Who knew a cardboard box could be so elegant? Well, most cardboard boxes aren’t that impressive, but if you turn one into a photo tote purse, you’ll definitely see cardboard boxes in a totally different light! An ordinary box makes for the most adorable purse that most any little girl would love to own. Once you’re finished making it you’ll see that you don’t have to have a lot of money – or crafting ability – to make beautiful things.
The perfect box for the purse project is one that is small, square or nearly square, shallow and has two flaps rather than four. The closing flaps must be the type that meet in the middle. The box must be sturdy and not made from really thin cardboard. Tape the flaps shut and you’re ready to begin making the unique purse. You can use a few things from a craft supply store to make the pocketbook or you can use some things you have around the house.
Start by standing the box up so that the flaps are facing you. The flaps will become the back of the purse and the opposite side will be the front. As you stand the box with the flaps facing you the cardboard strip at the top will now be referred to as the top of the purse. Use a craft knife to cut this cardboard piece away. Cut it all the way around the perimeter, right at the edges. Remove this flap. Now you’ll need to treat the sides of the purse. All you have to do here is measure down the center of each side panel, draw a line down them, then score them with a craft knife. To score, simply run the knife across the drawn line once or twice so that the panels bend easily in half.
Choose the picture you want for the front of the purse. It can be really small or can be nearly the size of the front of the purse. If you want, it can be an arrangement of smaller pictures that are aligned or placed randomly across the front of the purse. You create the design you want. Instead of pictures you can use decorative scrapbook paper with a theme you like, such as lighthouses, or it can even be a mounted piece of pretty fabric. Simply glue the picture, fabric or paper onto the front of the purse. Use a piece of clear acetate to cover the picture or paper. You can purchase acetate sheets at a craft store or you can use a piece from an old product box. It appears as a “window” in various product boxes that allow you to see the item while it’s still inside the box.
After covering the picture(s) with the acetate you can proceed with the rest of the bag. Choose the material you want to use as the cover for the purse. Fake fur works well to please a little girl while concealing corners and edges of the purse. However, you can use most any cloth, decorative paper or even felt as the covering. Lay the purse so that the bottom of it is at the edge of the material. Position the box so that it is lying on its backside where the taped flaps are. Wrap the fabric all the way around the box and glue it, creating a seam in the back. Although the bottom edge of the fabric should be aligned with the bottom edges of the box, the opposite end should have lots of extra fabric. So, after wrapping the box with the material, cut it so that the fabric is even with the bottom of the box, but is twice as long as needed at the top of the box.
Cut out the areas where you have the pictures glued to the box. Start by making a small cut in the fabric or paper, then proceed to make it larger and larger until you’ve cut out around the very perimeter of each picture. Glue the paper, cloth or felt down around each picture to secure.
Stand the purse up and tuck the excess fabric inside. You can glue the material down, if you want, and even cut a piece to glue to the inside bottom. Cut an additional piece of fabric, decorative paper or felt to glue to the outside bottom. Although you can make the bottom of the purse match the rest of it, it’s also acceptable to simply cover the bottom with decorative paper or felt no matter what type of material you used as the covering for the purse. Another helpful option is to glue four flat beads to the bottom of the purse, in the corners, so that the purse never actually touches the ground or other surfaces.
Give the purse the cutest finishing touches by gluing on a small-diameter feather boa, lei, or similar item to the bottom and top area of the purse. Glue one piece around the top opening so that it covers the edge of the top. Do the same to the bottom perimeter of the purse. Instead of boas or leis you can use wide roping, braided ribbon or even strips of fake fur.
Make handles for the purse in a number of different ways. Poke holes in the upper areas of the front and back, push in the ends of roping pieces, and tie them in knots. Or, use a push pin to attach a ribbon handle. Just use a pencil eraser to cover the end of the pin. Push the pin through the ribbon and through the purse, then push the eraser onto the sharp end of the pin. This technique allows you to add decorative accents to the purse handles since the push pins – or even upholstery tacks – are available in a number of designs and colors. Stick a velcro dot to the upper center areas of the front and back of the purse, on the inside, to create a closure. Or, glue on a fabric strip, fold it over the top of the purse, then put the velcro dot there to secure. Your little girl will love this purse which is cheap, easy and absolutely adorable!