Saturday, May 8, 2010

make it: a fabric mailbox

My eighth craft till Christmas is well underway!  As you know, I've picked a pretend and play mail carrier's kit for this month.  Letter writing has certainly become a lost art with the popularity of instant communication rising, but to a child there is nothing more exciting than getting their own piece of snail mail from the mail carrier.  I hoping this little pretend and play kit will be a big hit next Christmas.

First I decided to tackle the mailboxes - one for each girl.  These were sooooo much fun to make . . . sort of an experiment as I figured out what would work to make the shape I wanted.  This was definitely a learn-as-I-go project and to be honest, I may not have explained things very clearly.  I realize that this tutorial looks long, but this project is actually quite easy.  Just read all the way through once and you're on your way!  Please let me know if you try to make one.  Send me your feedback on the directions and a picture.  I love to see what others create!  (You'll also notice that my pictures alternate between the off-white canvas and the jean fabric.) 
Grab the following:
--1 - 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 sheet of plastic canvas
--1 - 10 1/2 x 5 sheet of plastic canvas
--2 - arch-shaped pieces**
--1 - piece shaped like the "arm" that flips up on a mailbox
--1 - 24 x 16 piece of fabric
--1 - 24 x 7 piece of fabric
--4 - arch-shaped pieces of fabric (trace plastic arches onto fabric and cut out with 1 inch extra all around)
--2 - fabric pieces in the shape of the plastic arm with about a 1/2 extra all around
--quilt batting to wrap all the plastic canvas in
--Fabric Fuse Permanent Adhesive
--fabric scraps
--1 large brad
--light colored duct tape - just make sure its a light color so it doesn't show through your fabric
--embroidery thread
--1 - 4 inch piece of elastic or ribbon
--1 - button

**To make the arch-shaped pieces I measured and drew a 5 inch line on a piece of paper.  Then I took the larger rectangle canvas, bent it into an arch beginning at one end of the line and ending at the other end, and traced inside this arch.  I cut this piece out and used it as a pattern to cut the plastic canvas arches.  You may need an extra set of hands for this!

1)  Wrap all plastic canvas pieces (except the plastic arm piece) in one layer of quilt batting and secure with duck tape.

2)  Fold 24 x 16 piece of fabric in half right sides together to make it 12 x 16.  Place 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 plastic canvas on top and trace.  Sew around three sides on tracing lines- leaving one side open.  Trim edges, clip corners and flip right sides out.  Insert plastic canvas.  Fold in open side and sew as close as possible to canvas edge.

3)  Fold 24 x 7 piece of fabric in half right sides together to make it 12 x 7.  Place 10 1/2 x 5 piece of plastic canvas on top of fabric and trace.  Sew two long sides up on tracing lines.  Trim edges. Flip right sides out.  Insert plastic canvas.  Both ends should still be open.  Set aside for later.

4)  Take two arch-shaped pieces of fabric, place right sides together, put plastic arch on top and trace.  Take elastic piece, fold in half, sandwich it in between the two arch pieces and pin in place.  Sew along the arch that you traced leaving the straight bottom edge open.  Trim edges.  Flip right sides out.  Insert plastic arch.  Repeat with second arch leaving out the elastic.

5)  Now you are going to attach the two arch pieces to the 10 1/2 x 5 piece.  Fold in the edges of this rectangle piece to create a finished edge and iron carefully.  Insert the open straight edge of one arch into one of the folded in sides of the rectangle piece so that the plastic canvas edges are almost touching.  Now sew a straight line in the space in between the two canvas edges.  Do the exact same thing with on the other end of the rectangle with the second arch.  This step does two things - attaches the arches to the base of the mailbox and closes up the ends of the rectangle.

6)  Begin hand stitching the large rectangle to the base piece with the arches.  Use embroidery thread and start by sewing one of the shorter edges of the large rectangle to the long edge of the smaller rectangle.  Sew down this side, over the arch and down the other side.  (See picture below for visual explanation.)           

7)  Stitch button on top for closure.

8)  Okay, now you prepare and attach the plastic arm.  You may think of a better way to do this.  If you do, please let me know.  Sew around the traced outline of the arm fabric pieces leaving the end show below open.  Clip corners, trim edges and turn.

9)  Insert plastic arm, turn in open edges and either sew shut or use fabric glue to glue the opening shut.

