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Thread: Fabric covered needlework box

  1. #1
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    I recently took a two day workshop on how to make a hexagonal etui, or fabric covered needlework box. The original was designed by Dilys Fronks, UK box designer, amongst other things. I believe some of her box designs are available as kits, but in this instance, we cut out our own card shapes. You need reasonably strong card, similar to the card used as mats to frame watercolours etc., but I would recommend you choose the palest colour available, to avoid any colour bleed through your choice of fabric.

    For an 8in hexagonal box, you will need card, half a yard of main fabric, and a fat quarter of lining fabric. Batting (I used poly, which is perfectly adequate), One yard of .25in elastic. A stick type of card/paper glue (these are usually washable, here in Ireland, the most popular make is Pritt), small quantity of PVA glue, and usual sewing items such as needle, matching thread, scissors, rotary cutting equipment (use an old blade for the card), pins, and some laundry pegs come in useful.

    The first shape you need to cut is the hexagon for the lid. One piece of card, cut from an 8in diameter circle, to yield a hexagon with 4in straight sides. Two other hexagons are needed, (box base, and base lining) cut from a circle, 7.5 in diameter, with 3.75in straight sides.

    That's the hard part over. Other card shapes are as follows. 6 of 4in x 3.75in, box sides outer; 6 of 3.75in x 3.5in box sides lining; 6 of 4in x 1in lid brim.

    Card shapes needed to make the box
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    Finished article - hexagonal etui
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    Lid removed to show inside
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  2. #2
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    I strongly recommend you mark each piece of card, and for the sides outer and lining, mark those with an arrow to indicate which way up they are. If you intend to make any more boxes after this one, in addition to the card shapes you need for this one, cut one additional piece of card for each shape, and set these aside as templates. Mark as such to avoid any possible confusion.

    You will need one other card template, this is for the fabric gussets that enable to box to open up when the lid is removed. Six gussets are needed, cut to these measurements with a fold at the top. Once cut out, each gusset needs a narrow line of stitching down the central line. Fold vertically, and stitch 1/8th inch away from that vertical fold (through four layers of fabric) from the top to within one inch of the bottom, and fasten off.

    This narrow line of stitching means that the gusset will fold nicely when you want to close the box.

    Gusset template. Top is placed on a fold of outer fabric, (4in) sides measure 5in, bottom measures half an inch.
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    Gussets are shown at the bottom of this picture, most of them shown folded, one shown opened up to give you an idea of the narrow line of stitching.
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  3. #3
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    Before you cut any more of your fabric, cut the outside strip needed for the lid brim. These needs to be 28in x 2in. LEAVE IN ONE LENGTH.

    When you begin to cover any of your card shapes, stick the fabric or batting to the side that you haven't labelled - this will make it easier to remember what is what. Do groups of similar shapes together, to avoid confusion.

    Cover the base hexagon in your outer fabric (no batting) Cut the fabric with a generous half an inch of turning all around, and use the stick glue, fold in opposite sides each time, neatening the corners as much as possible, keeping them as flat as you can, (you can use more glue to do this) If you have a damp cloth handy, it's good for wiping fingers to keep your work clean.

    Cover the base lining hexagon, sticking a layer of batting on the card first, then pulling your lining fabric over the batting and gluing as before.

    The lid hexagon can be covered in a similar manner, with a layer of batting, then lining fabric. Don't forget that the lid is larger, and will need a larger piece of fabric.

    Lid brim card shapes are covered in lining fabric, without batting.

    Some of the class members, busy cutting out their card, on day one.
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    All three hexagons covered. One base in outer fabric, one base lining in lining fabric with batting, one lid in lining fabric with batting.
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    Side linings covered, with batting, lid brim covered in lining fabric, without batting.
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  4. #4
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    Hand sew the lid brim linings, right sides together, to the hexagon lid, sew all the long sides first, then return and sew the short sides of the brims, to form the lid shape.

    The outside of the lid is then covered with a layer of batting, then an outer fabric. Glue this in place, and hold with pegs and allow to dry overnight.

