Embroidery: Stitched Box Instructions

Here are the full instructions for two Stitched Boxes


Chester Box

This small, simple box is designed to teach the basics of making plastic canvas boxes. It is a good first project as it is quick to make, and is the one I use for demonstrations and workshops.


Shrewsbury Box

This one is a little larger, with some pearl cotton as well as yarn. It takes longer to stitch than the Chester Box, but it looks much more impressive when finished. The Chester box will fit neatly inside it.

The materials list, cutting diagram, instructions and charts for the two boxes are listed below. Print them out, or copy the files to your own computer for easy reference.

Materials for Both Boxes

You can make both boxes box from one sheet of DARICE brand, clear plastic canvas, 10 mesh (40 threads to 10 cm, 10 threads to 1 inch). DARICE plastic canvas is widely available from craft and embroidery stockists. Other brands do not always have holes of the right size for my patterns, and you may not be able to cut the pieces out as shown on the cutting diagram. The sheet has 107×137 threads.

If your local embroidery shop doesn’t stock 10-mesh Darice canvas, it’s widely available online. www.sewandso.co.uk is one UK company that stocks it, and I’m happy to recommend them.

For the Chester Box you will need acrylic knitting yarn in four colours: ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’. For the Shrewsbury Box you will also need a small quantity of a fifth colour, ‘E’. Double knitting (DK, Knitting Worsted, or 6 ply) yarn is just the right weight for this canvas. You can use wool, but acrylic yarn is easier to stitch and comes in some interesting colours. Feel free to choose any colour combinations you like. Only use normal yarn, not mohair-effect, ‘nubbly’ yarn, ribbon, or other fancy textures. Very small quantities of each colour are needed. 20g each of colours A and B and 10g each of the other colours should be ample for the two boxes.

For the Shrewsbury Box you need one 5g skein of Pearl Cotton (Coton Perle) Number 5, either Anchor or DMC brand.

One tapestry needle size 18
One tapestry needle  size 20 (for the Shrewsbury Box only)

Don’t use your best embroidery scissors for cutting the plastic canvas pieces! A normal household pair will do, provided they cut well. Small scissors are useful for cutting thread when you start stitching.


To get both boxes from one sheet of Darice canvas, follow the diagram for the layout of the pieces. Count the threads very carefully to ensure that the pieces are the correct size. The canvas cuts easily with household scissors. The blue lines show the rows of holes that are cut through. (The gold areas are left-over canvas – keep them safe: you can use them in future projects or for trying out stitches.) Trim off all the little stubs of plastic from along the outside edges. Your finished pieces should look exactly like the pieces shown in the charts.

(If you only want to make Chester Boxes, you can get three boxes out of one sheet of Darice canvas. But you can’t quite get two Shrewsbury Boxes from a single sheet. It’s annoying.)

For the Chester Box only:

Chester Box Instructions

CHESTER BOX, CHART 1: Lid Top, Stitches and Key.
CHESTER BOX, CHART 2: Lower Base, Lid Side, Base Side.

For the Shrewsbury Box only:

Shrewsbury Box Instructions

SHREWSBURY BOX: CHART 2: Lower Base, Base Side.
SHREWSBURY BOX: CHART 3: Stiches and Key.


3 Responses to “Embroidery: Stitched Box Instructions”

  1. Very hard to describe, but I’ll have a go:

    To teach embroidery / sewing – UK, 1960’s,
    this kit, to make a cute box, with a flap-over lid
    measuring approx. 7 inches across
    consisted of:

    Ready-made / cut-out shapes of
    cardboard, with a set of pictures (themed EG. kittens),
    were covered in thin clear (protective) plastic –
    each piece has punched out holes.

    Pieces are put side by side, and hand-stitched together
    with embroidery thread…

    To make the bottom of the box – a large picture is used
    (smaller pieces are placed around this).
    The lid consists of another large picture.

    The end result is a shaped box EG. hexagonal,
    with pictures inside and outside…

    I’m really keen to acquire one of these, but can’t
    cos I don’t know what they’re called.
    Please help if you can.

    • suetortoise Says:

      I think you’ve explained it very clearly, Hosea. I can see exactly what you are describing. But I don’t remember seeing kits for that sort of box, and I don’t know if they had a special name. It sounds like an idea that might have come from a children’s TV show like Blue Peter, or from a magazine. Good luck with your search. If you can’t find an old one, it should be easy enough to make one for yourself from scratch. You would need to make sure you spaced the holes very evenly along the edges, so the seams would line up properly.

  2. alexandrageorgia Says:

    Thank you Sue. I have remembered to look at your blog. I will have a look at the boxes when I get a minute, I think I need to make at least 1. Sarah

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