Saturday, 4 December 2010

Do you want to know a secret? (The Magic Box Tutorial)

I love this time of the year. Wrapping gifts, making small surprises.

What I like a lot is to make little Magic Boxes.
Do you remember them from your childhood?
You pull the button and voilà! the box magically opens by a simple mechanism
and you will see a surprise inside.
To make such a magic box, you need
a matchbox (I used a white box from the craft shop, which has the same size as the one with longer matchsticks in. Any ordinary small matchbox will work perfectly as well)
paper and fabric scraps
a button, fishing line
sewing needle, scissors, glue
and for the inside of the box a surprise
Remove the little box inside the matchbox.
Cut off 50cm fishing line, make a knot on one end (better two or three knots) and stitch through the cardboard as seen on the photo.
My little black cross marks the upper third of the box, but the middle works as well (1).
Pull through, but just through one side (back) of the cardboard box (2).
Check that the knot at the end of the thread is thick enough and secured (3).
And check with the photo below (4).
Now we are going to cover the cardboard box.
(You can skip the following steps, but then the fishing line knot at the back of the box will be visible)

I used a piece of fabric and ironed the hem to the inside so that it would fit the size of the box. Instead of fabric you could use paper, nice giftwrapping paper or a pretty vintage wallpaper (1)
I start at the back of the box and cover the knot of the fishing line first (2)
Then I cover the whole box and make sure that there are no creases in the fabric (3)
Take the sewing needle with the fishing line and stitch through the covered cardboard box into the front/ opposite the knot (1)
Pull the thread through the cardboard (2)
Push the inner box into the cardboard (3) so that the fishing line encompasses the inner box at the other end (4)
Now choose a pretty button (1)
Attach the button to the fishing line (2)
The fishing line still encompasses the whole inner box, the button has to be as close as possible to the outer box or else the inner box will reveal its secret too quickly because of a gap
Secure the fishing line several times (3) and cut off.
If you now pull the button, you will see how the box magically opens (4). That is the reason why the button has to be tight to the cardboard when the inner box is inside.
Now let´s fill the box with a surprise!
I have covered the inner box with wallpaper:I labelled the box with a little instruction outside and embellished it even with some vintage lace...And inside?
Two tiny deer and green moss!
And if someone now pulls the magic button,
the inner box gets pushed out
and two deer are standing in the moonlight
under the apple tree.
Simple, isn´t it? And such a nice gift for a loved one.

I had planned to share this before the 1st of December because it is a pretty idea for an Advent calendar, but I was too busy during the last weeks. But I am sure you could use magic boxes for a lot of things for Christmas (and the whole year through).
For photos or small souvenirs. Tiny papier-mâché mushrooms or modell railway animals. A handwritten poem or a snail shell. An engagement ring. Or three pretty hair clips for your daughter. One single christmas cookie instead of a big bag. New York air or a survival kit for someone who loves to travel with one button, three pins, sewing needle and thread.

What would you keep in such a magic box and give away? I would love to hear your ideas!
(And I would love to see your magic box. Would you like to share photos with us?)


P.S. I haven´t seen our deer under the apple tree for a couple of days now, the snow on the fields is too high. But a shy black cat has moved in, she has found a cozy and warm place somewhere in the barn and leaves lots of small paw prints in the snow covered garden...

Update 27th of February 2012
Just another Magic Box that I´d like to share with you (one out of many I have made in the past months), read here more about it.

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letrecivette said...

Thanks Juliane it's a nice idea!

jademondin said...

So eine süsse Idee. Das mach ich mal mit der Tochter. Entzückend!!

Knoopjes said...

Thank you for this sweet idea & great tutorial!
Mmmm what secrets can I put in little boxes... :)

Anonymous said...

This is so sweet! I have never seen such boxes, are they something typical german? Your blog is sooo inspiring!!!

Have a nice christmas time.


Beth said...

oooh! so magical! Thanks for sharing another great idea dear Juliane - I think there is still time for me to slip a couple of these into the advent calendar ;)

amy said...

I must make one, sadly I have no match boxes. I shall just have to buy some tomorrow and empty the matches out :)

mienkintoshfairie said...

I adore this idea. It makes a great project for the family on a cold winter day with hot cider ^_^. Now i'm off to find some lovely vintage buttons...

labistrake said...

I love your magic box ! I'm going to try to find some times to make one ...
I got your sunday morning mail and had already answered you ( but I think my answer must have been lost in your overloaded mail box ;-)
Anyway, I have already followed your advices and wish you, again, a sweet Avent sunday ... will the force be with you ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely idea. I´ll make it for my girlfriends as a small Christmas gift

Flodesneiges said...

Thanks a lot Juliane! It's such a sweet idea. I'm going to make one for my husband and will give him on the 13th of December, to celebrate our ten first years of love :)))

heidi said...

I like your reindeer a lot!

I made those boxes before, mostly for swap- exchanges.
You can see them here;
and here:

How is the snow? Out here it melted a bit yesterday.

unikarina said...

love the magic box - I have never sen it before. But I love the magic - all the details and most of all the sweet secret!

med nål och tråd said...

vilken himla söt hemilslåda

Sew Useful Designs said...

How amazingly beautiful!!!

I have never seen these magic boxes before, but look forward to making some for my children in the near future. Thank you SO much for sharing!!!

Hugs from Australia!
Vikki :-)

Hiskia said...

lovely!! said...

Hvor er det dog den sødeste idé!! Var ved at skrive til dig og så var der en lille én der larmede i barnevognen... Sådan er mit liv;o)

Jeg skriver snart!!

Cassy said...

LOVE this idea how cute!!!! I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm your newest follower!

ps- I'm having a giveaway on my blog for a crochet coffee cup cozy.

snippa said...

Thanks for sharing this, I will definitely be making some for Christmas gifts. But what the put inside????

Juliane | Fröken Skicklig said...

Hi Snippa - maybe you´d like to hide a little message inside, like this one here: Or what about a pretty photo? I am sure you can find tiny animals in the toyshop (the deer are from a model railway store). Else these boxes are perfect for any small gift such as a necklace, sweets or gift coupon).

Have fun and enjoy Christmas!

Zill.y said...

We made three of these magic treasure boxes today and one will ship with a love note to grandma across the ocean.

Thanks for this lovely idea and inspiring blog.

Best, zill.y

trixi said...

what a great tutorial...i love matchbox crafts and remember them from when i was little!!