Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Happy Advent, all!

Somehow, it's December again. This year, it felt like Minnesota skipped over fall and wormholed from summer right into winter. The weather was very weird this year, wasn't it? Hardly any 70-degree transition to speak of; it was 80s and 90s one day and then torrential rain and then 40s, and then snow. All before Halloween, even.

So each year, November goes by in a blink and suddenly it's Christmas. I often have grand plans for  Advent. Not just because it's peak crafting (and baking) season with the kids, but because it's a whole month of anticipation: the grandeur of Christmas feasts with family, the thrill of seeing the faces of friends as they open gifts we've made (or saved to buy), the joy of delivering cookies to neighbors to say - among other things - "we're so glad you live next door (or around the corner, or across the street)." 

And every year, I swear Advent sneaks up on me. 


Like Argh Is It Dec 1st Already Where Are Those Nativity Thingamajigs That We Stick On The Fridge Oh Wait Our Fridge Door Is No Longer Magnetic Erm What To Do Now sneaks

And the children always ask if we're going to do Advent again this year, and Of Course We're Still Young Enough To Do Advent Mom What Were You Thinking. And I'm on the laptop at 2 am on Nov 30th googling "30 Fun Things To Put In An Advent Calendar" and curating the suggestions and becoming more despondent by the minute because half of the Fun Things are awesome for a 5-year-old but not so awesome for a 14-year-old. 

In desperation, I've even asked the children for ideas (because I'm such a loser Mom).

The 14-year-old said this year, "A book a day, of course. 24 books before Christmas - what could be better?" 
Splendid idea, but she wasn't talking about the Christmas picture books we pored over when the girls were preschoolers and kindergarteners. Novels, she meant. Stories with conflicts and cliffhangers. Stories of desperate last-stands and gut-wrenching sacrifices. Stories about good and evil, villains and heroes.

And I was reminded of what Christmas is: one short paragraph in a much longer story of exactly all those things. It's about an author who had a plan for a world that was good and free, whose characters were incredibly flawed but undeservingly precious, and who regrettably wrecked themselves and each other in their pursuit to discover who they were.  There's a villain so insidious that only a truly formidable hero could defeat so in an incredible plot twist, the author writes Himself into the story. Which then speeds toward a cliffhanger in which everyone's character arcs converge in one epic sacrifice. The hero dies, but unbelievably, the world is not destroyed. The people are saved. The villain is vanquished. The curse is lifted. And the hero comes back to life after, and we learn that it was in the plan all along, written into the storyboard from the very start. It may not have begun with Once Upon A Time and perhaps the ultimate Happily Ever After is still a long way off, but there is glorious closure and explosive hope for the future, for forever.

In Advent seasons past, I've only ever lingered on the manger portion of the Christmas story. When the kids were little, it was what appealed to them. There was a baby in a feeding trough, infinite wonder confined in the finite dimensions of an animal shed. There were domestic livestock, shepherds with lambs, learned visitors on camels who came from so far away that it took them two years to actually turn up. There were drummer boys whose percussive anthems somehow did not grate on a postpartum mother's ears (or a newborn's). There was (probably) no wicked Midwestern blizzard raging outside (probably because it wasn't even December). It was a good tale, with lots of quaint cultural embellishments (depending on the version). My kids - as do many other kids in this part of the world - know this account inside out.

I always felt that it needed more context, though. So this year, I'm including that bigger story in our Advent conversations. They know a lot of it from Sunday School, so maybe it won't be news to them. But some of the best stories are more fully enjoyed retold over and over, and I can't think of one that beats this. Already Kate has begun some good conversations with me, which I hold dear to my heart and pray that over our years together, I will find increasingly clearer ways to continue with her. 

Children, no matter how literal their dealings, will still always appreciate the metaphor, though - isn't that why we have Advent calendars? It isn't just the chocolate, or the Lego Christmas village in 24 installments. It's about the anticipation, the part of the whole, the longing for something to be finally finished. It's also about now: the blessings that are new every morning, the grace that is sufficient, the gift of the day thereof. Which, with our unique preferences and personalities, looks different for each of us, so this year, I made each of the girls their own, not-the-same Advent calendars.