    The brim is covered on the outside with the 28in x 2in strip you set aside earlier. Fold in turnings and iron. This should then measure approx. 29in x 1in, but compare with your lid, especially if you have used a thicker batting. Once ironed, you can stitch it in place on the edge of the brim and then to the lid fabric. Begin with the end just overlapping one corner, so that when you have stitched all around the lid, the seam will fall on one of the corners of the brim, for a neat finish. You can hold this fabric strip in place with some dabs of glue to help you stitch it in place, or if you prefer, hold with pins or pegs, but these can be annoying when you use your needle and thread.

    Hexagons coverd with fabric, and held in place with pegs until dry.
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    Brim edges being stitched in placed.
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    Lid covered with batting and outer fabric and pegged into place to dry overnight.
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  5. #5
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    Box sides need to be covered by the outer fabric. If you want a padded outside, then you can add batting to each side before covering, but avoid the top one inch of each side, or your lid might not fit. This was the reason for drawing arrows on the sides right at the beginning, because the sides are just a little taller than wide, and it's easy to get the placement of the batting wrong. Glue it in place if you are using it, then cover the sides with your outer fabric.

    Some more stitching is needed now. Cut from your outer fabric: 3 of 7in x 2in, fold lengthwise and sew with quarter inch seams. Turn to right sides out, and thread with 9in elastic. 3 of 7in x 4in for gathered pockets. Iron under a half in seam allowance, turn down again another half inch and seam. Thread through with 9in elastic. Secure the ends of the elastic with a safety pin at either end. Gather each pocket suffieiently to leave half an inch on either side, and glue to three of the padded box linings, approx two inches down from the top. I secured my elastic to the back with glue, and a few stitches at each side. I also stitched the base of the pockets to the lining fabric, evening out the gathers as much as possible.

    The other three sides of the box have elasticated strips to secure reels of thread, and are attached in a similar manner, with glue and a few stitches to the lining fabric.

    The outer base can now be stitched, right sides together with the outer sides. If you have added batting to these, make sure the batting is nearest the base, with the area free of batting furthest away from the base.

    Outer sides padded and covered with outer fabric, (base is in the background, with the lid)
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    Prepared box linings, showing a pocket and elasticated strips.
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    Outer sides sewn to base of the box.
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  6. #6
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    Thanks so much for the needlework box tutorial, beautiful boxes.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    This last picture shows rough placement of the gussets. The seam needs to be facing up, so that they fold nicely when you want to close the box. Sticking these in place is a little tricky, but not too bad. In order to get the fold of the gussets as near to the top of your box sides, glue down a tiny corner, so that it isn't sticking out beyond the top of the box side. Glue them in pairs to ONE box side, the excess will lay on inside of the box base, and will get covered up once the base lining goes in. Glue pairs of gussets to ALTERNATE box sides, so that you can hold them in place with pegs to dry. Then you can cover these alternate sides with the lining sides that have gathered pockets. Use the PVA glue for this, as it's a little stronger, and peg/pin in place where you can.

    Once they are dry, then glueing the other sides of the gussets to the other alternate box sides is a little harder, and needs the odd pin and peg wherever you can manage it, plus a little judicious propping because at this point your box will no longer lay flat. The lining sides with the gathered strips cover these gussets and box sides.

    Gussets and box linings going in place
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    Ta Dah!
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  8. #8
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    The box lining is stuck in next, to neaten the base, (see pic above)

    I finished my box, but not quite everyone did - though they were all far enough along to be able to complete them at home. One class member fussy cut her box top fabric for a striking effect.

    Finished article.
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    Not all the class members finished in the time we had available, but they were all far enough along to be able to complete at home.
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  9. #9
    BlueChicken's Avatar
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    That's fantastic, thank you so much!

    I have a kit for one of these, only it's square, and the instructions are terrible, everytime I pull it out I just get frustrated because I don't understand what they want me to do.

    With these pictures, I think I'll be able to work it out! :-)

  10. #10
    Super Member SulaBug's Avatar
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    I have been enjoying this
    tutorial, as you have been
    posting it. It is a beautiful
    sewing box. I might have
    to try it out!! Thank You!!
    :D :D :D :D :D

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