Making things from boxes

This was what the little Teacakes made one day during half term. We have the most beautiful book that I've blogged about before called Green Crafts for Children by Emma Hardy, which detailed this lovely idea of making a shoebox house and some furniture. In the week running up to half-term we'd spent time looking through the book to decide what we should make and happily we all plumped for the same thing. And with advance warning of what we were going to do I was able to go out and buy special papers for them to cover things in (if only I'd remembered to get them some little matchboxes too,  as we ended up having to de-box the contents of my make-up bag in order to make drawers and sofas).

They made all the items for it together, but Zebra-girl was in charge of picking the colour-scheme, decorations and sewing a pillow for the upstairs and Dinosaur-boy selected his choice of fabrics and wallpaper and made sofa cushions for the downstairs. I love it when he sews as he concentrates so intensely that his breathing sounds like Darth Vader's.

We had such fun, but, like many of the things in the book, they look so perfectly made that the children aspire to a greater level of neatness than they are currently able to master without help. I often find that if they are shown an initial image of what something might look like then they are reluctant to deviate from it and their expectations around what the finished item should look like are far more perfectionist...which means that they insist on my being over-involved in measuring everything out properly, rather than experiencing the unbridled fun and creativity of more haphazard cutting and sticking. So in some ways I wish that I'd kept this wonderful book to myself and just used it to suggest ideas of what they might make...but they now love looking through it too much to hide it.

On Sunday Mr Teacakes gave Zebra-girl a cardboard box as a treat (it's so odd how universal it is that nearly every child's eyes light up at the offer of an old box) and she took it off to her room and closed her door (we found out later that this was because we may have objected had we seen her scissoring holes into the box risking possible injury in the process). She happily beavered away and made this lovely theatre. She made a long hole at the top so that she could drop scene changes in and another hole through which she could dangle characters on strings.

She then attached semi-circle boxes for an audience to sit in. And finally she wrote a script for Little Red Riding Hood and made characters and lots of different background scenes to go with it. On completion she invited me to learn some lines and help act it all out to Mr Teacakes and Dinosaur-boy and the audience in the stalls. It nearly made me cry seeing the care and imagination she had used in making it.

And just in case you're wondering...the scene you're viewing is when Little Red Riding Hood's mother asks her to take some food over to Grandmother...just before things get messy with the wolf.

Myself, I have made nothing from boxes, but I did make this cushion as a custom order for a friend's niece who lives in France. Here it is on Zebra's bed just before it went off to it's new home.

On Tuesday I woke with the sudden urge to de-stash. I have no idea why, but I went through my fabric drawers and edited it a little...then a couple of hours later I put lots of it back, but those things that I already have lots of, or just never seem to get round to using, I have listed on Etsy...just in case you're interested. There's some enormous pieces of suiting that might be good for clothing or bag-making, as well as some quilting-weight cottons that include prints by Tilda, Sandi Henderson, Joel Dewberry (some of these are measure a metre or thereabouts) and a couple of other bits and pieces. They are all in perfect condition, but as they've been in my fabric drawer they don't have that new-fabric-look like they do when they've been cut fresh from the bolt.

This week has been a week for things going wrong: fabrics being sewn back to front and general clumsiness on my part, but I have finally finished the quilt that I've been working on for the last day or so and it is now drying. To be blogged....

Hope you're having a lovely week.

Florence x

P.S - And hurrah! Lovely Mr Teacakes has made me a new blog banner...I had made the last one myself without any help...apparently that much was obvious. I'm so pleased with this new one...much better.


  1. artesbycarmen.blogspot.com24 February 2010 at 21:35

    Beatifull pillows! I love it. Kisses. I wiil following you.

  2. Love the new banner. Do you know I had never heard of Emma Hardy until about 4 weeks ago. I bought one of her books and found out she had written a whole lot more. They are now on my Amazon wish list!

  3. My, what talented offspring you have Florence - their creations are adorable. I had forgotten the joys of being entertained by children and being amazed by their resourcefulness.

    Compliments to Mr Teacakes for creating your new banner. Not only does it look wonderful, but it makes me truly envious of your collection of pink cotton reels!

  4. Aren't boxes fun ! Love those pretty cushions too .

  5. Too lovely. Zebra girl is really clever and talented. I would never have thought to make a mini theatre, what more with changing backdrop scenes! Too impressive.

    Lovely blog banner by the way!

  6. Love the cushion, love the banner, love it all really!xx

  7. Artesbycarmen -thank you! x

    SewChristine - I know, she is fantastic. I have the Sewing Children's Clothes book too (more for inspiration than patterns as they only fit ages 0-5) and that is wonderful too.

    Hot Fudge - yes, your right - it is such fun standing back and being an observer in what they get up to - I love this age.

    Oddly though...even with all those pinks, sometimes I still don't have the right shade.

    Thank you for your lovely, lovely comments - I do love reading them.

    The quilting fabrics have now been snaffled up...just the suiting fabrics left to those that are interested.


  8. Great banner Florence! Mr Teacakes has done a good job. I'm still learning how to make one myself.

    Thanks for recommending this book, I'm going to buy it so I can pick out some project to do with my daughter. I'm sure she will love it.

    Lovely cushion too. What a talented family. :)


  9. Oh my goodness. This post made me want to have children, solely so I can make cardboard box houses with them. Also, I love your new banner - cute but chic!

  10. The houses are fantastic I remember doing things like that with my children when they were small, the cushion is lovely too.


  11. The little house is so cute! That sounds like a great book, I have to see if it's in our library.

    Have you visited yet? It's a website dedicated to connecting sewers with all kinds of great sewing inspiration on the web, including other sewers!

  12. Great to see that the fun I used to have with boxes has now moved down a generation. So much more fun to make yourself rather than have someone else's ideas imposed on you!

  13. We have and love that book too - the girl is very keen to make a box house next. Was going to be a half term project for us too but sickness got in the way.
    I just bought the Making Children's Clothes book on your recommendation - £5 in one of those school book ordering schemes, so I couldn't resist!

  14. I love the little houses! They remind me of my things I used to make as a child.

  15. How cute are those blue peter style boxes !!! Actually if blue peter made boxes like those i might of made a few when i was a kid :)


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