Pretty Storage Boxes, Part Two

19 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 everyone has a sewing machine, and perhaps it would be more universal, b) I wanted to play with spray adhesive, and c) I had a cardboard box hanging around and looking for work. But then I found a storage box that used fabric and interfacing, and I do happen to have a sewing machine and I thought, perhaps this version will work out better.

It did not.

And so, this is where I admit that I still don’t have the project for this week finished. Not because it’s particularly difficult or challenging. In fact, I enjoyed the making of this version much more than I did the last one – no stickiness, no smelly glue, no wrestling with cardboard. The issue has more to do with the fact that I’m using my mother’s 1970’s era Viking sewing machine, and it somehow got stuck in reverse. So I can only sew backward.  And also, I didn’t entirely follow the instructions I was going to, and I sort of didn’t know what I was doing. And I broke a needle.

Anyway, I don’t really have much of a challenge this week. I’ll tell you up-front – you’re still better off just buying your storage stuff, because the homemade doesn’t look as good and isn’t as sturdy or practical as the store-bought version. But I did attempt to make a sewed-together storage box, and it’s slightly entertaining, so I’m carrying on with the post anyway.

Non-Challenge: Pretty Storage Box, Sewing Edition

To make the sewed-together fabric box, I used:

1 fat quarter of fabric for the exterior
1 fat quarter of fabric for the interior
1/2 yard of heavy duty, extra-firm interfacing
cotton thread
rotary cutters and a cutting mat (but scissors will suffice)
A tape measure

I started by ironing the fabrics. Kind of a given, but there you have it. And I did not iron the interfacing, because can you iron interfacing?

Inside and outside fabrics, interfacing

Everything ironed and laid out

written calculations and box drawings

Figuring out the dimensions

Then, I laid out all of my fabric and interfacing, and figured out how to make the most of the fabric and interfacing I had. Turned out, the interfacing had the least width, so that sort of determined the size.

cut pieces of interfacing

The interfacing lineup

Then, from the interfacing and each piece of fabric, I cut 5 pieces:

2 long sides – 14″ × 5″
2 short sides – 6″ × 5″
1 base – 14″ × 6″

putting the pieces together

Order is very important: Interfacing, outside fabric, inside fabric

Then, I made little sandwiches of my pieces. I grabbed an inside fabric short end, an outside fabric short end, and an interfacing short end and put them all together, in that order. It was like a cheese sandwich, only made of cloth and cloth-like substances. Anyway, in the photo, I’m also trying to show you how the outside fabric was facing down, facing away from the interfacing. If my inside fabric had been patterned, I would have shown you how the “right” sides of the fabric, the patterned sides, should face each other. This is very important.

Once you have your sandwich, you sew a seam on three sides (zip, zip, zip! But leave the bottom edge that attaches to the base un-sewn), and then you flip it right-side out. And thus, you have your outside fabric facing outside, your inside fabric facing inside, and your interfacing held tightly between. Do this with all 4 sides of your box.

For the base of the box, there’s no need to make the inside-out sandwich thingy. Just put all the pieces together as they should be, outside fabric facing out, inside fabric facing out, and interfacing between, and sew seams on all four sides. You’ll end up with a pillowy rectangle with raw edges showing. That’s okay.

ironing a right-side out side

In this case, you can iron interfacing

Once everything was sewn and flipped right-side out, I ironed all the seams so they lay flat. This interfacing is tough stuff – it really likes to stand up. Which is good, considering the way I’m using it here. But it made the edges extra-thick and kind of tough. Hot heat helped.

Almost done! And, this is where things sort of fell apart.

Getting ready to attach the sides to the base

Work so the seams end up inside the box - lay outside fabric against outside fabric

At this point, we have four box sides with an unfinished edge each, and a base with four ragged edges. Solution? Sew each side to the base, matching the unfinished edge with a raw edge. Work so that the seams end up inside the box. I managed to get one side attached to the base and then I pushed in the  “go backward” button to set the stitch and my machine decided it really liked backward and wanted to work that way from now on and the button stuck. Still, four days  later, my sewing machine is running only in reverse. Which is hard when you’re not an expert sewer, because you can’t see where the seam will go, only where it’s gone. Over the last four days, I’ve manged to successfully dismantle and reassemble parts of my sewing machine and also to attach all four sides to the base. Voila!

unfinished box

My "finished" box

I even managed to get one goofy duck-lipped corner seam in before my needle broke. And at that point, I decided to give up. I will probably someday come back to this project, but not until my sewing machine runs forward and I’m using the correct needle.

DIY or Buy?

I’m skipping the analysis on this one: Buy it. Just buy yourself an attractive storage box and spend your time doing something more productive, like reading a good book or playing volleyball or making cookies. I didn’t spend much on this – $7, for interfacing and fabrics, and I would actually choose this version over last week’s attempt, given the choice, but I still prefer my store-bought versions to the ones I made.

NEXT WEEK! I plan to leave sewing behind and move back toward the kitchen, where nothing is stuck working backward. Honey mead? Vanilla? Tomato Soup? I haven’t decided, but all of these are in the works.

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One Response to “Pretty Storage Boxes, Part Two”

  1. Thisbearbites 01/19/2011 at 10:19 am #

    A broken needle is no big deal. The age of the sewing machine could be the bigger problem (depending a lot on wear and tear, basic upkeep, and care).
    Interesting project here. You were thinking outside the box!

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