Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tutorial: IKEA Expedit DIY Bins

Pattern: Download HERE You will need Adobe Reader/Acrobat to open the PDF. Assembly instructions and the supply list are on the last page of the pattern.


Per Bin:

8 Fat Quarters or Equivalent (2 yds)
Only 2 FQ will be visible so the remainder of the fabric can be scrap yardage, old/new sheets, muslin, etc.

Corrugated cardboard cut into five (5) 12.75" squares
Must be w/o creases or folds. I bought the Expedit shelves above and had enough cardboard from the packing boxes for all 8 bins.

15" Steam-A-Seam or other fusible web strip

1 Freezer baggie or 1 small piece of clear plastic/vinyl - cut to approximately 2" x 2.5".

1 Piece of scrap paper for label

Tape to hold baggie/plastic in place while sewing

Other sewing/cutting supplies:
Thread, scissors/rotary cutter & mat, ruler, sewing machine, iron & ironing board/mat

Note: If you are planning on these covers to be washable, you will need to pre-wash your fabrics before cutting, and then finish the seam allowances during construction so they don't fray in the laundry. I recommend pinking shears. You can use a serger/overlocker, but read through the instructions and visualize the entire process first so you'll know when/where to overlock.

1. Assemble pattern and lay out on fabric.

In the photo below, the green fabric on top is an actual Fat Quarter (18"x22"), the print underneath is a generous FQ and the plaid is just scrap yardage folded into 2 layers. 4 layers of fabric total. Each of these layers will be one side of the outside of the bin.

2. Cut the fabric. Be sure to save those strips as shown below to use for the cuff and the handle.

3. You'll have other scraps left and if you're a quilter, I'm sure you can find a use for them.

4. Using the same "house" pattern piece, cut out 4 lining pieces. I was doing assembly-line sewing for 4 bins, so I've got 12 lining pieces here from an unloved king-sized sheet, with plenty of leftover.

5. Next up is cutting out the cuff pieces (below left). The pattern is divided into 2 sections. If you're doing this on the cheap like me, you will use the shorter section for the "public" side of the bin and the longer piece for the sides that don't show, joining them up to form a 51" x 4.5" band.

If you're spendy :-), don't divide the cuff pattern and use it whole.

From my sheet used above for the lining pieces, I just cut random length 4.5" strips, joined the "public" cuff piece and trimmed them to 52" (52" includes 2 half-inch seam allowances. The finished tube will be 51" as noted above.)

6. Next up are the handles. From the strips used to cut the "public" cuff, you should have enough left to squeak out a 7"-7.5" x 2.5" strip. (See photo above.)

7. Fold the long edges toward the center, using the pattern markings as a guide. Apply Steam-A-Seam to each long raw edge and seal your handle closed.

8. Edgestitch along the long edges of the strip. Press the short raw ends under about 3/4"-1". If you're making more than one bin, note your finished handle length and use the same length for all handles if you want them all to match.

9. Pin your handle 5" - 5.5" inches down from the top edge of the front piece, leaving about 1" of "give" in the length so the handle is not flush against the front (see photo below). Stitch folded-under ends down in a square pattern to attach the handle to the front.

10. Using Scotch tape or whatever tape is handy, tape the baggie/plastic centered about 1/2" below the handle. Edgestitch the bottom and sides, as shown below, stitching through the tape. When finished, remove the tape.

Note: You will have to be careful when pressing once this plastic is in place so you may want to save this step for right before you insert the cardboard sides.

11. Press under the top edge of your cuff tube 1/2" and topstitch 3/8" down from the fold to create a finished hem. The short piece is my "public" cuff. The plaid is scrap. Remember, I was assembly-line sewing - the king sheet strips you saw in the above photos were used on other bins.

Set cuff aside for the moment.

12. As per the pattern, mark dots as shown below on the wrong sides of your 4 cover and 4 lining pieces.

13. Sew 2 of the 4 cover pieces right sides together, as shown. Pivot at the side dot and be sure to stop 1/2" from the bottom point on the dot mark. Be careful to not sew over any of the other pieces' points/seam allowances when you are at the point. You can feel them through the fabric, so just move them out of the path of the needle if necessary. It's OK to stop a little short of the point — it won't show. ;-) Also, remember that the points are on the bias and take care not to stretch the bias edges.

