How To Sew: Gathered Easter Baskets


A simple, circular, gathered easter basket


We’re all ready for some Easter treats at Toyota HQ, and what better way to store them than in our own adorable baskets? These cute little Easter goodies baskets are the perfect way to hand out your eggs and chocolates, and are superbly simple to make. There’s nothing tricky to this tutorial, and you can stitch these sweet little sews up in no time!


Getting Ready


  • Outer fabric
  • Lightweight sew-in interfacing
  • Lining fabric
  • Contrast fabric for binding edges and handle
  • Two buttons


Lining, interfacing and outer fabric circles


To prepare, cut a large circle out of your three basket fabrics, using a circular template or object to draw around. We used a circular template that was 9 inches across, roughly the size of a dinner plate! Measure all the way around one of the circles or calculate the circumference, and then halve that. Cut a rectangle of your contrast fabric to match the halved length and about 4 inches wide – our circumference was roughly 28 inches, so our rectangle is 4 inches by 14 inches of our contrasting fabric. Press the two edges in to meet at the middle (right sides facing out), and then press in half again, so you have a length of your own bias binding.



Sewing and Gathering

Once your pieces are ready, sandwich your interfacing between your lining and outer fabrics both with the wrong sides facing the interfacing, and pin the circles in place. Sew a line of gathering stitch (a long straight stitch) as close to the edge as you can. Sew a second line of gathering stitch about a quarter of an inch in from the first. Both of your gathering stitches should be within one inch from the edge, to allow you to hide them under your bias binding later. Remember your gathering stitch should stop before it meets the start of the line again.

Sewing two lines of gathering stitch


Once your gathering stitches are in place, grab the two end threads on either side, and gently tug them out of the fabric – as the gathers pull into place, push them firmly away from the end you’re pulling. Keep pulling and pushing until the gathered edge measures half of what it did before, then tie your ends off and space the gathers out evenly. You should have a bowl shaped basket with a lovely gathered top!


Gathering around the edges of the circles to form a basket


Binding the Basket

Once you’ve finished gathering, it’s time to cover up those unsightly raw edges. Take your bias binding, and open it up. Fold the two short edges inwards, so there will be no raw edges at the ends. With the inside of the bias binding facing you, pin it along the basket, with the top edge of the binding just underneath the bottom gathering stitch. Overlap the two ends where they meet. Sew right along the top edge of the bias binding with a straight stitch – take this sewing slowly, as you’ll have to keep turning the basket which is quite fiddly!

Attaching the first edge of the bias binding

Fold the bias binding over the top of the basket and down the inside, encasing the raw edges. Ensuring that the bottom edge of the bias binding is below the bottom line of the gathering stitch, pin into place and press. Top stitch as close to the bottom edge as you can, again going slowly to move the basket around! Once the bias binding is secure, press again for a clean edge.


Raw edges covered with bias binding


Your basket is almost ready! For easy transport in little hands though, we’ll be adding a handle in our contrast fabric. Cut a wide rectangle of your contrast fabric and your interfacing, about 4.5 inches wide and 7 inches long. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, and then fold them in half with the right sides facing. Press flat, and then sew a straight stitch down the open long edge.


Contrast fabric and interfacing to make the handle


Using a pencil, knitting needle, or chopstick (or anything else long and thin!), push the handle inside out, so the right side is on the outside and the seam is hidden inside. Push the two open short ends in, and press them flat. Top stitch across both short ends as close to the edge as you can to finish the handle. Press the handle flat.

Sewn and pressed handle


Fold your basket in half, and mark the opposite points with two pins. Pin one end of the handle to each point, with the end of the handle extending down slightly below the bottom of the bias binding. Do a short length of straight stitch in the middle of each handle (not the whole way across), going backwards and forwards a few time to secure it.


Attach the handle with a short straight stitch right in the middle


Take your buttons, and hand sew them onto each end of the handle, hiding the machine sewing you used to secure the handle in place! This method means that the handle should stay put, no matter how enthusiastically your little baskets get swung around! If you’d prefer to have a removable handle, simply stitch the button straight onto the basket, and sew a buttonhole onto each end of the handle rather than sewing it in place.


Add a button to the handle to hide the machine stitching

Now all that’s left is to fill them with goodies and hand them over! Don’t worry about wasting them either – after Easter these are great to use to store cosmetics or toiletries, keys, change, or anything else that causes some clutter. We’d love to see your finished projects (and what you’re using it for) over on our Facebook page or Twitter account too, so pop over and share your beautiful baskets when they’re finished. Happy Easter!

