Apr 09 2010

Fabric Box Tutorial

Published by at 9:00 am under Sewing

Outside of box

Here is the tutorial for making this fabric box. I have pictures for most steps which I find makes things clearer.

The cut fabric

Start by cutting out your fabric. I was making my box 11.5″ x 11.5″ x 9″ so here are my dimensions. Once I try  making this different dimensions, I can see if my formula works and then I can update this with a formula rather than the measurements I used. Anyhow, here is what you will need assuming you are making a box of the same size:

  • 2 – 16″ x 24″ pieces of outside fabric
  • 2 – 16″ x 24″ pieces of inside fabric
  • 4 – 11.5″ x 9″ pieces of timtex
  • 1 – 8″ x 6″ piece of outside fabric
  • 1 – 11.5″ x 11.5″ piece for the base (ideally wood,  but could be anything firm and hard)

Some notes on the fabric. I recommend something very stiff for the outside. Home dec fabric. It works better and looks nicer. I used some plain muslin for the inside and it was kinda a pain to work with. I would do something thicker next time.

Timtex: you can use peltex as well. I just happen to have timtex around the house.

Also, you’ll notice the small handle piece is doubled over in the picture. That’s because I sewed both my handles at the same time and then cut the strip in half. You can do the same if you want to save time.

One more note. This tutorial assumes a 1/2″ seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

Hard boards for bottoms

You will also need a base as mentioned above. I had these really hard cardboard squares. Maybe wood? They came out of some hanging closet organizers that I had to cut to make shorter, but I saved the inserts and they came in handy. You could just use another piece of timtex if you wanted, but it won’t be a sturdy. A nice pice of wood is ideal. See the other pieces? I plan on making more boxes.

Let’s start with the handle.

Open up the handle fabric Fold edges to middle

Fold in half and press Sew down edges

The steps above, reading left to right and top to bottom.

  • Fold the handle piece in half and iron to make a crease. Open back up.
  • Fold the sides into the middle crease.
  • Fold over on that middle crease again and press.
  • Sew about 1/4″ from each side to make a strap of sorts.

Curve over edge and sew down

Now fold over the edge about 3/8″ and sew again about 1/4″ from the edge. This will make placing the strap easier later.

No picture here because it’s pretty simple. But sew the outside fabric right sides together on three sides. If your fabric has a direction to the pattern, make sure you sew the sides and the bottom. Repeat for the lining.

Press seams open

Press open all your seams. You  may want to clip your corners at this point to make it easier to press.

Line up seams

Smoosh the corner down of the outside fabric so that the seams line up and you have a point. Above is a picture of matching up the seams.

Draw a line

Draw a line where the triangle is 11.5″ wide.

Stitch along the line you made

Sew straight down that line.

Trim off excess

Now cut away the excess leaving about 1/2″ seam allowance.

Clip the corners

Be sure to clip the fold on the edges to make pressing the seams open easier.

Outside and lining

Press open the seams. And here you have the two “boxes” done.

After stitching side down

Find the center of your handle.

Get the handle centered

And center your handle on the side of the box you want for the front. I kinda eye balled it using pins to mark the edges and middle of the side and the lining everything up. It seemed to work well enough 🙂

Pin handle in place

Pin the handle to the bag.

Attach the handle

Now stitch along the stitch line you made before.

Timtex pinned to outside

Place the bottom in the outside bag with right side out. Then stick the timtex pieces upright on the sides. You’ll want to pin the outside to the timtex. It actually works better if you pin from the outside, not the inside as pictured here.

Lining loosely set in

Now set the lining in. This is the part that is a little tricky if you used a flimsy fabric as I did. You’ll want to line up the corners and get it all nice and square.

Tuck in lining

Now fold over the lining between the timtex and the outside fabric and pin. Note: mine looks like I’m tucking a lot because I am. I cut my lining a bit too big. But just ignore that.

Pin through timtex

Turn over about 1/4″ of the outside lining and pin. This will give you a nice little border. It’s more important to keep the top border even than it is to turn over exactly 1/4″.

Pinning the outside to inside

All pinned and ready to sew.


Finally, stitch about 1/8″ from the fold of the outside fabric. Stitch through all layers (including timetex) and all the way around the top.

Inside of box

And we’re done! Here’s the inside. There’s a picture of the finished box at the top of this post.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Fabric Box Tutorial”

  1. Mistyon 16 Jan 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial! I know it takes a lot of time and effort to make them and post them. I’m going to give this a try pretty soon!

  2. Moineau16on 07 Apr 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Perfect, thank you so much, I’ve been looking for a tutorial to make boxes for the new nursery and this is exactly what I needed. I’ll come back to let you know how I’ve done 🙂

  3. Cyndi Andersonon 13 May 2015 at 5:48 am

    Was wondering if you had a formula for different size boxes. I have funny size cubbies in the kitchen for mail and keys. Cannot find ready made boxes so I want to make them to fit.

    Thank you so much,
    Cyndi Anderson
    Rochester Hills, MI

  4. Pigleton 18 May 2015 at 12:01 am

    Hi, Cyndi,

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I had to sit down and do the math again! So here’s the formula if you’re making a box based on my method:

    Assume that your base will be a square of dimension B and that your height is H and that seam allowance is 0.5 inches. Then the pieces you need are:

    2 pieces of outside fabric and 2 pieces of lining fabric,
    each with size: (2 * B) + 1 inches by H + (B / 2) + 1 inches
    4 pieces of timtex or peltex, size: B inches by H inches
    1 piece of outside fabric for handle, size: 8 inches by 6 inches
    1 piece of something hard for the base, size: B inches by B inches

    For example, in my case, my lining and outside fabric pieces will be: (2 * 11.5) + 1 = 24 and 9 + (11.5 / 2) + 1 = 15.75 (and then I rounded up 🙂

    You can also adjust the size of the handle based on whether you are enlarging or shrinking it relative to mine.

    Hope this helps!

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