Wednesday, January 25, 2012


These little boxes were once made from greeting cards and held hankies and or other little treasures.   Now with so many beautiful papers for scrapbooking, beautiful stickers, cheap greeting cards and the ability to transfer your own designs with a computer and photocopier,  the inspiration for these boxes is endless.  The last couple of days have been spent, cutting papers, making confetti (from the holes - it is everywhere) and re-acquainting myself with a crochet hook (well I used a latch tool, I have crochet hooks somewhere  creating this Vintage Style Hanky Box.
I have downloaded the pattern sheets to Google Documents (you will find them here  and here ).   NOTE:  I have placed a 1inch marker on one of the pattern pieces.  I am not sure how these will down load - the pattern may have to be enlarged.  This is my first pattern download - be kind!  You may also notice that during the course of this blog I sometimes use inches and sometimes use centimetres - 2.5 centimetres is roughly equal to an inch.  ANOTHER NOTE:  Use printer option "fit to page".

Transfer the designs on to template plastic.   I used scrapbooking sheets but had to hunt around a bit for acetate sheets - you know you are getting on, when you ask for acetate sheets, and the young-uns look at you dumbfounded.    To make your search a little easier, I eventually found acetate/plastic sheets at Officeworks under the banner of Lowell A4 Clear Binding Covers - 150 microns.  There are 25 sheets in a pack and cost somewhere around $8.  I also purchased  overhead projector sheets, but these where a lot more expensive.  Both were in packs that couldn't be opened, so I had to take a punt that I had been steered in the right direction.

For the large box,  I used 1 piece of scrapbooking paper for each panel  (that is two panels per piece) with leftovers from each.  Depending on how you lay out and cut the side panels, the base should also fit on a couple of the sheets.   Some papers are definitely a one way design and this may limit how many pieces you can cut from each sheet. You may also find that some papers are double sided!   To make the lid of the box, wait until you have finished putting all of the pieces together.   The lid will be a bigger size, and you can either photocopy the pattern and enlarge, or using the template, add extra all around.   When making the lid, do keep in mind the width of the acetate sheets!  Not having the opportunity to see an original box, I am not entirely certain as to how rigid they actually are.   The large box I completed is probably not as firm as it could or would have been and I'd consider adding a layer of cardboard between the two sheets of scrapbooking paper.   These boxes aren't meant for heavy lifting/storage so I think this one will be fine.   Just something to consider!

So here are some photo's of how to put the boxes together.

I didn't mark the template pattern with holes because if you plan to make smaller boxes, then you will need to make adjustments to the placement of holes.   For this box (large size) - I marked the holes at increments of 1.5 cm.  The hole punch  had a guide to determine the depth of the holes from the edge.    If you can't see what you are punching, make pencil marks that extend towards the middle (see lid further down).    Trace two panels (the box is lined - I shuffled the colours around for the inside) from each piece of scrap booking paper.  Keep pattern in mind when placing templates - you don't want sideways or upside down!
For each panel of the box, you will need two side panels cut from cardboard, scrapbooking paper or old greeting cards.  You will also need two acetate panels - one on the front and one on the back.   You can see in the photo below that I used small bulldog clips to hold all of the pieces in place.  

Tip One:     The template should allow two side panels per piece of acetate.   I folded the acetate sheet in half  and used the bulldog clips to hold the template plastic panel and the acetate sheets together whilst I cut.

Tip Two:   When you are placing all the pieces together ready to punch holes, make sure they are all in the correct order  - acetate sheet/decorative paper wrong sides together/acetate sheet.  If you are adding an extra layer of thin cardboard, place it between the decorative papers.   This way, when the holes are punched, all the holes will align correctly.    

Tip Three:  To help keep all the layers together, a couple of small dabs of glue stick between the decorative papers or gluing the papers to a thin card stock - will help.  Do not glue the acetate.   I found there was enough static to keep it in place.   (But still use the bulldog clips).  I didn't use paper clips because they can catch and damage the acetate.

When each section is cut and punched, you are ready to start the needlework.

 I used a cotton mix thread.   The stitch used was a simple double crochet (feel free to let me know if this isn't the correct name - I don't crochet much ).   I did this stitch three times in each hole, and then one chain stitch and moved on to the next hole.

Tip Four:  Don't start in a corner hole.  I started one hole in from the corner on the bottom edge.
When I reach the corners, I did three double crochet and one chain and then another three double crochet.  This got me around the corners neatly!

As you are crocheting, you may find that the stitches come to the front like this......
Adjust them every few blocks of stitching so the edge is balanced on the edge of the panel.  See below.
When all the pieces are finished (including the base), you can lay them out and move around until you are happy with the arrangement.    I had three panel that were definitely green, so I made sure they weren't all together.  (The stripe on the base, was actually the back of one of the scrapbooking papers).
Working from the front, with a needle and thread, you can now start stitching the panels together.   I did a basic overcasting stitch, catching the outside edge of the chain, this kept the outside and the inside looking neat and tidy.

When all the sides have been sewn together, you will then be able to determine the size of the lid.  Using the base as a template, I outlined the template on the back of a piece of card and then added an 2 cm all around.   Don't take this measurement at the corners.   Make a couple of small marks (two per edge) and then using a ruler, redraw the lines, intersecting at the corners.   When you are happy with the sizing, cut out as above.   You can see here how I marked my pieces.

I ended up having to use a piece of card stock between the layers because I was using a few scraps up on the lid, I had one sheet of scrapbook paper left so used that on the underside.  
 I used the yarn to make a couple of hinges for the lid.  Simple chain stitch, or you could twist some yarn to make these.
I punched a hole in the middle of the lid to place this fancy heart shaped bead.  In the next picture, you can see that I tied it off with a bit of a tassel.

