Sewing Tip: Squarely Boxing those Corners

Here’s another sewing tip that I had to learn the hard way.  Boxing corners looks easy enough on paper, but when it comes to actually making those corners square, eyeballing it hasn’t been good enough for me.  So for a tote bag that you’ve made by folding a rectangle in half and sewing up the sides, give that bag some depth by boxing the corners.  And prevent those corners from being wonky by measuring carefully.

First, snip the seam open at the top and lay the side seam down the center of the bag.  Press the seam open.  Next, make sure the seam is truly centered by laying a ruler on the seam.  Place a line on the ruler directly on top of the seam line, and as many inches down as you are supposed to box the corner.  In this case, it is 3 inches (which is a very deep box as far as bags go).

boxing corners1

Make sure that the fabric on the left side of the seam (A) is exactly the same as the fabric on the left side of the seam (B).  If A does not = B, then adjust the box and measure again.

boxing corners1b

Now draw a line across the bottom of the ruler and pin fabric into place.

boxing corners 2

This is the line you will sew on.  I always double stitch this line because I’m all about sturdiness and I also backstitch at the begining and the end.

boxed corner

This is a bag with an ~1 1/2″ box.

Happy corner boxing!

77 Responses to “Sewing Tip: Squarely Boxing those Corners”

  1. 1 macati September 1, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    now that I’m starting with sewing (and my real first project is a tote for supermarket shopping) this is a great idea! thank you!

  2. 2 Fiona (Dragonfly-Crafts) September 2, 2007 at 5:44 am

    Thanks for sharing. Great tip that we can all use

  3. 3 Sue September 2, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for the great tip! It will come in very handy.

  4. 4 Vicki September 3, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you for making that sew easy… I think I have to go and box some corners…

  5. 5 Beth September 3, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Marking it is such a good idea. I get lazy and then my corners are all wonky.

  6. 6 Tracy September 4, 2007 at 6:52 am

    You are full of great tips–thanks for another one! :o)

  7. 7 Jes September 4, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you! I quilt and yet I never sorted that one out. It seems such a simple concept, but sometimes you need someone to put it up there and go here! that’s how it’s done! =)

    I will take any tips you got!

  8. 8 Kristi W September 4, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I found your blog when looking up diaper bag patterns on Google. Just ordered one through etsy. Now I’ve also found another great sewing blog! Happy sewing! 🙂

  9. 9 Tinkerblue September 5, 2007 at 5:52 am

    Ohh I bookmarked this one. I can never get square corners. This sounds and looks simpler than any other tutorial I’ve tried.

  10. 10 claire September 8, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks again, for another great tip.

  11. 11 Nikki September 9, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    I made my very first make-up-a-pattern bag this weekend (a fun tote bag) and used this method – thank you! The corners look great. 🙂 (Post to come on my blog, hopefull soon!)

  12. 12 Rose Marie October 7, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for this tip … I usually just eyeball it when I’m ready to stitch that tab.

  13. 13 Louisa October 23, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m a bit confused about snipping the seam open at the top. Where and how much do I cut? My corners aren’t really wonky, but I can’t make the bottom and side seams line up exactly. I’m not sure why I can’t get it.

  14. 14 BethieB March 8, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Holy cow, you sooo just made my day! I have been trying for a week and a half now to figure out these corners, looking all over online for a tutorial on this. Thank you so much!

  15. 15 BethieB March 9, 2008 at 3:28 am

    I know I just posted and all, but I had to come back and say that I just made my first successful box corners and it’s all thanks to this blog. So one more time, a huge thank you!

  16. 16 Sandy March 21, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Your tips for boxing corners are great, best of all is the ruler. I don’t have one, off to buy one now. Thanks for your tips.

  17. 17 cody May 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    thanks for the tip

  18. 18 Vicky Glass July 1, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Regarding your instructions on boxing corners:

    Would you mind also explaining whether you cut off the extra fabric outsi8de the area sewn? And if not, what can be done to hide or secure the flap?

    I appreciate your tips very much. I’ve just discovered your website and have learned several other tips as well (like attaching magnetic snaps). I’m into bags too, and trying to find the perfect bag, with lining, magnetic snaps and a very finished inside.

    Thanks for your help. I hope you’re respond to my question above.


  19. 19 aisha November 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    hi, thanks for the tutorial. what’s the name of the measuring tool you use?

