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!

Tips for Beginners: Rolled Hems


What is a rolled hem?

Rolled hems are a very small turned hem finished with a straight stitch. They’re made by rolling up the raw edge until it’s hidden by a small hem, then flattening the hem down and straight stitching down the middle. They’re easiest to work with lightweight woven fabrics such as cottons, silks and voile, and work well on a slightly curved hemline. The light delicate nature and simple straight stitch securing makes them perfect for the bottoms of skirts and dresses, or intimate items such as babydolls or your favourite frilly knickers! As they can sometimes add a slight wave to the hemline, try to avoid using them on straight edged areas such as armholes.

Rolled hems by machine

An extremely delicate rolled hem can be achieved with hand stitching, but don’t despair if your hand sewing isn’t quite up to scratch. With practice, a machined rolled hem can be just as perfect as a hand one, and using your sewing machine can really speed up the process. If you’re making large items, or lots of small ones, why not give it a try on your machine!

The easiest way to create a rolled hem on a machine is to use a specialised roll hem foot like this one. These roll and tuck the fabric for you as you sew, speeding up the process and ensuring you get an evenly sized hem!
First, make a normal straight stitch and backstitch over the first inch of your hem, and cut the threads (leave the threads quite long). This anchoring will help you smoothly pull the hem through the first few troublesome inches of the roll hem.

With your secure stitching in place, roll the first few inches oh your hem and place it into the gap of the roll foot. Pull gently on the threads you left hanging as you sew, to ease it through the foot. Then simply slowly sew along your hem, helping to roll the fabric into the foot when needed.

Tips and tricks

  1. Trim your fabric very neatly, a couple of inches at a time, to reduce any fraying. The neater the edge you work with the easier the roll hem!
  2. Keep a pin or awl on hand to help manipulate the fabric into the roll – changes in hem thickness (such as sewing over seams) can slightly jump your fabric out of place. Helping to ease the fabric back in place will keep your hem neat.
  3. As in all cases of sewing, the magic trick is to be patient! Although they can be tricky to get to grips with, a rolled hem should be easy to turn out if you take your time as you go. A little less speed can save a lot of unpicking! Why not try the method out on some fabric scraps first, to get used to the foot?

Without a roll hem foot

If you don’t have a roll hem foot, you can use a presser foot instead!

  1. Sew a straight stitch 1/4” from your raw edge, and fold the hem up from your straight stitch
  2. Sew another straight stitch a tiny 1/8” in from the edge
  3. Trim the raw edge away as close as you can get to your stitching
  4. Fold once more, just enough to encase the raw edge (you want as small a fold as you can)
  5. Then press into position and straight stitch again down the middle of the hem!

If you’re still struggling to handle the roll hem, why not message us through facebook or twitter letting us know what’s going on. We’re always happy to help you out, and we love to see your creations!

Fit Like A Glove


Fit like a glove



Now that cold nights are here to stay for a while…why not give sewing yourself a snug fit of funky fur or fleece gloves a go to warm up your spirits, and your hands!! They are simple to make and make great personalised gifts for others too. Keep your hands warm on the move, I mainly feel the cold when I’m driving or in the office typing…so I’ve made my own fleece gloves to keep my hands cosy and they are always catching people’s eyes…try them, you’ll love it!!















I also often find my hands get cold quickly because I have a touch screen phone and have to remove the whole glove to operate it, or, wear mittens and the tips of my fingers freeze…so, why not make these gloves with a little slit in one finger especially to be used to sneak out your main finger to touch your phone with and type or even just to quickly answer calls with!!

  1. Draw around one of your hands and add a 1.5cm seam allowance around the outer edge, rounding off the tops into curves and a 3cm hem at the opening.
  2. Trace off your pattern and trace a reverse to create the opposite hand too.
  3. Fold your fabric in half lengthways, right sides together and pin to secure, ensuring the edges touch.
  4. Place both your pattern pieces on top of the fabric keeping them in line with one another if there is a pattern in your fabric especially.
  5. Cut out the patterns – this should provide you with 4 pieces of fabric.
  6. Remove pins and place back into each new pattern.
  7.  Mark the stitching lines as the diagram shows with tailor’s chalk or fabric pen, using your original hand template.
  8. It works best with a 0.5cm seam allowance or ¼” and stitch all around, right sides remaining together, from one side edge to the other, keeping the bottom open.

