Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Making Embroidered Boxes, and a Book


Amazon Books

Last week, I mentioned the wonder of making an embroidered box and provided a link to a project featured on the V&A; website. This week, I’m revisiting the subject because the whole notion of making an embroidered box has caught my fancy, and I believe it’s more than a passing interest. This bodes well – I believe I will actually make one, and if I do, I’ll certainly step-by-step the process here on Needle ‘n Thread. My interest in making an embroidered box is more fixed, thanks to you readers out there who expressed enthusiasm for the topic, and especially for those of you who recommended some books. I was able to lay my paws on two books that were recommended in the comments section of the previous post, and today, I want to show you one of them – Making Hand-Sewn Boxes, by Jackie Woolsey.

Making Hand-Sewn Boxes is a terrific how-to book! And even though the author is not specifically illustrating how to make an embroidered box, the techniques are exactly what an embroidered-box-maker would use to make a box. I love this book!

Making Hand-Sewn Boxes - Great Book for Embroidered Boxes Enthusiasts

The copy of the book that I was able to pick up is an ex-library copy. It’s in good shape. The book is apparently not in print anymore, but you can find it online through various booksellers.

Making Hand-Sewn Boxes - Great Book for Embroidered Boxes Enthusiasts

The book features all different types of boxes, from the simple rectangular box to more complex boxes with drawers and trays. For each type of box in the book, the author takes us step-by-step through creating the box, from the materials list, through the assembly of the box, using clear diagrams and color photos.

Making Hand-Sewn Boxes - Great Book for Embroidered Boxes Enthusiasts

Boxes of different shapes – from square, to round, to octagonal and hexagonal – are all covered. (No pun intended, honestly.)

Making Hand-Sewn Boxes - Great Book for Embroidered Boxes Enthusiasts

The whole notion of constructing the actual box is what intimidated me whenever I contemplated an embroidered box. But this book practically eliminates any worries along those lines – the text instructions, the diagrams, and the photos all work together to clarify the process of finishing.

Making Hand-Sewn Boxes - Great Book for Embroidered Boxes Enthusiasts

One of my favorite sections to read was the chapter on making a Victorian étui. While this isn’t exactly the type of box I have plans to make at first, I love seeing how it is made. Tanja Berlin’s blackwork étui was the first box I saw like this, and it fascinated me. And now I’ve got this wonderful book that shows me exactly how to make my own!

At the end of the book, the author provides a photo gallery of all kinds of hand-sewn boxes. Once the techniques of creating different types of boxes that include different features – from trays to drawers to doors – are understood, all kinds of box possibilities spring to mind! And they all seem accessible, because the author covers pretty much every possibility of box construction in this book.

I reiterate – this is a great how-to book! If you’re interested in constructing an embroidered box and you can get your hands on this book, it’s a worthwhile investment. If you just want to take a look at it, check your local library! If they don’t have it, they should be able to get it for you.

There are a few new and used copies available on Amazon:

Later on, after I recover completely from the Wog and get caught up, I’ll show you what I do to books that I want to use as references while working on something from them. That’s probably the only drawback of this particular book – it doesn’t lie open easily. When I’m working from this type of book, I like to have it open in front of me while I work. In order to achieve that, I demolish the book. Well, not really! I’ll show you what I do, once I have the chance to do it!

In the meantime, start dreaming up a box!


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(15) Comments

  1. Hi Mary,
    I too, am fasinated with making an embroidered box. Thanks for all to good resources.
    My Neelepoint Guild offered me advice on books that don't open flat. Take it to Kinko's and have them do a spiral binding. The cost is minimal and the results are just great. It is a "while you wait" process. Just another idea to share.
    Keep stitchin'

  2. Making things is really an addiction, isn't it? I can't wait to see the kind of box you'll choose, Mary!
    Sometimes I wonder what your family says when you tell them you've got a new book on embroidery, or that you found out something new you'd like to try. Am I the only one who gets ugly faces and rolling eyes?
    (not that they stop me by doing that, but it's… annoying, agree?)

    Hope you feel in shape again pretty soon! 🙂

  3. Mary, several years ago, I purchased a large jewelry box at a thrift store for a few dollars. It has 3 columns of drawers, 3 on each end and 2 in the middle. Behind the large middle drawer front, there is a secret drawer found only when the entire drawer is removed. I have never known what I wanted it for until now. I am going to make it into a version of a cofin. I got the idea from your post on VAM the other day, and can't wait to get it started. I will be posting it on my blog, so when I notify you, you can see how it goes. Thanks for your tuts, I never miss them.


  4. Hi Mary

    I have often looked at embroidered boxes and items like the etui but get put off by the fiddlyness?? of putting them together. I would be very interested in a blow by blow description of how you do this and any pointers on keeping it neat. I am very bad with anything that uses glue.


  5. I'm smitten also with the idea of an embroidered box. As I'm planning a trip to London in May and the V&A; is at the top of my 'to-do' list, I will search out any and all boxes they have on display. How wonderful that you are going to make your own. I can't wait. Love your blog!

  6. I had no idea it was out of print. Glad I snagged mine when I saw it at the local bookshop then. I can't wait to see what you make. All the instructions are what I was drawn to with this book too. Glad you could find a copy.

  7. i just bought this book online! I am looking forward to your project and I hope I'll have the courage to make one as well. What fun!

  8. What lovely ideas. I especially liked the different shapes and the etui. But I think I'd start with something really simple to get the construction techniques down.
    So inspiring, Mary, as always!

  9. Hi Mary,
    I love reading your blog and the fact you enjoy doing many different types of needlework, as do I. I'm reading through my older Piecework magazines and today saw the article in J/A 1997 pg.50 about stumpwork and there is a wonderful pic of a 17th century casket. I immediately thought of you. Hope you're feeling better.

  10. Hi Mary, sorry to hear that you have bee ill with 2 inner ear infections. I hope this is not too detrimental on you balance.

    I love going to the small gas station opposite my house, mainly because they are the only local stockists of Inspirations magazine. Very dangerous!! I usually have to go into town (20 mins by bus) but I dont always have time to go and look at tit in the book store.

    Anyway, the current issue has a covered box featured on the cover. I also have an older copy of a stitching magazine (the name escapes me at the moment) which has a Victorian etui in it.

    It is supposed to rain here tomorrow, so gardening will cease & stitching will commmence.

    Take care,

  11. Hi Mary, I too boxes sometimes as they make sensational gifts. I've made two barrel shaped ones from a pattern found on CQMagOnline.com. I am making a rectangular box for my lovely neighbours, birthday at the moment. Happy sewing! x

  12. Did you know that you can take almost any bound book to Staples or Office Depot, and for a small amount of money ($5 or $6) you can have it spiral bound, providing that there’s enough margin. They slice your book binding, hole punch it and then affix the spiral and then your book will lay open very nicely! Try it, I’m sure you’ll like it!

  13. Today, Feb.24,202o, I was checking out crazy quilt stitches and I just happened upon another article on embroidered boxes. After reading about the boxes, I was hooked. Now I want to read up on them and make one myself. I am not sure where to start and what supplies I will need If you would email me a list of supplies I need or give me the name of a book that contains the information I need. My email is … Thank you so much. I feel like I need a lot of help. Well I will get this on this on its way. Love, Linda

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