Tuesday, August 15, 2017

DIY Wedding Card Box Part 1 - The Base

What I was asked to make...

The steps involved

I had been tasked with making a wedding card box for my nieces wedding in June. What is a wedding card box, you ask?

You are not alone in asking, I have been asked this by friends who have been married for decades. While in their day, they were probably handed cash or check-filled envelopes by wedding guests as they traveled through their receptions, nowadays those "gifts" get dropped off by guests in a receptacle of some design, to be retrieved at the end of the night.

Sometimes it's a single decorated box, a locked glass receptacle, a vintage birdcage ($75), a pony keg ($120), a rustic mailbox, or in this case; boxes stacked to vaguely resemble wedding cakes like these:

These are examples of pre-made boxes you can purchase online that are around $100 or more, depending on the customization. There are even people who buy the plain paper-mache sets of boxes that are available for $12-15, cut the card openings, and then resell the boxes for more $$. Believe me, cutting a mail slot is easy, so please save your money!

It's been awhile since I published a makeunder (check my tags) on my blog but I think it's important to show others that card towers such as these are very DIY-able. Well, at least for us crafty folks! But, no really, anyone can do this.

  • Darice 2849-06 Paper-Mache Square Box Set, 8/9/10-in 3-pack from Amazon $12.49
  • Darice paper-mache square box, 4" x 4" $1.50
  • AMAZLINEN sequin table runner14" x 108" in silver $11.99
  • 1 yard Casa Collection stretch satin in White $10.49,
  • 1 yard Casa Collection stretch satin in Dazzling Blue $10.49,
  • 1/4 yard Brocade floral stripe in Royal/Navy $1.75,
  • 1/3 yard Mystique performance fabric in White/Silver, all fabrics from Jo-Ann Fabrics $6.37
  • Celebrate It 360 5/8" satin ribbon in Royal $3.99
  • Recollections 5/8" white ribbon with white polka dots $1.00
  • Offray 7/8" wire-edged ribbon in Royal $5.99
  • Two Bead Landing Sticky Gems Value Packs in clear crystal rhinestone $4.99 (2)
  • Dovecraft Essentials crystal self-adhesive letter Q $1.00
  • Offray 5-petal violet ribbon flower with pearl in Royal $1.99
  • Elmer's Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive $6.99
  • Elmer's Washable School Glue Stick $.95
  • Aleene's Original Tacky Glue $.69
  • Olfa 45mm rotary cutter
  • emery board (or sandpaper, of course)
Total: $87.66

Above, I have listed the exact materials and techniques that I used to make mine, (mostly for my record purposes) but this will not be a detailed tutorial because my boxes were constructed by trial and error using any and every pre-existing tutorial I could find online. I think that's the only way you will get exactly what you want. However, I did try to be as clear as possible because if people are half as thorough as I was in my research on this subject, A LOT of people will be finding this one too!

A list of all the online tutorials I found useful are at the bottom of this post. The two mentioned directly below are the ones I personally found most helpful for what I specifically wanted to make. They both result in graduating stacks of boxes covered with fabric and embellishments.

What I took from the Andrea Lynn Handmade tutorial was:

1) the card entry point being at the top,
2) using all three boxes to catch and hold the cards, and
3) keeping them unattached, separate, and portable until the event date and then using binder clips or mini clothespins to secure them at the venue.

That last point is my favorite, because by leaving the entire structure portable the boxes can be stored within each other resulting in a compact 10" x 10" x 5" package. The only thing I did differently from her tutorial was I cut the card opening on the diagonal after seeing it done that way on Michele Ng's blog.

The 2nd tutorial by Crafts Unleashed is the most thorough and provided excellent photos and specific instructions on how the fabric was attached to the boxes. I followed them exactly and am really happy with how my boxes and lids turned out, smooth without bumps or wrinkles. However, I cut out my openings in the boxes first and then covered them. I used my rotary cutter (with a blade that I was no longer using to cut garment fabric) and afterward sanded the edges smooth with a used emery board. Recycle and reuse!

I also included this Project Abode article because she made a list of her additions and changes. I didn't use all of them but I think they are very helpful and clever, especially the one about spraying the insides black because if your card opening is on the side, people can actually see into your empty boxes. Because my entry slot was at the top I didn't need this step. However, our thought processes were the same on points 2 and 3.

This is how I made mine:

To begin, I bought a miniature (4" x 4") paper-mache box to use for practice. I had fairly large fabric swatches so I could afford to do this and put them to use. Also, since I would be using spray adhesive for the first time, I didn't want to mess up when working on the final pieces.

I practiced all the ways to fold the fabric on the lids, trying a different technique at each corner.


I applied the different fabrics and trims to see how they might all look together.

Woo hoo!

By this point, I knew I had something that could work!

