DIYdiy projects

DIY Keepsake Stationery Chest

by Grace Bonney

With my busy schedule, the thought of sitting down to create a handwritten note for a friend back home in Tennessee seems to instantly calm my soul and warm my heart. And what’s more, I am a sucker for nearly everything that might be categorized as stationery — beautiful notecards, custom address stamps, a well-designed writing utensil, even special-edition stamps. Sometimes, I secretly wonder if I have an Etsy shop just so that I have an excuse to use custom stationary. I think the only thing that might be more charming to me than stationery itself is having a special little place to store all these beautiful things. In this project, I use a plain, unfinished wooden box available from nearly any craft store and a few things I already had around my home — including some hardware from an old furniture re-do — to create a a keepsake-worthy chest to hold all my personal stationery essentials complete with a cozy little home for the finest letter-writing pens and pencils. Mandy Pellegrin

The full how-to continues after the jump…

-unfinished wooden box
-wood stain, paint brush, and clean clothes
-brass ring pull (optional)
-velvet fabric
-heavy-duty adhesive

-electric drill and drill bit (optional)
-screw driver (optional)
-pinking shears
-sewing machine

1. Stain the wooden box by applying the wood stain with a clean paint brush, allowing to soak for about 10 minutes, and wiping excess stain away with a clean cloth. Repeat for a deeper shade, and allow to dry.

2. (Optional) Find and mark the center of the front of the box, and use an electric drill with an appropriately-sized drill bit for your hardware to install the ring pull as a decorative detail. Tighten with a screwdriver if necessary.

3. Cut two pieces of velvet fabric to just slightly smaller than the dimensions of the top and bottom of the inside of your wooden box. Cut one more piece half as long as the other two pieces. Use pinking shears to keep the unfinished edges from fraying.

4. With both velvety sides facing up, topstitch the short cut of velvet to one of the longer cuts on each side and the bottom in order to create a pocket. To add slots for pens and pencils, topstitch additional seams approximately 1.25″ apart on top of the pocket.

5. Affix the velvet pocket to the top inside of the box and the other velvet piece to the bottom inside using a heavy-duty adhesive. Allow to dry.

Now, fill your box up with all your lovely stationary!

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  • I love the idea of tucking the pencils into the lid! This is great, however, I would need a large trunk to fit all of my stationery. I can never pass up a great card!

  • My favorite stamps! The cherry blossoms are so pretty. I’m totally hoarding my stash…silly me.

  • Wow, I seriously never knew about the difference between stationary/stationery. I had always just used “stationary” for everything. Guess you learn something everyday.

    This would make a very nice case for my husband, who really needs a better place for storing his pens. :)

  • The way I remember which word is which is simply this – a stationer sells stationery. But now you know I am old enough to remember the job title “stationer”.

  • I think I may just find a cute little box at a thrift store and fix it up to store all of my drawing pens and pencils. Great idea!

  • This is awesome! At first I thought this was going to be an old piece restyle, but no! It’s almost all from scratch!! Too cool..

  • This is a perfect project. I love stationery, pens and boxes, so this is wonderful. As I was reading the post, under Materials, it reads, “-wood stain, paint brush, and clean clothes.” At first I thought is was a little joke because I can never do this type of project without getting it on my clothes but after I read “stationary” and the comments, I realized that it should have read “cloths.” No question that English is a difficult language and that Spell Check only gives one the impression that errors have been found and fixed. Believe me, I understand. It’s just humorous, that’s all.

  • I love this idea and can see it being done with a collage if stamps, note card covers (from when you begin a note and things get too messy to send it as is), airmail envelopes . . . I was surprised when the materials list called for clean clothes, since I always wear stained and old clothes when working with stains, dyes and paints.I I realized you meant cloths not clothes. Beautified project, I will be repurposing a “trash night treasure” unto a stationery box/secretary/lap desk, using some antique silk brocade for lining the sides, top and pen pockets and some gorgeous silk velvet to line the bottom. Since my box is large enough to turn it into a lap/tabletop desk, I will also be adding a tray with divided compartments that will be lined with the same silk velvet. I have A great-uncle who still handwrites every letter and has a very beautiful copperplate hand. So elegant.