Stash it. Store it. Hide it away! We all love to get organized… or at least we love to have pretty boxes, baskets, and bins that allow us to dream about how organized we could be. These gorgeous fabric boxes are a generous 13” square, which means they can organize a lot! The cool Dritz Faux Leather Handles make them extra easy to use – acting like a drawer pull when the boxes are used in a storage unit or along a shelf.
These substantial handles are designed to work on multiple finishes, including thin wood and whicker as well as fabric so they come with Chicago screws rather than rivets. This type of screw has a center bar between the head end and the tightening end that is quite wide so the screw can attach through thicknesses up to ½”+. There’s also a thin, clear plastic washer included that helps stabilize the screw and protects the finish of the fabric (or other substate) at the back. Installation of the handles easy; we walk you through all the steps below for both our horizontal and vertical handle placement.
Foam interfacing (we like Flex Foam by Pellon) gives the box design its great structure, and in combination with the heavier canvas fabric for both the exterior and the lining, the final thickness of the layers is just perfect for the depth of the Chicago screws that come with the handles. It is important that you maintain a similar thickness in your layers in order for the the Chicago screws to seat properly and hold the handles in place without any slippage.
The recommended foam style is a two-sided fusible, which allows an extra smooth finish to both the inside and the outside of the box. To maintain this smooth finish, as well as to make the project as easy as possible to construct, we worked with the interior and exterior panels as one fused unit, opting for visible seam allowances at the inside that are neatly bound with bias binding tape.
Our classic gray and white cabana stripe is a decorating standard that goes with everything. If you want the same look, it’s best to run your stripes vertically, which means you need a wide width décor weight fabric, such as a canvas or twill, for both the exterior and lining. Both layers are cut as one continuous 53” panel. There’s a helpful cutting diagram in the instructions below.
Our Fabric Boxes with Handles finish at approximately 13” square, which is a standard size to fit many of the popular box shelving systems, such as the Ikea units shown in the photos above.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the great AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on our Janome models
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown are for ONE box.
- ⅞ yard of 54”+ wide mid-weight canvas, twill or similar in a vertical stripe or other bold print for the box exterior; such as Premier Prints’ Canopy Twill Stripe in Storm
- ⅞ yard of 54”+ wide mid-weight canvas, twill or similar in a coordinating solid for the box lining; such as Joann Fabrics' 8.8 oz Duck Canvas Duck in Light Blue
- 1⅝ yards of 20”+ wide, two-sided fusible foam; we used two-sided Pellon Flex Foam
- TWO Dritz Home Faux Leather Handles or similar; we used both the 10” handles in black and the 5½” handles in black
NOTE: If you know your box will always be used within a bookcase or similar (as shown in our photos), you could use just ONE handle on the front.
- 1½ yards of 1” wide twill tape or similar for the top binding
- ONE package (3 yards) of standard extra wide, double fold bias tape for binding the interior seams; we used white
- All-purpose thread to match fabric, bias binding tape, and twill tape
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Fusible seam tape (¼" wide) to help holding the top binding in place
- Clips to hold the two-side fusible foam in place
- Seam sealant for the screw openings
- Awl for starting the holes for the handle screws
- Small sharp scissors for enlarging the holes for the handle screws
NOTE: The Cutting Guide drawing above, shows you how we fussy cut our striped panels and how the individual foam panels are cut and positioned. We are indicating how to center the cut for the base; you can – of course – position the base to one side or the other in order to create one larger remaining piece rather than two smaller pieces. The important step is centering the stripe.
- From the exterior fabric, fussy cut the following:
ONE 53” wide x 13½” high rectangle for the exterior sides
ONE 14” x 14” square for the exterior base
- From the lining fabric, cut the following:
ONE 53” wide x 13½” high rectangle for the lining sides
ONE 14” x 14” square for the lining base
- From the fusible foam, cut the following:
THREE 12¾” x 12½” panels for the three main sides
TWO 6¼” x 12½” panels for the back side (which will then be seamed to create the final full panel)
ONE 13” x 13” panel for the base
- Cut the twill tape into ONE 54” length.
- The bias binding tape will be cut to length during construction.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Creating the main panel: exterior, lining, and fusible foam
- Place the exterior panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Measure and mark for the placement of the initial foam panel; subsequent panels will be placed based on this first panel. Measure ½” in from the top and bottom (along the 53” edges) and draw parallel horizontal lines. Measure ⅝” in from each side (along the 13½” edges) and draw parallel vertical lines.
NOTE: You can certainly drawn in all the lines to make placement even easier. Follow the cutting diagram above, remembering that there is ¼” between the panels and ⅝” at each outer side.
- Align a 6¼” x 12½” foam panel along the drawn guidelines. Clip in place.
- Make sure the foam panel sits squarely on the panel, ½” from the top and bottom and ⅝” in from the side.
- With the panel securely clipped in place, carefully flip the panel to the right side. At your ironing board, and following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse this first panel in place.
