Make soft storage bins from old jeans

storage bins

This post originally appeared on my old blog 3 years ago, when I lived in a different country. I’ve seen a few beautiful versions of these baskets lately, but none using denim, so I thought I’d pull this post out of the mothballs for you. 

I have been searching for decent, small soft storage bins for ages now. It’s amazing how incredibly useless Google is if you don’t know the name of something. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what the greater world would call these things. Fabric bins? Soft storage bins? Apparently the term is ‘fabric baskets’ [in the UK, I think fabric bins works over here in North America], but it took nearly two months of intermittent Googling and plaintive Twitter requests to find some. Of course, they were either ugly, or too big. Mostly ugly.

I convinced myself they wouldn’t be hard to make. I thought about them as I fell asleep, how it would work, what bits would go where. I have about two hours in the evening before Elliot wakes up and won’t go back to bed on his own, so I had to work quickly. I looked at this pattern, which was nearly perfect, but decided on some key deviations.

I wanted to use denim as the outer fabric as it’s hard-wearing and its innate stiffness would do away with the need for interfacing, which I have no idea how to use so was keen to avoid entirely. I’m trying not to buy new fabric, so for these I stopped by my local Oxfam and picked out some men’s jeans for £2.50. Not only did these have the benefit of being cheaper, but I planned to use part of the leg, doing away with sewing at least one seam. If you do the same, look for jeans with very straight legs, or your bins will be wonky. For the inner fabric, choose something decor weight – I’ve used Amy Butler’s Imperial Fans from the Nigella collection in River.

Cut a portion of leg the height you want your bin to be, remembering to incorporate the large turnover edge. Lie it flat and measure the width, and then use half that measurement to make a circle on the jeans, and cut that out. That’s the bottom of your bin.

Now use those two pieces to cut out the lining of your bin on the decor fabric. I would suggest lying the flat denim tube on the fabric, marking it out, then flip it over so you have a rectangle twice the width of your denim tube. Trace the denim circle and cut out one of decor fabric. Now, sew the two short ends of your fabric rectangle so you have a tube. Take your circle of decor fabric and pin it round the edges of one end of your fabric tube, with right sides facing in. If your fabric pattern has a direction, now is the time to figure out how you would like it to appear when you fold it over. Sew the end circle to the tube. Repeat with the denim tube and circle.

Now, put your denim bin rightside out. Take your fabric bin, and turn it so the right sides are all facing in, and put it inside the denim bin. You should now have all right sides visible. Take the edges of both the denim bin and the fabric bin and turn them out so you have a small rim, and pin it. You’re going to stitch this down to hem it, and then turn the whole thing down again, so effectively what is being stitched in the inside will look like topstitching. Make sure you’re happy with the colour of thread in your bobbin. Finish sewing this hem, turn down the top and you’re finished! Fill with whatever takes your fancy.

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