By Diane Gilleland
If you have a lot of stuff, and you want a custom-sized, custom-crafted way to store it, look no further than plastic canvas. Here, I’ll show you how to build a simple lidded box, and give it your own unique spin.
2 sheets 10-count plastic canvas available at most chain craft stores, or online at anniesattic.com
Yarn or other material as discussed below
Fabric scraps (optional)
Hand-sewing needle and thread (optional)
Sizing Up the Box
Step 1: Take the items you want to store, and place them on the plastic canvas, near a corner. Then, use a Sharpie to mark the bottom panel of the box. I like to make my boxes just a little larger than I need, so they’ll have room for future stuff.
Cut this piece out of the canvas.
Step 2: Next, figure out how deep your box will need to be in order to fit the items you want to store. You can measure this with a ruler, or eyeball it.
Step 3: Using the base you cut in Step 1 as a measuring guide, cut out 4 sides for your box. Make these side panels as tall as the measurement you decided on in Step 2.
Step 4: Now, in order to make a lid for your box, you’ll need to cut a piece that’s slightly larger than the base. Use your base piece as a measuring guide, and cut the lid piece so it’s 1 row of squares larger on all 4 sides, as shown above. (We do this, by the way, so that the finished lid will fit nicely on the finished box.)
Step 5: Then, use the lid piece as a measuring guide to cut out 4 sides for the lid. They should be between 1″–2″ deep. You should now have 10 cut pieces of plastic canvas.
Stitching the Box
Some crafters don’t like plastic canvas work because they think: a) it has to be covered with traditional needlepoint, and b) all that needlepoint is too time-consuming.
But seriously, there’s a whole world of interesting needlepoint stitches that work up much more quickly than the traditional continental stitch. You can find some of them here and here, and many libraries have old needlepoint books with even more options.
In addition, you can “think outside the box,” as it were, when it comes to choosing your stitchery materials. You can use any worsted-weight cotton or wool yarn, of course, but as you can see here, paper raffia (available at party supply stores) and narrow ribbon also create interesting effects.
For this box, I’m stitching with cotton yarn. I’m using the Slanted Gobelin Stitch because it covers lots of ground quickly. And then, to make things even faster, I’m going to add some fabric inserts to cover parts of the canvas. In this image, you can see the base and side pieces of my box, all stitched and ready for fabric.
Here are the lid pieces, also stitched and ready for a fabric insert.
Step 6: This project is a great way to use small scraps of a favorite fabric. Just cut a piece that’s about 1/2″ larger on all sides than the uncovered part of the canvas.
Then fold under all 4 sides of the fabric so that the piece fits nicely into this opening. Press the folds.
Step 7: Thread a hand-sewing needle. Place the fabric over the plastic canvas, lining it up with the uncovered area. Then, bring the needle up through one of the holes in the canvas, catching the edge of the fabric as shown here.
Next, pass the needle back down through the same hole. Move to the next hole and repeat this stitch, and the next, and so on until you’ve stitched all 4 edges of the fabric down.
Assembling the Box
We’re going to stitch all the pieces together at this point, so it’s a good moment to talk about how to start and end a strand of yarn.
To join 2 pieces together, place them wrong sides together, lining up all the holes. Then, pass the needle through 1 layer of canvas only, pulling the yarn through until you have about a 2″ tail sitting between the 2 pieces.
Join the pieces with a whipstitch, catching that loose end in the first stitches as shown. A whipstitch, by the way, just involves passing your needle through both pieces of canvas in the same direction.
At the end of a seam, you can tie off a strand of yarn by passing it under some stitches at the back of the canvas, as shown here, and then cutting it.
Step 8: Start the assembly process by joining all 4 sides of the box to the base piece.
Step 9: Then, fold the sides up and whipstitch them together at each corner. Stitch from the bottom to the top — it’s much easier to tie off the strands at the end of each seam that way.
Step 10: Lastly, whip stitch around the top edge of the box to finish it. When you’re stitching around the corners of the box. take a couple extra stitches — this will help cover up the canvas at those points.
Step 11: Repeat Steps 15-17 to assemble a lid for your box, and you’re done!
About the Author:
Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod, a blog and bi-weekly podcast about making stuff. Her first book, Kanzashi In Bloom is currently out in bookstores.