A 2014 Round-Up: Top Trends This Year


Another year of crafts and creations is drawing to a close, and it’s time to look back again over the trends we’ve sewn with. We’ve sifted through piles of tutorials, pinterest boards, blogs, lists and more to find out what really got us going in 2014. Join us as we review our year of fabrics, fashions and fun – and a quick look at Toyota in the New Year.


Be a dear, Deer!

Last year we were full of foxy feelings, and before the fox came the owl… but the new king of the woodland this year is definitely the deer! From fabric stags heads to fawn print cottons, these four-legged friends have lent charm to our clothes, homes and accessories. With homey, rustic charm the deer and stag have been a cosy addition to the year.



Not Over Yet, Knitwear!

A knitted jumper never used lurks in every wardrobe across the country – but this year we finally set them free and fabulous. Recycled, re-purposed and restyled, we’ve loved our old jumpers more than ever before. We’ve seen them in blankets and quilts, tunics and dresses, tea cosies and cosy slippers, and we love each and every one. Head to toe in cable knit feels like a fantastic way to end the year.



Promising Polka Dots

There’s a lot more than we think to the humble polka dot, and while it’s always a staple of home and wardrobe it’s really been pulling its weight this year! From big bright and bold to subtle and small, the polka dot has something to offer for everyone – but our bigger winner for 2014 is the classic bright colour white polka dot combination. This enduring favourite has a charming vintage chic, and works especially well with candy colours.



Fun With Free Motion Embroidery

We’ve had a big year for embroidery at Toyota HQ, with our Oekaki Renaissance launch looking to get everyone having a go at some creative crafting. So of course, we’ve been pleased to see how popular it’s been this year! Free motion embroidery is a great, expressive way to add extra life to clothes, home wares or accessories – and a big hit in the world of textile art as well! Whether you’re adding a small embellishment to your gifts tags or you’re whipping up a wall-hanging wonder, free motion embroidery has something to add.



A Look Forward

We certainly won’t be letting these trends go without a second thought, but we’re excited to what new fun we can have in 2015. While we look over our hopes for the new year (tartans? birds? dip-dye? The choices are endless!) why not tell us about what you’d like to see more of. If there’s a technique you’re wary of or something you’d love to learn, let us know! Head over to our facebook or twitter to tell us what you’d like to see in 2015. Don’t be shy!


Tips For Beginners: Sewing Basics


Sewing is becoming an increasingly popular hobby these days, you can see it on TV shows and in magazines, and it’s becoming much more admirable to say to someone “Oh, I made it myself!”. However, we know it can be intimidating though to sit before a sewing machine for the first time! Starting off a project can be daunting when you’ve not tried before, and we’ve all had a fabric we didn’t want to waste or a pattern we didn’t want to ruin, so we understand feeling overwhelmed. To help completely new sewers along (or to remind our veterans who’ve picked up bad habits) we’ve got a short guide of basic sewing tips for you to keep in mind when you’re ready to get started.


Firstly, Safely

Sewing may not be an extreme sport exactly, but it’s good to make sure you’re safe before you start. The big three are as follows:

  • Make sure your machine is switched off when you set up, and when you’re finished using it.
  • Make sure your presser foot is down before you start sewing.
  • Make sure you’re set up on a sturdy table, and your cables are out of the way of anyone walking by!

Knowing Your Fabric

Before you start off sewing, take a look at the fabric you’re using. Different fabrics need to be handled in different way: a knitted fabric will need a ball pointed needle to ensure it doesn’t snag. Leather and denims will need much sturdier needles to ensure they don’t break in the fabric. Different fabrics also require different tensions, get to know your tension setting and adjust it for very thick or very thin fabrics. Spend a little time getting to know your fabric and how to handle it (don’t be afraid to ask when you’re buying it!)


Even if you’re happy with how to set up your machine for the fabric you’ve chosen, test your settings first. Once you have a tension setting, needle and stitch, take a scrap of your fabric and trial run what you’re going to do. That way if anything has been set up wrong, you won’t damage your project pieces with unpicking. This is especially useful for things like decorative stitches or button holes, that can be very difficult to unpick.



Don’t Skip The Details

It can be frustrating when you’re sewing your first big piece (or even your first little one!) and a lot of things might seem like they’re just slowing you down. Don’t be fooled!


Firstly, if you’re working from a pattern, make sure you read it all the way through before you begin! Ensure you have enough fabric, understand all the terms used, and know roughly what you’ll be doing. It will be easier for you from the beginning if you know what the pieces you’re cutting are and how they’re used, as well as making it less confusing for you if you take a break and come back to it later.


Don’t forget to mark your notches so you can match up seams – it can seem time consuming if you have a lot of notches but it’s important to be able to line your seams up perfectly, so you get nice flat joins on your finished piece. An uneven match will lower the quality of your finished piece.