Jenna's is the one in the top photo - 24 pairs of Harry Potter socks in 24 random IKEA gift bags. She says she likes that they're Harry Potter themed and that she gets a new pair every morning to wear to school without having to find one the night before to set out. Here, I'll cheat and repeat that photo for your viewing pleasure:

Kate's is 24 little squishy toys stuffed into the pockets of my old Pocket Quilt. I found them on Amazon in a 30-pack and Emily helped pick out the 24 she thought Kate would like most. Incidentally, we've used this quilt every Christmas since I made it 8 years ago. It was never intended as an Advent calendar but it's found its calling by being exactly that.

Emily's Advent calendar is, sadly, not 24 novels. I would've liked it to be, but I didn't think she'd be able to finish a novel a day quickly enough to hunger for another the next. She has, however, in recent months, discovered the joys of a warm cup of tea, so voila - 24 teas,

which I selected from a selection of far more (again, from Amazon).

and which I concealed in (for want of more innovative packaging) old guitar string envelopes with which my guitar-playing brother supplied me over the years.

These I sealed with funny clips, which I didn't really have 24 of, so there might have to be some re-using!

Also, 24 fancy truffles (because tea and chocolate are as close to heaven in Minnesotan winters as they get).

Speaking of which, this has been the view from my sewing window of late:

Pretty! Also a reminder that I have much to be grateful for, including a warm home in a state that knows how to deal with snowy roads and icky blizzards so people can actually get places safely. 

And you guys, of course. I'm always grateful for you, and all the stories (cardboard, sewing and life) you share with me in the comments and email. I appreciate your honesty, I admire your courage in raising your families, learning new skills, protecting our countries, and answering uncountable calls to help, to teach, to give. I hope your Advent is merry and bright, and that as you count down to Christmas, you will know that you are much loved and of infinite worth to a God who wrote Himself into His own story to prove it.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Deer & Fawn

Kate and Bunny were a deer family this year for Halloween. 

In recent years, Kate has had me make Bunny a costume that coordinates with her own. In 2015, Kate was a rabbit and Bunny was a carrot. In 2016, Kate was a fairy and Bunny was an elf. Last year, Kate was Ginny Weasley (from Harry Potter) and Bunny was some kind of personal pet. Four years later, I think I've figured it out: if Bunny has a costume, then Bunny can accompany Kate to any and all Halloween-related activities, including the fall parties at school. Could it be?

Kate, grinning smugly, confirmed that yes, it was exactly so.

Kate's deer costume (not reindeer, she cautioned me when we were designing it together) was simple enough to make. It's essentially a sleeper PJ thing, like her rabbit suit and many other animal-themed onesies that are found in stores like Target and Walmart. But where her rabbit had sleeves and legs that ended in simple hems, Kate wanted elasticized cuffs for this deer suit. She explained that they kept the fabric from riding up her limbs, which was very helpful for cartwheels and tumbles. Which, apparently, deer do a lot of.

The hood is the only part of the outfit that's lined - mostly for structure so that it doesn't degenerate into floppiness. There are stuffed antlers and fuzz-lined ears that insert in seams in the hood construction. The rest of the outfit is a single layer of fleece, and because fleece doesn't fray, I didn't even bother to serge the SA on the inside.

The outfit has a central front zipper that runs through the furry belly panel (this is simply a large applique patch).

Here is Bunny's outfit: also a zip-up onesie suit. The antlers and ears are edge-stitched felt rather than stuffed fleece - for doll-sized features, I try to avoid creating structures that must be sewn WS-out and whose SA then clog up the sharp points and other narrow parts of the finished shapes when turned RS-out.

A few more differences: one, Bunny's suit has raglan sleeves. Reason: Bunny has indistinct shoulders, which make it challenging to determine the position of shoulder seams so as to set in regular sleeves. Also, in place of cuffs, the sleeves and legs end in enclosed "mittens". They saved me the effort of turning hems, and it's not as if Bunny needs to actually use her hands and feet. 