10)  Cut three smallish circles out of fabric fuse permanent adhesive.  Peel of paper side and place on fabric scraps.  Cut out circle from fabric.  Then cut a very tiny hole out of the center of each.

11)  Poke a whole all the way through the fabric-covered plastic arm and twist hole to make it big enough for brad to fit through.  I used my seam ripper for this.  Then poke whole through top fabric on mailbox in the place where you want to attach the arm.  Do not poke the whole all the way through to the inside of the mailbox though. 

12)  Take the other paper side off the fabric fused circle and line up hole from circles with holes on both side of the arm and on the mailbox.  These circles create more stability and security to hold the brad. 

13)  Now line up the arm with the circle on the mailbox and push brad through fabric-covered plastic arm, first layer of fabric on mailbox and batting-covered plastic canvas.  Do not go through inside layer of fabric on mailbox.  At this point, you will be able to maneuver the brad open.  This is tricky but doable and it creates a sturdy base to move the arm.

14)  Now you can personalize it with any designs and fabric shapes you want.  I used Fabric Fuse Permanent Adhesive for this as well. 

I'm keeping this on my list for an adult gift too.  I think it would be great to give this to a friend with some handmade note cards, envelopes, postage and a nice pen inside. 

Up next on my list for this pretend and play kit . . . mail carrier bags and fabric postcards. 

Craft on! 

PonyTails and FishScales
BWS tips button




Papgena Made It said...

My daughter loves to see the mail and always asks if there are letters to her...One of these days I must surprise her!!

Katy David said...

That is so adorable! They are going to love their mailboxes - I would be tempted to start sending them letters from Tinkerbell or Pooh Bear, just to have fanciful letters to put in there. Great job!

Miss Crafty Pants said...

Ooooh oooh I love it!! Thanks so much for linking up! I am always so excited when I find new crafty blogs! It's like Christmas!!!

JHill said...

So cute! This would make a great teacher appreciation gift too.

Thanks for linking up to the Mad Skills party!

Misty said...

What a fun idea!! Thanks for linking @Creative Itch's "Sew Cute Tuesday"!

Leslie said...

this is such a cute kids always loved playing mailman

Sew Much Ado said...

Those are about the cutest thing ever! I want to make one for my sons now!

Tere said...

This is perfect for my girls! They love writing letters and delivering them to my husband and me and this would really help...they could mail them! How fun! Thanks so much for sharing and linking to my party!

pony tails & fish scales

Kate said...

Precious! I want one of these for my house!!

Stephanie Lynn said...

This is simply adorable! I love them both! So creative and clever! Would love to have you stop by the Sunday Showcase Party if you get a chance. You've done a great job on these - my little guy would love them! Hope you are having a great weekend! ~ Stephanie Lynn

Stephanie Lynn said...

My goodness I just love these! Thanks again for stopping by and joining the Sunday Showcase! I greatly appreciate it. ~Stephanie Lynn

Bird said...

D'you know, these are sooo YOU, that when I saw in a link party I knew excatly who'd made it!! :)

LOVE IT! You are my Martha Stewart!! :D


Stephanie Lynn said...

Hi Elizabeth! Just wanted to let you know I'll be featuring your mailbox today! Stop by and grab a featured button if you like. Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase! ~ Stephanie Lynn

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Oh what a great DIY project. You are one clever and crafty girl.

I just finished a project that took 23 years to complete.
Come take a peek.

Alison said...

This is so much fun!! I never would have thought to sew a mailbox. These are just fabulous!! Thanks for sharing!


Lu said...

I love it! I found you through along for the ride's Saturday is Crafty Day and I am now a follower. I love the idea behind your blog. I just might have to try it myself. :)

I blog at just Lu and once a week at Housewife Eclectic. I'd love it if you stopped by!

Tammy@ Not Just Paper and Glue said...

These are simply adorable! How very clever and what a great gift!

Briefkasten said...

This is a very nice idea for a mailbox. well done.

Donene said...

What a cute idea! Great job!

Jerri said...

What a cute idea! And great tutorial!

Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites!

Anonymous said...

I love this!!!! my daughter would fall inlove with this as well cant wait to make it and give it to her for her birthday!! thanks

Jill Cook said...

My friend and I are getting together next Friday (Nov. 12) at my house to make these for our girls for Christmas. I think we might make envelopes and stationery as well. I'll send you photos when we're all done. Thanks for the inspiration and tutorials!

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