DIY Modern Picnic Basket


Something that I’ve always been passionate about, but I’ve really dove into in the last couple years is trying to be more eco-friendly. People tend to label me as a “hippie” of sorts, but honestly, I just really love nature and being outside. I’ve just always felt a connection to it, and with that connection came a relationship, and with that relationship came responsibility. So within the last few years, I’ve really taken it upon my self to question what’s really in the products I use, the food I eat, how is it made, what happens with my trash, how much trash am I creating, and what kind of physical impact am I creating on this earth while I’m living on it.

Around this time of learning the answers to these questions, I very quickly discovered the wonderful world of reusable products (cue gospel choir). I wrote a blog post about some of my favorite eco-friendly products, if you’re interested in hopping on the reusable train yourself. Not only do these products decrease the amount of trash and plastic you would normally throw away, but they save you money! So naturally, I began to explore other means with the three famous eco-friendly R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. It honestly was a game changer for the penny-pocketing, DIY-obsessed, sustainable Sally that I am. I learned about refashioning (taking used clothes, chopping them up, and creating a new look for them), furniture restoration (I mean, I already knew of that one if I’m being honest), and upcycling (basically the same idea with refashions, but with any and all “waste” products). A freaking gold mine if there ever was one, and with my name written ALL over it.

This brings me to the fine day of scouting through a Goodwill, and stumbling upon a perfectly used, $4.99 picnic basket. And not just any picnic basket. Inside there were four sets of reusable utensils, four reusable plates, four non-breakable wine glasses, a small spatula, and a wooden circular cutting board. And wrapped around the four utensils were old, worn tags with the words Crate & Barrel in red letters. Whhhhhhaaaaat?!? Yup, momma found a Crate & Barrel picnic basket for 5 freaking dollars. I sincerely tried to find out when Crate & Barrel made this picnic basket as the tags definitely have that old, gross look to them. They’ve been around since 1962, so who knows for sure. But if you do, then please let me know in the comments below.

 I may have found an awesome Goodwill steal here, but the concept in designing this basket can be applied to any ole basket with a lid. All I needed to make was a basket liner, and add some elastic straps to the inside lid. Easy peasy! So whip out that lovely sewing machine of yours again, and let’s get to it.


Here what you need:

  • Basket with lid

  • Reusable plates, cups, utensils, and any other tools needed for your dream picnic (i.e. reusable wine bottle, cutting/serving board)

  • Fabric to line inside of basket (depends on size of basket but to give yourself enough I would suggest roughly 2 to 3 yards)

  • ½” Elastic band

  • Thread to match fabric/elastic band

  • Large scrap paper

  • Sewing pins

  • Scissors

  • Sewing measuring tape

  • Pinking Sears

  • Fabric pencil

  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

  • Water-based stain and small brush (optional)



Here what you do:

MAKE A PLAN: You’re the designer here, so you need to figure out if you would like to stain your basket, where your utensils, plates, cups are all going to go (i.e. lid, walls, secret compartment), and if it needs any straps to hold the lid down. If you do decide to stain part or your entire basket, do this FIRST. It will take at least a day to dry.

  1. MEASURE INSIDE OF BASKET: Use your sewing measuring tape to measure the height of the inside of your basket as well as the total length all the way around the insides of your basket. Then add an additional inch on both measurements. Mine was 8” in height by 52” all the way around, for a total of 9” x 53”.

  2. TRACE BOTTOM AND LID OF BASKET: Unfold the fabric you’re planning on using for the inside lining, and mark out where the inside wall piece of your fabric will go. Try to put this on the very edge of your fabric. Then, before you begin your bottom and lid, be sure to measure the thickness of your basket.  You’re going to want an additional ½” of fabric around both the bottom and the lid pieces. After measuring, you can begin to trace your bottom and lid. You have two options for this step:

    1. First, you can place the bottom and lid directly on the fabric and trace around them with the fabric wrong-side up, as to not see your pencils lines later.

    2. The other is you can use a large piece of scrap fabric, and trace your bottom and lid around this. Then, pin this to your fabric and cut it out. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it will ultimately help you get a better measurement of your bottom and lid. If you have less experience sewing, I strongly suggest this option.


3. CUT, PIN, SEW, REPEAT: After you have all your pieces placed on your fabric, go ahead and cut them out. Then, on your long inside piece, you’re going to fold only one side over ½” and pin it. Go ahead and sew a medium straight stitch down this side. Repeat these steps with your lid. Lastly, you’ll pin your inside piece to the bottom piece with wrong sides facing each other. Take your time with this especially if you have a circular basket.

4. PINK RAW EDGES: Use your pinking shears on all raw edges of your fabric

5. ADD ELASTIC BANDS: If you need to hold any of your cups, utensils, etc. in place, cut the appropriate length of elastic to securely hold them on the lid. I placed my cutlery on my lids first to figure out where I wanted them to go, and then used my fabric pencil to mark where they’ll go. Make sure to add between 1/8” to 3/8” to both ends of your elastic to hold them in place. Once you have you fabric marked, pin the elastic in place, and sew each one onto your basket liners.

6. GLUE LINERS: Before you glue the liners on, make sure to test your elastic bands with your utensils, making sure everything fits snug. Then, use your hot glue gun and start gluing in the bottom piece first. I put small dabs of glue in the bottom edges of the basket, and then worked my way up, trying to keep the liner laying flat.

7. BON APPÉTIT: Once the glue has dried, your basket it ready for its first picnic. Whip up a nice lunch with some of your favorite snacks and head to the nearest park or find a cozy spot in your yard..