And finally, Bunny's hood is differently-shaped, entirely because Bunny's head is much flatter dorso-ventrally than a human head. This is a trivial observation, I know, but I wanted to share that weird fact so we understand that not all hoods are sewn the same way. If you are so inclined, look at the hoods on the various coats and sweaters in your (and your kids') closet(s): some are simply two pieces (left and right) sewn together along a central seam; some are three longitudinal panels (symmetrical left and right pieces connected by a central 'gusset') which hug the back of the head more closely; some, like Kate's and Bunny's here, are a combination of transverse and longitudinal seams that allow inserts like horns and ears and other anterior features, and design elements like drawstrings and snaps.

Here is the back view: both suits have a little tail that attaches in a shallow dart (not a seam) in the fabric itself.

So deer and fawn this year. I can't wait to find out what Kate will pick for herself (and Bunny) next Halloween!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Air Dancer

Emily was an air dancer for Halloween this year. Air dancers, sometimes called tube men, are those funny inflatable tubes with faces and streamers which stand outside stores and other establishments and wiggle in the wind. My kids used to call them the asparagus men and would exclaim in glee whenever we spotted them at car dealerships and strip malls. 

While I haven't actually examined an air dancer to determine how it works, I believe there is a kind of fan in its base that blows air upward, filling the tube and making it shimmy and flap its streamers. The combined visual effect is excellent for attracting attention.

It's well and good for an advertising prop standing in one spot, but a little more challenging when one has intends to walk around the neighborhood encased in what is essentially a fabric cigar. Also, one also needs a peephole through which to look, so as not to walk into a trashcan, parked cars, other neighbors, or anything else one might inadvertently encounter while candy-gathering in the dark. 

Then there was the issue of the tube not collapsing into itself as one moved around in it. Fabric, after all, clings and drapes (not to mention falls down). And while actual air dancers have a stream of air to help the walls stay apart and aloft, we really didn't care for our hindquarters being enthusiastically ventilated by a fan on a cold pre-winter night. As we walked around the neighborhood. In what was essentially an enlarged drinking straw rendered in the cheapest fabric we could find.

Thus, we decided: why fight gravity when we could harness it to our advantage?

Behold: The Cardboard Headdress.

This is, in essence, a helmet-crown hybrid. The lower hemispherical section is the helmet, which sits on Emily's head. The flat upper platform is the crown, raised above the helmet by dowels. 

This extra elevation served two purposes. One, to elongate the tube further so that the height-width ratio even more closely  approached that of a real air dancer. Two, to raise its top by enough distance to turn the air dancer's mouth into a peephole for Emily's eyes.

And it is from this flat platform that the entire fabric tube (with a closed circular top) hangs. Not unlike a fitted tablecloth for a disproportionately tall table.

Even without additional structural reinforcement, the fabric cylinder kept its shape quite well. However, we added a couple solid rings in the lower region around Emily's legs. In the same way that a hoop skirt works, these kept the cylinder open so she could walk without kicking the fabric out in front of her. I sewed two narrow channels all around the inside of the tube, then bought dollar-store glowsticks and connected them into a couple of large rings to push into the channels. 

The main structure thus accomplished, we finished off the costume with simple details. We put the tube on Emily, marked the position of her eyes, cut out the  air dancer's mouth and sewed black athletic mesh fabric over the opening. We also cut out armholes and Emily wore a coordinating fleece sweater for instant arms. Much easier than trying to fit sleeves, we thought. The streamers are fabric strips glued onto short sticks that Emily is holding.

You can see the streamer-sticks in her hands in this next photo. They're like mini twirling-ribbon-sticks.

This was one of the quickest costumes to make, and the funniest!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Halloween Costumes 2018

It feels like it's been forever, hasn't it?

I have fun stuff to share in the next few posts, but today's is all about Halloween that happened 3 weeks ago. I was in New York City visiting friends over Halloween so I missed the actual dressing up and sugar collecting action. And in spite of planning weeks in advance, I still ended sewing right up till the day before I got on the plane. So yes, I did sew some costumes and no, the children didn't do the matchy-matchy theme this year. But they all still wanted to go around the neighborhood together and snag candy and hold auctions to trade that candy with the neighbors afterward.

Every Halloween surprises me that way - not just which character the kids will want to impersonate, but whether they'll still feel young enough to go trick-or-treating at all. I treasure every year that they still do.

