Shrewsbury Box Instructions

Please read through all the instructions before starting to stitch.


Cut the 10 pieces for the box, as shown in the cutting diagram from the sheet of plastic canvas. (If you are not making both boxes, only cut out the sections marked ‘SHREWSBURY’)

Begin by identifying the different pieces of plastic canvas:
1 Lower Base piece, 34 x 34 threads.
4 Base Side pieces, each 34 x 19 threads
1 Lid Top piece, 38 x 38 threads.
4 Lid Side pieces, each 38 x 13 threads.

Identify your five yarn colours:
Chose which colour of yarn will be used for the seams and edges, this will become colour ‘C’ on the chart (shown striped lengthways).
Choose which colour of yarn will be used for the main part of the base, this will be colour ‘B’ (shown marked with small circles).
The three remaining colours will be colour ‘A’ (shown white on the chart), colour ‘D’ (shown as black) and colour E (shown striped widthways).

I suggest you cut your yarn to a working length of approximately 65-70cm (25-28 inches). Longer lengths are difficult to manage until you have more experience. (I regularly work with yarn lengths of over a metre, but don’t copy me yet!) If you use shorter lengths than 65cm, you will need too many joins and spoil the look of the box.

Cut the following number of 65cm lengths of each colour:
A: 16 lengths
B: 30 lengths
C: 40 lengths
D: 8 lengths
E: 22 lengths
(This includes a reasonable margin for error, but if you make too many mistakes, you may need to cut more.)

Preparing the Pearl Cotton
The skein of Pearl Cotton needs to be cut to length before use. Remove both paper bands and open the skein out into a loop. Cut through all the threads at the point where they are knotted together, and again at a point opposite the knot. You should have lengths of about 50cm. Slip the paper band over the cut threads to keep them tidy until you need them.


The box is not lined, so it is important to make the ‘wrong’ side of the work as neat as possible. Secure each new length of yarn by holding down a ‘tail’ of about 1.5cm (half inch) on the back of the canvas and working the first few stitches over it. Alternatively, run the tail into the back of an adjacent area that is already stitched. Finish off each section by running the yarn into the back of the last few stitches and cutting it close to the surface. Avoid stranding yarn across the back of the work between sections, it will spoil the appearance of your box: finish off the yarn and restart.

When working Cross Stitch with the Pearl Cotton, use the size 20 tapestry needle. Always complete each cross before beginning the next, as shown in the stitch diagram. (Cross Stitch worked in two journeys does not cover the canvas properly on the back.)

Because the back is so neat, it is not always easy to tell which side is which. A quick check before you stitch each new area will save a lot of unpicking!

Work the pieces in the order given, referring to the charts which show the colour, length and direction of every stitch. Take special notice of the number of threads left blank for making up.

Lower Base
Work a row of Cross Stitch in Pearl Cotton along all four sides, leaving the outermost thread unworked. The rest of the piece is stitched in colour C. The Diagonal Stitch blocks slope in alternate directions, as shown on the chart. Each length of yarn will work three adjacent blocks — you will need 12 lengths for the whole piece.

Base Sides (All 4 Base Side pieces are identical)
Following the chart, work a row of Cross Stitch in Pearl Cotton along all four sides, leaving 2 unworked threads along the top edge and one along the other three sides. Work another line of Cross Stitch 6 threads above the lower row. The canvas between these rows is filled with blocks in Colour B, like the Lower Base. The colour and direction of each stitch in the upper part of the piece is shown on the chart. Work the large areas of Colour E first, then D, C and A in turn, and finally the small area of E, centre top.

Lid Top
Work a row of Cross Stitch in Pearl Cotton around all four sides, leaving one outer thread of canvas unworked. Following the chart, work the areas in Colour B next. Work the Cross Stitch start shape in Pearl Cotton. Fill the remaining areas outside the star, following the chart, and then the Diagonal Stitch areas inside the star. The four central meshes are left unworked for the Central Motif.

Work the Central Motif using Pearl Cotton. The stitch diagram shows the motif being worked, the main chart shows the finished effect. Bring the thread through the central hole and work a stitch upwards over three threads. Come back through the centre again, and make a second stitch over the same three threads. Make two stitches in each of the other three directions in turn. Then bring the thread out at the top left of the unworked central meshes, and make a stitch to the bottom right. Repeat this stitch, then work two stitches from top right to bottom left. This completes the Central Motif and the Lid Top.

Lid Side (All 4 Lid Side pieces are identical)
Work a row of Cross Stitch with Pearl Cotton along all four sides, leaving 2 unworked threads on the lower edge, and one along the other three sides. Fill in the area with Diagonal Stitch, following the chart and working the colours in this order: E, A, C, D, B.


All seams and edges are worked in colour C. Try to keep an even tension on seams and edges, don’t pull the yarn too tight.

Seaming and edging the Base
Align the lower edge of a Base Side to an edge of the Lower Base, with both pieces right side uppermost. Join the two pieces with seam stitch, which is worked in two journeys. (The two edges will try to pull out of line during the first journey. Grip them firmly to prevent this. After the second journey they will lie parallel again.) Join the remaining 3 Base Side pieces to the Lower Base in the same way. Fold the Base Side pieces up until the side edges meet. Starting from the upper edge, work Seam Stitch along each side seam.

Edging Stitch is worked along the upper edges of the Base Sides. The stitch has two movements. In the first the needle is brought through the canvas ‘2 steps forward’ and in the second movement it is brought through ‘1 step back’. This gives a double layer of thread over the open edge, which looks neat and tidy. When you reach a corner, continue across the top of the side seam (treating it as just another thread) to the next side. Make any joins as neat as possible. After stitching all around the edge, run the end of the yarn into the first few stitches to secure it.

Seaming and edging the Lid
The lid is assembled in exactly the same way as the Base.

Congratulations! Your box is now complete.

Never put the box on a hot surface. To reduce fading, don’t leave it in bright sunshine. An occasional shake to remove dust is all it will usually need, but if it becomes very soiled, it can be washed. Stir a few drops of mild detergent, such as Fairy Liquid, into a bowl of luke-warm water. Separate the base and lid and swish them vigorously through the suds, but don’t rub them. Rinse thoroughly in cold water, shake off excess, easy gently into shape and allow to dry naturally.

Design and instructions (C) SUE JONES 1995 & 2005

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