bottom. Press the seam open.
Step 3: Pull out the sides of the jeans bag. Line up the side and bottom seams. The front and back of the jeans may be different widths, so the seam may not be on the edge.
Step 4: Measure and mark a perpendicular line across the bottom seam, 2 inches in from each corner.
Step 5: Sew along the line you’ve marked, making sure the seams are open to reduce bulk. This will make the box pleat on your jeans bag.
Step 6: Pick up the lining fabric and iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining.
Step 7: Fold the lining in half, and create a tube by sewing along the edge parallel to the fold. Sew the bottom seam of the lining. Press all seams open.
Step 8: Pull out the sides of your lining bag. Center the side seam. Measure and mark 2 inches from each side edge of the lining fabric, and sew box corners as you did for the jeans section.
Step 9: Stack the lining bag inside the jeans bag, wrong sides facing each other. The lining will extend several inches past the edge of the jeans bag. Stitch the bags together around the top of the jeans bag opening. Turn over the raw edge of the lining ¼ inch and press. Fold the lining down over the outside of the jeans bag. Topstitch the lower folded edge of the lining to secure it to the jeans bag.
Step 10: Add decorative elements.
TIP: Your sewing machine may bind up over the bulky seams. If so, simply turn the balance wheel by hand until you’ve passed the thickest parts.
Tools & Materials
- Jeans or overalls
- Fabric for lining (add 3 inches to jean measurement for lining fabric and interfacing)
- Medium-weight one-sided fusible interfacing
- Iron and ironing surface
- Sewing machine with denim needle and thread
- Straight pins
- Needle and thread
- Embellishments, such as doilies, buttons, and fabric flowers (see Page 56)
Make a Fabric Flower
Fabric flowers can be fun embellishments on a variety of projects, and are another great way to use fabric scraps.
Tools & Materials
- Thread in two colors
- Needle and thread or sewing machine
- Safety pin
1. Cut a piece of fabric about 1 inch wide by 10 inches long. Fold the strip in half lengthwise with right sides together.
2. If you’re using a sewing machine, thread it with different color threads in the bobbin and in the top (I used black and white threads). Set the machine to the longest stitch, and sew together
the long open edge of the folded fabric with a 1⁄4-inch seam allowance, without backstitching at each end. Or, if preferred, you can just sew it
3. Secure a safety pin through one end of the fabric tube, and then feed the pin back through the inside of the tube, turning the fabric right-side out.
4. At one end of the fabric tube, locate the loose thread ends of the seam, and knot them together. At the other end, pull one of the threads to gather up the tube. Pull until there’s about 5 inches of loose thread, and then thread that length onto a sewing needle. Use the threaded needle to sew the flower gathers together at its center.
5. Glue a button over the center of the flower to hide your stitches.
TIP: If you decide you’d like the flower to be more gathered, simply pull on one of the threads at the knotted end. The different colors of thread will make this easier, so you can choose which color is the gathering thread at both ends.
Niki Meiners is an author and the owner of 365DaysOfCrafts.com. This article is excerpted with permission from her book Jeans and a T-Shirt (Stackpole Books, an imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.).