This year, Emily was an air dancer. She and a neighbor friend had been planning this costume since 2017, long before it was a costume fad. We were so surprised to find that it was as popular as it was. This was fun to make (if a bit last-minute). I'll deconstruct it in a later post. 

Jenna was Scarlet, from the book series The Lunar Chronicles. Scarlet is a modern-day Little Red Riding Hood - and her outfit was literally a red hoodie and jeans and the basket that Kate is holding. I didn't sew any part of her outfit, and even the red hoodie was a loan from a friend. 

Kate was a deer. And Bunny was a fawn. They come as a pair, these two - every year since I can remember. I'll deconstruct their outfits in a later post, too. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

This Year's Halloween Costumes

Well, one of them, anyway.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

That Day Has Come

I threw out my cardboard stash yesterday.

What manner of madness motivated such an atrocity? Ah, as is often the case, we needed the storage space for Other Things. 

I considered titling this post A Bleak Season or She Would Never Get Out Of Bed Again but you know what? I wasn't as depressed as I thought it'd be. Not even upset, actually.

Two reasons: one, the kids have grown up. They are not so old that they're leaving the house to get engineering or culinary degrees, but no longer so young that cardboard toys cause within them rabid levels of excitement. Again, not as disheartening as I'd imagined. Now, this in no way suggests that cardboard has lost any of its amazingness - no, cardboard will forever be supreme (and no one will convince me otherwise). However, I think I'm ready to accept that building cardboard playthings had its moments - of which our family has had arguably more than its fair share - and those moments have somehow passed, and passed with their dignity intact.

And two, I am comforted by the knowledge that IKEA remains a veritable trove of Good Cardboard - free, large, clean and in an astounding variety of thicknesses, strengths and textures. Should I in the near future require new building material, I can drive there in minutes, find what I need and save the environment, all without sacrificing precious storage space in our house.

It was fun to reminisce, though, as Emily and I pulled out piece after piece from under the bed in the guest bedroom, where I had amassed and curated my collection over the years since we've owned this house. 

"Oh, this was the box from the cardboard nightstand!" "We made the Barbie House from this piece!" "Remember this?" "Remember that?"

That's what creating with children is about, after all, isn't it? Not only passing on skills and producing workable designs but also simply being. Sitting and gluing. Slicing and drawing. Decorating and embellishing. All the while making up crazy stories about baby bunnies in hutches, paper fish in aquariums, parrots in pirate ships, castles and maidens and automobiles and telephones and pizza parlors and little peg children journeying to fantastical lands at the tops of impossible trees.

Yes, good memories. 

But because it's irresponsible (not to mention ridiculous) that a house be completely devoid of cardboard, I let myself keep a few of the more interesting pieces. Do you see that crazy piece in the photo? How many flute layers are there in that piece in the photo? I lost count after ten. 

They'll live in a very small box in the garage.  For emergencies, you know.

Well. I just looked at my sidebar and realized that my last post was almost two months ago. I missed you guys! I hope everyone had a lovely summer. Ours was good, but too short. It felt like I blinked and it was the first day of school and I hadn't done nearly enough summering as I'd have liked. The kids spent a lot of time in the water. One of them took a self-taught algebra course that enabled her to skip a Math grade in the fall. Another dabbled very successfully with yeast baking. Two learned to dive off a springboard. At least one of them sewed more than I did, and invited at least one friend over for sewalongs (we made pencil cases like these). I finished a commissioned project for a magazine that took up a fair bit of my summer but which was very rewarding. Everyone hung out with neighbors and friends and got to know each other better over games and food and exercise, before the Big Freeze sends us all back into our caves.

Making-wise, I always feel that I accomplished pretty close to zilch with my own projects. Summer is such a non-ideal time for pleasure-sewing; everything else seems to be more urgent, and rightly so: being outdoors, doing things with the kids, tutoring Math, helping dough to rise, riding bikes and swimming under a sunny sky that for just three months in the year, actually feels as warm as it looks. 

But now fall is upon us. It's nice to have a routine again, and the house to myself now that the kids are back at school. There are upcoming birthdays that require gifts, Halloween activities that require costumes, and ikatbag patterns that require prototypes. Lots of sewing in my future, it looks like. 

