Pretty Storage Boxes

11 Jan
The finished fabric-covered Storage Box

The final product. And some stuff that needs storing.

So, walking through Target the other day, I got lost in the storage section. Does that ever happen to you? You wander in there, and before you know it, you’re thinking “Why, yes, I DO need 8 different shapes and sizes of cubby-holed storage furniture! Now my closet with be clean and well-organized!” Nevermind that you’re really bad at Tetris and there is physically no way you’ll ever get those particular 8 storage pieces crammed into your tiny closet, and even if you did, how would they help organize the random collection of polka-dot ties and glittery tights that are strewn about?

Ahem.

Anyway, if that DOES ever happen to you, one solution might be to return un-usable cubbies and invest in those brightly colored fabric storage boxes to fill the pieces that you keep. A box for tights, a box for ties, a box for belts, a box for sweaters…  But then I always run into the trouble that a) none of the colors are the exact one that I want, and b) solid colors can be a little dull. Rob the Husband of Awesome and I lean toward a rather modern aesthetic in the house, with lots of solid colors everywhere, and so when the opportunity strikes, I like to add a little texture, a few patterns. Which is why I decided to try to make my own fabric storage box.

Challenge: Pretty Storage Box, No-Sew Edition

A store-bought fabric storage box has, as far as I can tell without completely ripping it apart (thus, making it useless) a cardboard or hard plastic interior wrapped in heavy-duty cotton or canvas. I have one purchased fabric-covered storage box that appears to have been glued together, and another that has been sewn together.

To make my own fabric storage box, I decided to use an old shoebox as my base, and glue the fabric around it, eliminating the need to sew anything. To make sure that there were no unfinished fabric edges showing, I created fabric-covered panels to line the inside of the box. They not only effectively hid the edges of the wrapped-over fabric, they also gave me an excuse to add a second fabric, and thus more color and texture. PRETTY.

My materials list was:
1 shoebox
Extra cardboard (I used an old Amazon shipping box)
½ yard of fabric for the exterior (I used a heavy-weight home décor cotton)
½ yard of fabric for the interior  (I used a light-weight quilting cotton)
1 can of spray adhesive
Scissors
Rotary cutter and cutting mat (optional)
Ruler, quilting square or other measuring device

cutting off the shoebox lid

Score the cardboard first to make this much, much easier.

Okay, to do this – start by cutting cardboard. Trim off the base box’s lid, if it’s attached. Then, from your spare box, cut 4 panels that will fit inside your shoebox, effectively making a 4-piece cardboard liner for the base box. This gets less ridiculous later on, I promise. Be sure to check the fit of the panels before moving on to the next step: The should fit flush with the sides of the box, and not have to squeeze so much the cardboard bows and breaks. I measured accurately, but forgot to account for the thickness of the cardboard and the thickness of the fabric, and ended up having to go back and trim here and there to get everything fitting right.

Ironing the fabric

Iron the back side of the fabric, so any junk on your iron doesn't ruin your pretty fabric. At least, I think that's why I do that.

Now, fabric. Iron your two fabrics to get out any wrinkles and creases. Then, cut a wide strip from your outside fabric. It should be long enough to wrap all the way around the outside of the shoebox with about a ½ in. overlap at the ends, and wide enough to have about ½ in. excess on both the top and the bottom. This excess will wrap into the box and onto the bottom of the box, so there aren’t any unfinished edges showing.

cutting fabric for inside panels

A rotary cutter works well, but so do scissors.

Next, get out your inside fabric. Lay one panel down, then cut a piece of this fabric to wrap around it. You’ll want about ½ in. extra on all 4 sides to wrap around to the back of the panel. Repeat with each panel. Then, even though you don’t have a panel, cut a piece of inside fabric to cover the inside bottom of the base box.

attaching the outside fabric

The overhang is important. I didn't leave enough at the top, and regret it.

Anyway, now you just have to put it all together. Take all of your supplies and go somewhere where a sticky mess won’t make you unhappy – I used the unfinished half of our basement, but the lawn or a garage might work, too. Spray-glue the outside fabric to the outside of the box – and be sure to leave enough extra fabric hanging off the top and bottom edges to easily wrap around. Glue the overhanging fabric to the inside of the box, and to the bottom of the box.

gluing the inside fabric to the panels

Cut small notches out of the corners of the fabric so it lies flat when you glue it to the back of the panel.

Almost done gluing! Attach the inside fabric to the inside panels. Start with the front of the panels, then wrap each side’s overlap around and secure it to the back. Work one side at a time, and be sure to give the spray-glue time to get tacky (rather than wet) before securing the fabric. Secure the remaining piece of inside fabric to the bottom of the box.

Last but not least, slide your inside panels into place. They should hold each other up and lie flush with the box. Ta-da! You now have a pretty two-tone box.

Time and Cost Comparison

The purchased fabric-covered box, came from Target and cost $5.76. There are several different sizes available, at different price points ranging from $3.99 to $8.19. You may spend several minutes choosing the color and size you want, but there is no assembly required.

To make my own, I used a cardboard shoe box that I had laying around (free box!). I spent $3.50 on the fabric and $6.87 on the glue, but I used only a very little amount of the glue. So, I’m estimating that I used a total of $4.00 worth of supplies on my DIY box. It took me about 2 ½ hours to make it.

PITA Factor

6.5 to 7. Making my own box was a rather large PITA, frankly. The spray adhesive is not my favorite thing to work with (I got it on my jeans, under my fingernails, etc…) and it was a rather time-consuming project. I loved choosing and playing with the fabric, and I’m pretty happy with the finished result, however this particular project is not something I’d do this way again. Have any thoughts on how I could have made this project easier/less PITA?

DIY or Buy?

Buy. For the time and effort I invested in this, there’s not a significant-enough cost savings or a high enough fun-factor to make it worthwhile. BUT! In doing some research (after I started this project, naturally), I stumbled across this tutorial for a fabric box that requires some sewing. So, tune in next week to see if the less-structured, sewing-assembly storage box project fares any better.

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3 Responses to “Pretty Storage Boxes”

  1. catrocketship 01/11/2011 at 1:20 pm #

    This post pegged why I like DIY or Buy: So many of the crafting blogs I follow post loads of tutorials, and I find them so, so boring. Why? Because I can tell the project is a pain in the ass.

    But here! It’s a story! Why be bored? Amanda will tell you whether or not the project is worth it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pretty Storage Boxes, Part Two « DIY or Buy - 01/19/2011

    [...] Jan So, last week I attempted to make a storage box, wrapped in fabric, that was attractive and sew-free. I did that because a) I figured that not [...]

  2. Pretty Storage Boxes, Part Two - DIY or Buy - 10/17/2011

    [...] last week I attempted to make a storage box, wrapped in fabric, that was attractive and sew-free. I did that because a) I figured that not [...]

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