How to Make a Fabric-Covered Box for Gifts and Storage – Quilting Daily

Two items I’m always short on: storage and gift wrap. Two things I always have plenty of: fabric and the urge to play in my studio.

Plain boxes become artful storage, gift boxes, or both with
fabric painting and printing. By Lynn Krawczyk.

This fabric painting project by Lynn Krawczyk solves both problems with my favorite solutions. Using her fabric painting techniques and your fabrics, you can transform a basic box into a storage container, gift box, or both.

You’ll need:

  • A papier-mâché or similar sturdy box
  • Tape measure
  • Plain cotton fabric in color of your choice
  • Fabric paints in colors of your choice (for printing)
  • Acrylic craft paint (for box) in color of your choice (for a festive look, choose at least one metallic paint)
  • White acrylic craft paint (for printing)
  • Craft glue
  • Foam brushes
  • Squeeze bottle with tip (optional)
  • Gelli ArtsTM Gel Printing Plate (optional)
  • Chunky stamp (optional) 


1. With a tape measure, measure the top and sides of the box in one direction and the top and sides of the lid in one direction. This will determine the length of you fabric pieces. For the width of the fabric, measure across one side of the box and the top of the lid.

Tip: It’s easier to print if you start with a piece of fabric big enough to accommodate these dimensions and cut the strips to size after the paint has dried.

2. Paint two opposite sides of the the box and the lid on both the outside and the inside with craft paint and a goal brush. Paint about ½” (1.3 cm) in from the edges, but leave the center portion of the box and lid unpainted. Let dry.

3. Print your fabric. Lynn likes to use her easy “drop-cloth method.” She spoons three colors of textile paint onto a Gelli plate and spreads the paint around randomly-without mixing too much-using a plastic knife. Using the Gelli plate like a stamp, she presses the paint onto the fabric here and there. Then she continues to print by folding the fabric onto itself to achieve a random, just off the printing table look. Let dry.

Note: If you don’t have a Gelli plate, you could use paint and chunky stamps or found objects to achieve a similar effect.

drop cloth fabric painting technique lynn krawczyk
After printing the fabric paint
onto the fabric, take a corner
of the fabric and print again
onto unpainted parts of the
cloth. From Intentional Printing
by Lynn Krawczyk.

4. Cut or tear it into two strips, one to fit over the box lid and one to fit around the box.

5. Apply some craft glue directly to one side of the box, apply one end of the painted fabric to the glue, and smooth out with a foam brush. Repeat with each side of the box. Do the same with the fabric for the box lid.

6. Add some white paint to the squeeze bottle and doodle circles on the painted sides of the box for extra detail. You could also use a stamp and paint thinly spread on a plastic plate for this step.

If you really want to jazz up the box, add some simple hand stitching or beading to the fabric before gluing. Or, put fabric paint in a squeeze bottle and use it for drawing or writing on fabric.

Lynn has so many printing and fabric painting ideas, techniques, and projects in her book Intentional Printing: Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art.  Like, me, you’ll want to try them all!

P.S. What’s on your wish list this winter? Fabric? A new sewing machine? Fabric painting and printing supplies? Leave your comment below and come back to Quilting Daily Friday November 28, 2014, for our gift guide to help you–or someone who loves you–find just what you’re looking for.

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