It'll be a good distraction from the cardboard I no longer have. Or, to put it another way: it's a good thing I no longer have cardboard with which to procrastinate on the sewing (sniff). 

Saturday, July 28, 2018


I would've missed it had Emily not pointed it out:

apparently, these look like my kids.
(L to R: Kate, Jenna and Emily).


Friday, July 27, 2018

A Round Head

Happy summer, friends!

Today's photos are brought to you by my cellphone camera. 

Translation: no photoediting. 

So this is my hypothesis: if I take photos with my cellphone instead of my DSLR, I might be able to blog more frequently.

Supporting (anti-)evidence: I have SO MANY photos sitting on the computer that I offloaded from the DSLR that never made it to the blog because I didn't have the time to process them. 

This is not to say that I'm never taking a proper photo with the fancy camera again, incidentally. There is a place in blogdom for edited photos, certainly. Tutorials and patterns and other things require them in particular sizes and sharpness and exposure and odd depths of focus. But for the random, everyday Look What I'm Working On shots, I'm postulating that a cellphone camera will do the trick.

Speaking of Working Ons, here's my current WIP: a round head.

Head shapes are very important in Toydom, and round heads, especially, bring joy to their beholders like no other head shapes do. Yes, I am aware that I sound shape-ist. And yes, there are always instances (such as a momentary lapse in reason) in which a person might opt for, say, a flat or oblong head over one that is beauteously spherical. Yes, I've done it. It is tragic, but life is not perfect. People aren't perfect.

Round heads, fortunately, are.

This one belongs on a new doll I'm making. I considered including ears, but ears stick out. Eventually, this round head will be crowned with yarn hair, anyway, which will hide the ears. This was how I rationalized away any protuberances that would disrupt that pristine curved profile. 

Except the nose which, if you stare long enough at the center front seam, you might be able to see. Factoid: I modeled this nose after the slightly-upturned nose of one of my kids. When I tell people my children are my inspiration for my crafting, I wasn't kidding.

Unrelated, here is another WIP that's been going on forever. It's perle cotton on faux suede. It has round shapes in it, too. I started this last year. My goal is to finish it this year. Which would make it about 2 years old. Which is fast, as far as my WIPs go. 

How long do your WIPs languish under your sewing table before they see the light of day once more? I think my record is 29 years (and counting).

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

New Wizard Wands!

Hello everyone! I hope you've been having a lovely summer! Today's post is written by my kid Emily, who has some exciting news to share. Take it away, Emily! - LiEr

Hello friends! It's Emily (On Mom's blog), remember me? The kid of none other than the person who actually writes on this blog! My summer has been going very well so far, from taking an entire year's math course during these three months, to crafting a lot. I mean a LOT.
I have been making new wizard wands! The last time I put these in Mom's Etsy store, I had so much fun managing, packing, and sending out orders to all sorts of people. Because of that experience last summer, I've decided to do it again!

There are ten wands in this round, (Get them while they last!) and they are all very pretty ones. 

As always, they include a wand sheath/pouch/case so you can have a safe spot to put your wand(s).

If you've never visited my Mom's Etsy store, you can do so for the first time here and check out the wands. 

Anyhoo, that's all for now, I hope you check out my wands and enjoy the summer!


PS. Keep your eyes peeled for my own Etsy store launching soon! I'll be working with my friend Sophie and right now, we're sewing up a STORM.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

How To Make A Treasure Chest


Today we are making a cardboard treasure chest!

As if the cardboard aspect weren't enough cause for celebration, we're also going to be discussing how to mass-produce these babies. Yes, for parties and summer camps and other boisterous gatherings-of-multiple-children!

Summary: I am beside myself with joy!

Some context: as mentioned in earlier posts, I am coordinating the crafts for some of the children's programs at our local church. These often involve kids of a wide range of ages working on the same activity. It is a very enjoyable role, but the preparation keeps me on my toes because I'm not content to order random projects out of a craft catalog and watch some kids finish them in five minutes while other kids flail about covered in glue, and surrendering to a hapless adult helper who then completes the craft for them. When working with such a wide age range, the aim then is always to challenge the older children while not overwhelming the younger ones. 