Iron your fabric – spending time ironing might seem tedious, but working with a flat smooth fabric will give you a much more professional finish as well as making it easier for you to sew (less chance of bumps and folds in your seams). Remember to also iron your seams after they’ve been sewn, to straighten them out and create a smooth, sharp shape!


Backstitching at the start and ends of your seams will give your items much more stability and make them last longer. At the start of your seam, sew for about an inch and then reverse stitch back over it. Sew forward again as normal and once you reach the end, reverse stitch back over what you’ve done for another inch. A little backstitching on your seams will help stop them from breaking and splitting apart.


Finally, always take your pins out while you’re sewing! It can be tempting to sew right over a pin and take them all out at the end, but you run the risk of hitting one with the needle, potentially damaging your machine. It can also damage your fabric if the bent pin gets stuck in the machine and you have to tug it out!



These basic tips will make your sewing experience smoother and leave your finished projects looking smart! Don’t worry, we know there’s much more you’ll want to know about sewing from here, so don’t forget to check out our other blogs for tips and tutorials, and watch our video guides to get to know your sewing machine better. If you have a question you need answering or a project you’re proud of, like our facebook or follow us on twitter, drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

How To Sew: Fabric Storage Boxes


This great little project solves two problems at once – what to do with all the odds and ends of fabric you have leftover, AND where to keep the ones you don’t use to make it! Fabric baskets are a great way to put a pop of colour into your storage, and a quick and easy project anyone can manage.

Getting ready


Fabric of choice (a stiffer fabric works best for the outside)
Interfacing (if your outer fabric will need some support!)
Card for template if required
Any decorative supplies you wish to use


Sewing machines
Scissors or rotary cutter
Pen or pencil

Preparing the fabric

First, you’ll want to cut out your basic pieces. To make the box, simply find yourself something square, and draw around it. Add another box next to each of the 4 sides, and you’re done! 4 edges connected to the base – it should look like a big plus sign. Cut out one for your outer fabric and your inner fabric, as well as one of your interfacing if your fabrics aren’t sturdy. As I’m using quite a plain outer material, I’ve appliquéd a square of patterned fabric onto each of my box sides, for a faux patchwork feel – but you can decorate them however you like. Make sure to do it at the beginning while the fabric is flat, before you start sewing everything together!
I’ve also ironed some creases into my thicker outer fabric, to make it easier to shape later. I’ve simple folded each of the 4 outer side over the base square, and ironed along the fold.

the outside fabric with the patches sewn on, and the lining


To add some texture to the lining, and extend my quilt/patchwork theme, I’ve added a small flower motif scattered around the inside fabric. I’ve created these using and thread colour that closely matches the main colour of the fabric, and the flower stitch attachment foot. For this shape, I’ve set my sewing machine to a long wavy stitch on the largest circle, which produces a simple 5 petal flower.


embroidered detail made with the flower foot attachment


Sewing them up

Once your two fabrics are cut out and decorated, take them one at a time and fold it in half diagonally across the middle square. It should turn into an L-shape, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. If you’re using interfacing, work it at the same time as the outer lining. Pin the L-shape together, and sew along the two edges that lead up to the diagonal line. Once they’re secure, open the fabric up as much as you can, and then fold the fabric again in the same manner – but diagonally between the two corners you haven’t sewn up to yet.


the two edges to sew after folding


Congratulations, you should now have two boxes to work with! Place the outer fabric box inside the lining fabric box, with the right side facing each other (so the outer fabric box has RS facing out, the lining fabric box has RS facing in). Use a pencil or the ends of your scissors to poke the corner down into each other and ensure seams all line up, then pin along the top edge of the boxes. Sew a seam long 3 of the 4 edges, leaving the 4th one open to allow you to turn the box inside out.


leave one side open to turn the basket out


pulling the lining out through the open edge


Finishing off

Once you’ve pulled the lining out through the open top edge, iron down the 3 edges you have already sewn to flatten them out, and iron down the outer and lining fabrics of the open edge. This will make it easier to sew them together!  Slip stitch the open edge closed, and iron it out flat. It’s worth working the tip of iron right down into the bottom corners and along all the seamed edges to really bring out the shape nicely.


slip stitch open edge closed to finish


If you make one, tow, or a whole host of these, we’d love to hear about them. Why not show us some photos on our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account!

A 2013 Round-up: Top Trends This Year


With the year drawing to a close we’re going to take a look back at the trends that hit the sewing and crafting world this year, with some interesting new fashion trends Toyota are ready to start the New Year with a bang!

What Does The Fox Say?

Woodland animals have been popular prints for years, ideal for cute toddler dresses, homewares or even a kitchsy blouse for yourself. But this year was definitely the year of the fox, with cute fox fabric popping up everywhere from Urban Outfitters shirts, to beautiful foxy fabric from designer Robert Kaufman.


DIY Denim

Denim is always a staple, but now you can DIY your denim by trying out some of the up-cycling trends this year. With the Super Jeans machine is designed especially as a denim sewing machine, so grab your old jeans and make some dip-dye lace shorts!

Chic Chevrons

Geometric prints have taken a turn away from the 80s fluro and a more subtle, pretty approach in 2013. The chevron has been a key pattern for home furnishings that are modern and fun. Making homewares such as cushions and quilts make great quick projects and Toyota’s fantastic range of beginner sewing machines means that anyone can whip up a pretty handmade piece.

Creative Embroidery

Embroidery is a fantastic way to add interest to clothing, homewares and quilts, and we’ve been seeing more creative embroidery on the high street this year. Toyota’s range of embroidery machines, from Oekaki World make the ideal addition to your sewing repertoire and can create some fun and organic designs.

A Look Forward

With a look towards the new year we can prepare some fun ideas for creative projects. Do you have a new skill you want to learn? A technique you’ve never tried or something you’ve been dying to work on? Let us know!

How To Sew: Christmas Bauble Pockets


It’s nearly a month ‘til Christmas, and we’re starting to feel festive! Nothing makes the festive season feel more personal than spending an evening making your own decorations, which is just what we’ve done! These cute little bauble decorations have a pocket inside to put sweets and treats in, and we think the hidden treasure inside make them twice as fun to have around!

christmas pocket baubles


This project is an easy one that’s great for beginners or children (with supervision of course). That’s not to say you experienced sewers won’t enjoy it of course – although these quick little baubles are simple to put together, there are endless possibilities for decorating and you can get as extravagant as you like. With accessories, cut outs, hand embroidery, fabric painting or even with some of the decorative stitch settings on your sewing machine! As well as being festive fun, these are a great use for fabric scraps, ribbon, and left over craft items and good to clear out stash leftovers. Get as creative as you can!

Getting ready


Fabric of choice (felts or stiffer fabrics work best)


Ribbon for hanging tabs

Card for template if required

Extra ribbons, beads, fabric, felt, glitter etc. for decorating


Sewing machine

Scissors or rotary cutter


Pen or pencil

materials and supplies

Our first step is choosing the pattern! I used a simple round shape, but more vintage bauble shapes like elongated drops, stars or hearts could look lovely. You could use a mix of shapes and sizes for something a bit more fun. There are plenty of free templates on the internet if you want to try something more exciting! For this plain circle template, you can simply draw around something of the right size, about 5 inches across – I’m using the spool my ribbon came on! For other shapes, draw a template out on to some card, and cut carefully around it.

Making the baubles

On to your fabric, draw around your template – remember for each bauble you need two of the shape you’re cutting, one for the front and one for the back. Cut out the pieces and match them up into pairs. For each back piece, cut a length of ribbon 4 inches long. Fold the ribbon in half, and pin with the two ends roughly ¼ of the way down from the top of the bauble. Sew a wide zigzag over the ends of the ribbon to secure the hanging tab and stop the ends from fraying away.

Adding the tabs

Before you attach the back piece to the front piece, you’ll want to make sure any decoration that has to be sewn on is completed (if
you’re hand sewing or gluing bulky decorations such as beads or buttons on, or using fabric paints and glitter, leave these until the
end instead). A great easy decoration is to take a length of ribbon the width of the bauble, pin it across the middle and sew along the long edges in a decorative thread.

Once your front pieces are decorated, take the back pieces and pin one to each front. Because these decorations are so small, I’m using a decorative sparkly thread and am letting the stitching show – the plain sides of both fabric pieces are inside. If you have a thinner
fabric, or prefer not to have the stitching visible, have the decorated side and the tab side facing each other on the inside when you pin. (For this method, you may have to cut small notches into the edge of the fabric up to the stitching, to allow you to turn it inside out without wrinkles). When you sew around the edges, remember leave an opening about an inch down from the top of the bauble, so that you can pop your little presents inside!

Attaching the pieces

Finishing up

When the tabs, front and back are attached, simply tie off and trim your threads, iron flat if necessary, and hang them up! Once you’ve finished your baubles, they’re very versatile to use around the house – why not use them to hang sweets on your Christmas tree, or small toys for children? If you have the time, making 25 and hanging them as a wall bunting is a great alternative to a traditional advent calendar, with toys or treats in for each day! You can even make the decorations into to numbers to help kids count the days until Christmas!

hanging the baubles

Happy sewing everyone! If you make a set of these, we’d love to hear about it. Why not take some photos and post them to our Facebook page or tweet them at our Twitter account! Tell us what you used to decorate them, and how you’re using the finished thing!