[i’m thrilled to welcome brett bara back to d*s as a regular contributor! brett will be joining us every other week with one of her great sewing 101 how-to’s. click here to check out her previous posts. so glad to have you as part of the team, brett!]
Is it weird that I have a thing for tissue box covers? Once maligned as the epitome of crafty-tacky, I say they deserve a little appreciation! Cardboard tissue boxes are an eyesore—light houses and airbrushed flowers? No thanks! But covering them is a great way to bring some crafty décor into your home and beautify an everyday object with your own personal touch.
This project will take you through the steps of making a neat opening on the top of the box, plus it’ll also show the benefits of working with fusible interfacing AND recap the ways of making 3-d corners. So much to learn, in such a little project! Let’s get started. –Brett Bara
CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!
¼ yard fabric
¼ yard fusible interfacing (buy this at a craft or fabric store)
All-purpose thread to match your fabric
Iron and ironing board
About Fusible Interfacing
This pattern calls for fusible interfacing, which is an extra layer that adds stability and strength by bonding directly to the wrong side of any fabric. It’s especially helpful in a project like this tissue box cover which benefits from added stiffness; otherwise, the finished item would be a little too soft and wouldn’t hold its desired shape.
There are many, many types of interfacing out there in the world. I use a medium-weight fusible type for just about everything I sew. Fusible means that it has a layer of adhesive on one side which bonds to your fabric when heat is applied with an iron. (The adhesive is completely non-sticky and barely noticeable before you activate it with an iron.)
Fusible interfacing is sold by the yard, and it comes with instructions for application. (Check the manufacturer instructions and always test on scrap fabric before beginning on your project.) To attach the interfacing, place your fabric right-side down on the ironing board, and place the interfacing adhesive-side down on top of the fabric. With a hot steam iron, apply pressure in one spot at time until the adhesive is fused (usually about 10 seconds). Don’t glide the iron, just let it rest in one spot. If this doesn’t activate the adhesive, place a press cloth (a thin piece of cotton scrap fabric) over the interfacing, spritz it with water, and iron over that.
As an added bonus, fabrics that have been bonded with fusible interfacing tend to be easier to work with; they’re stiffer and tend to behave themselves very well, rarely stretching, shifting, or otherwise getting out of hand!
Choosing + Preparing Fabric
A smooth, medium weight fabric like quilting cotton or decorator-weight is a good choice here.
Pre-washing the fabric is not absolutely necessary for this project. While it won’t hurt, chances are you won’t be laundering your tissue box cover, so you won’t have to worry too much about the fabric shrinking later. Just remember to iron the fabric well before you begin measuring and cutting.
Measuring + Cutting
There are many different sizes of tissue boxes out there—these instructions will show you how to make a customized cover for any size box.
Measure the height and width of the sides and top of your preferred type of tissue box. For the Top panel, add 1” to the width and height. For the Side panels, add 1” to the total width of each piece, and add 1 ½” to the height of each piece.
Cut 4 pieces of fabric and 4 pieces of interfacing to your Side dimensions. (Hint: I sometimes cut my interfacing just slightly smaller than my fabric so that I don’t have to worry about lining the edges up perfectly when I iron them together. This is optional.)
Cut 2 pieces of fabric and 1 piece of interfacing to your Top dimensions.
Apply a piece of fusible interfacing to each Side piece of fabric and to one of the Top pieces. (The second Top piece will not get interfacing.)
(In case you missed it, see “About Fusible Interfacing” section above for details on how to adhere the interfacing.)
Making the Opening On Top
With a pen and ruler, draw a 2” x 3” rectangle on the wrong side of the Top piece with interfacing. To do this, draw a line through the center point of each side of the top, then measure out from these lines to create a rectangle that’s perfectly centered.
Next, place both Top pieces right sides together and pin them together.
Sew along the lines you drew for the 2” x 3” rectangle.
Carefully cut away the fabric inside the rectangle (cutting through all layers). Cut about 1/8” away from the stitch lines. Make a tiny snip at each corner, being careful not to cut through the stitches.
Next, turn the non-interfaced piece of fabric through the hole to the other side.
Iron it flat, using your fingers to ease it in place as you go. At first it will seem like the fabric doesn’t want to lie flat, but gently spread it into place, using the hot steam iron to coax and set the fabric.
Don’t be too bummed if there are a few ripples or folds in the non-interfaced fabric. This will be the inside of the tissue box cover, so they won’t show anyway! Just try to get it as flat as you can, but don’t sweat the small stuff here.
Once the pieces are ironed as flat as possible, pin the two layers together. Topstitch around the perimeter of the opening.
Next, stitch around the outer perimeter of the fabric, about ¼” from the raw edge. This will keep the two pieces from shifting as you construct the rest of the piece.
Iron the entire piece once again. Ironing after sewing seams, even on a flat piece, helps to relax the stitches and lend a more professional finish.
Sew all 4 Side pieces together with right sides facing each other, using a ½” seam allowance, and leaving a ½” space unsewn at the top of each seam.
Press all seams open.
Attaching the Top
It’s time to attach the Top to the Sides. Remember to keep the non-interfaced side of the Top as the WRONG SIDE.
With right sides together, pin one edge of Top piece to the top edge of one Side panel. Sew this seam with a ½” seam allowance, stopping and starting the seam ½” from the corner edges. (Leaving ½” unsewn at the point where the corners meet will help create sharp 3-d corners. You can read more about this in the Ottoman Slip Cover tutorial; the corner construction here is the same as the corners in the ottoman.)
Attach the Top to all 4 Sides in the same manner, sewing each seam separately. Turn the piece right-side out and try it on your tissue box to be sure everything is on track.
Turn inside-out again and trim away the seam allowance on all 3 seams at the corners, clipping to within about 1/8” of the seams.
Hem + Finishing
Turn up the bottom edge ½” and press. Turn up another ½” and press again. Try the cover on your box to be sure the hem is the correct length; make any adjustments if necessary.
Topstitch the hem, sewing close to the interior folded edge.
Turn the piece right-side out. Working on one seam at a time, fold each seam closed flat and press; this will help to create sharp right angles on your cover.
And you’re done! Gesundheit and enjoy!
Check back in two weeks, when I’ll show you how to sew your own shower curtain!