How to Make a Custom Reading Deck Box
Front of box for the Anna K Lenormand

How to Make a Custom Reading Deck Box

  • Post Category:Crafts / How-To

I had no idea how to title this. laughing…

Handmade Box Pattern pdf

Making your own custom box for your cards is a lot of fun. The box can be for playing cards, tarot, Lenormand, Kipper, trading cards and so on. You could even make one for cigarettes, but you may want to look at using leather for that purpose. Making the correct size of box is always the same, no matter how small or large the card decks are. These are very easy to make. You will need to have some basic hand sewing skills. There are tutorials all over the web to help you out.

You can use a base made of many types of fabrics for the outside of the box. You can make the boxes using embroidery fabric, regular fabric, felt, leather and so on. It depends on what you want to do for decoration, or if you want to do any at all. If you want to dye or color it in any way, that should be part of your decision for the type of fabric or medium you use. For the lining to make a good, stable box, I use simple craft felt. If you embroider or bead the outside, having a liner can also protect the stitches and the fold of the fabric’s seams. It also protects the cards to line the box. If you use leather, you do not need to add a lining and can skip that step.

I had a lot of the Pellon extra-firm heavyweight interfacing/stabilizer that I use for making beaded cabochons upon. It is like Lucy’s Stiff Stuff, but much cheaper. The downside is that you cannot dye it, being made of polyester and rayon. You can use thinned acrylic paint to “dye” it. Do not wash it or the colors disappear. The colors come out as a very dark tint, as you can see on the Anna.K Tarot’s box in my beadwork gallery.

You can try Sharpie art on the fabric as a design, fabric painting, dyeing, and so on. Playing with the color is rather fun. Let your imagination bloom in your design. You can add a few beads, glue on baubles, whatever you want to do. You are the artist here. Make the box your own. I am thinking of doing dot painting on the playing card box. The acrylic paint would be like a decal? I could use watercolors or dye too. Oh! Maybe Sharpies and then drop some rubbing alcohol on the dots and they bleed into a tie-dye design, or… hmmmm….

The formula for making the boxes is simple. Measure the width of the cards, add 1/4″ to that number. Measure the length/height of the cards and add 1/4″ to that number. Measure the thickness of the whole deck and 1/4″ to that number. Once you add the felt lining, you still have enough room to place or remove your cards easily from the box, but not so much room they are “knocking around” inside.

For example:
Poker-sized Playing Card Deck Dimensions
2-1/2″ wide x 3-1/2″ tall x 5/8″ thick

With the 1/4″ added, this gives the box dimensions of:
2-3/4″ wide x 3-3/4″ tall x 7/8″ thick

Note: If you are going to use a medium that does NOT use seams, there is no change to the numbers after adding the 1/4″ to the original dimensions for ease. See the diagram on the handmade box pattern pdf for how I added 1/4″ around the pattern for the easiest assembly of seamed boxes.

The pattern is very much like a playing card box without the flaps on the bottom. That part is never opened. The flaps at the top that fold in help secure and protect the deck. If you are making a fabric box, no matter if embroidered, beaded or plain, the top flap, side flaps and bottom need to be made separately and sewn together. That means adding another 1/4″ to the pieces for seam allowances like one does for a clothing pattern. I know, this is confusing. Look at the images and the pdf to get a gist of what I mean.

If you are using the extra-heavy-weight interfacing as the box’s outside itself, you do not need the seam allowances. The edges sew together on those with a blindish whipstitch. It is too thick of material for extra seam material. Look at the image of the felt-side of the inside of the box further below in this article. You can tape together your pattern without adding the seams like the black felt lining inside part. You cut it out, decorate if you wish and whipstitch the bits together as described in the assembly instructions.