14. Repeat so that all 4 cover pieces are joined right sides together. You will end up with a cover that looks like this on the bottom, where the 4 points come together to form an X.

15. Repeat steps 13 & 14 for the 4 lining pieces.

16. Clip up to but NOT INTO the stitching at all corners on both cover and lining. See photo and drawing below. Do not clip the bottom point.

17. Press all seams open. Press the intersections at the point as flat as possible.

18. On the cover only, press the top raw edge under 1/2". Topstitch 3/8" in from the top to close the hem.

19. Back to the cuff tube you set aside earlier. Match the raw edge of the cuff tube to the top raw edge of the lining, right sides together. Center the "public" cuff section, if you have one, across one of the lining panels. You are trying to avoid a seam-to-seam match up at the corners for less bulk when assembling the bin later.

20. Press the joined cuff and lining flat, with the seam allowance pressed toward the lining.

21. This next part is tricky to describe and almost impossible to show intelligible photos through all the steps so follow along carefully and exactly.

a. Turn the cover right side out.

b. Turn the lining wrong side out.

c. Place lining inside the cover so that wrong sides face each other and each piece's side seam allowances are roughly matched up across from each other. (The cuff will extend at the top.)

Be sure to match your "public" cuff lining section with the "public" front face fabric of the cover.

d. Reach in between the cover and lining pieces and pick one pair of seam allowances (1 from the cover, 1 from the lining) and pin them together from the snip at the corner to the hem at the top of the cover. Sew the seam allowances together outside the existing seam in the existing seam allowance. Your new stitching should be 1/16" to 1/8" outside of the previous sideseam stitching.

In the photo below, the blue line is the existing stitching and the red line is the stitching you are doing in this step. Stitch starting about 3/4" below the cover's hem and stitch to the snips in the corner, keeping the seam allowance raw edges aligned and flat.

e. DO NOT pin more than one pair of seam allowances together at a time or you will end up with a twisted bunch of fabric you can't turn. Trust me. It is a lot easier to rearrange the cover and lining between each step of joining them together. So, when you have finished joining one pair of seam allowances, start from step 21(a) above for the next pair. Continue until all four seam allowances are joined and turn everything so the right sides are out on both cover and lining.

22. At this point, your bin cover should resemble this:

23. If you haven't cut your cardboard squares, do that now. I use my 60 mm rotary cutter and it's a breeze! Plus my sons think it sounds pretty cool, and I haven't noticed the cardboard dulling the blade at all.

(Add your plastic label holder now if you deferred this step from above.)

Slide 1 cardboard square into each of the 4 pockets between cover and lining you created in step 21. Go slow — the pockets will be snug and if you force the cardboard, you'll bend it.

24. With 4 cardboard panels in place, your bin is starting to take shape and will resemble this:

25. Fold the cuff over the cardboard edge and cover, to resemble this:

26. Almost there!

Right now, the bottom of your bin is still floppy fabric, like this:

27. If you're industrious and care about unseen details, you can cover the last cardboard square with some fabric and stitching or even glue, but I know no one will ever see the bottom of these bins but me, so I just …

28. … pushed the uncovered square inside as-is.

Start with the square on edge against one side of the bin and then lower it like a drawbridge until it's flat across the bottom.

Ta Dah!

This is the back view of the above bin. You can see how easily they can be turnable-reversible with a different print on each cover panel. These fabrics may not look like scraps, but trust me — they've all been used a lot and are definitely leftovers.

These bins use more "traditional" scraps and old sheets. Really bad cutting on that plaid - no way that side will ever see the light of day again. ;-)

If you use this tutorial to make your own bins, I'd love to see a photo!


  1. Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge. I wanted to immediately make a bin, but I couldn't open the pattern ;o(

  2. Daisy - Google Docs is down grrrr! so I moved the pattern to my server. Try again, it should work now.

  3. Debbie, you are completely awesome. Thank you for the wonderful (as usual) directions.

    These are so great!

  4. And just to be nosey-what did you draw your wonderful pattern in? Acrobat, PMB? Other? Is that something you do professionally? It's lovely.

  5. Meredith - CorelDraw. Yes, it's part of what I do/did professionally past and present.

  6. Hi Debbie, Thanks for the instructions. I recently bought two 2 by 4 Expedit to use horizontally as a cutting table. These bins are perfect.

