How to Make Fabric Covered Boxes
Fabric covered paper mache boxes are a creative and decorative way to store items in your home or to use to present a special gift. When gifting, the box becomes an additional gift for the recipient that they can then use themselves. This also would be a great way to create reusable boxes for the holidays. They are easy to make and can be personalized to fit your home décor.
- Paper Mache Box/Boxes (square, round, rectangular, heart
- Cotton Fabric (such as quilting cotton)
- Lightweight fusible interfacing (such as Heat’n Bond Lite)
- Soft Tape Measure or String
- Ruler or yardstick
- Ironing Board or another smooth padded surface
- Pencil or marker
- Glue or another way to attach embellishments
Paper mache boxes can be found at most craft stores or on Amazon. An internet search can help you locate online sources for boxes if your local craft stores do not stock them. The best fabric to use for this project is cotton fabric. There are many colors and designs to choose from. Coordinate the fabric to a theme such as craft room, kid’s room. bathroom, etc. You could store cards or game pieces in a coordinating box. Ideas are unlimited! You can use the same fabric for both the top and the bottom of the box or you can or choose to use different coordinating fabrics as shown in the pictures. They will have their own personality just by the fabric you choose. Other weights of fabric could possibly work but have not been tested using this method. Feel free to experiment.
The boxes used here for demonstration are square boxes but you can use round, heart or other shape boxes as well. Additional details for using other shapes will be added at the bottom of these instructions.
Measure your boxes
Starting with the bottom part of the box to measure the perimeter of your box. If you don’t have a flexible tape measure you can use a piece of string and measure with a ruler or yardstick. Add about ½ inch to this measurement (length). Use a ruler to measure the height of the box and add ½ inch to this measurement as well.
Draw a rectangle using these measurements on the smooth side of the Heat’n Bond or interfacing. Cut around the rectangle leaving about ½ inch on each side beyond the lines.
Apply the fabric
Press fabric to remove wrinkles. Iron interfacing to wrong side of your fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for temperatures and time. Heat’n Bond suggests two seconds for this step. Allow to cool the cut out along drawn lines.
Place bottom of box on smooth side of Heat-n-Bond and draw a line around the box. Cut the interfacing adding about 1 inch to each side. Iron to fabric following previous instructions. Cut out leaving about ½ inch outside of drawn line. Do not cut on the line for this piece.
Peel off paper backing from fabrics. Start with the flat side (bottom or top) and center fabric on surface. These do not need to be exact as the excess will be hidden by the side fabric. Iron fabric to the box surface. Do not over-iron. Heat’n Bond recommends six seconds. It is easier to go back and add more heat if an area is loose. Corners sometimes need a little more pressure. Clip each corner to box edge leaving a square cut-out as shown in picture. Press fabric edges up toward the sides of the box.
Line up one edge of side fabric to the bottom edge of box keeping it as even as possible. Overlap about ½ inch of fabric around first corner and press into place. Continue pressing fabric around the perimeter of the box ending back at the first corner. It may be necessary to trim the fabric so it ends right at corner rather than overlapping to the other side.
On the top edge of the side fabric clip corners to edge of box. Turn edge of fabric to inside of box and press in place. It is easiest to use the tip of the iron for pressing to the inside. Go slowly. The bottom of the box is now complete. Repeat these steps for the top of the box. Narrow tops can sometimes take a little more patience because there is not as much surface.
Embellish your box for a unique look
Boxes can be embellished with different trims and notions such as ribbons, buttons, flowers, lace, pearls, rhinestones and more. This is the really fun part of this project, making your project unique. You can embellish the sides, top edges or the top surfaces of the boxes. If you are going to be doing several boxes and stacking them, you do not want the embellish the top surfaces except for the box that will be on top.
You are ready to display or gift your beautiful boxes. A box embellished with florals would make a lovely Mother’s Day, bridal or birthday gift!
If you are using round boxes you can overlap the fabrics on the sides about ½ inch to 1 inch. When you are folding the fabrics up on the sides or into the box, you will want to clip fabric about every inch or so. This will make it easier for fabric to lay flat. Again, use the tip of the iron for this step. Heart boxes can also be used for this project. The curved sides would be done like a round box. There are also paper mache tissue box covers available and those can also be covered to match your décor.
Smaller boxes are more difficult to press fabric to the inside. If you have a Clover mini iron it works great for smaller boxes.
These boxes are not lined but to line them it would probably be best to use felt. There is even adhesive backed felt you can use. Measure the felt to the exact measurements of the inside surfaces and glue in place.
When you are finished if there is a place where fabric is not quite adhering, use a little bit of glue to hold the fabric in place. You can use most glues as it should not bleed through the surface of the fabric backing.
Enjoy your new boxes!