Hand-Sewing Project Box

Julie Yonge © 2009

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Here is a fun and simple idea for a hand-sewing project box. I use mine to house the few items I need to keep me busy when I am on the run; perhaps sitting in a doctor’s office, visiting my mom, or going to a sewing bee. This organizes what I might need for the “ hand-sewing project of the moment.” I can put my scissors, needles, some thread, buttons, beads, a bit of trim, etc. in it and away I go.

The first thing you will need to do is find a box. I used an old cigar box that I purchased from a local specialty store in our area. Often this store keeps these boxes for hobbyists and sells them for $0.25 - $2.00, depending on the composition of the box. As you can see, this one is wood and has a nice little closure on it.

Once you have your box, you need to decide how you would like to decorate the outside of the box. You can paint the box, collage it with fabric or paper, or decoupage it in some fashion. The emphasis of my project box is on its top, so I just painted the outside of my box to give it an old vintage look.

For the top of this project box, I wanted to do a bit of fabric collage (however, a crazy quilted top would be absolutely beautiful). I measured the top of the box, and then cut a foundation piece of fabric that was a few inches larger than the top measured. I ran a basting stitch in a loud color around the area to be decorated to make sure my collage did not spill over what would be the finished top. The basting stitch is pulled out later – it is just an easy way to mark the area of my fabric collage composition. I wanted a bit of loft and depth to my collage, so I backed this foundation fabric with a piece of batting. I selected some collage components such as additional bits of fabric/coffee stained lace, a photo, typewriter keys, buttons and jewelry findings and added them to the area that would be the top of my box. I used iron-on transfer sheets to transfer my photo image and the text to fabric to place on my piece. Iron-on transfers are a bit more rugged than printing on silk or cotton, which was the reason for my choice, but depending on the design of your piece, any of these photo transfer/printing techniques will work.

Once I had the design completed, it was time to add it to the top of the box. I wanted even more loft on the top of my box, more than the batting I had put behind my foundation piece, so I glued some additional batting to the top of the box prior to placing the finished collage on top. I then trimmed the fabric collage to a piece only about an inch larger than the top of the box and began to carefully and snugly glue the edges of the collaged piece over the sides of the box top just slightly. Clamps or clothespins can be used to keep your piece in place while the glue dries. Once the collage top is in place and dry, choose a decorative trim to be used to glue around the box and cover the raw edge of the fabric, but not far enough down to interfere with the opening and closing of the box. For this project, I have actually used three different trims, each on top of the other.

The lid and/or body of the box are lined with felt or viscose material so that it can be readily used for beading and to keep items from being tossed around. The inside of the box is actually another design opportunity – you can glue in a pin cushion, a ribbon to keep scissors in place, a pocket for small items, etc. As you can see in the photo, I happened to have a piece of “ruler” ribbon that I glued in the top.

If you are working on more than one project at a time, having several project boxes which you have packed and ready to go is a real time saver; and, I might add, has on many occasions started interesting conversations with people in doctor’s waiting areas –they can’t help but ask to see what you are working on.

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