  7. Debbie, you are such a diva. Your sewing room looks GORGEOUS -- every bit as chic as Martha Stewart's, except that you're actually doing your own sewing in yours. Thanks for sharing the bin patterns. This would be great for toy storage for kids, too -- all that Pottery Barn Kids furniture has cubby spaces for baskets, but the bins would be so much more fun!

  8. Thanks for sharing! The bins are great. I have a stack of old sheets that are begging to become bins. :)

  9. Thanks for the tutorial! I'm with you on not wanting to pay a fortune for the "proper" bins. Yours look heaps cuter anyway.

  10. So that's how you did it. Very ingenious! Thanks for taking the time to explain.

  11. Thank You!!! Thank You!!! Thank You!!! You're so ingenious!!!!
    I'm hoping to use this (or a version of it) for my daughter's (soon-to-be) newly decorated bedroom!

  12. Gina, (or anyone else that may know) could one sit on a 2 X 4 Expedit turned horizontally? Would it be strong enough? DD wants a bench, with a cushion to sit under her window, and I'd like to put these bins in it for storage)

  13. Love them! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this tutorial.

  14. Thanks so much for the tutorial! You are awesome.

  15. FREAKING GENIUS... Am redoing my studio now which involves lot of Expedit shelving. Will definitely try this. Thank you so much!

  16. Fantastic tutorial! You are awesome for putting this all together!

  17. Thanks for this, Debbie. I will definitely use this to make bins sometime soon.

    FYI, there don't seem to be instructions on the PDF, just the supply list. Which is fine, just wanted to let you know as you say they are on there.

    designdreamer, I'm not sure I'd trust the bookcase to sit on - they're pretty sturdy but they're not really designed for that kind of weight.

  18. Laura - the PDF includes instructions (a visual) on how to assemble the pattern, not how to assemble the bins. That's what this tutorial is for. ;-)

  19. Gotcha, Debbie. I misread your original wording. Thanks!

  20. I love how your sewing room is coming. Unfortunately I don't have room to use just for sewing. I recently purchased a serger and coverstitch machine and quickly getting crowded. I also just ordered a big stash of thread from Cleaners Supply. How do you store your thread?

  21. Debbie, Thank you again. The pattern is perfect!

  22. Not having IKEA or anything like that here, I began looking for a tutorial to make something similar.

    I came across this website. Has all the plans and everything FREE to make all sorts of bookcases, beds etc. There's some fabulous shelving ideas for craft rooms.

    This is the link to the 6 shelf bookcase.

  23. The bins are so pretty and an Awesome tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Debbie - thanks for this tute! Do you do step 21 8 times or 4 times please? thanks

  25. Kate,
    Step 21 is 4 times. You are taking the 8 "corners" and pairing them up, which gives you 4 pairs.

  26. Sorry - just trying to get this clear in my head.
    So you've pressed the seam allowances open - and you have 16 seam allowances in total.
    At each corner of the box you have 4 SA's - 2 on the lining and 2 on the cover. In my first box I have sewed both "pairs" at each corner together - but I think that this makes the resulting pocket too small and the corners a bit wonky (though that could also be my sewing :)).
    Are you just sewing one SA of each pressed open pair together at each corner??

  27. Kate,
    You would sew the 4 "layers" of seam allowances at once, per corner. You need to sew outside of the seam that's already been sewn, which means you are actually sewing *into* the existing seam allowance area. It will be a snug fit when sliding in the cardboard, but as long as your cutting was to the measurements and your seam allowances are accurate, it will all fit together.

  28. Box #2 is much less wonky! thanks, Kate

  29. Grandma C (Connie)1:01 PM, August 19, 2010

    As always, great, clear, easy to follow tutorial. And you always pick such useful things to do tutorials on. Things anyone can use.
    I had made some similar bins myself, but did them a bit differently. Also being a cheapo, I didn't want to fork out $$$$ for stiff interfacing and didn't think of or have access to thick cardboard that didn't have folds in it. What I used was the canvas that you buy at the hardware store for painters drop sheets. If you use it unwashed, it is stiff enough to hold the sides up without any additional stiffener. If you wash (hot water/bleach) multiple times, you get a great thick soft fabric that can be used for slipcovers or whatever use you need heavy fabric for. If you want it stiff, just don't preshrink it. Also, after I stitched the side seams and the box was all done, I top stitched down each side thru all layers to make sort of "rods" that keep the corners up straight. And just this week, I found a pattern for bins that I am going to shamelessly copy the scooped out pocket on the front for putting in a label. I might use these handles as well - not sure.

