Friday, June 08, 2012

Make A Fancy Picnic Basket From an Ordinary Basket

(click link to view or purchase)

A Picnic
by Henry Nelson O'Neil, 

Hello dear friends. Today I have completed something that I've been thinking about for a long time. It is a lid and lining for a homemade picnic basket.

Those beautiful picnic baskets with all the supplies in them can be quite expensive. The one you see above is just lovely, but it cost $70.00, and some of these types of baskets are up to $100.00. I have taken a few minutes here and there this week to figure out how to make a lid and lining for an inexpensive basket that has some of the same features. Of course, if you really do like the one at Victorian Trading Company and can easily afford it, then go for it. This is for those who do not want to spend very much and still have the luxury of a pretty picnic basket. 

If you are interested in making one of these yourself, you should know that it is not quick and easy, but the good news is, you can use hot glue on quite a bit of it, which takes out a lot of the work. Both hand-stitching and machine stitching are required, so it qualifies as advanced sewing. However, look through the tutorial first, and you might find that you have enough basic knowledge to make this.

These are some of the materials you will need. First, select a basket, any size, preferably one with a moveable handle so that it is easier to work with. I got this one at the dollar store just for demonstration, but you can get a much larger one, and try a different shape, such as square or rectangle. This is a wooden-slatted basket, not a straw or wicker one, but you can use those kind too. Quilting fabric or any woven cotton fabric will be fine for this project, but not knits or silks or synthetics, because it requires something more  stable. You will also need some trim of some sort, like rick-rack or braid or grosgrain ribbon. 

Also needed is some iron-on (fusible) fleece (you can use regular fleece if you like, but fusible is much faster to work with), a piece of corrugated cardboard large enough to make the lid, some good strong scissors (please do not use sewing scissors on paper or cardboard. It makes them dull).  You might also need some craft paint and a sponge brush to paint the basket if you want it a different color. You will also need a hot glue gun with glue sticks. This project is not for children!
Corrugated cardboard is a thick, layered cardboard. You could use any other cardboard, but in my opinion, corrugated cardboard is the best for this kind of craft. Find it in the bottom of boxes you get in the mail, or just cut a corrugated cardboard box.  

To make the lid,  turn the basket facing down on the cardboard and trace around it. No basket has perfect dimensions, so expect it to be slightly less than a perfect circle or square when you trace it.

Cut the circle out and place it on top of the basket, turning it to fit as best as possible, and then trimming it again if necessary.

Lay the cardboard circle on the iron-on batting and trace around it and cut it out.

Usually there is a sparkly side of the iron-on (fusible) batting, and that goes face down on the cardboard. With hot iron, press down on the batting to make it stick to the cardboard, pressing the steam button for bursts of steam to help it fuse.  Cut another batting circle and fuse it to the other side of the cardboard.

Take the cardboard-batting piece and lay it on the wrong side (the non-printed side) of cotton fabric and cut out the circle.

Lay the cardboard with batting on top of another piece of fabric, with the wrong side up, and cut about 2 inches larger, around it. If you are using white glue or fabri-tack (a fabric glue), put a row of it on the circle so that you can fold the fabric up around it. Secure it with clothespins for awhile to hold it. If you are using hot glue (recommended) use some kind of instrument like a knife or spoon to press the fabric onto the hot glue. Remember that the cardboard will be sandwiched between two batting circles.