NOTE: Remember, you are working with a two-sided fusible for this project so your fusing must be done in two steps.
- Return to your work surface and place the next panel into position, using the upper and lower ½” guidelines and leaving a ¼” space between the panels. Clip and fuse as above.
- Continue in this manner, placing and fusing one panel at a time until you reach the opposite side of the exterior panel. The outer side edge of the final foam panel should align with the ⅝” drawn guideline on the fabric panel.
- When all five panels are securely fused in place, place the fused panel wrong side up on your work surface once again. Find the lining panel and place it wrong sides together with the exterior panel. All raw edges of both panels should be flush. Lightly pin the layers together around the perimeter. It is very important that your lining layer is flat and smooth. Fuse the lining in place, activating that second side of the fusible foam.
- Flip over the panel so it is exterior side up. Measure to find the ¼” space between the panels. You can also feel this space with your fingers when confirming the measurement.
- Using your ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, draw a vertical line down the center of each of these four “cracks” – these will become the four corners of the assembled box.
NOTE: Remember, you are working on the right side of your fabric; make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system. We used the AcuFeed™ Flex system on our Janome machine.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and to best match the lining fabric in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch along each of the four drawn vertical lines.
- These lines of topstitching help define and strengthen the corners of the box.
Attach the front handle
- Find one of the two Dritz Home Faux Leather Handles. We used both the 5½” handle in black and 10” handle in black, setting one horizontally and one vertically. At this point in the instructions, you’ll insert just the one handle at what will be the front of the box.
- For the larger, vertical handle we centered it top to bottom (1½” from the top and bottom raw edges) then centered it vertically over the intersection of two stripes on our fabric, setting it so the screw hole was approximately 4” in from the right line of topstitching. Your placement may vary based on your fabric choice. We liked the look of the off-set handle, but you could certainly choose to exactly center the handle top to bottom and side to side within the panel.
- Use the drilled holes in the handle to mark for the top and bottom screw placement.
- Using an awl, drill through all the layers from front to back. Go slowly and carefully; you might need to poke through more than once to get a clean hole. Do this at both your upper and lower marks.
- Enlarge and clean up the holes using the small, sharp scissors.
- Place a drop of seam sealant around the holes to prevent raveling. Allow it to dry.
- Place the handle against the exterior panel, aligning its drilled holes with your own holes in the fabric panels. Insert the screw through all the layers,including the handle, from front to back.
- Place the plastic washer over the stud and then screw the back into place. Finger tightening should be enough based on the strength of your hands, but you can further tighten using a flat head screwdriver.
- The smaller, horizontal handle is inserted in the same manner. First measure and mark the position. We placed our handle 4” down from the top raw edge of the fabric panel and centered it side to side within the panel (remember, the vertical lines of topstitching define the center panel).
- Use the drilled holes in the handle to mark the placement on the fabric.
- Start each hole with an awl.
- Clean up and further enlarge with the small, sharp scissors.
- Add a drop of seam sealant to prevent raveling, making sure to let it dry.
- Place the handle against the exterior panel. Insert the screw through all the layers from front to back, and screw into place at the back. Remember to slip the washer on prior to screwing on the back.
Create the tube, bind the back seam, and insert the back handle
- With the front handle in place, fold the fabric panel in half exterior sides together, aligning the remaining 13½” raw edges. This becomes the center back seam of the box. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in both the top and the bottom. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using an approximate ⅝” seam allowance, stitch the center back seam. We continued to use our AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system and would recommend this or a Walking or Even Feed foot throughout the project.
NOTE: We say “approximate” on this seam allowance width because the thickness of the form and the precision with which it was fused into place can slightly affect the final seam. There should be ⅝” of un-fused fabric for the seam allowance, but if it is slightly more or slightly less, don’t sweat it. You simply want the seam to stitch right along, but not on, the foam.
- If necessary, trim back the seam allowance to just under ½”.
- Find the bias binding tape. Cut a length to match the length of the sewn seam.
- Open up the tape and slip it over the seam allowance to conceal the raw edges. Clip the tape in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding tape in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along the inner fold of the binding tape through all the layers. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both sides of the tape in this one seam. If your machine has the ability to adjust the needle position, use that feature to move your needle all the way to left to allow you to get as close as possible to the seam line.
NOTE: Packaged bias binding tape has a slightly off-set fold. Place the slightly shorter side on top – on the side that will be facing up under the needle. This will help insure you catch both sides.
- Find the remaining Faux Leather Handle. Place it on the back panel exactly opposite the position of the previously placed front handle. For our horizontal handle this meant the handle straddled the back seam. For our vertical handle it sat 4” in from the opposite corner, diagonally opposite from the front handle.
NOTE: As mentioned above, the second handle at the back is optional. If you plan on using your box in a bookcase or on a shelf and would always be pulling it from only the front, you really only need one handle on the front.
Bind the top edge
- Find the length of twill tape and the fusible seam tape.
