Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pimp My Bike: Basket Liner Tutorial

I have the CUTEST bike evah.  I love.love.love it.  We sell a lot of bikes at Greenies but none have captured my heart they way the Tree of Life has.  It is an Alexander Girard limited edition Electra and riding it is one of the happiest things I do. 

 I finally broke down and exchanged my light for a basket this winter.  Its a fun wicker quick release but it was needing a little sumthin.  So I used my mad skills to make a liner for it. And I was so excited that it actually turned out how I pictured it in my head. So I wrote out a tutorial for you so you can learn how to make your own basket liners.  This would work great for easter baskets too.  You can read the full tutorial after the jump...

{I promise you should read the whole thing because this liner has the sweetest little pockets you've ever seen!  

All right you ready to rock?! So first things first we are going to make your pattern. {This is for an oval or circle basket FYI}  Actually first you need to read through the directions.  Because there is an option for making it reversible.

Can you read all those markings on my oval?  Here's what we do.  On some craft paper trace the bottom of your basket.  Cut out the shape.  Now using your measuring tape measure the circumference of the bottom of your basket and the top, writing down your numbers on your first pattern piece.  Now most round baskets are going to be bigger around at the top then the bottom.  Mine was 35 inches around at the bottom and 45 inches around at the top.  If yours is the same then you are in luck you get to just use my measurements.  If not then here's the math you need to do. {My measurements are in brackets}

Base X {35} divided by 2 = Y {17.5} + 1 {seam allowance} =  Z {18.5}

Top X {45} divided by 2 =Y {22.5} +1 {seam allowance} = Z {23.5} 

It helps to write it all out so you know exactly what you need to cut.  You also need to measure how tall your basket is plus any allowance for going over the edge.  I did 12 inches HEIGHT for my basket. 

Now to make your pattern piece for the sides.  Measure out your top z measurement {here its 23.5} and mark it.  Then measure down your  paper the HEIGHT {12 inches} and draw a parallel line.  Here's where it is a little tricky.     My base Z measurement  is 18.5 which is 5 inches shorter than my top Z measurement.  So I measured in 2.5 inches from both sides of my top measurement and marked those spots on my second parallel line.  That gives me the angles on the sides I need.  Then I cut out my pattern piece.  It should look like the picture on the right up there.  If you click on the picture you should be able to see my markings if that makes it any clearer.  

Phew!  The math is always the hardest part for me.  Now that we got the worst of it over its time to cut out your pattern pieces.  You are also going to need some bias tape.  A 3 yard package was the perfect amount.  Of course you are more than welcome to make your own but white is perfect for mine.  Just make sure you have 3 yards.  And since we are doing a round shape you are gonna need a lot of pins.  Ugh.  I hate pinning too but you need to do it.  

Ok now on to sewing.  First take your side pieces and sew the shorts sides right sides together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  You will now have a tube of fabric.  Serge or clip your seams with pinking shears.  Now for the tricky pinning.  With rights sides together pin your bottom piece to the bottom part of your tube that is smaller { Your X measurement side}  Make sure and match up your side seams to the middle of your oval. I always press stuff to get the middle perfect.   Start to  pin in the direction of the arrows.  This will move all of the extra fabric to the corners...  

...So you can put a pleat in each corner.  Once you have it all pinned sew all around the oval using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  It will look like that middle picture when you are done.  Finish your seams.  Now try it out in your basket!  The pleat in the corner gives it a bit of strength to stand up better.  

Did you notice our little problem.  {Dont worry I knew that was going to happen}  If your basket has handles then your liner wont go around them.  But don't worry its an easy fix.  Mark on your liner where it meets your handle  Then cut a j shaped notch out of your liner like that third picture on bothe sides.  I think mine went in about 1.5 inches and down 3.  Now your liner will go around your handle just fine!  

{+++Here is where you would add pockets to a reversible liner.  If you want to make your liner reversible you would repeat the previous steps with a coordinating fabric.  Then place one liner in the other with WRONG SIDES together. +++}

 We are almost there!  First take your bias tape and pin on to your notches like that top picture. I just started at one end of the bias tape and when I got the notch pinned I cut it.  Do the same with the other side.  Then you don't have to guess how much you need.     Stitch down with a narrow seam allowance.  After you've got those done take the remaining long piece of bias tape and cut it in half.  Pin on each unfinished edge of your liner.  Sew that with a narrow hem as well.  Now we should be in business!  

Put it in your basket and tie up the sides.  TA DA!  How cute is that?  But see that look on my face?  Hmmm I'm thinking.  It sure would be nice to have some pockets in there...

{+++If you are going to add pockets and are making your liner reversibly make sure and add them before you do the bias tape.+++}

I think that I just made the cutest and easiest pockets.  Seriously.  Doilies?  I submit that pockets can't get much cuter.  I picked a couple different sizes up at Joanns and embellished them a little bit.  After that all I had to do was pin them in place and zig zag stitch around them a couple of times leaving the tops open.  

