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Saturday, 20 April 2019

Free Pattern/Tutorial: Fabric Recipe Card Box

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
A fashionable addition to your pantry or counter...
One of the best things that the internet has done for me is to enable instant access to virtually any recipe that I want.

Whenever a recipe becomes a "keeper", I copy it into a Word doc that I keep for my favourite recipes. This way, I can track changes and make notes. I also ensure that the URL to the original recipe is retained.

That said, I still have recipes on cards... and I have a lot of them. There used to be a time when companies were eager to send you free sets of cards just to see if they might entice you to join something. I've kept them all (and never joined anything).

The recipe world hasn't all turned digital, however. As you can see in my photos here, Knorr frequently distributes recipe cards in grocery stores even now.

Although I appreciate the searchability of recipes in my .DOC file, it's a nuisance having to run from kitchen to computer when I prep and cook. (And yes, I do have a tablet, but my desktop computer remains king of my computing world.) In truth, I would prefer that my recipes be on cards that can be pulled out and put on the kitchen counter.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Do you still use recipe cards?

Even if you have recipe cards, if you aren't of a certain age, you likely don't have a traditional plastic box to store them in. Well, today, you can make one out of fabric.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Of course, it doesn't have to be used for recipe cards...

Before we start, let me offer some background. This project was inspired by a free download, Teresa Lucio Designs' Boxy Pouch Tutorial (google it and you'll find it on Bluprint). However, she says in the PDF that the idea came from a class that she took.

I don't know who may have been the first to do a version of this design and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to find out. Just stating for the record that it's not my original creation, although of course, the instructions provided here are my own.

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When I first saw this boxy pouch, I was drawn to its interesting form. It wasn't until I looked more closely that I realized it was actually a zippered pouch.

Another zippered pouch??

I thought to myself, what if I don't ever want to zip it up and lose that elegant look? Of course... make it without the zipper and keep it open. And hey, maybe someone might want to use it to store recipe cards!

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
The inspiration project had a zippered closure...

So there was my entire thought process. Everything you ever wanted to know about a creative mind at work... ;-)

The next step was to make it with a couple of fabric remnants that I had. If you don't need this to come out to a specific size, you can certainly play around with the dimensions and adjust them according to what you have.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Flowered ribbon trim (last seen on my "curtain" bag & pouch) was glued on...

Here is what I used to arrive at a finished box size of approximately 7" x 5.5" (18cm x 14cm) at the base and about 5" (13cm) high.
  • 1 piece 12" wide x 20.5" long (30.5cm x 52cm) quilting cotton for the exterior
  • 1 piece 12" wide x 20.5" long (30.5cm x 52cm) quilting cotton for the lining
  • 1 piece 11.5" x 20" (29cm x 51cm) Pellon Decor Bond or SF101 or equivalent (apply to lining)
  • 1 piece 11.5" x 20" (29cm x 51cm) fusible fleece (apply to exterior)
  • Ribbon, lace or rickrack for trimming (optional)
  • Fabric glue (optional)
  • 2 rivets or buttons
NOTE: Due to how the fabric forms the body of this box all the way down one side and up the other (i.e., continuously around the bottom), it is best to avoid directional prints, unless you want to cut two slightly longer pieces and join them along the bottom.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
A couple of rivets hold the corners together...

With the zipper out of the equation, this is surprisingly easy to make. (About an hour if you're slow at cutting like I am.) I will illustrate most of the steps using a sample that I made out of a couple of small 2.5" x 4.5" fabric scraps.

Here are my two teeny pieces of fabric: the patterned one is the exterior and the solid is the lining.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Start with two same sized rectangles of fabric...

The first step is to fuse the appropriate interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. The fleece goes to the exterior fabric and the Decor Bond or SF101 goes on the lining. (At this point, I also did some broad, lazy quilting on my exterior piece to give it some texture.) Note that for the purposes of illustrating this tutorial, I didn't bother interfacing these small pieces of fabric.

