upcycled

Easy DIY Recovered Hatbox with Fabric or Wallpaper

stack of hatboxes with a straw hat sitting on top of them

When you collect hats, you soon discover you also need a way to store them. Back in the day, this used to be easy since most hats came in a hatbox. However, most of my hats, either vintage or new, have not come in a conveniently sized box. I used to display them by hanging them on the wall or placing them on hat stands, (I rotate my wardrobe for fall/winter and spring/summer, and only put out the current season) but they always got so dusty. I now only keep out a couple of my really wide brimmed hats that are too large to fit in boxes and keep all the rest in labelled boxes. (I use hanging chalkboard tags so I know at a glance what is inside)

About 10 years ago, round boxes were a very popular trend for storage boxes, and you could find them readily at stores such as Michaels and Home Sense, but at some point people realized that round boxes don’t make the best storage boxes for things other than hats! It’s too bad that I didn’t stock up at the time, because it’s almost impossible to find round boxes now.

black and white printed hatbox before re covering

Anyways, to get to the point of this post, every once in a while I do still come across a hatbox at the thrift store. They are usually in very ugly colours, or have seen better days. However, it is very easy to re-cover a box with either wallpaper or fabric, so that’s what I did to transform this one!

Supplies You Will Need

a hatbox with a lid

fabric or wallpaper of your choice

Mod Podge or other decoupage medium

tacky glue to secure edges, optional

masking tape

knife and scissors

ruler and measuring tape

foam brush to spread the glue/decoupage medium

lace or ribbon for the lid, optional

supplies needed for recovering the hatbox sitting on top of the desk

I used an unbleached canvas for the outside of my hatbox, and some Art Nouveau wallpaper I had leftover from this antique dresser refinishing project. I chose the canvas because it is neutral and doesn’t clash with the other boxes I’ve done with vintage map printed wallpaper. The thickness of this fabric did lead to a few challenges, but I still like how it turned out.

First, the key to covering a box, is that you need to take into account the thickness of the fabric or wallpaper, which will add bulk. Depending on how tightly the lid fits onto the box already, 2 layers of fabric may add too much width for the lid to fit on afterwards. If you need to make your box a little bit smaller to fit the lid, then remove the wall of the box from the bottom by sliding a blade between them. Cut a vertical line along the seam.

cutting the box open to make it smaller

Next, cut a piece out of the side/ring of the box, to make the box circumference smaller. I took out 3/8″ for this box. My canvas fabric was pretty thick, so if you have a thinner fabric or paper, you will probably not need to remove quite that much. Take out a small sliver, and then figure out how much you need to remove by wrapping the top edge with the fabric and testing it. Once you’ve made the side wall smaller, tape it back together with masking tape.

making the box smaller

Then, trace the new circle onto the bottom piece and trim away the excess so the bottom will fit back inside the smaller box walls.

cutting off the excess cardboard and placing the bottom back into the hatbox

Before you tape the box back together, take a moment to trace the circle onto your fabric and lining pieces. It’s much easier to use the deconstructed ring to trace your lining pieces first, rather than after you’ve reassembled it into a box. (I know this because I didn’t remember to do it this time!)

Trace one inside circle for the bottom lining of your box.

Trace one inside circle for the bottom fabric of your box.

Trace one outside circle onto the lining for the lid.

sanding the outside of the hatbox and then reassembling it

Tape the bottom of the box back to the ring by wrapping tape around the outside, notching it and folding down the tabs. Don’t worry about taping the inside of the box, because the fabric/wallpaper will reinforce that seam.

One more step, if your box is plastic coated, is to sand it lightly so the glue will adhere better. Also, if your box has a bold pattern, like this one did, you may want to check to see if it will show through your fabric. If it does, then cover the box with a coat of white paint before you move on to the next step.

covering the outside of the box

Cut a piece of fabric the length of the circumference of the box plus 1″ and the height of the box plus 1″Using Mod Podge, glue the fabric to the outside of the box, folding under the raw fabric edge where it meets. If the Mod Podge won’t hold it in place, you can use glue to secure the edge.

notching and glueing edges

Cut triangle shaped notches into the fabric all the way around and fold the tabs down gluing them to the bottom of the hatbox.

covering bottom of box with wallpaper

Take your bottom fabric piece, or you can do as I did and use a piece of neutral coloured wallpaper, and glue to the bottom of the box to cover the tabs/raw edges. Smooth the bottom, and weight it to hold in place so it won’t curl as it dries.

covering top edge of the box

Turn the box back upright, and simply fold the fabric to the inside and glue in place. Use clothespins if you need to hold it in place until it dries.

lining the inside of the hatbox

Measure a piece of your lining the exact length of the circumference and height of the box wall. Now take your piece and mark a line 1/2″ from the edge. Cut notches up the line. Fold the notches along that line. Coat the inside of the box with Mod Podge and then place the lining on the inside of the box walls. Once you’ve pressed and smoothed the lining and notches into place, you can place your bottom lining circle over top to finish the box.

