Stitching Block and Box Shapes

Three dimensional shapes like blocks or soft boxes are made, in part, the same way. Only instead of cutting a top and bottom and relying on the stuffing to provide the height, there are side pieces to sew as well. Begin with the basic cube and make toddler blocks.

Toddler Blocks

Cut six squares of whatever size you want for your blocks plus ½″. These can be made from fabric scraps or can be appliquéd with numbers and letters if you want. Begin by sewing the side pieces to the bottom piece. Start and stop your stitches ¼″ from the edge, similar to the way you stitched the Lemon Star in Chapter 7. This will make it much easier to do the stitching on the adjacent sides. Sew the top piece to the outside edge of one of the side pieces the same way.

Fold the bottom piece so you can line up two of the side pieces, right sides together, and stitch between them. Repeat with each pair of sides. Do the same thing with the top. It can be a bit tricky to adjust the block to let you get to the seams but don't worry about how much you scrunch the fabric; simply keep everything but what you are sewing out from under the needle.

Leave one edge open to turn and stuff. A cube of foam rubber will make the blocks more square than stuffing, but stuffing will make it easier for a child to hold. Finish by blind-stitching the open edge.

You can buy fake fur and make your own fuzzy dice. Cut circles in felt and hot glue them to the sides to represent the dots on dice. Felt will fade faster than the fur, so bright dice with white dots will look nice longer than pale dice with black dots.

Soft-Sided Box

A box doesn't need to be made in a perfect cube. The bottom and top can be rectangular and the sides only an inch high, as long as the sides fit the bottom and the top. The box is begun essentially the same as the block until you have the four sides stitched to the bottom. Next, stitch the back side of the lid to the top of the back piece. Press the seams open.

Make a button loop out of ribbon a couple of inches long. Sew this to the seam allowance at the center front of the lid piece. The length of the ribbon will determine where your button is eventually placed on the front piece.

Cut a piece of fabric for the inside lining that matches the shape of your box pieces as they are now. This should be a sort of cross shape. Cut a piece of batting the same size. Layer them as follows: batting on the bottom, lining piece next with the right side up, box pieces with the wrong side up. Sew around the outside edges, leaving the edge of the front piece, or top of the cross, open. When you stitch with batting it is usually between two layers of fabric. When it is on the outside, it's better to stitch with it on the bottom as the presser foot tends to catch it if it's on top.

Trim the batting close to the stitching and clip the corners. Turn so the batting is to the inside and press the edges. Top stitch in the ditch along all the seams. Blind-stitch the top edge closed and hand-stitch the sides together. Add a shank button to the front piece.

Batting isn't going to hold up more than a couple of inches, so keep the sides of your boxes shallow. You can insert cardboard between the layers instead of batting but if it gets bent, there's no straightening it back out.

Different Shaped Boxes

Suppose you want to make a box that is round or oval or even heart shaped. Instead of cutting separate sides, cut one long piece to fit all the way around the box. Remember to fit this side piece to the seam line rather than to the outside edge of your box bottom and top.

Cut four pieces of your box shape, two for the bottom and two for the lid, and two pieces of quilt batting the same size. Begin by layering the bottom with pieces in this order: box bottom with the right side down, batting and lining with the right side up. Stitch them together with a ¼″ seam all the way around. Trim the batting close to the stitching. Set it aside.

Put whatever ruffle or trim you want on your outside lid piece. Layer it and the lining as follows: batting, lining with the right side up and decorated lid top with the right side down. Stitch, clip, turn and blind stitch the opening closed. You can add quilting stitches if you want, then set the lid aside.

You will need two side strips and a batting piece the same size. Layer them with the batting on the bottom, the outside piece with the right side up and the lining piece with the right side down. Stitch along one side of the strip. Trim the batting in the seam allowance and press the seam open. Sew the batting to the outside piece along the other seam allowance, trim the batting and press the seam allowance under. Run a line of stitches along the seam allowance of the lining piece as well. Fold the piece the long way and sew the ends together, leaving the side and lining still opened out. Press this seam and trim away the batting in the seam allowance.

Clip the lining edge at close intervals along the seam allowance. Pin this edge to the bottom piece. Stitch along the seam allowance. Clip Vs in outward curves and straight cuts in inward curves of the bottom piece. Fold the seam allowance from the box bottom up, and fold the outside strip with the batting over the lining. Blind-stitch all around the box bottom.

Connect the lid to the box with a short ribbon, hand-stitched to the inside of the box and the underside of the lid.

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