A follow up to this. I got a good deal on some factory-2nd 12oz bull denim (minor color variation issues, but I will probably wax the material anyhow). At $2.69/yd, it was cheap enough to justify the attempt.OK, here's a topic I'd like to hear from the experts on:
Sewing folding or semi-rigid containers. I'm talking stuff like the Front Runner Flat-Pack Storage cubes, or the various organizer/storage cubes from Ikea or any of a million Chinese firms - the kind of thing with panel inserts to help them keep their shape.
I have a set of the FR Flat-pack cubes, but they're just too tall to fit under the bed/bunk in my van after recent rework, and they weren't perfectly sized anyhow. At the moment, I'm using an Ikea "Skubb" (underbed zippered soft-box), which fits, but it isn't perfectly sized either, leaving unused cubic inches. The Ikea and Chinese stuff is also cheap as hell, which I don't love. It's a good thing the Skubb was like $6 (so I bought a 2nd one) since the first is already coming apart at one seam where it got man-handled a bit.
I don't necessarily need the "Fold Flat" capability, but I'm looking to sew my own such cubes to maximize the available dimensions and use heartier materials and construction.
I sew "OK". I have a weak hobby machine, but with good needles and patience I've been able to sew canvas and upholstery fabric for a few jobs including HD seat covers for our bench/bed. I can handle sewing a "box", and I think I can figure out the steps for a zippered lid, but once I add in making lined panels with a stiffener, I start to lose the ability to visualize the steps...
So I ended up with a basic rectangular box with a zippered lid, nothing fancy, but it replaces the Ikea "Skubb" underbed storage we were using as a "drawer" under our van's bed/seat. Since I've been doing a lot of organization with corrugated plastic lately, I went ahead and just built a basic unlined box and then cut coroplast panels to friction-fit and make the semi-rigid box hold its shape. After cutting the main pattern, I found I had some waste material that was perfectly sized to add a zippered pocket to the front edge, convenient for small items we want to keep handy.
This is the first of two bags (of different dimensions) so that I can optimize the available space, while each is perfectly sized to hold our packing cubes that we use for clothes, etc. Aside from not filling the available space, the other issue with the Ikea unit was that it was too large (and undivided) to easily carry it like a bag (e.g. when bringing all the clothes in after a trip, or if we stay a night in a motel and want to bring all the clothes in from the van). Having two smaller bags with better handles and D-rings for shoulder-straps means these will better serve as both "drawer" and "luggage".
Aside from a couple of wonky stitch lines, I'm really happy with how this turned out. Total investment <$40 in materials (with a lot of leftover fabric and zipper for future projects).