Now the lid can be done it two ways. I used a thick canvas fabric, so I had to cover the top of my lid with this method, below. If you’re using wallpaper or thin fabric, cover the lid using the same method as for the box- covering the sides first and then using the lining and top circle to cover the notches and raw edges.

If you’re using a thicker fabric like me, then continue with this method.

covering top of the lid

Trace your lid onto the fabric, and then add 1/2″ all the way around. Attach your fabric piece to the top of the lid and then notch and fold down the 1/2″ along the rim of the lid.

Cut a piece of the fabric the length of the circumference of the lid + 1″ and the height of your lid plus 1″. Glue this piece around the outside of the lid to cover the notches. I cut my top edge very precisely since it was going to be exposed and not folded under. If you have a piece of ribbon the width of your lid, this would be a nice alternative, but I didn’t have a coordinating ribbon.

outside edge and lining of lid

Now trace your lid onto your lining and add 1/2″ all the way around. Notch the edge of the circle in the same way you did the fabric for the top. Glue in place on the inside of the lid and then fold your fabric to the inside covering the notches with the fabric.

inside of lid

Mine ended up a bit messy where the two meet since I left it with the raw edge, because I didn’t want to add any more bulk. If you have a thinner fabric you will be able to cover those raw edges much more neatly, or you could even cover them with a ribbon.

adding lace to outside of the hatbox lid

My fabric also ended a bit lumpy on the outside, since the notches showed through, I glued a piece of lace over the top to disguise it. I really like how it looks so I might even add lace or ribbon around the lid as a detail in the future, even if I don’t need it for disguising purposes!

hatbox finished with the lace around the lid

And then with that, your hatbox is done. Once you let it dry for 24 hours or so, you can start using it.

How do you store your hats? Do you like to have them out on display or tucked into a hatbox? 

finished fabric covered hatbox sitting on an antique dresser

finished fabric covered hatbox sitting on an antique dresser. The lid is off and you can see a hat inside.

Upcycled Christmas Card Gift Tags

diy wrapped gifts with upcycled christmas cards turned into gift tags

I love Christmas cards! Whether I make them myself, or buy them (usually the year before on-sale after Christmas) I love picking out a sweet design and mailing them to friends and family far away. Traditional Christmas cards seem to be a dying tradition, with many people opting for photo cards or e-cards these days, but I do still receive a few old fashioned cards in the mail.

There are some really pretty card designs, and I always hate to recycle them after the holidays, so last year I saved all of the cards I and my family received, and upcycled them into gift tags to use this year! I love wrapping gifts, and it was nice to be able to reuse the cards, coordinating the wrapping papers and ribbons to go with each tag. This was such a quick and easy DIY, it’s can’t even be called a tutorial, yet I did want to share the idea with you, in case you also hate to toss greeting cards!

supplies needed for the craft all laid out on the cutting mat: templates, blades, hole punch and greeting card

I used my Creative Memories oval templates and blades to cut the tags. This is the cutting system I got a long time ago…maybe 18 years? After all these years, it’s still going strong and I love it!

lining up the template and oval cutting guide

Centre the template onto the artwork and cut it out.

lining up cutting system template and blade onto old greeting card

Punch a hole in the top of the card, and then string a piece of twine or ribbon through. I used the Fiskars small holepunch. A few of the cards had writing on the back, so I cut out an oval the same size out of green paper and then glued the two ovals together to cover it up.

Punch a hole in the top of the card and thread a string through

That’s it! As I said, not really a tutorial, but more of an inspiration for gift wrapping. I know Fiskars makes some large tag punches, so that could work if you don’t have oval/circle cutters. Or, if you don’t have any punches, you could cut the fronts of the cards off, measure a 45 degree angle across the top corners and cut them into traditional tag shapes.

I wrapped all of my gifts this year in reused kraft paper bags and wrapping paper. I also reused old pattern paper as tissue paper.

finished upcycled christmas card turned into a gift tag

I even wrapped one gift in an old parchment paper document. And all of the ribbons were saved from previous years as well…these are very zero waste packages!

Do you like wrapping gifts? How did you wrap yours this year?

zero waste christmas wrapping

kraft paper wrapped gift with twine and an upcycled card tag

DIY Upcycled Coffee Can Plant Pot

hoya vine planted in an upcycled coffee can plant pot sitting on a bookshelf

I love houseplants! While I’m not a collector, I do like having a variety of them with different leaves, colours and textures. Asparagus Fern, Chinese Money Plant, Purple Shamrock, Marble Queen Pothos, Hoya…those are some of my favourites. (You can see some of them here…)While houseplants are fun, the not-so-great part is that the more you get, the more pots you need to put them in, which can get pricey. If you’re buying pots from plant stores, then that can very quickly add up and if you’re going to big box stores you can usually get them for a lower price, but you are limited in selection. Of course you can always go the even more affordable terra cotta route which gives you a lovely earthy palette and patina over time, but that’s not everyone’s style, and it doesn’t suit every plant either. This is where it’s time to explore some homemade options! Here is how with a coffee can, some leftover paint, baking soda and twine I created this coffee can plant pot with a dimensional minimalist look.

all of the supplies needed to make this craft

You will need:

-A coffee can

-Paint. I used eggshell latex paint that I had leftover from my room (Benjamin Moore Acadia White). You could also use dollar store acrylic paint.