Place both pieces right sides together and sew together the shorter ends (the 12" sides). I used a 3/8" or 1cm seam allowance.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Stitch up the shorter sides...

Flip the pieces right side out, press and topstitch along the seams you just sewed.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Turn and topstitch...

Flip it back to wrong side out and hold the whole thing up by the lining so that the exterior hangs from the bottom. (This part is virtually impossible to describe, so here is a series of three photos that hopefully convey what you need to do.)

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Do "this"...

Once you understand what you're supposed to do here, mark the midpoint of the lining piece and use it to line up where the two seamed ends should meet underneath.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Line up, press and clip...

Press and clip both short edges.

Sew up one edge entirely with a 1/4" or 6mm seam allowance. On the opposite side, sew and leave a turning gap in the lining; i.e., fold back the lining section and continue to sew along the exterior piece.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Sew up the sides, leaving a turning gap just in the lining...

Reach into the gap in the lining and turn the whole thing right side out, carefully poking out the corners. Working from the lining side, sew up the turning gap in whatever way you prefer with matching thread.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Turn right side out and press with lining showing...

Press the whole thing, ensuring that the edges are crisp, because the next step is to box the corners and you need to be able to see/feel the creases along the edges to do this properly.

Here I will revert back to my actual full size project in the photos.

Glue on trim and use clips to box the corners...

If you are using any sort of trim, glue it onto the top edges of the lining now. (You could also have sewn it on at the very beginning.)

Use clips to help you hold the corners. Pinch them down so that the seams are aligned on top of the pressed edges of the box.

Stitch to create the boxed corners...

Make a mark on each corner, 2" (5cm) down from the peak. Draw a horizontal line there and sew across as shown (but use thread that matches the lining). Do this for all four corners.

Secure each pair of corners with a rivet or by hand sewing...

The final step is to secure the pairs of corner pieces. You can either use rivets or hand sew them. If you choose to hand sew, sew a button on top for visual interest. (First, though, you may want to use clips to hold them together temporarily while you flip the whole contraption right side out to see if it looks okay.)

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I will not be instructing you on how to attach rivets (check out this post for an overview), but will recommend that due to the thickness, make the holes on each corner piece separately after marking the desired location for the rivet.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Love how the fusible fleece gives this item so much "body"
(and you can see my quilting more clearly here)...

If not for storing recipe cards, the size of this box is perfect for keeping a few paperback books on the nightstand of a guest room. Or small size toiletries in the guest bath.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
Used as a greeting card file...

It's also good for keeping greeting cards organized. I remember someone wanted to use the quilted accordion pouch for this purpose, but while cards won't fit into that pouch, they will fit in this.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
View of the interior...

There is an interesting use for this box in the sewing room that I'd like to mention. If your fabric stash is getting unmanageable, why not catalog your selections? Cut small swatches of fabric and glue them onto index cards. Write down the name of the fabric and any special care instructions. Record the amount that you have.

Of course, if you have too much fabric to keep track of, this won't be worth your while — unless you want to swap your sewing hobby for a filing hobby.

Fabric Recipe Box by eSheep Designs
My exterior fabric was a recycled pillow case; interior is a Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton...

Seeing my recipe cards here reminds me of another project that's been brewing in the back of my brain. Similar to a bunch of Spoonflower projects that I posted about a couple of years ago, I think it would be neat to print off a bunch of my favourite recipes onto fabric. Sized properly, they can be cut and fused onto Peltex to create fabric recipe cards.

Pop them into one of these boxes along with a sample (think cookie or spice rub recipe) and it makes for a truly personal gift. What do you think?


  1. Oh, I remember collecting recipe cards, and rarely ever using them. If I ever actually cooked, your basket would be a great place to store them. Love your thinking outside the square.

  2. I love the shape of this bin and still like having recipe cards too. This has been featured at this week's Craftastic Monday Link Party. Thanks for linking it up & looking forward to seeing what you share next:)


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