Monday, August 11, 2014

Matryoshka bins: Free patterns

A few weeks ago, I made this bread basket for my MMM post. It was ridiculously oversized, but precisely that sparked some new ideas. 'It would also make a nice project bag for knitters and crocheters', reader Marjolijn commented. And I thought: yes, or for storing diapers! Or toys! Or to be used as a gift bag! And a smaller version could be used as a pen holder! Or a flower pot!

Well, long story short: here are the pdf-patterns for the baskets in 3 sizes. They are really quick and easy to make, and a nice reason to hold onto fabric left-overs in all sizes.

I called them Matryoshka Bins, based on a great suggestion from Serena from SewGiving and Alisa from A Stitch in Between via Instagram. Thank you! The name refers to the fact that you can nest the baskets like matryoshka dolls. And of course, that it is a Russian name refers to the fact that if you live in the US or EU, you could use these baskets to store all the food we can no longer export to Russia in the next 12 months. 

I bought some lovely Cotton + Steel fabrics at Miss Matatabi, from Melody Miller's Mustang line. Norah is crazy about these fabrics:
"You need to make me a dress in this fabric!"
"Which of the three fabrics is that?"
"First one in the arrows, then one in the horses, and then one in the flies fabric. Tonight."

The pdf file can be downloaded here. It contains the patterns for the bottom, and the dimensions of the panels for the sides. Seam allowances of 3/8" (1 cm) are included. It needs to be printed at 100% on letter size or A4 paper. It contains 2 pages, which need to be assembled as follows:

These are the measurements of the three finished bins:
- small: width 3.5" (9 cm)  //  height 4.5" (11 cm)
- medium: width  5.5" (14 cm)  //  height 6.25" (16 cm)
- large:  7.5" (19 cm)  //  height 8.5" (22 cm)
Heights are approximate; all depends on how much you fold over the edge in step 5.

- The pdf pattern
- Fabric for the main (of pretty much any kind)
- Fabric for the lining (ditto)
- Heavy interfacing for the bottom piece
- Thin to heavy interfacing for the side (use heavy interfacing on both main and lining if you want the basket to firmly stand up straight, or thin interfacing on main and/or lining for a more slouchy look.)

0. Iron interfacing on the bottom and side pieces.

1. Put the main and lining pieces of the side with right sides together. Stitch along the top with a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance. Press seam open.
2. Fold the piece as illustrated below, and stitch the side seam with a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance. Press seam open.

3. This will give you a kind of 'tube'. Pin the main bottom piece onto the main side of the tube, with right sides together, and stitch with a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance. Repeat for the lining, but leave a turning hole here. Reduce the seam allowance to about half its current width.

4. Pull the piece right side out through the turning hole. Close the hole with a machine stitch near the edge.

5. Tuck the corners of the lining into those of the main, and press the top edge of the sides.



  1. Super, I'll be making these for sure! And I lóve the names :-)

  2. oh these look great and fun to sew, too! thanks, an! pinned for later. :)

  3. thank you for these!! I wan to make many now:)

  4. An! These are so great! Thanks for the patterns! :D

  5. So awesome! I know what I'm going to be sewing tomorrow :)

  6. Thank you very much for these patterns! I'll surely make them one of these days.
    Last week, I had a lot of fun trying out your improvisational pleating techniques on my Mara-blouse.
    I add the link so you can have a look, is you want to:

  7. these are lovely! thanks so much for sharing the pdf:)

  8. They look so useful and what a name!!! Thank you for sharing the pattern.

  9. My ToDo-list is getting longer and longer ;o))

  10. Dank je wel! Meteen mee aan de slag se!

  11. Hi I just followed your link over from Simple Simon and Co. These bags would be also be great as gift bags at kids parties. Thanks for sharing the pattern.

  12. I really love these! Just downloading the pattern now :)

  13. Cute bins and they look kind of thing! Thanks!

  14. Thank you for this pattern! My daughter is expecting in January and these would be cute in the baby's room. I have a question though. In step 3, when you say reduce the seam allowance by about half, do you mean to sew the 3/8" seam and then trim it on the bottom pieces? Thank you.

    1. Yes: first stitch, and then cut the seam allowance in half. This is because otherwise, things get too bulky near the bottom edge, and the lining will not fill wel in the shell. Is this answer helpful?