Sunday, 20 February 2011

Fabric boxes

Fabric boxes look great and can be used to hold a multitude of things.  I originally wrote this tutorial for Making Gifts magazine but thought I would share it here also.

These buckets make great storage solutions. You can use them to store smellies in the bathroom, socks and pants in the bedroom, crafts supplies in your studio or just put them on your shelves to pretty it up!.

The buckets are reversible, can be used with edge rolled up or down, depending on your mood and they can be stacked when not in use.

Choosing your fabric: You will need to choose a fabric that is at least as sturdy as cotton, or thicker for both the inner and outer fabric for the buckets. I have previously used cottons, thin upholstery fabrics, vintage tea towels and even hessian.

You can use a different cloth for the inside and outside of your bucket, which gives a nice feature when you roll over the top edge, or you can use the same fabric for both inside and out.

If you are using cotton, or a similarly thin cloth both inside and out, you will need to also buy some iron-on interfacing to stiffen your cloth.


one and a half mtrs of cloth for outer, one and a half mtrs cloth for lining, iron-on interfacing (if your other fabrics are thin), ruler, fabric chalk or fabric pen, scissors, sewing machine or needle and thread, iron, thread

To make a trio of fabric buckets like this you will first need to make a pattern for the big bucket. All you need to do for this is to measure out a 30cm square.

Lay your outer fabric out on a large flat surface, pin the pattern to the cloth, pin it close to the edge and on the straight grain, so that you don't waste any cloth. Cut 5x30cm squares of cloth (seam allowance has been added so you don't need to add any when cutting). (PIC: cut fabric squares.

4 of the squares will be the sides of your bucket and 1 of the squares will be the bottom of your bucket.

Lay your inner fabric out on a large flat surface, pin the pattern to the cloth, pin it close to the edge and on the straight grain, so that you don't waste any cloth. Cut 5x30cm squares of cloth (seam allowance has been added so you don't need to add any when cutting).

If you have chosen a relatively lightweight cloth, like cotton, which will not stand up on its own, then you will need to use interfacing to make the cloth sturdier and this will help keep the shape of the box. (If you chose something like hessian, or an upholstery fabric then this will not be necessary). Pin the pattern to the interfacing and cut out 5 squares.

Turn on your iron. Lay one square of interfacing on your ironing board, shiny side up, place your fabric on top of the interfacing right side up.

Use a scrap of interfacing and fabric first to test your iron

Iron on a wool setting with no steam on for about 20 seconds (check the instructions on your interfacing as it may be different). Check the 4 corners to make sure the interfacing has stuck to the fabric, if not, iron some more.

Leave the backed fabric to cool for 20 mins, and let the interfacing adhere to the box

Once the interfacing is affixed its time to make your box.

Pin and sew your 4 side pieces together in a row using 1cm seam allowance.

Then sew up the last seam so they are all joined together 


Take the remaining piece of cloth and pin it to the sewn pieces to create the bottom of your box.

Sew the bottom to the sides using 1cm seam allowance.

Now repeat the last 4 steps using using your lining fabric.

Now you should have two fabric buckets without lids.

If they are crumpled at all, now is the time to give them a quick iron and press out the seams.

Turn you fabric lining bucket inside out. Place the fabric outer box (which you leave with right sides facing out) inside the the inner box

Pin the top edges together all the way round

Using the sewing machine, sew around the top using 1cm seam allowance, leaving a gap of 15cm

Remove all pins.

Turn the box the right way out by reaching into the gap and pulling the lining through the hole first and then the fabric outer.

Once its all turned the right side out, tuck the lining into the box.

Now you should have a fabric box shape.

Pin the hole closed

Topstitch all the way round the top of the bucket, you can do this in a contrasting thread if you wish

Taking a needle and thread and from the inside of the bucket, sew a few handstitches in the corners of your bucket to secure the lining to the outer fabric and to stop it moving about.


To make the medium and small buckets, you just need to repeat the instructions above using the following measurements to make two smaller patterns for 2 smaller bucket boxes, which will then stack inside each other.

Draw out the pattern again, this time using the following measurements for each box on the pattern:

5x25cm (medium sized box)

20x20cm (smaller box)


If you have access to an old typewriter you can make description tags for the buckets. Pop a plain fabric, like calico into the typewriter, as you would a sheet of paper, and type out the desired word. Remove the fabric and cut the word down to size, leaving at least 1/2cm around the edge..

Then cut out a piece of interfacing and a piece of your contrasting fabric at about 5x8cm each. Iron on the interfacing to the contrasting fabric.

Pin the typed wording to the 5x8cm square and stitch round the edge.

Pin the tag to the bucket and sew around the edge. Make sure the bucket lining is flat and not bunched or gathered before you sew.


If you want the boxes to be taller, then you can just add a few more cms to the top edge of each of outer boxes on your patterns.


  1. Oh, they looks great! I think, i need such buckets.

  2. I love the fabric you chose, could you tell us where you got it? Thanks!

  3. Hi,

    Both fabric designs were from John Lewis's haberdashery section. Glad you like them:)

  4. Belated 4 th of July
    Just to tell you the fabric I've seen so far is amazingly cute & unique. Loved the tutorial also for box's . Thank you fort sharing.Im a newbie senior / Susan m J

  5. Love the fabric boxes, will certainly have a go at these, thank you.

  6. Great tutorial, thanks! I will be making these for my daughter. Its just what I was looking for.

  7. These are super cute! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this up with the directions... my husband has a lot of boxes and we were "debating" on keeping it...
    This may save a box, if I can make it pretty using dressmaking fabric, lol!!

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