featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, February 6, 2017


Diana Benedict lives in a small suburban Colorado city a mile away from where she grew up. She loves studying magic and history and will take any opportunity to combine them into a good story. She once tried to work a spell inspired by a tale her great aunt told her and has always felt lucky that it only turned her fingers green for a week. Learn more about Diana and her writing on her website.

I don’t paint (except houses or walls) and I don’t draw (except badly), but I do love being artistic. I have found making things to be a genuine pleasure in my life. I have found lots of ways to be “crafty” and some are downright clever and beautiful.  But if it uses the mantra “Recycle/Reuse/Repurpose” my panties get in a right twist!

I learned how to make these boxes when my daughter was in Girl Scouts. They had to scrounge an old jewelry (earring, necklace)-type box or a Whitman Chocolate mini-box. They would wrap it in pretty paper and decorate it with all manner of glitter and stars and bows. How fun. I still have the one my daughter made.

So when I saw someone throw away an Altoids box and I got my first upholstery sample book, I was in heaven. But, really, any old box, and any kind of fabric works. You can ask at your local upholstery shop; they will often give you old or dated books. The fabrics already coordinate and come in pre-cut sizes.

Box O’ Love
Small box
Jigs (optional)
Scissors (straight and patterned)
Glue gun and glue sticks
Poem (below)

Choose box, open the box, blow some love in or whisper something special. Close the box.

Choose material. One color or two coordinating upholstery samples or other material.

Use the jigs for the Altoids boxes. Otherwise measure the length and width of the top and bottom of your box. Note the measurements. Then measure half way up the side of the box, multiply by two and add it to both your length and width measurements.

Box Measurements: 4” wide x 6” long x 1/2” halfway up side gives you material measurements of 5” wide (4 + .5 x 2) x 7” long (6 + .5 x 2).

Cut two pieces of fabric (one for the top and one for the bottom). Determine top and bottom. Place fabric face down on work surface. Center the box on the material. Starting at the corners, place a dot hot glue at each corner and secure the material.

Directly below the midline of the box on one side, lay a bead of glue so that it will secure the edge of the material. Roll edge of material up and press to the glue bead. Repeat on remaining sides.

Repeat for the top. Trim corner tips as needed.

Choose some decoration for the top. Arrange decorations the way you want and use as little glue as necessary to attach the pieces to the upholstered box. If you intend to attach poem ribbon under one element, do not glue that piece down.

Choose ribbon or lace to cover the seam where the top and bottom of the material come together. Make sure the material can cover the seam and lace and is long enough to act like a skirt of sorts, not too short and not so long that it drags below the box. Skirt measurement for sample box is approximately 20-1/8”.

Start at one corner of the box and work from left to right or counter-clockwise. Put a dot of glue at the corner and presss the top edge of the leftmost end down. Lay a bead across the edge and press it down. Repeat for each side. As you get close the end, fold over the end of the lace so that it presents a finished look.

Trim the lace that tucks under so that it is hidden and lays smoothly. Cut out the poem, leaving the same amount to the left as the poem. Example, poem section is 1.5 inches. Cut the same amount on the left so it will open as a card with the words on the right half. I like to print the poem on nice paper or colored paper.

This is a very special gift
That you can never see.
The reason it’s so special is
It’s just for you from me.

Whenever you are lonely
Or simply feeling blue,
You only have to hold this gift
And know that I think of you.

You can never unwrap it,
Please leave the ribbon tied.
Just hold the box close to your heart,
It’s filled with Love inside.

Fold into card. Trim edges with pattern scissors if desired.

Cut a bit of ribbon, rick rack, or string to attach the poem to the box. Using a small hole punch or a scissor tip, make a small hole on the top left corner, near the fold line. Thread the ribbon through it. It should be long enough to lay nicely, but not so long it droops. Unless you like that look.

I like to hide the ribbon ends under either a ribbon or a decoration. Put the ribbon ends together, put down a dot of glue big enough to secure the ends and place the ends in the dot. Glue down the final element.

Perils for Portents
America in the 1890s is a land of dreams for anyone brave enough and strong enough to make them come true.

After Francie Wolcott’s parents die, leaving her and her genius younger brother, Rooney, penniless, she intends to tour the world with the fortunetelling automaton he built. But first she must bring Rooney to their uncle in San Francisco, where he will have a place to happily tinker and invent things.

With no traveling funds, Francie and Rooney join a traveling carnival heading west, using the automaton as an attraction to pay their way. All goes well at first—until a real ghost takes up residence in the automaton. As the fortunes become eerily more accurate, Francie believes real success is finally within her grasp, but the machine’s prognostications also implicate the carnival manager, Big Jim, in a murder.

Intent on murdering Francie to keep his secret safe, Jim pursues them across the country to the boomtown of San Francisco. Francie must use all her wits and skill to stop him if she has any hope of achieving her dream of independence and of protecting her and her brother from Big Jim’s clutches.

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Nightingale said...

What a lovely, personal idea for a gift. Thanks for sharing. I'm not artsy/crafty, but I know people who are and they'll appreciate this post. Who knows I might get a Box O' Love!

TheaH said...

Feel free to share the instructions! These are really easy to make. If a ten-year-old with a glue gun can make it, anyone can! And if the fabric is lighter weight and the box is cardboard, almost any glue will work, like Alene's craft glue or Elmer's. Clamp them lightly to insure they get good adhesion. You can even cover them with paper. This is a great way to recycle pretty wrapping paper or notepaper. Just be sure to crease the folds so they look sharp. You could even just wrap the whole box like a present and the decorate the heck out of it. I save all kinds of ribbons and gew gaws off of clothing labels and flower arrangements just for this.

Diana Benedict