  20. 20 Holly January 22, 2009 at 11:10 am

    This is so helpful – thank you! I was trying to do this freehand last night and scratching my head as to how to get it right.

  21. 21 Terry January 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Thank you for a lovely and very concise tutorial. Your pictures and directions are so good and now I feel more confident that I can make my box corners look identical.
    Thanks for helping us to be able to make sharper looking projects. You’ve made my day!

  22. 22 Laura February 5, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Thank you for your site. The article on box corners is very helpful. I have sewn clothing but never bags. Now I am inspired to try. Because of homeschooling the boys I don’t get to sew very much but it is fun, especially when something turns out well. I saw your skirt. If you want, look at this site: I saw it in a sewing magazine and have used her T-shirt pattern for my mother with great success. The XS is still to big for me but I will keep working with it until I get it right. There is a bias skirt pattern too that I haven’t had a chance to try so I can’t tell you about it.

  23. 23 Fanny Priest July 26, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks so much for this tutorial, it has saved me from losing my mind trying to get the corners straight on my box bag.

  24. 24 connie March 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    WOW! Thanks for the great tutorial…I’ve never liked this part, this should really help me now.
    Great bag, I’ll have to try it.

  25. 25 madebyalh April 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for keeping this post up! This really helped me get my corners perfect! 🙂

  26. 26 Alie K September 29, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    thanks so much for posting this. my friend and i got stuck sewing a bag and your directions were so much more helpful than the pattern we were using.

  27. 27 Tabitha October 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial. I used this to make a Halloween treat bag and blogged it and linked you.

  28. 28 Becky October 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you for a very, very helpful tip! It was a roll of the dice if these turned out right for me before, now I have a sure way to do it!

  29. 29 Idadown January 22, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Awesome tute. Easy to follow and allowed me to make great corners first time. Thank you for posting.

  30. 30 Penn June 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Thankyou for the tute. Now how to apply for a cushion for a couch … hmm!

  31. 31 Gjeometry December 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    HI craftapple. I actually recently used your tutorial for boxing corners. I was following instructions for a tote bag and it simply said to “box corners” and showed a finished pic. And, like you, it looked very easy on paper, but when I tried to emulate it….failure. So, looked up how to do it and followed your great pics. Second try…success. Thanks!

  32. 33 dalanak July 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Im in love with your blog now! So adorable ideas!

  33. 34 Rueben February 7, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Hi, just wanted to tell you, I loved this post.

    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

  34. 35 Suparna February 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Thank you for your valuable tip. It’s inspiring

  35. 36 Dana July 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Great tutorial, yet simple and clear.
    Thank you 😆

  36. 37 free quilting patterns December 28, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted
    to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog
    posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing on your
    feed and I hope you write once more very soon!

  37. 38 Errin August 13, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Thank you for this great tip! I have been sewing for many many many okay since I was in the 4th grade and off and on I make bags this was so helpful. I usually find the simplest form, so I remember the next time and this is not one I have figured out. I have seen other patterns where the corner are pre cut. I was wondering if you think your steps are easier Or pre cutting the corner and then sewing? Also. If I plan for a 4 inch side am I safe to to plan 2 inches for each edge plus seam allowance? Thank you again for the info!!!

    • 39 craftapple August 14, 2017 at 12:25 am

      Hi Errin!

      Thanks for your kind words! I have also seen and used patterns where the corners are precut. I use the steps above when I’m making bags without a pattern as it is easier for me. I suspect it is just a matter of preference and that it just depends on the sewer which technique they want to use. And to answer your question, yes, the base of the triangle will be 4 inches.


  38. 40 Dawn January 31, 2018 at 7:00 am

    Do you have a pattern and tutorial for the entire bag? I’m wanting to make a bag big enough and sturdy enough to carry a three ring notebook and a book or two. Any help/ suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks, Dawn

  39. 42 Sherrie Curry May 22, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you so much for such clear instructions and illustrations. I can’t wait to try it.

  40. 43 Barbra September 16, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Can you explain why boxing a bottom takes away more width then it does height I’m not grasping how this works?

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Craft Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, crafting is my apple. It’s what I do to maintain my sanity while taking care of my family. I homeschool my three boys, ages 14, 15, and 16), am a quilter, a bagaholic, and pattern designer.  Oh – and I also like taking pictures.

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