- Press the twill tape almost in half. You want it off set about 1/16” so when you place it over the upper edge it’s easier to insure you catch both sides in the one seam. As mentioned above, this is how packaged bias tape binding is folded – ever so slightly off-set.
- Find the "tube," which should be lining side out.
- Adhere a length of fusible seam tape around the entire top of the exterior tube on the lining side; it should sit about ¼” down from the top raw edge. Place the twill tape so its fold is right along the top raw edges of the fabric panel. The starting and ending overlap of the tape should align with the back seam of the tube. The ever-so-slightly longer side of the tape should be on the lining side.
- Fold the twill tape down into position over the fusible seam tape, making sure you keep that “center” fold of the twill tape right along the raw edges of the fabric panel. Fuse the tape in place.
- Repeat to fuse the front side of the twill tape to the exterior in the same manner.
- Where the head and tail of the twill tape come together at the back seam, simply overlap. Do not attempt to fold under the raw edge of the tape at the overlap; there is a lot of thickness already at this point because you are at the back bound seam allowance of the tube. Instead use a drop of seam sealant to stop any raveling. Let it dry and then pin in place to complete the wrap of the binding.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the twill tape in the top and bobbin. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch.
- Edgestitch the twill tape in place around the entire top of the tube. As always, go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both the front and the back of the twill tape in this one seam.
- Zig zag over the back vertical overlap to further secure those raw edges.
Layer and insert the base panel
- Find the exterior and lining base panels and the remaining piece of fusible foam.
- Center the foam on the wrong side of the exterior base panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam on all sides. Clip in place. Flip over the panel and fuse in place from the right side of the fabric.
- Layer the fused exterior base panel and the lining base panel wrong sides together. Make sure the raw edges of both the exterior panel and the lining panel are flush on all sides and the layers are smooth, then fuse again to activate the second side of the fusible foam.
- Find the center on each side and mark this point with a pin.
- Then, mark ½” from each corner, or in other words, at the corner of the foam.
- Find the exterior tube. It should be lining side out.
- Mark the center points of the bottom raw-edged opening of the tube in the same manner as you did above for the base panel. The back panel seam is one center point; mark a center point directly across from it on the front panel. Then mark center points along both side panels.
- Place the back side of the base panel right sides together with back side of the tube, aligning the center pin point on the side of the base panel with the back seam of the tube. It’s a little like you’re setting a lid upside down into the opening of a box. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and to best match the exterior in the bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. We are still using our AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system.
- Using the outer pin point as your guide, start your seam ½” in and stitch across to the opposite outer pin (½” in from the opposite corner). You are using a ½” seam allowance. Remember to lock your seam at the beginning and end of your stitching.
- Remove the project from under the needle.
- In order to create the flattest base possible, clip into the corner of the tube at a diagonal, at a depth of about ⅜". You are clipping right up to but not through your stitching line. This allows the fabric to ease so the corner flattens out.
- Re-set, re-pin, and then stitch the next side of the base panel in the same manner.
- Continue in the same manner to stitch the remaining two sides of the base panel, stitching one side at a time, starting and stopping ½” in at the marked corners.
NOTE: If you are brand new to inserting a flat base panel, we have a full step-by-step tutorial you can review prior to starting this project: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.
- Here’s a view of the completed base panel looking down into the box while the box is still lining side out. You can see that our base panel stripes run horizontally. Keep the box wrong side out.
- Find the remaining bias binding tape. Keep it as one continuous length.
- As you did above when finishing the center back seam, open and wrap the bias tape around the seam allowance. If you find the tape is not slipping over as well as it should, you can trim back the seam allowance just slightly. However, the base panel seam allowance was ½” so the tape should wrap nicely.
- Pin or clip in place around all four sections of the base panel seam allowance. You can fold in each corner at a diagonal, similarly to how you’d handle a blanket corner.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the bias binding tape in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. If possible move your needle position to the left.
- Edgestitch around all four sides through all the layers, going slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both sides of the tape wrapping the seam allowances. Stitch all the way into each corner, stop, raise the presser foot with the needle in the down position, pivot 90˚, drop the presser foot and continue along the next side.
NOTE: You can even completely stop and lock the stitch at the corner, remove the project from the machine, make the corner diagonal fold, re-set under the needle, drop the needle down at the exact corner point, and stitch to the next corner.
- When you get to the last corner, just before your overlapping finish point, stop and create the corner fold. At this corner, as mentioned above as an option for all corners, you should stop and lock the stitch and remove the project from the machine. Create the final diagonal corner fold and insure that the head/tail overlap is smooth with the overlapped end tucked under for a clean finish, trimming away the excess. Pin or clip in place.
- Replace the project under the needle, making sure the needle drops back in at that exact 90˚ corner point.
- Edgestitch the last portion, matching the final seam to the original seam.
- Carefully turn the finished box right side out and push the base down into the corners. The bound seam allowances will naturally sink back a bit between the layers of foam.
- Turning inside and out can sometimes slightly disturb the fusing of the fabric to the foam. Smooth and re-press the box as needed to re-adhere.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild