Gift boxes, decorative boxes and even hat boxes are very easy to make with little investment. Poster board is the best thing to use for making the boxes and is suitable for most any size or shape of box. The type of poster board normally found is not long enough for large boxes so check craft stores for larger pieces.
Deciding on the shape and size of the box are the first steps to creating it. There are many different shapes that are easy to make, such as a rectangle or circle, then harder ones such as an octagon. Start with something easy and work your way up to the more difficult shapes.
It’s important when making the box to make measurements, folds and cuts precisely. A measurement that’s a mere quarter-inch off can prevent the box lid from fitting correctly. Disappearing ink markers make this project easier since you can draw – even scribble out a wrong measurement – and the ink will simply disappear within 24 hours. Find one at a fabric department or store.
When making a rectangular box write the measurements down, for the size you desire, then lay it aside for reference. Start by deciding how tall you want the box. Mark this measurement on the poster board. Now total the measurements from the four sides of the reference drawing together and cut that measurement. You should now have one long piece that’s as wide as the intended height of the box. If you’re making a hat box, for instance, add a couple of inches to the actual height of the hat before cutting the poster board’s width. This keeps the lid from sitting directly on the hat.
A rectangular box will require three folds to the long piece. Check your reference sheet and make the first fold at the exact number you have written down for the width of the box. The next fold should be the length, then fold one more width, which will leave one more length. To get very accurate folds mark the board and fold it on that mark. Use something heavy, like a weight, or something that you can press hard with, such as the spine of a book. Run the object back and forth, over the fold, until well creased.
After you’ve made the folds you’ll need to cut two rectangular pieces, one for the bottom and one for the top. The bottom one should be the exact size of the drawing. Use one width measurement, from your sketch, and one length measurement to cut the bottom box piece. For the top add an eighth of an inch onto each measurement before cutting.
Contact cement, applied with a small paint brush, is great for making boxes. Cement the two ends of the long piece together and use an adjustable hoop or another binder to hold the ends together until dry. Next, apply the glue to one side, all the way around the perimeter, of the fold piece. Set it upon the box bottom and allow to dry. For the top of the box cut one long piece, as you did for the box side, only much more narrow – about three inches wide. This piece should be the combined measurements of all four sides of your sketch, plus a half-inch. Fold the first measurement (plus 1/16th inch), the second fold (plus the 1/16th inch), and so on until you have four sides to the strip of poster board.
Wrap the strip around the edge of the box top to make sure you’ll have a good fit. Make any adjustments now. Affix the two ends of the strip together with contact cement then use the hoop or binder to hold it together until dry. Now put the cement around the perimeter of one side of the strip and lay it onto the upside-down box lid. The strip should be right next to the edge of the box lid, on all four sides. Allow to dry. You can decorate your box much easier if you use fusible webbing after cutting the pieces. Simply fuse cloth to the pieces and proceed with assembly.
Sometimes a package will arrive in the mail or we purchase an item at the store that is made of thick cardboard. If the box has a lid these are perfect gift boxes – even if the is attached. There are so many impressive ways to decorate the boxes that no one will ever know you didn’t buy it – unless you tell them.
One way to make the box look expensive is to use fabric paints (which work great on cardboard) or texture paints to paint the box. Instead of painting them on smoothly use a paintbrush to “tap” the paint on in small globs. Great choices of paint are the metallic paints like copper or platinum. When dry they give the look of hammered copper or other metal. This technique requires extra drying time for the paint. The flap, which is there to tuck the lid into the box, needs to be painted smooth with only a coat or two.
Make the box more unique by adding pictures. Choose cloth that has, for instance, a lighthouse pattern. Cut out one lighthouse and affix it to the box lid with fabric glue or decoupage. Outline it in texture paint then paint the rest of the box. While the paint is still wet attach small craft starfish, a ceramic anchor, or other objects, to the sides and front of the box. Cut-outs from a magazine and thick papers normally used for scrapbooks work well too.
These boxes can also be beaded very easily. There are a couple of different ways to bead the box but some are more challenging than others. The simplest way is to cover the box with glue and “roll” it in tiny beads. Make sure no glue gets on the tucking flap or the lid won’t close. Check to see that the box sits flat, or brush off some of the beads until it does, then allow to dry. It’s sometimes easier to do each corner separately, then the sides, to get the most coverage. You can also eliminate the beads from the bottom and only do the sides and top.
Another way to bead the box is to glue each individual bead, in rows, onto the box and lid. Or, string the beads then glue the strands on the box in any manner you wish. You can do more precise designs with this technique rather than the “rolling” technique.
Some box design ideas include a watch or bracelet box, lined with black velvet, an octagonal box with a Victorian theme, storage boxes for holding photos, a trinket box to give as a gift, or a cigar box for dear old Grandpa.