How to make a traditional Hand Made Sewing Box

hand made sewing box 3

For a while, I wanted to learn to create cardboard boxes the traditional way. I looked for a box that would teach me the steps and I found a wonderful french book all about creating traditional sewing Boxes !!!  ” L’atelier de la brodeuse” written by Sophie Delaborde and Sylvie Castellano.

The book layed on my shelf for a few month until my friend Avital’s daughter had her Barmitzva. Zohar followed my sewing class and I thought she would like a fancy, french, classical sewing box to go on sewing at home. I chose a feminine box from the book and starting preparing zohar’s gift with a lot of excitement and curiosity about the process.  I followed step by step the explanations to feel and understand the traditional making. It’s a long and meditative process full of small details, but as you go along you feel you are building a strong qualitative sewing box. It feels good to take your time, work slowly and precisely. It’s a great way to free your self of fast forward stress. I enjoyed every minute of the process and I advise you to give it a try. As I went along Zohar was by my side in thoughts, this box was made for her.


How to make Zohar’s sewing box

Creating your first traditional box is a long process that can seems at first very complicated. First you are more than welcome to contact me for further explanations. But once you have gone through all the steps, you will deeply understand the box making principle and it will seem to you easy to make any further box. If you like boxes it is worth the first effort ! Good luck and feel free to share your boxes.

Materials :

Fabric  : 70 cm fabric in a fabric 110 cm wide

Cardboard :

White cardbord 2.5 mm thick (I used foam board)

white Bristol 250gr

One metal handle ( I made my handle out of wire covered by crochet)


White glue

Craft tape ( I used masking tape)

Fabric scissors

Metal ruler

Building steps :

Step 1 : Preparing the cardboard parts

Decorative Bottom and lid  : 23×15 cm Cut twice the template shown above. Be carefull, the template is folded, the lid and bottom should be each twice as big.

Box bottom : 19.5 x 12.5 cm

2 large sides : 19.5×5.5 cm

2 small sides : 12×5.5 cm

Step 2 : Build the box

With white glue, glue the large sides on the bottom of the plain box buttom (19.5×12.5 cm). Then insert and glue the small sides on the bottom of the box. You obtain a ” shoe box”.  Do not go by the picture above ! I made a mistake in my step… You should obtain at this stage a plain shoe box without gluing it the decorative bottom. You will be gluing the “shoe box” to the decorative bottom during the step 6 !

Strengthen with craft tape on each glued sides.

Step 3 : Cover with bristol paper

Cover the rectangular cardboard box with Bristol cut to size on the outside of the box. Be careful, my picture is not correct ! Don’t glue the rectangular box to the fancy bottom. I made myself a mistake at first.

Step 4 : Fabric covering

Outside covering of the box

Cut a strip of fabric 66 x 16 cm.

Spread white glue on the back side of the box, glue the fabric. Leave a strip of fabric of 1cm on the bottom without gluing it, free floating. On the top of the box you will also have a strip of free floating fabric not to be glued.

Continue all around the box until your get back where you started, in the back of the box.

For the finish of the strip, spread glue on the end of the fabric strip and cut clean. Then glue.

Bottom finish : Fold the free floating 1 cm strip, cut the corner in triangle and glue the fabric on the bottom of the rectangular box.

Inside covering of the Box

Glue the free floating fabric on the inside of the box, except for the back of the box.

On the back fabric, cut a thin strip of fabric on each side the with of the cardboard (2.5 mm). Fold and glue the thin strips in the inside of the box

Creating a hinge in the back of the box

Cut a bristol of 18.8×5.3 cm to fit in the inside of the back of the box . Adjust the size according to your box.

Cut a new piece of fabric to match the bristol, adding 1 cm on each side and 4.5 cm on the top. Glue the fabric to the bristol. Fold and glue the 1 cm strips on the inside of the bristol. Leave the 4.5 cm on the top free floating.

Glue the bristol in the inside back of the box.

Glue the free floating fabric left to the free floating fabric from the outside box. You have created a hinge !!

Bottom of the box

Cut a bristol about 18.7×12.2cm. Adjust if necessary.

Cut a piece of fabric the size of the bristol adding 1 cm fabric all around . It is advised to use an other color fabric for the liveliness of the box !

Cut the four corners of the fabric in bias 1mm from the edge of the bristol. Glue and fold the extra fabric in the inside.

Glue the bristol in place on the buttom of the box.

Step 5 : Preparing the decorative bottom

Glue the decorative bottom on the fabric and cut the fabric leaving an extra 2-3 cm all around.

Notch the fabric all around the curves. or if the fabric is very thin, make folds. Glue the the fabric.

Glue the “shoe box” on the decorative bottom on the side where you folded in the fabric. Center.

Step 6 : Preparing the decorative lid

The Handle : I didn’ t have a nice handle at hand when I made this box, so I created one. I took a piece of thick wire and covered if with crochet stiches and made a decorative crochet circle for the junction to the box.

The lid :

Cover the lid with fabric as you did the decorative bottom.

Marque the location of the handle and make a hole with a punch . Place the handle in place. If necessary cover the metal on the inside of the lid with kraft tape. (I did it myself).

Spread glue on the inside of the back of the lid 5 cm wide. Glue the hindge from the box on the inside of the lid. Note : The lid will be glued symertric to the back  line of the box. Open the box and smooth the hindge.

Copy the template of the decorative lid on a piece of bristol, cut by retreiving 2 mm all around.

Cover with fabric as you did for the bottom of the box (using a different fabric)

Glue into place on the inside of the lid.

You are now done !!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s