How to Make an Easy Needlepoint Gift Box

comments (5) October 31st, 2008     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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This cute little box comes with its own gift wrap.
Youd never know that plastic canvas was hiding under all that needlepoint! Were using a very fine grade here, which results in more refined stitchery.
What a great package for a small holiday gift, like handmade jewelry! (The bracelet was made by Szarka.)
This cute little box comes with its own gift wrap.

This cute little box comes with its own gift wrap.

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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It's true, sometimes plastic canvas gets no respect in the craft world, but it deserves some! It's a fantastic material for all kinds of structural crafts, such as this beautiful needlepoint gift box.

What you'll need:

  • 14-count plastic canvas
  • Pearl cotton embroidery floss
  • Small, blunt, large-eyed needle
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Cardstock
  • White craft glue
  • Large paper clips

Plastic canvas is available in 7 count, 10 count, and 14 count. (The "count" is the number of squares per inch.)

Plastic canvas comes in several grades: 7 count, 10 count, and 14 count. The count refers to the number of squares in an inch. You've probably seen the 7-count stuff at your craft store, but I'm a big fan of 14 count. Its holes are much smaller, so your stitchery looks much finer.

The needlepoint pattern is based on simple squares, so it's easy to size your box up or down.

This design begins with a simple stitch pattern. I built it on squares, so you can easily adjust the size of your box. But if you prefer, you can stitch any pattern you like onto your box. Take a look at some other interesting needlepoint stitches at or

Decide on the overall size of your box, based on the number of pattern repeats.

Decide on the width and length of your finished box, using the pattern as a guide. I decided to make this one two pattern repeats wide by three repeats long. You could also make it two by two, or four by five, or whatever you like. Then, decide on the height—I'm making my box two pattern repeats tall.

Time to stitch up some canvas! Because 14-count canvas has such tiny holes and they can be difficult to count, I often just do my needlepoint right on the full sheet of canvas and then cut it out afterward.

Don't knot the ends of the floss. Instead, catch them in the back of the stitches.

It's best not to knot your embroidery floss when stitching on plastic canvas—not only will knots make the back of your work bumpy, but they'll also tend to pop right through the canvas. So instead, begin stitching the pattern by bringing the needle up through the canvas and leaving about a 3/4-inch tail of floss on the back side. Flatten this tail with your finger so it lies perpendicular to the direction you'll be stitching. Then, catch it under the stitches, as shown here.

To end a strand of floss, pass the needle under the back side of several stitches.

When you finish stitching with a strand of floss, just pass the needle under several stitches on the back of the work, and cut away the excess. As you stitch the pattern, begin and end each color this way.

To make the bottom half of the box, you'll need a bottom piece and four sides.

Here are the pieces you need for the bottom of the box: one base and four sides. Notice that I stitched the base with a much simpler pattern since it's not going to be too visible in the finished box. Also notice that the edges of these pieces are left unstitched. We'll cover them up later.

Cut the top of the lid one square longer and one square wider than the bottom of the box.

Now you need to stitch up some pieces for the lid of your box. But here's an important note: The lid pieces need to be slightly larger than the box pieces. If you make them the same size, the lid won't fit over the box! So what I do is this: I cut the canvas for the top of the lid so it measures one square wider and one square longer than the bottom of the box. Then, I cut the side pieces of the lid to match.

Add a row of continental (or basic needlepoint) stitch around the pattern on the lid to accommodate its larger size.

One thing to notice here: Since the top of the lid is one row larger than the bottom, my stitching pattern needs a little tweak so it will fit nicely. I just did a row of continental stitch all the way around the lid and then filled in the pattern.

Join the pieces together with a whipstitch, catching the loose end in the stitches.

Okay, with all 10 pieces stitched, you're ready to assemble your box. I like to use a doubled strand of pearl cotton floss to join the pieces—it covers the edges more completely.

Begin with the bottom half of the box. Put one side piece and the base piece together as shown above, wrong sides together. Then, pass the needle up through the base piece. Pull the floss through until you have about a 1-inch tail on the back.

Lay this tail along the middle of the two pieces. Then, use a whipstitch to sew the pieces together. See how you catch that loose end in the back of the whipstitch as you go?

Attach all four sides to the bottom, then trace the resulting shape onto cardstock.

Join all the side pieces to the base piece, making sure the stitch pattern lines up the way you want it to. When this step is completed, trace this shape onto a piece of cardstock. Set the cardstock aside for a moment.

Whipstitch the sides together to form the box.

Now, fold up the sides of your box and join them at the corners, using the same whipstitch method. At this point, you may find it a little difficult to reach into tight places when you're finishing off a strand of floss. Remember, if you need to, you can always pass the needle right through the wall of the box, and then cut the excess floss close.

Make the lid of the box, and remember to trace it onto cardstock before sewing up the sides.

Repeat these steps to assemble the lid of your box. Don't forget the cardstock step!

Whipstitch around the top edge of each piece.

Finish off the remaining edges of the two pieces with a whipstitch. For this step, I like to use a single strand of floss rather than the double strand I use to join pieces.

The cardstock shapes you traced earlier will become a lining for the box.

That cardstock you traced earlier will now become a lining for your box, covering up the wrong side of your needlepoint. Begin by cutting the shapes out with scissors, cutting about 1/8 inch inside your traced lines. Fold the sides up as shown.

Next, slip the lining into the box. If you need to, remove it again and adjust the folds and trim any edges you need to in order to make it fit better. The lining should fit snugly inside the box. (Incidentally, when I make larger plastic canvas boxes, I usually sew up a fabric liner.)

Anchor the lining with craft glue.

Apply some craft glue to the edges of the lining where they'll come in contact with the box. Remember that the glue can easily ooze right through the canvas, so don't use too much!

Secure the liner with paper clips until the glue dries.

Place a few paper clips around the edges of the box until the glue dries. Use the same process to line the lid of your box.

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posted in: embroidery, keepsake

Comments (5)

loyerd6 writes: OH! I forgot to add that I also glued an oval mirror inside the lid!
Posted: 12:38 am on February 21st
loyerd6 writes: This is so cute! I made one with black and veriegated blue for one of my nieces and I'm going to make another one pink, white and black for my other niece. I did make a couple changes that I wanted to share with you. Since I am making them jewelry boxes (both boxes are surprises for my nieces' birthdays), I'm putting jewelry in the box as an added surprise. Instead of using cardboard to line them, I used black felt. I was really looking for velveteen, but I couldn't find any, so felt was a great, inexpensive ($2.75/yard and I used about 2 feet of it!) substitution. I also threaded beads and put them on the lid in the middle of each design. The first one turned out so pretty, I can't wait to see the second one.
Posted: 12:37 am on February 21st
oldgoat53 writes: that is one of the cutest things ive seen in a while. you out did your self. great project

Posted: 6:17 pm on October 22nd
kaytet writes: so cute diane! i would love to try this sometime!
Posted: 10:37 pm on November 1st
pinsandneedles writes: That's a nice box-in rich fall colors, too! Thanks for sharing!
Posted: 1:39 am on November 1st
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