Click on for a larger view of this to see the small circle glued over the larger circle that was folded over. The edges of the  smaller circle were ironed down approximately a fourth of an inch and then hot-glued to the larger circle, covering its edges so that it has a nice finished, upholstered look.  I have used hot glue, but you may also hand stitch the whole thing together with ordinary thread. I would suggest quilting thread because it is stronger.  Then select some trim, such as rick-rack, as you see above. Place your spoon, knife, tea bag and napkin on the inside lid and and lay a strip of trim across them,  then dot a bit of hot glue in various areas to make pockets to slide them in. As I said, you do not have to use glue at all, as you can stitch this cording or rick-rack or trim in place to make sections for your knife, spoon, tea bag and napkin, You can even place a piece vertically on the lower end to insert a napkin or some other thing.
Thread a large-eyed needle with quilting thread, double it and tie a large knot at the end.
Put the needle slightly under the lid, through the cloth and batting (not the cardboard)  so that the knot will be hidden underneath, 

and then pull the needle inbetween one of the slats or straws of the basket rim,
and out again into the batting and fabric. Make several of these kinds of stitches under the slat or straw and back into the cloth (you do not need to sew through the cardboard) until you have a strong hinge. Knot and clip your thread, and do the same thing again in another area close to that area so that you have two thread-made hinges in the back of the basket lid.

Fold  about two feet of wired ribbon  in half and place it in the middle of the back of the lid, on top, between the two hinges you made with thread. Then hot glue it down the center, on to the back edge of the lid.
Tie it in a bow, arranging it into a curled effect,  and glue down the ends with hot glue.

Trace around the bottom of the basket on to some more fabric and batting, and cut out the circles. Cardboard is not necessary for this part of the basket.

Lay the basket on its side to get the height of it, and roll it on the fabric to see how long a strip of fabric you will need to make the lining. Double the fabric (or use at least one half the amount more) before you cut it, so that it can be gathered to fit. I have not given any measurements because it all depends on the size of basket you are using.

Clip the fabric and tear the strips. Then sew the two short sides together and cut a piece of the fusible batting to fit. Iron it on using steam, with the sparkly side of the batting down on the wrong side of the fabric.

Sew the other end of the fabric-batting strip, pinning it four ways on the fabric-batting circle, as you see above. To divide the circle, just fold it in half and then in half again, marking each fold with a straight pen. Then fold the strip in half and fourths, marking the folds with pins. Then match up the pins and pin the strip to the circle.

The next step is not pictured: Thread a large eyed needle with quilting thread, knotting it firmly on the end. Then take large running/gathering stitches all around the strip and when you get to the end, pull up the thread until it fits the circle. Then, machine stitch it all around.
This is what it will look like on the other side.
With a steam iron, fold down and press the edges of the circle to the other side to make a hem.

Placing the right edge of the presser foot evenly with the right edge of the folded over fabric, stitch all around the piece, using a large length straight stitch.

Stitch another fourth inch from the previous stitching, on the inside.

Insert the quilted lining into the basket, and if you have some stick-on velcro srtipping, put it around the top rim of the basket and the matching piece on the top rim of the lining. 

If you plan to give away this basket, wrap the scones and cheese and sandwiches in waxed paper, insert them in and around the teacup, and add small containers of jam and cream for the scones.

There are probably a few steps left out, but this is not an exact science, so you can adjust it to fit your own style of sewing and crafting. Here is a big time-saving idea: Instead of making a lining, just take a  big square of matching fabric and insert it in the basket. You might also iron on the batting to the square  or circle of fabric and sew another piece on the other side. To measure a circle of fabric to fit the inside, just wrap a piece of fabric around the outside of the basket to get an idea of how much you will need. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you really get a lot of pleasure out of using this "fancy" picnic basket. I've used a small basket to make it easier to demonstrate, but you might try using a family size basket to see what you can do. 

The silver spoon and knife are plastic, and come in a package of 16, from the dollar store. If you go to a thrift store or Goodwill, you can some times find mis-matched cups and saucers for under a dollar, which would be great for a basket like this if you are giving it away.

Save some time by using pre-quilted fabric, and then you will not have to add the batting. 

This might be a good idea for someone who is looking for something to make for their etsy shop.


Barbara Neubeck said...

Hi LadyLydia,
What a pretty basket you've made.
Your method would be suitable for any size clever.
thanks for the idea of giving it as a gift..I know someone who would love this.
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Anonymous said...


