FABRIC MAILBOX TUTORIAL

08.03.09

I thought I’d share a little project I worked out for the kids at my church. If I were really ambitious I’d make one for my own kids too. And one for me, for receiving notes. My cute 6-year-old is forever writing me the best love notes. We could write and reciprocate all day long, dropping off notes and drawings in each other’s official family mailboxes.

Fabric Mailbox Tutorial2

Supplies needed
1 piece of felt, 20 x 15 inches
1 piece fabric of your choice, same size
2 sheets plastic canvas (near the embroidery section at the craft store)
1 piece floral wire of a thicker gauge, about 9 1/2 inches long
2 strong small magnets
1 set purse closure magnets
a copy of this pattern: Fabric Mailbox Pattern (4301)

Fabric Mailbox 1cUse the pattern to trace the 5 pieces on the plastic canvas, then cut them out:
the bottom
the front (you’ll see it’s slightly shorter than the back)
the back
the top (the only piece that has just measurements on the pattern, not the full size drawing)
the flag

Fabric Mailbox 2Fabric Mailbox 1Place the felt and your fabric of choice wrong sides together. Place the plastic canvas pieces on top with slight space between, where the folds will be (3/8-inch should do). Plan to cut out a square tab on top of the front door of the mailbox (on the pattern this is represented by a dotted line). Plan to add an extra inch at the end of the long rectangle (where the dome of the mailbox will meet the bottom). Pin down and cut the fabric all around the canvas pieces, adding enough room for a seam (I used about 1/2-inch seam).

Take the canvas off and stitch around all the edges, leaving the end of the long rectangle open for turning the fabric right side out.

Fabric Mailbox 16Turn fabric right side out. Insert a magnet in the tab on the top of the front door of the mailbox. Stitch a line across the tab to keep the magnet in place.

Fabric Mailbox 3Slip all pieces of canvas into their proper places. If you find they fit too tightly, just trim a bit off.

Turn in the bottom edges of the opening, pin, and stitch closed.
Fabric Mailbox 4

Stitch in the four places the mailbox will fold, between the canvas pieces  (see the black lines on the picture).

Fabric Mailbox 7Fabric Mailbox 6A very small slit at the opening of the mailbox should allow you to to slip your floral wire in. The floral wire’s job is to shape the opening of the mailbox. Slip in your floral wire and cut it with wire cutters if it is too long. Shape it to the opening of the mailbox. Tack it down in four or five spots so it doesn’t slip out of place.

Fabric Mailbox 8Fabric Mailbox 9I hope you’ve enjoyed all the machine sewing because it is mostly over. Time to hand stitch!

Form the mailbox and start stitching from the back bottom corner. Use a blanket stitch to sew the back closed. Tuck the extra fabric under on the open side and then stitch along that edge where the top meets the bottom. The basic form of your mailbox is now done.

Fabric Mailbox 8aMake a small square pouch from the felt for your second small magnet. Put your magnet between the pieces and stitch it closed (you can use the machine), then stitch it to the top of the mailbox where the door will latch closed.

Fabric Mailbox 13Figure out where you’d like the hinge of the flag to go. Push the two prongs against the mailbox so they leave a little indent where you need to make holes. Poke two holes through the side wall of the mailbox using a sharp knife. I had no problem cutting though the fabric, canvas, and felt. I also squeezed some fabric glue over the holes to prevent the fabric from fraying.
Fabric Mailbox 10

Push the prongs of the purse magnet through the holes. Slip the disk on the back of the magnet, inside the mailbox, and use pliers to bend the prongs down.

Fabric Mailbox 11Lay your piece of canvas that will be the flag over two pieces of felt. Cut out two pieces of felt around the flag leaving a 1/4-inch seam (you will not be turning it inside out). Lay out one piece of felt and pin the piece of canvas in place on top. Leave the other piece of felt aside for now. Insert the other half of the purse magnet. Cut two slits for the prongs, through the felt then through the canvas. Push the prongs through again as shown, slip the disk in place over the canvas, and use pliers to bend the prongs down. Pin the top piece of fabric over the flag and use a basic hand stitch to stitch around the outside.

Fabric Mailbox 12Put your flag in place. If it starts to slip you have one more step. Use super glue to glue down two O-shaped pieces of fabric on each side of the purse magnet. Make sure both sides dry completely before you put the flag back in place. This provides just enough friction so the flag stays just where you want it: up when the mailbox is full and down when it’s empty!

Fabric Mailbox 14TROUBLESHOOTING
I found I had gaps at the bottom of the door, so I stitched a quarter of an inch or so up the door openings and was very happy with the results.

Fabric Mailbox 20Fabric Mailbox 21Now put your mailbox out and wait for the sweet notes to come flooding in!

Fabric Mailbox 15

NEW: I’ve recently created two indexes for browsing several ideas at a glance: one for gifts, one for gift wrap. I hope you’ll find them worth a peek. If you have any feedback, please send it my way! Thanks, as always, for visiting.

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