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sewing 101: fabric boxes

by Brett

It seems no matter what I do, I can never get a handle on all the tiny odds and ends that accumulate around my house. From craft materials to hair ties, the bits and bobs are constantly trying to take over, so in the never-ending quest to corral them, these little fabric bins were born. You can make one of these soft boxes in almost no time, and in almost any size, so you can customize them to perfectly fit whatever you need to hold. Top each one off with a label holder (also customizable in any shade of the rainbow, thanks to nail polish), and you’ll have a leg up on clutter . . . for a little while, at least. — Brett Bara

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • a sturdy fabric, such as canvas
  • thread to match
  • sewing machine, iron and basic sewing supplies
  • label holders
  • nail polish (optional)


1. Paint the label holders.

I couldn’t find label holders in a color I liked, so I decided to customize my own by painting them with neon pink nail polish. It works like a dream! Just as if you’re painting your nails, cover the metal pieces in several coats of polish until you achieve full coverage, then finish with a clear top coat.

2. Cut the fabric.

Begin with any size square or rectangle fabric you like. (Mine was 12″ square.) Draw a line of equal distance from each edge; this will determine the height of your sides. (Mine were 3.75″ from each edge). After drawing your lines, the fabric will be divided into a grid of nine sections.

Cut away the four corner sections to create a cross shape. Repeat to make a second, identical piece.

3. Sew the fabric.

Pin the two pieces together with the right sides of the fabric facing and all of the edges aligned.

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around the perimeter of the cross shape, leaving an opening along the top edge of one of the cross arms.

(Detail of the opening left on the top of one of the arms.)

4. Trim the corners.

Trim away the excess fabric from the point of each corner as well as from each interior corner. (Removing the excess fabric from the corners will help to achieve neat edges when you turn the piece right-side out.)

5. Turn and press.

Turn the whole thing right-side out, carefully working the fabric through the opening left in the stitching. Use a pointy object to poke out each corner. Smooth all the seams flat, then press the piece with a steam iron. Iron under the raw edges of the fabric at the opening so it blends in with the seamed edges.

6. Add top stitching.

Top stitch all around the perimeter of the piece. (This will finish the edges as well as close the seam opening.)

7. Sew the corners.

Fold the piece so that any two of the arms meet each other.

Sew the two edges of the arms together along the top stitching line you made in the previous step. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam to secure it.

Repeat this step for all four corners, and you have a box!

8. Attach the label holder.

All that’s left is to sew on the label holder with a needle and thread. And start organizing your odds and ends!

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  • This is a great packing box idea for my arts and crafts! And really simple too! I think it’s really important to make sure there’s a bit of hard backing in there because you want to make sure that it’s not too flimsy and it’ll stand up straight, especially if you’re going to fill it to the brim. And I love the fact that it’s customizable to whatever size you want it. It’s so difficult to find packing boxes at just the right size so thanks for this tutorial!

  • excelente idea, me encanto ahorras mucho en cajas plásticas o de cartón decoradas, porque estas las haces al tamaño que quieras de los colores que quieras y les das un toque personal, yo en lo personal le agregaría una jaladera de tela.

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