*Stitch slowly around the curves and carefully pivot at the dots between the fingers.

  1. Trim all seam allowances if necessary and cut down to the marked dots, without touching the actual stitching.
  2. Repeat steps 7 & 8 with the second hand.
  3. Make a double hem at the opening by folding the fabric under twice, no more than the 3cm allowance you have allowed for.
  4. Remove the accessory box on your sewing machine to access the free arm and slide your glove over it and sew both layers of hem to finish sewing.
  5. Remove all pins and turn through to right side.
  6. Test the glove fits and repeat steps 12 & 13 with the other glove.
  7. Finish with any embellishments, ribbons, or alterations you want to make.


Overlock Quick Guide


Overlock Quick Guide: Preparing, threading and sewing.    

  1. Extend the telescopic thread stand to its full height and turn it until the shaft clicks into its locked position


  2. Open the front & side cover as shown in diagram below.
    1. Push the cover to the right as far as it will go
    2. Pull cover down towards you
    3. Push cover to the left to unlock, and swing cover back away from you


      **NB. When threading the machine from the beginning, threading must be carried out in the following sequence:

      First: Lower looper threading   Second: Upper looper threading   Finally: Needle threading


  3. Lower looper threading:


  4. Upper looper threading:



  5. Needle threading:


  6. Connect foot controller and power cord
  7. When the threads are not wound around the stitch finger, gently draw out the four threads under and behind the presser foot.
  8. Turn the hand wheel towards you by hand two or three times to make the thread wind on to the needle plate.
  9. Begin to sew:
  10. Correct tension: Lower looper thread and upper thread should be well balanced with same tension.  (Both looper threads should make crosses at the edge of the fabric.)

  11. End sewing. Draw the finished fabric gently backwards and to the left as the machine is operating and making chain stitches. This is callled chain stitch sewing.

Sewing With Fur


Don’t avoid working with novelty fabrics; use some of our top tips on buying, cutting, handling and sewing this season’s popular novelty fabrics!

The best place to start is always with a small sample piece of the fabric you’d like to use and to try several stitches on it to get used to the weight, feel, ease and style of stitch. Christmas is the season most likely to use novelty fabrics, so be prepared and give it a go … whether you’re challenged to create a costume for your child’s nativity play, a hot water bottle cover, or just some creative craft pieces. If you really get to grips sewing with fur then you could even create your own jacket … our advice is don’t be scared to try it!

Fur Fabrics:


Choose your design/pattern carefully…try and make it a simple, uncomplicated one with as little seams, detail and fastenings as possible (especially just to begin with). Remember fur fabrics can look bulky especially if they have a shaggy pile, so be wise if using them to create any clothing/jackets and don’t give something a heavy look.


Begin by checking you have sharp scissors and cut in single layers to ensure you get an accurate cut (but remember to flip the pattern piece if a right and left side are needed!). Cutting with the pile is also important so put a little arrow on each pattern piece to help you cut in the direction you choose. Avoid giving the ends a blunt “chopped” look when cutting with long haired fabrics by only cutting the backing fabric (and maybe the odd strand that need to be set free).


If you need to hold layers or edges together it can be quite useful to try out paper clips and tape as well as pins as they hold the thickness and are easy to remove. We recommend colourful glass headed pins with fur as they are so easy to see, sew around and remove which is important – you need to make sure you don’t miss any and leave any in after sewing!! Prevent stretching the fabric whilst you sew by using a small tack or even some tape to stabilise it on the backing. It’s best to avoid top stitching on long pile fabrics and any iron-on interfacings as they can be really messy.


Go around the finished seams on the right side of the fabric and use a sturdy pin to pick out the fur along the seams to cover and neaten them. Also, be careful if you choose to press it as most fur fabrics are very sensitive to heat – to be honest it’s best to avoid any pressing when working with fur and you will find most fur fabrics won’t need it anyway!

Sewing Machine Tip:

Clean your sewing machine regularly to avoid any fur clogging it up, it only takes a moment and can make a big difference to maintaining the performance of your machine!

We’ve created some great pieces using fur in the past, so give it a go, stick with it and keep testing ideas out. Share your creations with us on our Facebook pages and let us know if you have any tips to feed back to us…we’d love to hear!!

Sewing Machine Manuals


One of the most important accessories that will come in the box with your new Toyota sewing machine is the instruction manual…it will become your complete introduction to knowing your machine well and a valuable portal into the world of sewing.

The instruction manual will remain the most important tool you have to keep your machine in good working order so you can always be confident you are getting the best, and making the most, out of it. Toyota has created your manual especially for you, with your best interests in mind because we want you to love and enjoy your machine. The steps in doing these things vary slightly from machine to machine, so be wise and keep your book safe.

Go through the instructions slowly and carefully to make sure you don’t miss out the important bits.

In the manual you will find important information on how to initially set it up, use all the different features and troubleshoot help. It is formatted simply and with pictures to try and make following as simple as possible, however if you have any queries don’t forget you can add us on Facebook.

If you have had your sewing machine for a while, or, if it was given to you and you no longer have the manual with it don’t worry, all is not lost, as Toyota has an amazing section on the website offering you the option to download them here.

Just check your machine for a sticker that looks like this to find the model identity:

Stole the night away


A stole (aka shawl) is an ideal way of finishing your outfit, whilst covering your bare arms and adding a touch of colour or glitz. The great thing is, it’s quick and easy to make and you can choose your own colours to compliment any outfit without breaking the purse never mind the bank!!

So if you’re heading on yet another social of the season and running low on outfits, especially in the bleak mid-winter weather, don’t get stressed out … follow our simple steps to make this beautiful shawl to add and give any outfit a second outing without looking like the one you wore last week.

  1. Choose your fabric well, match it to something you intend on wearing and choose one that drapes well.
  2. Fold the fabric in half lengthways, wrong sides together and stitch a *French seam 1cm around from side edge to the opposite side edge, using a zigzag or overlocker effect. Sew all the way around but make sure you leave a small turning gap in the centre.

*French seam: hides all raw edges, to provide a neater finish.

  1. Trim the seam allowance down to a minimum (approx. 3mm) and press. (Be careful with delicate fabrics).
  2. Turn through the small gap you left to the right side.
  3. With right sides together now fold the fabric along the stitched edge and press.
  4. Sew around again (0.5cm from the stitched line), encasing the raw edges and leave another turning gap.
  5. Turn through and press.
  6. Securely close the turning gap using a slip stitch until your happy with the finished look.

Toyota Recommends:

  • Using our Decorative Footwork Kit why not add some randomly placed machine embroidery to add some detail, and you could even add in some sparse beading.Sewing Machine Decorative Foot
  • Finish by adding a stylish trim or fringing to the shorter ends. You can even achieve a great look by simply layering up zigzag stitches. Try a metallic thread or coordinating colour.
  • Create another shawl using two different coloured fabrics, one for the outside and one for the inside to achieve a contrast lining or even a reversible one to change with what you wear or to create a day Vs an evening look.
  • Finish the complete look off by adding a decorative brooch to the finished piece.

Coffee cup cosy


With the current trend in quick take away coffee and Coffee Shops, this cosy could become your new best friend!! Whether visiting the local coffee shop for meetings, studying, people watching or socials or even a quick pit stop to take away and refuel for the day – this cup cosy is quick and simple to make and can be easily carried around in your handbag (or man bag)!!










1. Measure around your usual sized cup, or use a paper cosy as a template, add a 1cm seam allowance and cut your desired shape. (Roughly 10 x 3 inches for a medium sized cup with a slight curve up allows for a snug fit around the cup.


2. Place right sides together and in-between the layers at one end place an elastic bobble or ribbon. Pin together and secure in place with a small tack.