Anna.K Lenormand pattern and embroidered piece

I put a link to my pdf for a playing card box pattern at the beginning of this article. I am learning Cartomancy right now and made a pattern. Like I said above, use the same method to redraw the pattern to the size you need for your deck of cards. Tarot, Lenormand, Kipper, etc., are not standard sizes like playing cards. The ability to customize your box makes it special for the deck and you. You will need a piece of paper, a pencil, a ruler and a good eraser. Well, I need a good eraser. laughing… I make a copy on my printer/copier once I am done so I can easily erase mistakes while drawing the decoration design. I erase, a lot, during that phase. I transfer the design to the fabric like I did with the Embroidery Sampler Stitch Books. See my article for those to see the images and my method of transferring designs onto fabric.

Embroidering the design on the cotton

For this tutorial, I will be showing how I made a hand-embroidered box with a felt lining for stability. The images feature the one I made for the Anna.K Lenormand deck box, though the attached pattern pdf is for poker-sized playing cards. I had tea-dyed some cotton tea towels. Note! Think about leaving 1/8″ “frame” in your design. It is part of that 1/4″ you first added to the measurements to do your designs if beading. Then again, you can run your designs through the “edges” of the box if you want, too. Look at the completed box to see a “contained” design. Laughing at my hand embroidering skills is allowed, I am not perfect. My heart is in the right place, which is all that counts.

Back of seamed box
Front of seamed box

The material was thin. I used a thin interfacing cut to the size of the pieces, minus the 1/4″ seam allowance. I may do that with other fabric-based boxes. I used the blind hem stitch to attach the fabric to the interfacing when I folded over the seams after attaching them in the correct areas of the box. To put the box together, I used slip stitch, also known as ladder stitch. I made much smaller stitches putting the boxes together, 1/16″ or so. Various tutorials show 1/8″ stitches. That means gaps. Nope, I want the seams “solid”.

Felt lining attached

Once the pieces are sewn together as shown in the two images above, I laid the to-be-box onto a piece of felt and outline it with a white fabric marking pencil or marking chalk. I then cut out the felt to match the box. You could also cut out the pattern, removing the seam allowance. Tape the pattern together and lay it on your lining and use that as the lining pattern.

Front of box after attaching lining

Once the lining is cut out, I basted the lining down with a contrasting thread and then sewed the felt to the front using embroidery thread. I sewed along the “lines” that will be the edges of the box. See the images to see what I am trying to describe. I consider this part of the design. It stabilizes the felt inside the box.

Where to sew the box together

Now it is time to sew the edges together to form the box. I found doing the long side first easiest. See the image. You could sew the felt together with the box inside-out, turn the tube-ish shape right-side out and then do a blind slip stitch, sewing the decorated fabric edges together. Once done, fold the bottom up to close the box. Blind slip stitch it closed.

Note! I found first doing one short side and a third of the way towards the middle, then the other short side and finishing, you did not end up with it being whomper-jawed and uncentered (I know, not a word). I also use quilter’s safety pins to join the corners and center to help me sew it evenly. You could sew from the center of the bottom piece to a corner, then sew the shorter side, repeating the other way to finish. Either way, it keeps it centered and much easier to ease without it not fitting together well. That is hard to describe. I hope I am making sense.

I finish the top of the box’s flaps and the top flap’s edges with embroidery thread using blanket stitch. It gives a nice finish to the edges and hides the stitching of the lining to the outside of the box.

Edging and snaps added

Once all of that is done, all that is left is the closure. I do not use velcro. Sewing it down sucks. The stick-on leaves sticky stuff around the edges and tends to come off. I use snaps. I put one at the tip of the flap tip, and one each on the corners of the flap for larger decks. You could leave them off and add them if the corners start curling up later on. Yes, when opened you see them. That does not bother me. Use what suits you, though. I have tried the ones that uses a cord and a button to wrap-close the top. I found those become opened if stuffed in my purse from all the junk that collects in my purse.

Back of Anna.K Lenormand deck box
Front of box for the Anna K Lenormand

I hope this was clearer than mud! Have fun with the pattern idea and make it your own. This is a great winter project. You can sip your favorite warm beverage and create while winter does its thing.

Have fun! Loves and hugs…

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