Tip Six:   The punch I used made a pretty big hole.  This made crocheting  the best option.  If you can't operate a crochet hook, other ways to finish these boxes including:
* Cross stitch - Criss cross all the way around the panels and then stitch together.
*Blanket stitch - use blanket stitch all the way around each panel and then stitch together.
*Use 4mm ribbon in the place of thread for a different look.

If using these methods, I would try and find a punch that could make smaller holes.  I would then punch the holes closer (but not too close) to the edges of each panel.    Something to think about!  For lots of ideas good old Google  (Vintage Hanky Boxes)  will find you plenty of inspiration.

So there you have it.  A genuine Vintage Hanky Box. 

Til next time....Sue 


  1. Your crocheted box is beautiful and I admire all the work you put into it. My Grandma and I made boxes from greeting cards and it was tons of work but very rewarding as we donated them to the "senior" homes and hospitals. We used Get Well cards for the hospital versions. Have you tried laminating your papers first and therefore eliminating the need for the plastic cover sheets? Crochet Hugs...

  2. Very nostalgic - I have to make one .... in my spare time ....

  3. Your box is beautiful! Thanks for sharing the tutorial for it!

  4. Thanks for putting up this tutorial. Your boxes are beautiful. My daughter and I had a go with some cardstock we had and because we didn't have plastic here did it with a laminator. We can't crochet :( so had to blanket stitch and with the laminated edge it ended up sort of a picot edge. Not as pro as yours but cute enough and a cheats way for we craft noobs.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to send a note. I appreciate it. Most of the time this particular post is under attack from spammers, so it was really lovely to get a proper comment. Other people have also mentioned using a laminator for the process and I have got to say that I am all for any speedy methods of crafting. Glad you enjoyed the tutorial. Thanks again. Sue xxx

  5. A little old lady taught me how to make these when I was 9 years old. They are so cute. Thank you for posting the directions.


  6. Thank you Sue, I was so pleased when I found your instructions. My Nan made these when I was a little girl and now I'm a Nan and have a bit more time on my hands I wanted to have a go at it. I actually pulled one of my old ones apart to trace the pattern but it's a bit wonky and I couldn't get it lined up properly, :( frustrated. Then I remembered what my friends' five year old granddaughter says "Goggle it Granma"so I did and look what I found! I'm just wrapped Ta!
    Cheers Helen .

  7. Thank you so very much!! I loved these as a little girl and often thought about them wishing I knew how to make one. Now I do. Thank you!!

  8. Great tutorial. I just made mine like that here:

    I hope I got to see your blog first, lol, because I really like the idea of using plastic, it gives a really nice finish and it makes the box sturdier. I would also try that suggestion from the comment above having them laminated, I'm just not sure if bends easily. Anyway, I'll try this on my next works.

    Also I've seen similar boxes like this as I search online, and they use greeting cards. Cool right. Anyway, thank you for this.

  9. Dear Sue, I love these boxes too. I have been searching for a pattern for a bag that has the same technique that you use. There is a face book page by a lady who sells them called 'Vintage Busy Bee'. I just don't think I can ask her for the pattern when she sells them. I'm putting feelers out everywhere to see if anyone can help me. I thought you might have some idea.

    1. You peaked my interest....the basic elements of these items is that the holes match - same number on both panels where they meet - otherwise you are only limited by your imagination - there are so many gorgeous new papers out in scrapbooking land - have a go at drawing something up - or email me and we will chat.

  10. Hi Sue, try going to a facebook page called Vintage Busy Bee there are a lot of the baskets there which will give you an idea. They are bigger than the hanky boxes so I'm just wondering if you would have any idea where to get the plastic from. A friend of mine found one that her Aunt had made many years ago. Below is what she related to me -
    The plastic is cleaned off X-ray film but I guess you could use any hard plastic. Pictures used for outside view & seems like wallpaper inside the inside plastic. Between these are a number if sheets of thin cardboard. The stitching is like a blanket stitch around each piece first & then joined together through the first set of stitches. Some sort of stretchy plastic string.

    It's make up is very similar to your hanky boxes

    1. I am sure I have seen acetate type material on a roll at either Officeworks or Spotlight. I have been using old X-rays for making stencils on the scan and cut and after a workshop I had to soak the paint off.......didn't realize that the print comes off.....but I wouldn't say it was perfectly clear like acetate.

  11. These are the best instructions I've seen so far. My grandmother had one of these baskets she called it her sewing basket. I have it in my possession I just wanted to reproduce it. I just wonder if it would be easier to spray the panels with a pen acrylic spray before you put them together and do away with the acetate.

  12. Hi I have been looking for a tutorial on this for a long time and yours is brilliant. Can I ask what sort of punch you used that could punch through all those layers? I was was thinking perhaps a leather punch? Thank you.

  13. Hi, thank you for posting this, it’s brilliant. What type of hole punch did you use ? one for leather?

    1. Hi Pam, I just used my old two hole punch, from my days as a secretary!😂

  14. Thank you for sharing the templates, tips, and time! Your box is lovely, it reminded me of younger days. I think there should be a 'treasure' box in every child's room (and one for this ol' grandma'sewing room too!)
    All the best to you,

  15. Thankyou for sharing- my templates printed out perfectly if I access3d them through my photo app.after downloading.

  16. This is gorgeous but I’m looking for the same sort of thing only done as a rectangular shopping basket with 2 handles. They would have been approx 14” long, 12” high (plus the handles) and 6” wide. I think they were stitched together on each corner with plastic cord. I’d really love a pattern or some direction on how to make them. Thanks, Heather


I would love to hear from you, just so I know I am not talking to myself - the cat is tired and so is the dog!