Collapsible Fabric Storage Totes

by Mindy Miller

How do you make organization fun, functional and fashionable?

Believe it or not, that is not a trick question. Custom storage totes can solve a variety of organizational challenges.

Whether you have storage needs around the house or when you are on the go, a collapsible tote can be used for a variety of purposes. In addition, it can be designed to meet size and decorating preferences.

To get started, determine the height, width and length of the tote you intend to make. Create a pattern by drawing the bottom of the tote on a piece of paper. Measure and add the sides to the pattern; each size is the same height, which is the desired height of the tote. When complete, the pattern should resemble a cross design or an unfolded box cut apart at each corner.

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Use the pattern to cut two pieces of fabric. One will be for the outside of the tote and the other for the lining. You may want to use a contrasting or coordinating fabric for the lining.

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If you wish to add handles to the tote, cut a length of webbing and sew it to the right side of the fabric. Fold the ends of the webbing under before sewing.

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Once the handles are attached, place both pieces of fabric together (wrong sides facing each other). Stitch down the middle of each panel (vertically) with the handle. The stitching will run from the top edge to the bottom of the side panel.

With the lining fabric facing you, begin to match and stitch the edges of the tote. To create a finished edge on a regular sewing machine, use a zig zag stitch.

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When all of the sides are stitched, turn the tote right side out. There will be a pocket on the front and back panel and two smaller pockets on each of the side panels. Cut cardboard or similar material to fit inside each pocket and insert. Then sew binding tape over the top edge to finish.

The finished tote will collapse for easy storage.

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This is a simple sewing project that you can customize for numerous purposes by simply adjusting the size and fabric.

For example, use the tote to organize and easily transport laundry or cleaning supplies.

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Organize miscellaneous supplies in your car with a tote.

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Also, consider how you can better organize these spaces and items with totes:

  • Closets
  • Recycling items
  • Toys
  • Daily school items for each child (lunch box, homework, etc.)
  • Under sink or counter storage