Now I have the essentials like my phone and chapstick with in easy reach.  While I'm cruising along.  And just so you know that bigger pocket holds a bottle of dry soda perfectly.  Who wants to ride bikes with me?!

Thirty Hand Made Days



  1. Three things:
    Love your bike
    Love this tutorial
    Love that last shot of you! You're so beautiful, Jen.

    p.s. I'm going to have to have you teach me that handy "read more" trick. SO cool!

  2. Your basket is so cute! I want a bike now just so I can have a basket and make a basket liner. :-)

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. SUPER cute! I have a metal basket but I'd much prefer a wicker one like yours. Happy riding :)

  4. How gorgeous! Love the doily pockets! Your bike and basket look very chic! Great job!

    I would love if you came over and linked this project to my weekly Round Tuit party at:
    Have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  5. I love this basket! How fun will it be to ride that bike! And i agree, you're gorgeous!

  6. Thanks for this great tutorial!

  7. This is darling. That bike is awesome. Thank you for sharing how to make a liner because I have many I would like lined!

  8. This is such a great idea! I love it! Awesome photos, too!
    I would love for you to share it at my linky party @ {nifty thrifty sunday}!

    PS: I'm a new follower!

  9. haha! I love the title of this post. and you! you are so adorable. great idea, i love those doiley pockets :)
    Thanks for linking up to Your Whims Wednesday!! Hope to see ya again this week :)

  10. I so wanted to make a liner for mine. Diff size & bigger though. Hmm. I love your blog name! too cute! Maybe I can change up a bit! Thx for sharing!

  11. I have been searching for weeks...maybe more. It's all a blur now. Thank you for such a great little tutorial. It was exactly what I was looking for!! Can't wait to give it a shot.

  12. Thank you for this tutorial. I want a liner for the same basket on my Electra Townie. I had no idea where/how to begin. Came across your tutorial during a search. I'm buying fabric this weekend.

  13. Thanks for the inspiration. My basket is metal mesh, so I'm going to make it double sided, with a sherpa lining to make it cozy for my dog.
    btw that's the most beautiful bike I've ever seen

  14. Thanks so much for posting the tutorial and taking care of the math and measurements for me!! I have a custom Hawaii and used your pattern to make an oilcloth liner (luv oilcloth for grocery store and farmer's market runs). Happy cruising.

  15. Fantastic just been looking for a basket liner,
    got a new bike & basket today so will definately be getting out my vintage sewing machine and running one of these up with the doilie pockets brilliant idea
    Thank you very much
    ps luv your bike

  16. Thanks! I followed your tutorial and made a great basket liner for my bike basket on my Electra Townie today.

  17. Love.Love.Love.

    Any chance you are willing to make and sell one. I have zero crafty skills and would just LOVE to have one of these covers for my electra basket on my gigi.

    Let me know if you are making more. If so, you have a buyer.

    Happy biking...

  18. Thanks for the instructions. Love my bike and a little tip for you. Get one of those head lamps on a rubber strap. It fits around the basket and angles up and down so you still have a light. These lights are great for sewing tiny details as it really puts the light where you need it!

  19. Love this, thank you so much for the tute! I had a wicker bike basket to dress up all purdy and have spent the evening happily making a liner like yours. You're a star!

  20. fantastic tutorial - thanku! i shall give this a go and post a link when i'm done ;) thanks again x

  21. AnonymousJune 11, 2012

    I have the same basket!! I just bought a vinyl type of fabric to make the liner (waterproof). Thanks for doing the measurements for me!! Your pockets are cute, but I want a bigger pocket with elastic at the top to keep things from bouncing around. My bike is also an Electra - red with white Hawaiian flowers all over it. Thanks again!

  22. So great, thanks for sharing. Despite not having touched a sewing machine for 30 years...I borrowed my mum's machine and made this gorgeous basket liner for my brand new bike. Super happy. Thank you!!!

  23. Thank you for the great tutorial. I couldn't have figured out the measurements without you.

  24. Great tutorial! I have the same bike in the yellow tulip design, and I love it dearly! Wanted to share a link I found on moving the bike lamp down to accommodate a basket. http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancingisland/2556882765/ Electra will tell you that they don't sell the bracket, but it's on the LED light. Mine just arrived and I'm using that bracket and my original generator light. Can't wait to install my basket...after it's lined, of course! ;)


  25. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

    Can Liners

  26. Jenn, how many sides do you cute before sewing them together to make a tube? thanks!

  27. Jenn, Thanks to your great instructions I was able to make a liner for my new Electra Townie! I added a shoulder strap and button with a tab so that I can take it out and use it as a tote when I get to the beach. If anyone is using these instructions to make a liner for an Electra wire basket take note that both sides are not the same size and the handle sits toward the back. I discovered this a bit late, but mine still fits. Good thing I made a larger notch! Now if I can just find some cool stickers my customization project will be complete.


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