I adore picnics!!!!! As you are now in summer, the perfect picnic food includes terrine (Mitten of Pork is an excellent option), quiches that can be eaten cold, 'Spanikopita (that can also be eaten cold), thermoses of chilled soup such as vichy soisse, or even something as simple as the best bread and cheese you can lay your hands on, accompanied by a bottle of something sparkling (desn't have to be champagne) or iced tea, a thermos of hot coffee or tea with a batch of lemon syrup cake etc. There is something very special about packing a nice cloth and making a lovely picnic table- along with a gorgeous long flowing floral dress and straw hat...Now I'm dreaming...

Once again, I love picnics!!

Grateful Grammy said...

This is lovely! Now, to find someone who is willing to picnic WITHOUT the styrofoam and metal ice chest!

Julian said...

You have the most creative ideas. I enjoy your blog,and your posts are very encouraging. Christina

Eve | Inchworm Chronicles said...

I like this idea. I think it would also make a really thoughtful gift for a friend or her family, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an ambitious project -- but beautiful! Well done.

Lydia said...

This is something that has been in my mind for some time, and it just seems to take me forever to get it done. I walked away from this project several times last week, and almost threw it away. After a good stiff cup of tea, I was able to think more clearly about it and complete it! But I was figuring out a "prototype" at the same time that I was making it, so it will be easier for those who attempt to make it, since the mistakes have already been made and I've worked out a few things. I'm aiming for a family size picnic basket next, but am also thinking it would be a great idea just to make some smaller ones and give them as individual lunches at a beach picnic, if just two or three people were coming. They could each carry their own basket.

Lydia said...

Yes, those plastic containers and all the picnic things these days just take the beauty out of the picnic, don't they! All that metal and plastic and syrofoam...what kind of scene that makes! I think one could pack the food inside of those containers but set up the picnic table or blanket with only the most attractive and old fashioned things, leaving the coolers in the car.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lydia, this is so fun. I love picnics too and this post and tutorial you put together got my mind to racing.

Think of a big laundry basket with handles for a large family. You could make a big picnic basket
(for two people to carry) and put pockets all around the insides for plates, silver ware,and cups.

Then make a thin masonite layer for a second level of goodies to pack, leaving the bottom for the heaviest containers of foods and of course a couple mason jars (with lids) of iced tea and lemon slices.

Mrs. J

Anonymous said...

When my husband and I were dating, we would spend every Sat. morning preparing for a picnic in the mountains of east San Diego, Ca.

We'd start off with an empty picnic basket. Stopping at the fried chicken stand for chicken and at the fruit stand on the way out of town to buy apples, strawberries, cheese and apple cider to drink.

Then at the big bakery in the mountains we'd buy fresh baked bread.
We'd pick a few wildflowers for the centerpiece on the picnic blanket under a big oak tree.
Many Saturdays were spend talking and dreaming of our future over a picnic basket of goodies.

On the way home we'd stop back at the bakery for more bread, apple cider, cheese and jam to take home to our parents and families.

Thank you for sharing this post and tutorial on picnic baskets, its brought back some sweet memories.
Mrs. J

Gayle said...

I loved this!So grateful to you for putting this up.What a beautiful basket to take along for a picnic and make it extra special.I really love all the effort you put into making your tutorials easy to understand,and the pictures help so much.Thanks again for another great idea.

Lydia said...

You could use the same technique to make a sewing basket. The "real" sewing baskets are very, very expensive.

Barbara Jean said...

So sweet and wonderful......
thanks for the time you took to do the tutorial for us!


Anonymous said...

What a fun idea! Picnics really do take on a more festive quality if the accoutrements are more attractive. Thanks for the tutorial. :o)


Mrs. B said...

Oh, Lady Lydia. You are amazing. Your creativity is so lovely. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration!!! This would also be a lovely idea for making a "guest basket" to fill with comforts and treats for overnight company.