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Tuesday 26 October 2010

Appliqué Outside The Box - Literally!

One of the catch phrases of the past few years is to do our thinking “outside of the box”. Who knew we could do our appliqué that way too?! These boxes make use of techniques familiar to quilters: turned-edge appliqué for the outside of the box, with a 1/4" seam allowance added...
and raw edge appliqué with no seam allowance if you wish to add a lining.
In our current trend of make-do and recycle, these really quick to make fabric gift boxes fit the bill nicely as fabric scraps left over from quilts may be used.
The first task is to assemble suitable boxes for covering. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes and with a little ingenuity most can be successfully appliquéd. My favourite ones to use are those with flaps which fold in to form the box lid, rather than those with a separate lid. Look in your cupboards (or browse Sobeys!) and you’ll see all kinds of interesting boxes.
Here are Wong Wing Chinese take out, Little Debbie cookie boxes, and an octagonal one for Compliments Sensations Pulled Pork Burgers. I admit some of this food I have purchased just to get the box…My boys haven’t yet made the connection that when I have a pair of socks needing a gift box, there are Swiss Rolls in the cupboard that week. Perfect fit :)
The two boxes to be covered in this tutorial are a Tetley Tea and a Wong Wing frozen entrée box. The fabric is from Nancy Halvorsen's "Tidings" collection by Benartex. It took less than an hour to complete both boxes. Basically, the cardboard boxes are opened flat and covered with fabric in the same way we work appliqué around a template. Fusible web secures the fabric to the box.
Once you have decided on a box, additional materials required are: fabric (large enough to accommodate your box, plus seam allowance), fusible web (the same size as your fabric), a hot iron (preferably with steam capabilities) and double sided tape or a hot-melt glue gun. I chose Steam A Seam 2 fusible web for this project as it is a bit thicker than some others.For those who attended my machine appliqué workshops during the Fibre Arts Festival earlier this month, the wooden applicator tool from your kit comes in very handy for turning the edges.
Open up the box by gently coaxing the flaps apart and trace around the edges on the paper side of your fusible web.
Roughly cut the fusible web approximately 1/2" past your traced lines and fuse it to your fabric. Cut your fused fabric approximately 1/4” past drawn lines. Clip into curves exactly as you would if you were doing turned edge appliqué. Removing backing from fusible web as you go, lay printed side (outside) of box on top of sticky side of fabric. Pat down, and turn edges under just as in appliqué using that nifty wooden tool. When it’s all smooth, flip the box over and steam press the fabric in place.
For the lining, remember that it needs to be traced in reverse – so flip the box over when tracing the lining on the fusible web. Cut shape out roughly - as above - and fuse to back of lining fabric. Cut approximately 1/8” inside your traced line. Lay lining in place to test for fit. Trim as needed to ensure it does not show on the outside of the box, remove paper backing and fuse in place.
To reassemble your box, press along original scored lines on cardboard. Fold back into shape. Secure using either double sided clear tape or hot melt glue between the flaps. If desired, before reassembling you may add appliqués to decorate your box. Apply fusible web to back of motif fabric, and cut out desired motifs. Open box out flat and fuse appliqués in place on box sides. Reassemble box as above.Yo-Yo's make a great decoration for your boxes also.
Simply trace a circle on your fabric, cut out, turn under 1/4" and hand stitch the hem using a long basting stitch. Pull up the threads and knot the thread to hold your circle. I traced around the outside of a roll of masking tape to create these large yo-yo's, which measure 1-1/2" across when finished.
And that's all there is to it! It's up to you to decide if these are boxes for holding gifts, or if the boxes ARE the gifts (much like James Thurber's Container For The Thing Contained conundrum *-). Either way, it's a quick and easy way to create a "quilty" Christmas gift.If you have enjoyed this tutorial, kindly leave a comment at the bottom of this post. We'd love to see pictures of any you make, just email them and they will be shared on this blog.


  1. Great for holding the gift for the exchange at our Guild's Christmas party.

  2. YES! The are great. Love this. Bookmarking for later. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  3. Great ideas Karen! Will use this at Christmas time for sure!!

  4. You are just so amazing!♥♥♥
    Merci beaucoup!

  5. Thank you for sharing this idea!

  6. This is a great craft idea, I have to share with my grown daughter who is busy doing all types of recycled "green" projects. She will love this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a great idea - thanks for sharing!♥

  8. That's so cool. I have lots of that Steam a Seam 2 for a project I was going to do, but decided not to. And I even have that wooden tool. I use them totally for something non-quilt related.

    I must go through my cupboard to see what nice boxes I have to re-do.

    Ahhh, you got me going again, when you use your socks as props... I love how you put the band around the socks so the person knows how special the wool is... How do you have time to knit anyway!!

    Maybe I need to buy some kroy and knit up a pair and get it out of my system...

  9. Hi, Gail: I have to admit that I learned the gifting with the band-around-the-socks trick from my sister-in-law, Fay. It's a good idea, as it gives the fibre content and washing instructions for the yarn on the band so the recipient knows how to care for those socks which took hours and hours and hours and HOURS to knit! My knitting is always done while the rest of me is doing something else. My hands are never idle.
    I look forward to seeing your socks. :)

  10. This is a wonderful technique. Yes, I do shop Sobey's so will check for some of their unique packages.