Saturday, January 3, 2015

Travel Cubes aka Packing Organizer II

While the last version of the packing cubes work, I don't like how the zipper only opens the top "lid" half way. So, I've re-worked it. It's a little fussier to make, but still easy enough. I didn't worry if the edges didn't match exactly or the corner didn't match particularly well. They're just for organizing, no one will see them except you. And if you look at RTW (RTU? Ready-to-use?) manufacturers certainly don't worry about perfection.
Cut fabric as pictured above. The blue is the fashion fabric, the pink is the mesh. "s.a." = seam allowance              

The fashion fabric and mesh will look like this when it's cut. Just the top two pieces in the picture to the right. The other one at the bottom of the picture is so you can see the end of the mesh.
My ruler is covering the part I want to keep. I am cutting in from the long side. See next picture.
Here is one side cut out. The mesh will wrap along the sides to make items more visible.
 Here is the fabric back, top and bottom (the blue part in the schematic above).
 I serged along the top edge to finish the seam before installing the zipper on my conventional machine.
 Lay the zipper face down on the top of the fabric and stitch. Then repeat with the mesh.
Then I folded it back and topstitched to strengthen the zipper seam. It will receive a bit of abuse.
Unzip past the edge and abut the teeth. A stationary, wide zig-zag, will work as a zipper stop. Do both ends and cut off the extra zipper (with your cheap scissors, not the good ones).
Before you go on, remember to open the zipper, at least enough to get your hand in. You'll have to turn it right-side out at the end. Really ... do it now ... you'll forget ... I know ....
 Match the bottom edges of fabric and mesh and stitch.
This is the the most confusing part. It will create the boxed corners. But if you match yours to the picture, it will work. Those outer corners that sit out there on their own - fold from the point and match the edges. It will make a triangle. Serge (or stitch, trim and finish) either alongside the zipper tape or on your stitching line. It's not beautiful, but it functions. We're going for quick, not a construction contest.
Repeat for all 4 corners.
After the 4 corners, you end up with this. And now is when you might have to fudge. Those two open edges should match up fairly well.
If not, fuss a bit and make it work. You'll kind of pull the "lid" up out of the way to get the two raw edges to match. You could even take a tiny tuck at the bottom, or go at a slight angle to make the length match up. Serge that matched up edge.
 Turn it right-side out.
 Looks like this from the top.
 A zipper pull helps. I used a scrap of selvage, cut thin since selvage doesn't fray. Fold in half, push it through the hole in the zipper pull.
Push the ends through the loop and pull snug. You can see here in this pic, the corner stitching didn't match the zipper seam. But it works fine.
And it's done!
You'll want them in multiple sizes. You can look online for travel cubes for size ideas. I stacked up 5 or 6 t-shirts and measured it, then compared to a popular size. They work great inside the suitcase, makes packing things easy (and unpacking when you realize you forgot to add shoes at the bottom).

And speaking of shoes, make drawstring bags out of lining fabric for your shoes. Doesn't add bulk and keeps dirty shoes off the suitcase (the cubes keep the clothes off the shoes). But the lining is NOT waterproof, so keep that in mind if you're packing hiking shoes after a muddy slog.

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