So I break out the cardboard. Or, more accurately, I head to IKEA and scavenge the recycling bins. Thank the stars for IKEA - between that and Costco, I have an almost inexhaustible free supply of my favorite crafting medium. And while I can easily waste paragraphs counting all the ways cardboard is supreme, I shall be practical and extol just this one: it is an open-ended building material and people of different ages and motor competence can engage with it at different levels of complexity.

For instance, were I presenting this craft to teenage participants, I'd have them build it the way I do in this tutorial, using hot glue and all the various techniques of connecting and reinforcing seams. With adults, we could make much larger chests, drafting the templates correspondingly to scale and working on different ways to secure the lid, create hinges, increase the strength of the walls and introduce texture to the finished surface. Some older teenagers could even do this.

With children (and limited time), however, an actual build might not be feasible. Instead, they'll get an almost-finished treasure chest to decorate and embellish. As my target group ranges from preschoolers (3 year olds) to 5th-graders (11 year olds), it's a pretty broad playing field. The preschoolers might gravitate to stickers and markers while the older kids might enjoy gluing on craft sticks to simulate the slats of real wood chests. And everyone can slather on paint at some point, and pile on details for ruggedness or bling, or any combination thereof along that spectrum. At the end of this post, we'll talk about how this activity will be customized to the different age groups.

Incidentally, this isn't the first time we've made a treasure chest here on ikatbag. In this post, I showed you a completed treasure chest the kids asked me to make as part of my own birthday gift. It was something only a kid would ask you to do, isn't it? (Bless their hearts.) 

The treasure chest in today's post, however, will be somewhat simplified, as I was making 50 of them for our summer program. And as we learned in this earlier post on mass-production, when one is hand-making such vast quantities, one must find ways to acceptably cut corners, as it were, while ensuring the outcome is still good. 

I also want to disclose that I don't necessarily make everything we need just because it's cardboard. Case in point: at Emily's Fairytale Party, we actually bought some cardboard treasure chests. We were already handmaking everything else (including some pretty insane dress-up dolls and wooden swords, and I wanted one fewer thing to cut out and glue. Skipping on treasure chests seemed like a no-brainer. Sometimes you do what's sensible, right?

But for this summer program, 50 treasure chests would've cost almost $100 to buy, so we made them for free. 

Enough preamble; let's make these chests already!

I don't usually create templates for my cardboard projects (I measure and cut shapes directly out of the sheet or box or whatever form the cardboard is in) but I did this time, because I was making so many of the same project. 

Here is a sheet you can download which contains cutting directions. It really just contains one template - for the side of the curved lid. The other pieces are listed with dimensions, and are easy to draw out on your own. Pay attention to the direction of the flutes when cutting out the large piece that forms the main body and lid of the chest. It's a bit like the grain direction of fabric! If you're unfamiliar with the flutes of corrugated cardboard, they're the wavy things that lie in parallel rows between the flat layers (called liners). You can read more about them (and working with cardboard in general) in this post.

Obviously, you can make these chests in any dimensions. The one in this tutorial was designed to accommodate jumbo craft/popsicle sticks (they're the 6" x 3/4" ones). 

Before we begin the build, allow me to say a few things about tabs (or overlap allowances), which you often see on shipping boxes and cereal boxes and such. You put glue on them, fold them over and stick one cardboard wall to another. 

However, if you draft tabs into your template, they are an absolute pain to cut around. Especially if you're cutting out 50 of them by hand. 

So if I may be so bold, let me say that:

  1. Not all cardboard boxes need to be cut out as a single piece that's then folded and glued into a three-dimensional structure                                                                                    AND
  2. There are other ways to join one cardboard wall to another than using a glue tab                                                                                                                                              BECAUSE
  3. If the cardboard has a significant thickness, you can glue the edge itself to a wall without the need for a tab. Cereal box cardboard, which is thin and whose edge is far too narrow to be stably attached on end to another surface, requires tabs. Corrugated cardboard, such as the kind we're using in this tutorial and whose edge is wide enough to provide a substantial surface for glue, doesn't                                                                                                         BUT
  4. Sometimes we still do add tabs to corrugated cardboard projects for added strength, particularly if these are large structures. 

And now, let's begin!

