Picnics are a relaxing way to spend time with someone dear. A basket of goodies, a bottle of good wine, a warm day and a scenic spot to lay out a blanket are all you need. Picnic baskets are sold with all kinds of bells and whistles that really are unnecessary. What is necessary is a simple basket that can carry just the things you need. Making your own picnic basket involves only a few materials. By making your own basket, you ensure you have just what you need, just the way you like it.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Tape measure
- Wicker basket with handles and a lid
- Tracing paper
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
Measure the height and width of all four side panels and the bottom of your wicker basket. Add 5 cm (2 inches) to each measurement to allow for a hem, and then create a pattern on tracing paper from those dimensions to make a fabric liner for the inside of the picnic basket.
Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric you have chosen. Gingham is traditional, it is also durable and washable, but not very heavy. You may want to choose a checked fabric that has more thickness to it, but any fabric you choose is fine. Once you have pinned the pattern to the fabric, cut out the pieces one by one, leaving the pins in until you are ready to put the pieces together.
Pin the two sides to the bottom piece of fabric with all of the right sides together. Sew just the bottom edge of the first side pieces to the bottom with the sewing machine. Then, pin the other two side pieces to the bottom piece of fabric, right sides together, and sew just the bottom edges of the sides to the bottom of the fabric. When you have done this, lay the bottom of the fabric into the bottom of the basket so the fabric is right-side out.
Pin all four corners of the interior fabric together. Place the pins vertical to the seams. Sew the corner pieces together one corner at a time with the sewing machine, removing pins as you go to avoid needle breakage. All the seams should be on the outside. Slide the liner into the basket with your hand inside the liner and check the fit. If it is too long at the top, this can be fixed with the hem.
Turn the liner inside out. With a steam iron, fold down and iron flat the edges that will be hemmed at the top of the liner.
Measure around all of the edges of the liner. This is how much fabric hook-and-loop fastener (Velcro) you will need to cut from a roll. Take the female, or fuzzy, side of the fastener and pin it to the hem you just ironed into the lining for the basket. The wrong side of the fastener should be against the wrong side of the liner. Pin the fastener around the edge of the liner vertically, no more than 5 cm (2 inches) apart.
Sew the fastener to the edge of the liner with the sewing machine, removing pins as you progress. You will need to adjust the tension on the sewing machine to accommodate for the thickness of the fastener. Clip off any extra threads and set the liner aside.
Remove any adhesive backing from the male, or sharper edged side of the fastener. Line the entire top, inside rim of the basket with the fastener so the fastener on the liner will connect to it and be held in place when in use. Hook-and-loop fastener adhesive is not the most reliable adhesive, so if you prefer, you can reinforce it with staples from a staple gun. This will ensure that your fastener stays where it belongs.
Spread out and measure a cloth dinner napkin. Using the measurements, create a paper pattern for napkins. Pin the pattern to the remaining cloth, cutting out at least four napkins, or more if you have enough fabric.
Work on a flat surface and use a steam iron to help create the hem around the napkins. Fold each edge 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) and iron flat. Fold again 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) and iron flat on all four sides. Pin the hem vertically to the seam and use the sewing machine to sew the hems, removing pins as you go to avoid breaking the needle. Once sewn, lay the napkins flat and iron them as you fold them into fourths. Once you've ironed the napkins, put them in the basket.
Fill the basket with plastic plates, cups and utensils, a sharp knife, plastic baggies, paper napkins, a wine opener, bottle opener and anything else you think you may need. Pack up a baguette, a bottle of wine, dry salami, cheese and fruit, and have a romantic Saturday afternoon snack with the guest of your choice.
Tips and warnings
- You can make a tablecloth the same way you made the napkins if you have fabric for it. However, for a picnic, you will be likely better off with a nice blanket that will protect you from grass, twigs and pine needles.
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