Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY Cloth Storage Box

Last Christmas I made a play kitchen for Daisy, and throughout the year, she has accumulated lots of kitchen accessories to the point where cleaning up is difficult, because the toys just fall out of the shelves. 

See before: 

I searched many home good stores for 12''x12'' bins or baskets that would fit in the kitchen to put the toys in, but I was not happy with the prices I found, especially when some of them could easily be made if I just had the materials. 

For example, I found one made of super-stiff felt sewn together with a zig zag stitch. I tried to locate super-stiff felt, but didn't have much luck. 

We had a large cardboard box that we were going to take to the dumpster, and I thought, "Hey, I'll make my own boxes!" It took quite a while over several days, so I'm not even sure that the savings was worth the work, but if you want to undergo this project, here's how I did it. 

1. Determine the size of your boxes and cut your cardboard edges. I needed two 12x12x10'' boxes, so I cut eight 12''x10'' rectangles out of the cardboard and two 12''x12'' squares. This was by FAR the most tedious part of the whole process, because I couldn't find our box cutter. I used scissors. Ugh. 

Plus, I'm nine months pregnant on the floor cutting cardboard with an antsy toddler. Not fun. 

2. Make cloth sleeves for each piece of cardboard. I'm estimating that you'd need about 2-3 yards of fabric for this, but I used this old shower curtain that was missing a chunk from a different project years ago. It wasn't quite enough fabric, so I used two 12''x12'' panels of denim for the bases of the boxes. 

Basically, cut out DOUBLE the amount of fabric that you did cardboard, because each cardboard piece has to have two pieces of fabric to make the sleeve. Add 1'' around the edges for seams. So for me, I cut 16 panels of 13''x11'' and 4 panels of 13''x13''. 

Also, cut four handles. Since I was using a shower curtain, I just cut the hem off, and I don't even remember how long I made them. I'm guessing 8'' each. 

3. Sew the panels, which will also be the sides of the box. I sewed around the tops and sides of each panel, and only about 1/2'' around the corner of each bottom. On two panels per box, pin your handles in the top before you sew (pinning the handles into the right sides which are facing each other). 

4. Turn your panels right side out and press with a hot iron. I used to hate pressing my projects between sewing stages, but it makes things much easier down the road, plus you get a much cleaner look. At this point, iron in the bottom open part of the panel as you would like it to look, turning in the unfinished edges. This aids the hand-sewing part that comes at the end. 

5. Sew the four panels' sides together with top stitching along the outer edge. The edges will look clean from being pressed, so having the seams exposed gives the box a crisp look. Make sure you alternate a handled panel with a non-handled panel. Also, make sure all your openings are at the bottom. 

6. Pick open the 1/2'' that you sewed on either edge of the bottom panels with a seam ripper, then stuff each panel with it's respective cardboard piece. I had to trim a couple of the cardboard pieces down, but most of them slid right in. Then flip the box upside down, so you can add the base. 

7. Slip the base cardboard into the base panel. Set the base piece on the respective side of the box and hand sew it on. This was another kind of tedious part, but once you get in the groove, it goes pretty fast. It only took about 20-30 minutes per box, and I did them on different nights. Make sure you cover the cardboard completely, and grab all four pieces of fabric in each stitch. This is especially important when you sew the side that has the base panel opening and the side panel opening. 

8. Now you have a storage box! You could stop here, but I added fabric glue to the corners, inside and outside, with a q-tip to give extra security to the corner stitches. 

That's it! It took me several hours over the course of several days, which is why I'm not sure that it's worth the work, unless you want custom sizes. Although, I found pride in just doing it myself and using materials that were completely free to me. 

Daisy can easily pull the boxes out and dump the contents all over the floor. Because of the boxes, she can easily clean it up too (even if it takes her triple the amount of time). No more fussing because the toys keep falling out of the kitchen when she's trying to clean up! 

Good luck! 
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