That Box…

The Future Tutor training course continues to throw up challenges and most recently I have been designing and building a box. It sounds so simple – a box! However this is a completely fabric covered (inside and out), hand stitched, and embroidered box.

Coming up with a design took some time and I finally decided to base the shape of my box on the embroidered caskets of yesteryear, and combine this with surface embroidery in a vaguely Art Deco theme. These choices were driven by some gorgeous gold fabric I had found on a remnant table and just had to have, which I had decided to use for the outside of my box. I also decided that the inside panels would be covered in Cream coloured Dupion Silk and a rich Purple velvet.

Below are pictures of the type of Embroidered Caskets that I find so inspiring..

Box making the RSN way means that every panel is made of two layers of card, each individually covered in fabric with mitred corners and laced for tension, which are then hand sewn together. So the more panels in your box the more work there is… So what possessed me to design an octagonal box?

The RSN brief requires the embroidery on the box to travel across at least two adjacent surfaces, so some planning is necessary to make this work. The box design also needs to have a secret compartment, a fabric hinge, a stitched hinge, a lift off lid, a fitted lid, and a tray that rests on supports. Before we begin constructing the actual box, just to make our design is feasible, we firstly build a full size mockup of the box from cardboard. I actually found this step to be really useful, as I managed to refine and downsize my box a little as a result of this activity.

Two Drawers with a secret drawer fitted behind.

The actual creation starts with the smallest component – in my case one drawer – and from there you build the design up gradually piece by piece. This is a slow and painstaking process! I finally have got in to the swing of cutting the card components for one small piece, then covering and assembling this element. This enables me to check all the measurements before moving on to the next element. Gradually my box is building up to its completed size.

The assembled Lower Box section which houses the drawers.

I still have the middle and upper sections to complete but my box is gradually coming together. In addition to this box I am also working on a number of other embroidered pieces, all due to be handed in for marking at Christmas. More information about them next time, for right now the box has priority.

Should you be interested in creating your own embroidered box then there is a very good RSN book authored by Heather Lewis which gives very clear guidance.

By Sally

Passionate embroiderer who loves to learn and pass on fine hand embroidery skills.


  1. Good to hear how you are getting on, Sally. Your box sounds wonderful but I can imagine it will take a lot of work to construct and embroider all the panels..

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  2. Inspirational yet again. Thank you for thinking of us and sending such wonderful posts. Stay safe and may all your pieces come together perfectly. Thinking of you often. X

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  3. Hats off to you Sally!! I love embroidered boxes! Very tricky! Can’t pretend to know the difficulties you are facing, but know, whatever they are, you are up for the challenge! Thank you for making time to keep us informed. Fascinating! Keep well.

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