Moving on to the real boxes, the first thing I did was cut the opening in the smallest box lid, the one that would sit on top of the entire structure. I decided on 1/2" x 7" rectangle and cut it on the diagonal. Note: For all my cutting on this part of the project I used one of my rotary blades that was just shy of the trash...waste not, want not, right?

I needed sufficient space for all the cards coming through that diagonal opening to make it through the middle of all the consecutive boxes. I placed each box on the lid of the one the next size up and traced around it.

I provided a substantial ledge for the boxes to rest on and that would still allow for the cards to fall cleanly from the top box through to the bottom box. I found the best way to do that was to lay my top lid with the diagonal cutout over the bottom of its box, trace the opening, and measure and cut out a square slightly bigger than that opening.

I used that template to transfer the square cutout to the next size box and the remaining two lids.

Next step was the nerve racking idea of gluing on the fabric. Make sure you have a clean workspace outside and a surface you don't mind gumming up with the spray adhesive. I found an old cardboard moving box and after using it once, I added an old pillowcase on top to keep the fabric clean since you work with the right side face down. I took time between applications so the case would dry well enough to use again. Most importantly, try not to get glue on your hands because you will be handling the right side of your fabrics and you don't want all of your work wasted.

The stretch satin was a good choice for this, because it was fairly wrinkle-resistant, easy to manipulate, and above all, it was opaque.

Spray a thin layer of adhesive
Immediately center and press your lid in place

Spray a thin layer of adhesive, covering all the fabric. Note: My adhesive advised that if you might want to reposition your fabric a bit that you should wait a few minutes and then start. However, for permanent fixing you should start as soon as possible.

Immediately, center and press your lid in place, starting with around the opening and moving out. Start on one side, pulling the fabric up and over the edge, smoothing from the bottom and out as you go along. I made sure to have the sides up and good crisp edges all around before I tackled the corners. How you fold the corners is up to you but I tried to cut some of the fabric bulk out first. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not so much.

At this point, I refer you to the pictures from the Crafts Unleashed tutorial as I wasn't able to photograph all of my progress because it went so quickly.

However, I CAN provide you with the measurements I used for my fabrics for each element. This I know will be helpful because I initially bought way too much fabric. Only because I bought the silver after I finished with the blue and white elements was I able to buy just the amount that I needed.

I used a series of square and rectangle shapes to cover the set of paper-mache boxes and lids.

The top lid required a 13" x 13" square for its 8" x 8" size. Because I cut out the centers of the remaining two lids at the start I covered them the same way as the first lid.

The 10" x 10" large box lid required a 15.5" x 15.5" square and for the 9" x 9" medium box I used a 14" x 14" square. I cut them all a bit larger than needed in case I wasn't able to center a box or lid when I first set it down and still have enough fabric to get it done.

After covering everything and smoothing out all wrinkles I turned the lids on their right sides and poked a tiny hole in the center and using scissors I no longer cared about, I cut a line from the center out to each corner. Since the fabric was still tacky, I pulled it up through the cutout and smoothed it on the underside, starting at the edge, up the sides, and cutting any excess away. If needed, this is where the Aleene's glue could have been used.

I must say that the easiest experience was with the silver performance fabric. The stretch properties of it made smoothing and sticking it in place so easy. I would definitely use it for more craft projects.

The boxes themselves required rectangles that would allow for coverage including overlap. The length was calculated as (A) the perimeter of the box + 1.5" and (B) the height of the box + 4"; which allowed for an overhang of 1" to the inside at the top and 2-3" at the bottom. As long as your largest box is not more than 10" x 10" and your fabric is at least 44/45" in width, you will only need to buy enough fabric to fulfill the B measurement; therefore, a 1/4 yard per tier would work well.

I pressed under 1/2" on one of the short ends. I then attached the fabric, starting with the other end wrapped around a corner.

I wrapped the fabric around all four sides, smoothing as I went along and overlapping the pre-finished end over the starting point, resulting in a sleek presentable seam.

The bottom was folded in like if you were wrapping a gift. Any fabric that reached beyond the center cutout was removed later with a rotary cutter; from the inside. I tucked the top fabric in making sure to get it perfectly smooth at the edge so that the lids could be easily placed and removed. I had to cut some of the bulk out of the corners to help.

I now had a tower of three smooth, sleek, and satiny boxes in blue, white, and silver. But where was the bling and all the detail?

Coming up next: Yes, the boxes have sheen, but now I'm gonna make them SHINE!

DIY Wedding Card Box Part 2 - Embellishments

Project Abode - Project Abode-Tiered Wedding Card Box

Crafts Unleashed  - 4-Tier Fabric Covered Wedding Card Box

Andrea Lynn Handmade - DIY Wedding Card Box Tutorial

Michele Ng - Make A Wedding Card Box

Images: jamiekimdesigns on Etsy; my own image; Nikki Mills; ThoseDays, KissingTreeDesigns, ExoticWeddingBoxes, and DiamondDecor shops, all on Etsy; my own images.

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