How-to Make Decorative Baskets, Another Cute Christmas in July Project

The first project in our Christmas in July Extravaganza was making rag strip Christmas trees…and if you missed it, be sure to check it out.

Now we’re going to take a look at how-to spruce up baskets for gift-giving or for decorating your home during the holidays.


  • Basket
  • Fabric (size will depend on the size of the basket you’re using, see below for how to measure)
  • Trim
  • Batting (again, size will be determined by size of basket)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Embroidery floss, or other sturdy string
  • Optional: Other trims or embellishments

Choosing a basket: You can use baskets that are round or oval.  This project is easiest with baskets that are coarsely woven, or are woven with heavier materials.  A smooth basket will not hang on to the fabric as well.  Also, a basket with fairly straight up-and-down sides is easier to work with.  A basket with steeply slanted sides makes it easy for the fabric to slide down and off the basket.  Personally, I like the way baskets with handles look, but I have used baskets and glass bowls that have no handle.

Time for project: This project takes about two to three hours in total.

  1. Cut two circles out of fabric: We need two circles of fabric, either two circles out of the same fabric, or one circle out of two each coordinating fabrics.  First you need to measure for your circles.  For the sake of this how-to, we will measure for a round basket.  Measure across the bottom of the basket (the diameter of the circle) and add two inches (for the room of the “seam” between the bottom and the sides).  Measure the height of the side of the basket x 2 (one measurement is only adding to the radius, we want the measurement to be added in the whole diameter).  Add 1/2″ x 2 for the room between the sides and the bulk of the top of the sides of the basket.  Decide how big you want the finished ruffle to be (I used a 1 inch ruffle) X 2.  Add 1 inch to make room for a casing and for any seams (I use 1/2″ casing for the gathering around the top and 1/2″ for the seam on the outer circle and for making room to sew in the trim on the outer edge).
  2. Determine size of circle: Using all of these measurements, you will come up with the size of your fabric circles.  I’ll give you the measurements of my basket and circles and how I came up with the total as an example: The basket has a 10″ circle on the bottom and a side height of 5″:  10″ + 2″ + 5″ + 5″ + 1/2″ + 1/2″ + 1″ +1″ + 1″ = 26″ circles.
  3. Make the circle pattern: I taped together a bunch of pieces of copy paper to make myself a pattern.  Then I measured out the center point of the paper and drew measured lines through the center point, in the length of my measured circle diameter.  You may have some much simpler way, but that’s what I came up with for drawing out a big circle.  Then I cut out the paper pattern and used it on the fabric circles.
  4. Pin the circles together: Right sides facing each other, with the trim you want in between the two circles.  You want the trim edge along the edge of the circles, with the trim top edge towards the center of the circles.  I used bright tape in this project so that the pictures would come out easy-to-see for the post (that did work, it just meant I had to do more steps than if I had pinned all three of these layers and sewed together at one time).
  5. The circles already turned right-side-out, showing the cut in the circle I made for turning.

    Turn the circles right-side-out: Once the circles and trim are all sewn together, slice a cut in the center of one of the circles.  You will want the opening to be on the circle that is going to ultimately be on the inside, facing the bottom of the basket.  This print will show up on the top edge of the circle in the ruffle, but the opening here won’t show as it will be underneath the bottom of the basket on the inside.  I made the cut only as far as about a third away from the outer edge.  Don’t cut the slit further than where you will be stitching the casing for gathering the ruffle.

  6. Turn the circles right-side-out through the slice.  The circles will end up right-side-out and the trim will now be facing outwards from the circles.
  7. Make a casing: Smooth out the circles.  Sew a casing around the circles, leaving the measurement of the ruffle.  I made my ruffle one inch, so the first row of stitches for the casing is one inch away from the edge of the circles.  Sew another row of stitches 1/2″ away from the first row of stitches.  I used a straight stitch.
  8. Add batting inside the circles: Cut a circle of batting to fit inside the circles, the size will be the size of the circle up to the edge of the casing.  Place the batting inside the circle and smooth it out.  The batting will make the whole thing nice and puffy around the basket.
  9. String the casing: Make a small slit in one layer of the fabric of the casing to put your sting inside of the casing.  Use a safety pin or a paper clip to work the piece of string or strong thread through the casing.  I used embroidery floss.
  10. Gather the circles around the basket: Once you have the string pulled through the casing, set the basket in the center of the circle.  Pull both ends of the string to gather the circle up and around the basket.  You can work the gathers a bit as you go, getting the ruffle even around the top of the basket.  Once you have it nice and tight and spaced where you want it, tie off the ends of the string.
  11. Optional: You can add embellishments to the basket at this point.  Try using a flat trim or even a lace to glue around the bottom of the ruffle where the casing is.  I have used laces, cords, sparkly trim, and hemp cord on other baskets.  I have also used different kinds of embellishments to add a bit of flare, gluing them down after I’ve added the trims at this point.  You can use silk flowers, sequin embellishments, Christmas ornaments, wood shapes, etc.
  12. Optional: You can add a circle of one of the fabrics with a piece of batting underneath and glue it into the bottom of the inside of the basket.  I did not do that on this basket, but I have done that before and it looks great.

These work great for other occasions as well.  I have used these for birthday gifts, shower gifts, wedding presents…I have also used them to decorate tables for parties and showers and other holidays.  I always keep an eye out for baskets and fabrics at thrift stores and yard sales, and when I’m taking goodies to a party or event, these are quick and easy to make and they look great!

P.S. I also decorated a small glass bowl, one of those ruffly-edged glass bowls from the craft store that are always on sale super cheap.  Looks a bit like a fish bowl…I had one on hand from some other crafting extravaganza, so I tried this whole thing and put it on the little glass bowl to see how it worked.  Here’s a pic for you, I think the ruffle was a bit overwhelming for the bowl, I would probably make it a bit smaller next time around.


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