-Baking soda

-Hot glue (optional)

-Liquid tacky glue

-Twine or rope- I needed 10 feet to wrap 5 times around my pot

-A paintbrush that isn’t too precious

Start by removing any labels and glue that you can. Not all of the glue spots came off of mine, so I’ll just make sure that side faces the wall.

Next, measure out 1 part baking soda and 2 parts paint. I did 1 tbsp of baking soda and 2 tbsp of paint which was enough for three coats.

measuring paint and baking soda into a container and mixing well

Blend the paint well to make sure that there are no lumps. The baking soda in the paint will give a textured finish when it dries, kind of like a pebbled or adobe clay sort of look.

painting the can with the first coat of paint

I didn’t prime my can first, but you might want to if you’re using craft paint to help it adhere well to the metal. Paint the can with one coat of paint. Make sure to paint a bit under the rim on the inside of the can too, so that the silver won’t show after you put your plant in it. Sit the coffee can up on another can or jar and leave it to dry.

Once the paint is dry, it is time to attach the twine. Originally I was going to paint it and leave it like that, but it just looked like a coffee can that had been painted white, so I added kitchen twine and sisal to make it look a bit more interesting.  Dab a little hot glue to secure the end of the twine quickly. You don’t have to use hot glue if you’d rather just use the liquid, but you’ll have to wait longer for it to dry, so it won’t slide around on you as you wrap it.

gluing the twine onto the coffee can

After the hot glue is in place, then use a thin layer of liquid glue to attach the twine the rest of the way around the can. When you get to the end, trim the twine to meet up evenly.

(Ps. Another idea I had, for a totally different look, was instead of wrapping only in the grooves, you could wrap the can completely with rope to make it look like a basket. Then either leave it unpainted and natural at that stage, or continue painting. And if you did grey, it would probably look like textured concrete!)

twine glued to the coffee cans and ready to be painted

I had two different kinds of string- sisal and kitchen twine. I couldn’t figure out which look I wanted so I ended up making two different planters to try both ideas out, and then gave one to my sister.

Once the glue is dry, it is time for a second coat of paint. This is why you don’t want to use a good paintbrush; so you can really work the paint in all angles of the twine to fully coat it. Let the second coat of paint dry, and then inspect to see if it needs any more coverage. Mine had a few spots showing through that needed a few extra touch ups.

painting second coat of paint on the cans with the twine

Once the paint is dry, decide if you’re going to put a plastic pot inside or plant directly into the can. Depending on the size of your coffee can, you might be able to fit a 6″ growers pot directly inside, in which case you are done!

finished painting the second coat on both pots

However, if you don’t have a growers pot and are planning to plant directly into the coffee can, then you’ll need drainage holes. (Using rocks at the bottom of a planter to stop soggy roots doesn’t work, by the way, so if you’re planting directly, you will need proper drainage.) Turn the can upside down and using a hammer and a nail, punch a few holes. (You could probably also use a drill.) After I punched holes with a nail, I then used a screwdriver tip to enlarge the holes. (Yes…I always use very professional techniques in my projects…)

punching holes in the bottom of the can with a hammer and nail

At this point, because the holes dish upwards and into the can from hammering, the water won’t necessarily drain out well. Turn the can the right side up and hammer them the other direction; downwards. I used a screwdriver tip with a flat surface. The water will now be able to easily drain out, and this also flattens any sharp, jagged edges.

bending the holes in the bottom of the can to bend outwards

And now you’re done and ready to plant!

finished coffee can plant pot with a hoya vine in it, sitting on top of a bookshelf with a candle beside it and a mirror in the background

I took some pictures with my Hoya to see what it worked like with a pot inside it, but I actually ended up planting my umbrella tree directly into the coffee can. If you decide to plant directly into the pot, make sure to place it on a dish so you won’t get any water damage onto the surface below.

diy coffee can plant pot with an umbrella tree planted in it sitting on top of a bookshelf

I like how it turned out; it has a good visual weight to it because it’s cylindrical rather than narrow at the bottom as many pots are. It works for the umbrella tree, because it is very tall and skinny and the pot it was in before was much too small looking for it.

And the best thing about this coffee can plant pot is that it was basically free- using up materials I already had on hand. Aren’t those the best kind of projects?

Do you like houseplants? Which is your favourite? Do you think you’ll try making your own coffee can plant pot?

umbrella tree planted inside the finished coffee can plant pot sitting on top of a bookshelf and with a gallery wall of picture frames behind it