The Fabric Covered Box
(The Art of French Cartonnage)

Materials needed: 

Grey card board 2.5 mm thick (1/10 inch)
Book Cloth (sometimes called Book Linen)*
Batting (optional)
Decorative paper for lining the box
Opening Tassle or Ribbon
PVA Glue (white glue)
Cutting Knives and/or Rotary Cutter
Bone Folder*
Glue Brush
Cloth pegs or small clamps
*Can be found in good craft/paper shops or bookbinding shops.

First decide on the size of of your box: width, depth, height. Then measure and draw out the lines on cardboard.
You will need:
 2  pieces for the lid and base (width by depth)
 2 pieces for front and back (width by height)
 2 pieces for sides (height by depth (depth minus 0.5 cm)
Cut the cardboard pieces . Note that I use the rotary cutter instead of the cutting knive as I find it easier. Take care to cut precisely.
When all the pieces are cut, they should look something like this.
Now glue your box with PVA (or any clear drying glue). First the front and back onto the base
then the sides in between.
Cut a piece of batting the size of the lid and lightly glue in place (optional).
Lay your piece of fabric, face down, on the table. By moving the box step-wise over the fabric, mark out with a pencil the outline of the box. Make sure to leave a 4 mm space in between the back of the box and the lid.
Now add a "tab" of about 2.5 cm around the whole outline of the box and then cut out on that line.
Now your piece of fabric should look something like this.
Cover the base of the box with a thin but even layer of glue and wait a short while until the glue doesn't feel wet but slightly sticky.
Now stick it precisely onto the outline of the base on your fabric.
Cut 45 degree darts into all for corners.
Then apply glue to the front and back and stick fabric to the box.
Now tip the box so it is standing on its front wall and cut and remove a rectangles at both corners. Then make additional cuts as shown.
Then glue these two small tabs onto the edge of the side walls
and the large tab into the box.
Now stand your box on its back wall and cut a dart parallel to the edge of the back wall on both sides.
Then glue these side tabs to both sides of the box.
Now fold in and "finger press" the extra fabric tabs, making sure they are straight, then glue in place. Do the same for the other side of the box.
Apply glue to both side walls, the edge and a bit along the inside of the box and then stick the fabric on and into the box.
With the box still standing on its back wall align now the lid with the box, making sure you leave a small gap for the hinge.
Then apply glue to the sides, fold the tabs over the edge as shown and stick down.
The front edge is then trimmed by cutting a triangle as shown then folded in, then glued lightly. Now fold over and glue this tab to the inside of the lid.
Cut a hinge from bookbinder's linen; lenth of spine by 4 cm. Draw a line 1.5 cm from  long side and trim about 1.5 mm (the thickens of the card board) on each side so that the cloth fits perfectly inside the box.
Glue out the hinge and stick it down. Immediately force the cloth into the joint with a bone folder. Rub vigorously until the cloth is well adhered to all surfaces.
Now let the box sit open for a few minutes to let the hinge dry.

Lining of the Box:

Measure the inside of the base adding 0.5 cm all around. Then measure the front and back (height minus 0.5 cm, width plus 0.5 cm on both sides. The sides are measured minus 0.5 cm for the height.
Now draw the cutting lines on the wrong side of the lining paper and cut out. 
You will need these five pieces of paper.
Score lines 5 mm from the edge around all sides of the paper for the base, then cut and remove the small squares in the corners.
Now fold the sides up.
Apply glue to the bottom of the box and carefully stick the paper in, making sure you don't get any blisters.
Then score and fold the front and back papers at the narrow ends and glue into place. Note how the papers cover all the corners.
Lastly glue the side papers in.
In order to be able to close the box, we need to attach an inner lid to the box lid. First measure the inside of the box and cut a piece of card board very slightly smaller(about 1 to 2 mm). Cover this inner lid with either the lining paper or as shown here with the fabric.
Find the middle of the box lid, mark it and fix a tassle or ribbon with the help of a piece of double sided tape.

Apply glue to the inner lid and carefully glue the inner lid onto the box lide, making sure that it is placed so that the box can be shut.
Clamp in place until the glue is dry.
If you like, you can now make partitions for your box. Cover some cardboard strips (height of box minus 1 cm) and cut into partitions, making sure they fit exactly wall to wall.
First glue in the longer partitions, then measure and cut the small ones in between.
The inside of the finished Tea Box!
Admire and enjoy your Box!

If you need help with this or need clarification on anything, please don't hesitate to contact me. See email address on side bar. 


Anonymous said...

That is a lovely way to hold tea for oneself, but what a wonderful way to present a gift! Thank you for an informative tutorial.

Toni said...

I have been looking for a tutorial like this for ages. Thanks I will try it this weekend.

Julimond said...

Liebe Vreni
Das sieht klasse aus, und ich werde es mal mit Fotokarton und Buchbinderleim versuchen. Dieses Buchbinderleinen habe ich nicht, aber ich werde eine Alternative finden. Wenn es hakt beim Basteln, werde ich dich fragen.
Danke für diese tolle Anleitung.


Claudia said...

I would like to make this box. Really. The tutorial is great and I _want_ to do it - but I would never have this passion. Well done!!

Helen said...

very nice! love it!

Laura M. said...

Wonderful !!!

Laura M. said...

Wonderful !!!

Carolyn said...

Hi there ! I am so glad to chance upon your blog and better still, someone who makes pretty boxes and shares her tutorials ! I have made books previously as an undergrad but that was ages back and I just discovered I can't recall where did I keep my precious bone folder !i didn't know there are book binders or supplies in Singapore . Can you please share where I may get a bone folder and the binding linen ? Thanks !!!

Oops-Lah said...

Hi Carolyn
As your setting is non reply I can't send you an email. Can you send me your email address and I will sendi you an email and answer your questions. My email: oops.lah@gmail.com. Vreni

swelteringsweetee said...

That's a lovely teabag box!

I have been looking for Cartonnage tutorials on scissors & sewing needle cases but haven't had luck finding them.
Was wondering if you've come across them?