Sunday, December 28, 2014

Craft Project: Homemade "Matchbox" Jewelry Boxes

Red Turquoise and Mustard Floral

The original inspiration for these little jewelry boxes came from Laura Carson's blog post about her "Chest out of Matchboxes", which you can read HERE. She has a wonderful video showing step-by-step how she made hers. I love the look of her whimsical boxes but ran into a few issues with the way hers are made. There's nothing wrong with hers but they weren't quite what I wanted to make for myself.

First of all, she added all sorts of cute embellishments to the outside of her box. I quickly realized that it would cost a fortune to buy all of that stuff and I wanted to design and print my own special paper on my printer instead of buying store bought scrapbook paper. The local craft stores didn't even have most of the kinds of stuff she decorated hers with.

Secondly, she used real miniature matchboxes that once contained actual matches. I had some of that kind on hand and knew right away that they weren't going to do. They were far too tiny to be useful for storing bracelets and earrings, which is what I wanted to use mine for. Also, real matchboxes are very flimsy. I think that Laura's matchbox chests are purely decorative and I wanted mine to be functional as storage. I just happened to have a pattern for making little matchboxes from scratch so I enlarged it to make larger drawers. Mine are actually quadruple the size of Laura's and four of the real matchboxes will fit inside one of my drawers perfectly.

Once I'd decided not to spend a lot of money adding embellishments, I set out to create some pretty papers to cover my boxes with and added my own touches of whimsey to some of them using digital graphics.

Below is my very first attempt at making a matchbox chest. It was just an experiment to see how it would work but it turned out so well that I still use this box to store some of my earrings. I made it nearly two years ago and it hasn't fallen apart other than the faux "doily" that I'd glued to the top coming off. It came unglued one day and I just decided that I like it better without it.

Vintage Roses Box
Just for fun, I put little odds and ends inside each of the drawers but they're not real. They're only pictures of objects printed right on the paper that I lined the drawers with.


Here's a view of the top with the faux doily. I made it as a separate piece draped over the top and glued it in place. I added the objects to the top of the doily in Paint Shop Pro, which is the graphics program that I use for all of my graphics work. 

Some of the boxes that I have made are covered with pretty floral wallpaper designs that I found online. For several of them I created my own floral patterns from scratch. I made a collage "mask" using all kinds of vintage line art images and placed it on a variety of colored floral backgrounds. I've made quite a few of them in different color schemes but all with the same vintage collage on them.

A fun thing that I've done with some of them that I gave as gifts was to put tiny presents in the drawers. I made some smaller matchboxes and covered them with printed gift wrap with a faux bow on the top.

For the framework of the chest, I use heavy black card stock. I make the six sleeves for the drawers and then glue them together. The drawers are also made of black card stock and the printed designs are glued on later. For my earlier chests, I printed the designs directly onto white card stock but that used a lot of ink. Black works better because it gives the illusion that the framework is thicker than it actually is. When I used white card stock, I had to blacken all of the edges with a black permanent marker. Even with the black paper, there are some parts that need to be blackened as well.

After the framework has been assembled, I cut scraps of matboard and glue them to the top, bottom, back and sides of the chest. Before gluing the back piece on, I have to cover the back of the chest with a piece of card stock to give the matboard something to adhere to.

The top and sides of the chest are then covered with the pretty floral paper that I've printed from my computer. I printed the designs on card stock for my earlier chests and I used glossy photo paper from Dollar Tree for the later ones that I made. I like them both ways. The shiny ones have the look of lacquered boxes and the ones with the matte paper almost look like they're covered with vintage old wallpaper.

The wooden feet are made from unfinished wood pegs that I buy at the hardware store. I paint them black with acrylic paint. The knobs on the drawers are blue jean buttons. Below you can see that some jean buttons are better than others. The ones on the right are from Walmart and those had to be glued in to keep them from pulling off. I ordered the ones on the left from an Etsy shop and those are much better quality and also prettier. I ordered them from Turkey but even with shipping they are much cheaper per button than the ones from Walmart. Unfortunately, that Etsy shop seems to be gone now but thankfully I've got a good supply of the buttons.
For jewelry boxes that are made entirely from paper, they are surprisingly sturdy. Best of all, they cost me under $5.00 to make. Below are photos of the jewelry boxes that I've made so far. All but two of them were given as gifts. I would have posted about them sooner but I had to wait until after Christmas so as not to spoil the surprise.
Aqua & Brown Box
Button Box
Purple & Orange Floral Box
Mint & Rose Box
Mocha Floral Box
Old Roses Box
Pink Lilies Box
Sage & Pink Box
Vintage Grunge Box
Baroque Floral Box


  1. Your jewelry boxes are fabulous. Love the patterned papers. You are a lady of many talents. Would love to see a pattern for the enlarged chest and drawers. Do you have a link for your patterned papers. I would love to make several chests as I have made so many pairs of earrings and having spent " all my money on beads" I could use an affordable and beautiful storage solution. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. TFS Hugs Ann

    1. Thanks, Ann. I'm considering posting the pattern for these but I need to figure out the best format to use. They're currently in Microsoft Publisher which most people probably don't have. If I make it a PDF file, then it won't be editable so I'm not sure what I will do yet. I could perhaps save them as Photoshop PSD files and/or Paint Shop Pro files.

      I don't have the floral patterns online anywhere at this time. I've been thinking about selling the collage ones in my Etsy shop but I never seem to get around to opening my shop.

  2. but but but butbutbut....which is mine
    mine is not up there linda i thought it was the roses one but the sides are not right then i thought it was one of the others but it isnt
    i now realize mine is just too beautiful to show cos all the others will want mine so it was best you didnt show it
    they are fabulous and sturdy and not too hard to make ... but they are best when made by linda...
    thankyou for mine and all my beaded treasures within... i am wearing two different earrings and three bracelets at the moment ...i love dressing up dont you...xxxxx

    1.'s the one at the top of the post, LOL.

  3. Linda would you be willing to share your box template with your pictures I should be able to figure the rest out. I found some jean buttons at our local thrift store today. TFS Ann

  4. They are positively GORGEOUS!!!!

  5. Oh wow those matchbox jewellery boxes are fabulous! love them xxx

  6. Very special storage box, these floral patterns are so beautiful, where can I get them?

    1. Some of them are wallpaper designs that I found online and some are collages that I made. The one with the buttons was a scan of some gift wrap that I bought many, many years ago.