3. Stitch a 1cm seam around 3 edges with your sewing machine, leaving one end open.














4. Gently pull the fabric through to turn out the right side of the fabric and press.










5. Close the open end using your Sewing Machine.


6. Mark 3-4cm from the outer edge (alternate to the elastic) and sew your button in. (Use your Button Sewing Foot if using a fish eye button).


7. Place around your coffee cup and close using the loop and button!!











In addition:
• You could place wadding between the layers and once bagged out sew several parallel lines vertically to hold in place.
• Use applique to add some detail and make it personalised.

How To Make A Drawstring Bag.




This stylish reversible Drawstring Bag is simple to make on a sewing machine. Can be scaled to any size, makes a great sports bag or book bag for Back to School. Alternatively, it can even be used as a gift bag, potpourri bag, iPod or camera case, shoe bag etc. Great for kids and adults alike!!



1. Choose 2 coordinating fabrics and cut out your desired shape from each fabric x 2.
(You should get 4 rectangles in total – all of the same size).


Cut your material











2. Place each pair of fabric together, right sides facing.

3. Use your Sewing Machine to sew a 1cm seam down the lengths and along the bottom of each separate bag (leave the top open).

4. Choose which one will be the exterior bag and turn it right side out, press. (Leave the liner bag inside out).

5. Slip the liner bag over the bag that will be on the exterior when completed (right sides facing). Pin bags together at the top seam.

6. Stitch the liner and exterior bag together with a 1cm seam along the top only, (making sure you only sew 1 layer of exterior and one layer of liner together all the way around).


Sewing the outer edges














7. Use a seam ripper to take out 3cm of the stitching on the bottom seam of your liner bag.

8. Gently pull the exterior fabric through this hole, (right side out).

9. Close the hole in the liner using your Sewing Machine (stitching close to the edge).

10. Took liner into the exterior bag and press.

11. Place the thicker ribbon around the bag about 3cm from the top and pin. (Make sure that the raw edge of the ribbon is tucked directly underneath itself, approx. 1cm, and starts on the side seam of the bag).

12. Slip the bag over the Sewing Machine arm, and place under the presser foot.














13. Stitch along the top edge of the ribbon; stop stitching before reaching the other side seam.

14. Cut the ribbon off at the seam, allow for a 1cm overhang, turn this under, align with side seam and stitch in place. (Back stitch at each side seam for reinforcement).

15. Repeat this method to attach the second piece of ribbon to the other side of the bag.

16. Stitch along the bottom edge of the ribbon (it should remain open/accessible at both ends).

17. Attach a safety pin to the end of the narrow ribbon and draw it through, pull full circle.

18. Join together the ribbon ends, remove safety pin, and tie off to secure.

19. Start at the opposite end and repeat procedure with safety pin and ribbon.



Close drawstring










20. Simply pull on the ribbon ends to tighten and your bag is finished!!

Make your own bunting


You can never go wrong with this quintessential British decoration … An excellent way to brighten up any area!! And a perfect sewing machine project to use up those remnants of beautiful fabric that we refuse to throw away!!









1.    Cut an elongated triangular template from card.

2.    Place the template onto the chosen fabrics and draw around it (rotating to get the triangles as close to each other as possible) and cut out.

Cut out your triangular templates














3.    Place 2 pieces of fabric together (right sides facing) and, using your sewing machine, sew a 1cm seam down one long side and stop.  Keep the needle down in the fabric, turn and sew up the other long side. (Do not sew top side)

4.    Continue step 3 for all triangles and then turn fabric right sides out and press.

Sew two pieces of bunting together















5.    Cut a ribbon, strip of fabric or bias binding to the desired length, fold in half lengthways and press.

6.    Slot the fabric triangles into the ribbon at equal distances from each other (leaving a 10cm gap at each end) and pin.

Attach the ribbon to the bunting
















7.    Using a sewing machine, sew a straight stitch the full length of the ribbon (the needle must go through both triangles and both sides of the ribbon).

8.    At each end, fold the 10cm remaining ribbon in half and sew securely to the triangle, this creates your loop to hang from, and creates a neat finish. Finally press and your bunting is complete.


Home Made Bunting