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Inspired by the papeterie project, I next set to work on a sewing basket.

There is a work basket for Bleuette in a vintage number of Semaine de Suzette (free on The Bleu Door), but it is an open basket, and since mine was going to contain a lot of little stuff, I wanted one that can be closed, at least partially. I found this version in an old Godeys Magazine from 1861 (courtesy of The Victorian Needle who made a life-sized version.)


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The first part was deciding on the measurements and cutting the pieces from cardboard.


  • 1 bottom piece (width x length at bottom),
  • 2 short sides and one interior divider (all three have the same measurements: width x height),
  • 1 lid (width x 1/2 length at top) and
  • 2 angled side pieces (length at bottom/length at top x height). I made the length at top 2 cm more than at the bottom. This is variable depending on your desired shape.
  • For the handle, cut 1 stripe approx. 1 cm wide and in a suitable length to make a nice round shape. Mine is 17cm.

The cardboard pieces also serve as patterns for the fabric.

Except for the handle, which is entirely covered with exterior fabric, each other piece is cut from fabric twice: 1x exterior fabric, 1x interior fabric. If you can, lay out the pieces as they go together and trace and cut the exterior in one piece (allow some room between the pieces for the fabric to go around the corners).

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  1. Glue the cardboard pieces for the four sides and the lid to the corresponding pieces of exterior fabric, making sure there´s some room all around to cover the edges.
  2. Glue the cardboard piece for the interior divider to the corresponding piece of interior fabric, making sure there´s some room all around to cover the edges. Then fold the fabric and glue, so the divider is completely covered with interior fabric. Set aside for the moment. Optional: Take a strip of fabric the width of your basket and fold the sides in to make a ribbon approx. 0.75 cm wide. Sew to one side of the interior divider, making a seam at each side and one in the middle.
  3. Fold the edges of the interior fabric for the bottom piece under and glue; set aside. Do not glue the cardboard bottom on to the fabric yet. This fabric piece will be inserted later!
  4. Fold the upper and side edges of the interior fabric for the long side pieces under and glue; set aside. Do not glue the cardboard on to the fabric yet. This fabric piece will be inserted later!
  5. Fold the upper edge of the interior fabric for the short side pieces under and glue; set aside. Do not glue the cardboard on to the fabric yet. This fabric piece will be inserted later!
  6. Pocket: Cut two rectangles from interior fabric and sew up three sides, right sides together; turn and press. Then sew to one of the prepared interior fabric pieces for the short sides along sides and bottom. The pocket will go on the side that is not covered by the lid.
  7. If you were able to cut the exterior in one piece, this step is not necessary. (I used scraps, so I have to connect the pieces now.) Place the cardboard bottom piece on to one of the side pieces and wrap the (lower) edge of the side piece´s exterior fabric around both. Glue the edge of the side piece´s exterior fabric to the edge of the cardboard bottom piece. This will connect the bottom to the side. Do the same for all four sides and the lid.
  8. Fold the edges of the interior fabric for the lid under and glue down. Then fold the edges of the exterior fabric inside over the cardboard piece and glue down. Now glue the interior fabric on top of the cardboard so it neatly covers the folded-in edges.
  9. On the two long sides, fold the upper edges of the exterior fabric down over the cardboard and glue down.
  10. Now glue the exterior fabric edges on one side of the long side pieces on to the cardboard short side piece. (Don´t do the other side yet.
  11. Set the interior fabric onto the short side that is now attached to the long sides. Glue down.
  12. Repeat steps 9 – 10 for the other side. Set the interior fabric with the pocket onto the short side opposite to the one with the lid.
  13. Set in the interior fabric pieces for the two long sides.
  14. Set in the interior fabric piece for the bottom.
  15. Set in the interior divider.
  16. Attach the handle.

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There´s a lot of neat little stuff that goes into a work basket like this.

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I came across this fascinating discussion  of the subject on reenactors´ pages. Virginia Mescher´s article is just great!

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Needlebook – found via Google Image search and printed out.

Pincushion – cut two fabric circles, sew together (rights sides together) leaving an opening to turn; turn, stuff, close and sew the sections with a long needle and some darning/embroidery floss. The pins are small-headed pins that came with a shirt some time ago.

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Sewing Bird – a small Easter decoration, glued onto a hair clip and painted black.

Darning Mushroom (or Egg) – another old Easter decoration, simply painted.

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Measuring Tape – just a piece of ribbon with the measurement scale drawn on.

Thimble – This piece came from of an old ball-point pen and was just painted.

Scissors – a small decoration/jewelry piece found on ebay.

Buttons – button cards also found via Image Search.

Thread, Ribbons and Lace – the cards and vintage spool labels were found via Image Search, printed out. The tiny spools were craft supplies from ebay.

Safety Pins – came with an old travel sewing set.

Bodkin – made from an old skewer, with a bead glued to the end.

Knitting needles – made like the bodkin.

Lucet – piece of a craft spatula, cut to size and shape. 

Crochet hook – the tip of a skewer was carved into the right shape with a craft knife.

Button hook – the handle was also made from a skewer. A hole was punched into one end with a large needle, and the hook (part of a bent paperclip) inserted. An alternative way to make a button hook was suggested in Wren*Feathers Victorian doll project (linked in the previous post).

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