Instructions: Wrapping a Box Top with Unbacked Cloth

I've been dyeing cloth for months now, and making boxes for decades, but until I wanted a certain color to wrap one of my more recent needlepoint boxes, I had not considered using the unbacked cotton fabric to cover the boards. Why do we use specially prepared book cloth? Why do we back cloth with paper? With lighter colors of cloth, the book board shows through. And it is technically tricky to use PVA with cloth; if the cloth is too porous, too coarsely woven, or if you have too much glue, the PVA will seep through, leaving shiny spots that are impossible to fix.

I really wanted to use the hand-dyed, Brazil Nut brown cloth to wrap my Moss Treasure box. These are general steps that start after I had marked out the center and glued down the lid, making an X for the window and gluing down the edges. (Windows shown on page 234 in Making Handmade Books.)

Post about covering a two-piece box with single sheets or a single piece of book cloth or paper is also here.

Tools: metal ruler; white pencil; sharp scissors; PVA; glue brush; bone folder; scrap paper or magazines to use under the glue

Using a white pencil and a ruler aligned with the box sides, I continued the lines to the edges of the cloth.  The lines then resemble a cross or plus sign. (White pencil is also useful when using a book cloth that has a dark backing.)

On one set of parallel sides I cut exactly on the white pencil lines from the edge toward the box. On the perpendicular sides I cut about 1/4" outside both lines toward the box for a margin. This 1/4" margin on either side becomes the flaps that glue around the sides and cover the corners. With a sharp scissors, I also cut diagonals at each of the four "flapped" sides. This prevents a bulky outer corner. (See the inner top right edge, cut, and the inner bottom left edge [by the scissors,] not cut yet.)

Once the cutting is finished, I take each side up and over (without glue) to check on the creasing inside the box. I want to relieve some of the excess cloth, and I need to know where to cut out slits and small pieces. (In this case, I also wanted to make sure the cloth would not extend beyond the window.)

Using a sharp scissors, I make a few triangular cuts (see the top edge).

Checking the sides without the flaps to make sure they align exactly at the corner meeting. Sometimes, as I did here, I will cut in a tiny bit to miter the top corner as it goes over the edge inside.

In this photo, you can see the tiny miter and slight trimming of the portion of fabric that goes inside the box.

A light coating of PVA to the box itself. (Normally, I put glue on the paper because I can control it better, but there isn't any paper here.)

Smooth it up the outside of the box, and smooth down what I'm calling the "flaps." I suppose they might be turn-ins.

Apply a thin layer of glue to the inside of the box.

You will make tiny folds at the top corners, then use a bone folder to smooth the cloth down the inside, pushing toward the base and outward towards the edges so you won't have air bubbles. You will have to adjust the overlaps at the corners to get them smooth. Do the same with the parallel side with the flaps/ turn-ins as well.

Finally, apply glue lightly to the box and work the remaining sides. The cloth should fit perfectly up the outside, mitered at the top joined corners, and down inside. (Not shown here: cutting diagonals at the corns where the fabric will hit the base of the box.)

Wrapped lid with window.

Top view of the wrapped lid. My needlepoint went inside, facing up. I covered a small board and glued it to the inside, over the back of the needlepoint.

Moss Treasure

Available boxes at nevermindtheart.

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