How to cover a cardboard box with fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

Many things purchased today come packaged in cardboard boxes. Often these boxes are saved because they are well-made and durable and it seems wasteful to throw them out. Shoe boxes, in particular, tend to accumulate around the house. You can use these boxes to store a variety of household objects, from recipe cards to photographs. Covering a cardboard box with a pretty, colourful fabric will make the box more attractive to display in any room of the house.

Lay the fabric out on the ironing board and iron it to remove wrinkles. Place the box in the centre of the fabric. Use the tailor's chalk to trace around the bottom of the box. Remove the box.

Measure the length, width and height of each side of the box using the measuring tape. Use the ruler and tailor's chalk to measure and draw four rectangles adjacent to the outline of the bottom of the box on the fabric, matching the size of each side of the box. Add an additional 2 inches to the height of each side in order to have overlap at the top of the box.

Using the scissors, cut out the outlined fabric, which will be in the shape of a cross. With the wrong side of the fabric facing up, squeeze a line of glue inside the outline of the bottom of the box. Place the box on the fabric, centring the bottom of the box on the glued fabric. Put your hands inside the box and apply pressure to ensure the glue is distributed evenly.

Apply the glue around the four edges of one of the sides of the box. Pull the fabric up tightly and press it into place along the side of the cardboard. Apply glue to the top edge of the fabric on the inside. Pulling the fabric tightly, fold the edge of the fabric over the top edge of the box and smooth into place on the inside of the box. Repeat on the remaining three sides. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 for the lid of the box.

Cut four strips of seam binding 1 inch longer than the height of the box. Apply a strip of glue along one of the corners of the box where two edges of fabric meet. Place the seam binding along the corner, covering the raw edges of the fabric. Leave 1/4 inch of overlap on the bottom and top edges. Add glue to the ends and fold over the top and bottom of the box. Repeat on the other three sides.


Lightweight cotton is the best choice of fabric for this project. Use white glue, which becomes transparent when dry. There will be no need to worry about excess glue leaking out of the edges of the fabric.


Use caution with the iron. Shut it off when not in use.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoebox with lid
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Tailor's chalk
  • White glue or glue stick
  • Seam binding or stretch lace binding
  • Iron and ironing board
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About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.