Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kids' Toy Storage Part 2: Fabric Storage Cube Tutorial

In part one, I showed you how we made the animal "cages".  Well, it's only taken me a year and some change to do this tutorial, so, yeah... here's hoping I remember the steps correctly ;P


Outer fabric and lining fabric of your choice
10 sheets of stiffened felt
Nylon strapping in desired color
scissors, sewing machine, thread, etc.  The usual suspects.

Before you do anything else, you need to do some math.  Don't panic - it's not terrible, I promise!

Okay, you need to know what finished size you want your cube to be.  Standard cubes that are sold at the stores are 11" high, by 10.5" wide on each side, so that's what I did as well.  But you don't have to use those measurements by any means.  You can do any size and dimensions you would like - this formula will work for all of them.

Height of fabric = Desired height of finished cube + 1/2 desired height of finished cube + 2 SA (seam allowance)

So if you want your cube to be 11" high with 1/2" seam allowances, then you will cut the fabric to be 11+5.5+1 = 17.5" high

Width of the fabric:

For a cube = 4 x desired width of one side of finished cube + 2 SA.  In this example, it's 4x10.5+1 = 43"

For a rectangle = 2 x desired width of long side of finished cube + 2 x desired width of shorter side of finished cube + 2 SA.  If you did a 5x3 rectangle, it'd be (2x5) + (2x3) + 1"= 17".

I hope that makes sense.  So, for the cubes I was making, I cut 1 piece of outer fabric and one piece of lining fabric to the dimensions 17.5" high and 43" wide.  I also cut the stiffened felt into 10 1/2" squares.

Phew, glad that's over!

Once you know all your measurements, you need to figure out what materials you want to use.  I wanted these to be sturdy and made out of cute fabric, so they ended up being more expensive than what I could have bought at the store.  BUT, they are a statement piece of the room.  If you just want something inexpensive, you could use any fabric you had on hand, cut up an old sheet, etc. and use cardboard instead of stiffened felt.

Most of the tutorials that I found previously required the use of binding tape on the top, but I'm terrible with binding tape, so I went on a quest to find a different way.  Mine, therefore, have removable bottoms.  This is not a bad thing, but I will say my kids are always taking them out (or dumping them out on the floor with the toys).  If I were to make more in the future, or got a wild herring to do so with these, I'd hand tack them down in the corners just to keep them in there.  Live and learn, people ;)

Let's get going!!

Take your 2 pieces of fabric and fold them in half, right sides together.  Pin the edges and sew a seam.

Press your seams open, then tuck the outer fabric inside the lining fabric with right sides together, matching up seam lines.

Once lined up, pin along the entire top edge of the 2 pieces.  Sew a seam, then flip right sides out.

Tuck the lining section into the outer fabric and pin along the seam line.

Okay, now to figure out where you want your sides to be.  Fold your piece with the seam line on one side and lay flat.  On the other side, pin down the crease.  Now, from the sides, measure in the length of one side (in this case, 10.5") and pin down in a line.  Now open up the fabric tube and lay it flat again, but this time with your last pinned line on the side.  Pin down the side of the other crease, and that should give you exactly the right dimensions for your sides.  Again, hard to explain in words, so if you have questions, just ask.  And if that ends up being too confusing, just measure out your sides and pin.  

Sew from the top to the bottom down all pinned lines.

This will give you four pockets to stuff the stiffened felt into.

Now prepare your felt.  By itself, one sheet isn't sturdy enough.  So I sewed 2 squares together on 2 sides. 

The top of your cube is still pinned - leave it like this for not.  Stuff your felt into one pocket at a time.  Unpin one section at a time, stuff the felt all the way to the top, and repin to hold it in.  Once it's in there, pin beneath in at the bottom.  Since there will be a lot of pins and the cube will get really clunky really fast, it's easiest to do the strap on this first side.

Cut a piece of strapping to the width you'd like (make sure that it leaves a bit of a gap, and add in about 2" to fold under.)  Fold under one side and pin to the cube.

 Repeat on the other side.

Sew around the outer edges and then sew an "x" through the center.  I usually leave my needle in the fabric once I've gone around all four sides, pick up the presser foot, shift the fabric, and sew diagonally across for the first leg of the "x".  Then I sew along one of the outer sides, and repeat for the second leg of the "x".

Now, repeat all the stiffened felt steps for the other sides.

Sew along the top of the cube, making sure that you are catching the stiffened felt, and then sew all along the bottom of the cube as close to the stiffened felt as you can, to hold it in there securely.

Now for the bottom.  Flip the whole thing wrong side out.  If you're making a cube, it doesn't matter which sides you pin together first, since they're all the same.  But if you're doing a rectangle, make sure you pin the longest sides together.  Sew the seam.  This will all by hidden under the final felt piece.

On each side, there is a triangle.  Pin the bottom of it, closest to the center of the cube.  It will be really hard to tuck it all under your sewing machine, so to make it easier, pin that section flat like the picture below.

Sew along that seam, and trim off the triangle.

Flip the cube right side out. 

Take your final 2 pieces of stiffened felt that have been sewn together and tuck into the bottom of the bin.

All done!!  Now you just need to fill that sucker with all the odds and ends that clutter up your playroom :D

To make your organization even easier, choose a different fabric for each type of toy - For us, boy toys and legos go into the 2 cars bins I made, girl toys like Barbies and My Little Ponies are in the 2 mermaid bins, and the toy food goes in the sushi bin.  The light blue one with polka dots pictured above is used for the baby's toys.

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