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Tutorial: Make a custom picnic set from a thrift store basket!


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This site is no longer being updated so head over to Seamwork to get all the latest patterns, tutorials, video classes, and more.

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At this time of year, my thoughts inevitably turn to picnics. There’s just nothing quite like eating outdoors, and it’s a wonderfully cheap date to boot.

It’s easy to find baskets of all sizes at thrift stores, like this handled one. But they’re made even cuter with a liner.

A drawstring closure helps protect your food, but it can also be folded outward. That way, you can use it as a decorative storage basket when it’s not in use on excursions to the park. And since it’s lined, you get two different looks to play with.

You could even make matching fringe or machine hemstitched napkins if you want!

This basket liner takes just one or two hours. We even made some handy charts for you, to help you calculate the dimensions needed for your basket of choice.

Tools Needed:

  • basket
  • outer fabric
  • inner fabric
  • ruler
  • pen or pencil
  • paper
  • scissors
  • drawstring
  • grommets (optional)

Measure the basket

This is the view of the inside of the basket from the top down. The lighter square represents the bottom of the basket.

  1. Measure inside the basket along the sides B and A.
  2. Measure along the top of the basket along the sides, D and C.
  3. Measure the depth of the basket, E.
  4. Add 1 ¼” to each measurement for the seam allowance. So if A was 6″, it’s now 7 1/4″.

fill in the chart

Now we’re going to fill in our little chart, which will give us the dimensions of our pattern pieces.

  1. Fill in the descriptions for each in the first row (copy example chart below).
  2. Fill in the total seam allowance you’ll be adding in the second row (copy the example chart below).
  3. Fill in your own measurements for each of the measurements you took in the third row.
  4. Add the second and third rows together to get your final measurements.

The last column, Z, is the extra height you want to add to the liner. This is really your choice, depending on how tightly you want it to close.

example chart

Create the pattern pieces

Bottom Pattern Piece: For the bottom of the bag, your piece will be B and A in the shape of a rectangle. Remember to use the final measurments from your chart, not the original measurements you took.

Long Side Pattern Piece: Draw B and mark the middle of the line. With your ruler squared off (at a right angle) at the middle you just marked, draw the length of the E measurement. Square off at E and draw the D measurement, with E marking the middle.

Add height to the piece, using your Z measurement. Draw the D measurement across the top.

Now you will need to extend the sides by ½” on either side as shown. Draw new lines extending from the corners.

Short Side Pattern Piece: This piece is made by tracing the one you just made.

Trace along the side of the Long Piece.

Then draw the length of A across the bottom. Since we added 1/2″ on each side, you will need to add 1” to the C measurement, then draw it at the top.

Move the larger piece over and trace along the other side. This ensures that the pieces match along the sides.

Sew it up

This is really the easy part. We’ll now sew it all together, using standard 5/8″ seam allowances.

1. Cut out two of each side piece and one bottom piece for both lining and outer fabric.

2. With right sides together, stitch the long sides to the short sides along each of the side seams on the outer fabric pieces (we’ll do the lining later).

3. Now we’re going to sew the bottoms in. To make this a little easier, first clip each corner of the side pieces to 5/8″. Match up the bottom with the sides, lining up the side seams with the corners of the bottom. Pin in place.

start sewing

4. Start sewing a few inches from one corner.

corner sewing

5. Stop 5/8″ from the next corner. Sink the needle down. Lift the presser foot. Pivot the fabric and begin sewing again. Having the corner snipped will make this part easier. Continue in this manner as you finish sewing the pieces together.

sew buttonholes

6. Along the top of the seam, sew two button holes 2” apart. Make sure it is about ¼” below the seam allowance.

7. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for the lining.

sew fabric & lining

8. Right sides together, place the lining inside the outer fabric. Now stitch along the top, leaving a 3” hole.

trim seam allowance

9. Trim the seam allowance and pull the fabric to the right side. Almost done now!

iron fabric

10. Press the fabric once it has been pulled to the right side.

handstitch closed

11. Hand stitch the hole closed.

sew drawstring channel

12. Sew a line about 1” from the edge of the fabric. This is the drawstring channel.

insert drawstring

13. Insert a drawstring. Make sure it is several inches longer than the length of the lining. A safety pin can help you guide the drawstring through.

add velcro

14. Using velcro with a sticky back, place at all four corners of the basket, or at intervals if you like. Place corresponding pieces of velcro on the bag. You may need to sew the velcro to the lining for extra support.

There you go, a lovely lined basket that you can use for picnics, storage, or anything else!


  • Add batting for extra cushion. This might be particularly helpful if you transport breakables in it.
  • Use oilcloth for the inner lining. This would be helpful for dealing with spills, of course.
  • Try a fun monochromatic look by using the same color in different tones for each piece.
  • Alternate two colors for each piece such as red and white.

Finally, go out there and get some sun if you can!

Photos and styling by our good friend Anja Verdugo.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 18


That is simply awesome!!! It’s winter here in Australia, but this is on my ‘to do’ list for summer! Thanks for putting in the effort to do this :)


Hey, that’s really cool. My Mom said, that I have to do for her shopping basket, and I did not know, how to work.

Thanks a lot :-)


great idea!! I love it.
one of the home improvement blogs I follow recently did a post on place-mats for a picnic.
Check it out, I was impressed.


Thanks so much for this understandable and doable tutorial. My husband asked me to make lining for a basket for items we take from the house to the motorhome. I will be able to do that now!


You’re awesome, girls! I definitely have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, I’m in love with that nail style.

Have a wonderful summer.


Awesome! I’m especially loving your nails!


Heh, actually Caitlin’s nails! My nails are much rattier lately.


This is the perfect tutorial! I was planning on making a picnic for my boyfriend during the summer and this is great. All I need now is to find a good basket!

Oklahoma Mom

Great job looks wonderful for a day out.

Amanda D.

How cute is this?! Would make a great gift too, now I just need to find a cute basket! :)


Is that a vegan sausage in that photo? :-)

lee lee

That is what I need to make to take to outdoor concerts! This will make awsome gifts.To keep food cool(106 here in the midwest) I will place ice in plastic bags on the bottom. Or I may freeze some water bottles,that don’t leak/
Thankyou for the tutorial!


This is a wonderful tutorial. My mother in law gifted me a basket just like this, which I love, but things do have a tendency to snag on the wicker. A lining will add a great pop of colour and stop the snagging too. oooooh, and I got my niece two tiny baskets like this for her birthday to go with a little tea set, and with your great instructions I can line those too. Thank you so much. Just what I needed!!


What a great idea!! I would love to try this, so perfect for the summer.


Cute! Could make a matching sleeve to hold an ice pack for cooling.


I just did this with vintage Hawai’ian shirts that I got in Hilo. Turned out precious. The whole project costed me less that $20! And I even made cloth napkins!

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