DIY Sweater Basket Liner

I always get just a little bit excited when the weather starts to turn cold, but that is for one reason only: cold weather is sweater weather!  Knit sweaters are wonderful because they are warm and cozy of course, but their most interesting aspect by far is all of the texture that the fabric has.  Whether it’s classic chunky cables or a delicate lace, knit fabric has so much character.  It is this aspect of knit material that makes it a great choice for creating interesting accent pieces in home décor, and it can be found in many places around people’s homes, such as covering pillows and ottomans and wrapping around lampshades and vases.  So I thought, why not bring this versatile style to a basket?  And thus, this tutorial for a sweater basket liner was born.  So if you would like to learn how to create your own version of this cute little basket sweater for your own baskets, then read on!

New Picture

Rectangular or square basket
Very large sweater
Tape measure
Ruler or other straightedge
Pen or pencil
Thread that matches sweater
Sewing machine
Marker (optional)
Glue gun (optional)

The first step in creating your cozy basket liner is to make a pattern for your basket.  To start off, get several pieces of paper and tape them together to make one large sheet (you can also just use large pieces of paper if you have it on hand).  For my bread basket, I started with four sheets, but ended up needing a little more space.  This isn’t a problem though, as you can easily add more pieces of paper as you need them.

To start drawing your pattern, first measure the bottom of your basket.  It is best to take the measurements at the ends of the basket because they will be the easiest places to see where the bottom stops and the sides start.  This is most easily done using a flexible tape measure.

Once you know these dimensions, draw a rectangle in the middle of your paper, using the same measurements.  (For this image and all others, click on the picture to enlarge it!)

The next step is to divide your current drawing into quarters.  Find the middle of both the length and width of the drawing of the bottom of your basket and mark them.  Draw a line through these centers that extends all the way to the edges of your paper.  It is okay if your drawing isn’t completely centered on your paper, and if at any time you have to add more paper to your drawing, make sure to extend these lines all the way to the edges of the new paper too.

Next, measure the height of the sides at one of the corners.  When you have that measurement, measure that far out from the sides of your rectangle that represents the bottom of your basket, and draw lines parallel to its sides at that distance.  These lines will most likely need to extend past the edges of the drawing of your bottom because the top edges of a basket are quite often longer than the bottom.

Now measure the long top edge of your basket, starting at the middle of one “corner” (since they’re not true corners, but are rounded, you’ll need to gauge where the middle is) and measure to the middle of the next.  Now, take this measurement and divide it by two.  Make sure to write this measurement down, because you will need it for both this step, and a later step.  Next, find the place where the half-way mark (this was drawn when you quartered your drawing) meets one of the lines you drew for the long side of the basket in the previous step.  Measure from this mark out along the line that represents the top edge of the basket and draw an end point at the length you just determined.  Do this again on the other side of the middle mark, giving you the full length of the long edge of the basket.  Use these same measurements for the other long side of your basket.  Now, repeat this process for the short sides of your basket.

Next, draw eight lines connecting the corners of the bottom of the basket to the end points of each edge.  Each corner will have two lines coming from it and at this point your drawing should resemble a distorted plus sign.

The next step is to add length to your pattern so that there will be a lip of fabric to fold over the edge of your basket.  First, determine how much you want it to hang over. I chose one inch for my basket.  Then add one quarter of an inch for the part of the cozy that will lie along the top edge, and one quarter of an inch for part of your seam allowance, totaling one half inch (so my measurement would be one and a half inches).  Now, draw four lines parallel to the edges of your basket at the distance you just determined.  Using the measurements that you wrote down previously when you found half the length of the edges of your basket, measure out from the center point on your lip line and draw end points.  These should line up with the end points on the edges of your basket.  Once you have marked the end points on the lip line, connect them to the closest end points of the edge line.

The final step for creating your pattern is to add a quarter of an inch to the inside corners (the part where it looks like a triangle is missing) of your pattern for part of the seam allowance. Make sure that you add this all the way to the last edge (the lip) that you drew.  At this point, you may want to trace the outside edges of your pattern to help highlight which lines to cut along.  Now that all of that hard work is done, cut out your pattern!

The next phase in this project is to cut out your sweater material.  First you will need to lay your sweater out and select a panel that is large enough for your pattern.  For some very small baskets, you may be able to use an arm, but most will require you to use the front or back of the sweater.  Once you have figured out which panel you are using, turn the sweater inside out.  Now, being very careful not to stretch the fabric, cut right next to the seam to separate the panel from the rest of the sweater.

Once you have this cut away, lay your piece of sweater fabric out.  If it has any cuffs, make sure to cut this away because they pull the sweater material together and will not let it lie fully flat.  Smooth your fabric out so that it is lying as flat as possible, but avoid stretching it, as this will ravel the edges.

Now, lay your pattern on top of the fabric.  Make sure it is lined up straight with the design of the fabric, and make sure to place the pattern at least half an inch away from all edges of the fabric.  Once you have your pattern all lined up, start pinning the pattern to the fabric.  Be sure to pin every few inches along the edges, and at least a few times in the middle to help keep the fabric from stretching.

Next, using a sewing machine, sew all the way around the edges of the pattern, as close as you can get.  This is an important step because it keeps the edges of the fabric from raveling when you cut your pattern in the next step.  Don’t worry too much if the line of sewing isn’t perfect though – as long as it is less than a quarter of an inch away from the edge of the pattern, it will be fine.

Now, it’s time to cut out your fabric.  Cut all around the pattern, keeping the cut one fourth an inch away from the edge of the paper.  Once your piece is completely cut out, remove the paper pattern.

Finally, your liner is beginning to take shape! The next step is to sew the four side seams that will lie in the corners of your basket.  You can pin these if you want, but they should be fairly easy to line up without the aid of pins.  With right sides facing, fold one of the corners together and begin sewing a half inch seam, starting at the bottom (where the two pieces are joined).  Make sure to back stitch here so that the seam does not end up being pulled apart. Repeat on the other three corners.

And now the final step in the process is here!  The last thing to do is to sew the hem around the top edge of the liner.  Fold the edge in half an inch with wrong sides facing, and pin in place.  Make sure to separate the two edges from the seams sewn in the previous step and pin them so that they lie flat and are no large bumps in your hem.  Now, I will be the first to admit that I’m not an especially good seamstress, so I cheated a little bit here to help make my hem nice and straight.  Instead of pinning, I used extremely small dots of hot glue every few inches to hold the folded edge of the hem in place while I stitched the final seam.  If you choose to use this trick, make sure to give the glue plenty of time to harden, and use as small of a dot as possible.  Finally, sew that final seam and remove the pins, if applicable.

Now go try your new liner on your basket!  It should fit fairly loosely, but if you think it needs to be a little bit more snug, you can always take in the seams a little bit more.

Now, proudly display your basket with its new accessory!  Try layering this piece with a fabric square to have just a little bit of the knit peeking through for a more subtle use of the fabric.  And as always, if you do make a liner of your own, don’t forget to share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!