  30. Hi Connie,
    Thanks! Great bins in your link too. I think I'm glad I didn't see them before because I may have had to make those and spend more $$ doing so. :-)

  31. Quite frankly Debby I like your pattern much better. I'm going to the liquor store tomorrow to get the boxes they ship bottles of alcohol in. I use them every time I have to pack up heavy items - there is no more usable cardboard than in those boxes. Except of course, if you buy some large IKEA furniture LOL. My only change would be putting a more accessible label holder like the one I linked to. I'm afraid I'm OCD about labels and about not putting things where they don't belong which means I have a pile of "ahem" crap all over my cutting table. At least a foot deep. time to rip all the sheets of the beds and get sewing LOL!!
    I can't thank you enough for putting this pattern and tutorial up. You not only have the best ideas, but you have a talent for translating it into Kitchen English and your illustrations/photos are the best!! Ever thought of writing a book??
    I have a bunch of painter's drop cloth canvas* in the washer right now and it will be bins, bins, bins. And maybe I'll see my cutting table again!
    * heavy canvas painters drop cloths - I buy mine at Canadian Tire (hardware store)- are a very cheap way to buy good strong canvas - wash/dry it with bleach in the washer about 5 times and you have the best whitest soft canvas. A decorator on TV used it to slipcover her expensive furniture and it looked gorgeous - white furniture with 5 boys. She says whenever anything happens, it goes in the washer with bleach again - no shrink left and if the bleach doesn't work she made extra cushion covers when she made the slipcover - clever girl. less than $200 to slipcover her living room furniture. too bad you can't use it for muslins!!

  32. .... never post when you are almost asleep.

  33. This is a GREAT design and overcomes some of the problems I faced when trying to make something similar (they all ended up in the bin!). Thank you!!!

  34. oh, awesome. this is a great idea! I was trying to find some plastic crates that would fit in my expedit but couldn't find any...I was hoping to find some and do some covers for them, and I did, but they don't fit. I still have plenty of uses for them tho.
    In order to make these sturdy enough for MY sewing room, I intend to put a square of masonite in the bottom.

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  35. Thanks for this lesson! This box was a one of my whishes :)

  36. I think about this tutorial every time I look at the opened package of paper napkins in the corner of my kitchen counter. I'm going to copy this idea to make a holder for the paper napkins.

    At what point does the cuff become a tube (mentioned in step 5), or is it really only a strip?

  37. Thank you for the tutorial, beautiful work.

    Curious: how long did it take you to make all 8 of them?

  38. i was wondering where you found your storage. i was looking for something like that for my daughters toys and i will be using this to make the bins . they are way cuter than what we can buy

  39. You inspired me, then I totally changed how I made my napkin holder: http://mary-sews.blogspot.com/2012/03/sewing-and-eating-more-of-it.html

  40. Love these, was wondering,,what is the finished size of these?

  41. Thank you for this tutorial! It's so well written and easy to follow. I just finished making 5 new bins for my Expedit following your instructions, and I love how they turned out. :) if you'd like to see them, I wrote about them here: http://www.anodynedesign.com/blog/2013/04/06/fabric-bins-for-the-ikea-expedit/

  42. Thank you for sharing this tutorial! It's so well written and easy to follow. I just finished making 5 of these bins for my Expedit, and I love how they turned out. If you'd like to see them, I wrote about them here: http://www.anodynedesign.com/blog/2013/04/06/fabric-bins-for-the-ikea-expedit/

  43. So glad I found this as I scoured the internet trying to find bins that fit just right and matched our home. I haven't sewn in years and this was a very easy to follow tutorial.
    Instead of using scrap I used upholstery fabric on the outside and solid on the inside, I also extended the inside piece to have the contrasting inside color be what folded over one the outside. Came out perfect the first time, I was impressed.
    I also shimmied a piece a piece of cardboard all the way into the bottom between the fabric. Gave it that professional look inside and out!

  44. Thank you so much for this tutorial, I'll definitely trying to make them. I'm glad I found you.


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