Follow the instructions in the printout to cut these five pieces out of corrugated cardboard. It is imperative that you cut the body-and-lid piece with its shorter sides parallel to the flutes. This will allow you to curve the lid easily. With the smaller pieces (the body sides and lid sides), the flute direction doesn't matter as much.

This photo might help you visualize how that long piece fits into the structure of the chest. 

You'll need to score fold lines along this long piece. Using the picture below as a guide, measure from one end the distances indicated and make score lines on the surface of the cardboard that will be the interior of the chest. Bend the piece of cardboard inward along those fold lines and then flatten out again. If you are unfamiliar with scoring, this post might be helpful. Note that these dimensions almost match the 3" x 4" dimensions of the rectangular body side pieces, except we've added 1/8" to each. This additional 1/8" corresponds to the thickness of this corrugated cardboard we're using, and it allows the body piece to wrap around the edge of the side pieces comfortably without crowding. You will see this in Steps 2-3.

Step 1
(Note that we've flipped the body-and-lid piece around the scored sections are now on the right.)
Heat up the glue gun and apply a line of hot glue close to each short edge of the first 3 1/8" section as shown.

Immediately press the short (3") edge of the rectangular side pieces onto the glue, so they stand upright. 

Hold them in place for a few seconds until they can remain upright on their own.

Step 2
Apply hot glue close to the edges of the 4 1/8" section as shown.

Immediately fold the first section over so that the longer (4") edges of the side pieces meet the glue lines.

Hold the side pieces down in place in the second section for a few seconds until the glue dries.

Step 3
Apply hot glue close to the edges of the third section as shown.

Fold the first-and-second sections over so the side pieces meet the glue as shown.

Hold the side pieces down in place until the glue dries. 
This is the body of the chest. 

Here you can see how the body-and-lid piece has wrapped around the side pieces, and how we've used the thickness of those side pieces for adhesion in place of flaps.

Do you see the fold line between the points indicated by the blue arrows below? That's the hinge of the lid and while this structure we've just made is pretty sturdy as is, those two end points will sustain quite a bit of stress as the lid is repeatedly opened and closed. We'll reinforce them in Step 7.

Step 4
We'll form the curved lid now. Stand the chest up as shown.
Beginning at the top edge and using both hands, hold the lid on both sides, directly opposite each other and begin bending the cardboard along its flutes.You're only seeing one of my hands in the picture because the other one's holding the camera. 

Here it's evident why the alignment of the flutes is so important. If you'd aligned the flutes parallel to the long side of the body-and-lid piece, you'd be doing this bending at right angles to the flutes and it'd be a royal mess. 
With this particular corrugated cardboard, which was somewhat stiff, I made a bend along every other (alternate) flute.

Keep working downward till the entire lid section is uniformly bent. Stop when you reach the hinge where the lid transitions into the body section.

The lid portion should look like this when you're done.

Here is a picture showing chests made with two kinds of corrugated cardboard. The one on the left is a little more pliable, and I was able to bend the lid along every flute. The one on the right is stiffer and I could only bend it along every other flute.

Here's a comparison of the lid sections from the side. Bending along every flute is ideal because you get a softer curve, which will then wrap more smoothly around the lid's semicircular side pieces. But sometimes the cardboard will not allow a bend along every single flute, and you'll have to do it along every other flute.

Step 5
Some of the higher-stress joints and seams will benefit from being reinforced with glue tabs. Rather than create tabs from the cardboard itself, which is stiff and bulky, we'll use paper tape. You can buy paper tape or even make it yourself from brand new kraft paper, but you can also cut up a paper grocery sack for the same effect. I cut mine into strips that were about 12" long and 1" to 1-1/4" wide (exact dimensions not important).

Step 6
Apply glue along one half of the back side of each strip, all along its length as shown. I recommend tacky glue or UHU glue as they dry fast but not as fast as hot glue, allowing you some wiggle room to reposition pieces if necessary. I do not recommend Elmer's white glue - or knockoff versions thereof - as it dries too slowly. You'll need two strips per treasure chest.

Stick the paper strip along the back of the treasure chest as shown. Start from the body of the chest where it sits on the ground and adhere the paper upward along the edge of the curved lid. You'll want half the width of the paper tape to be glued on, and the other half free.

Here's the back view. The excess length of the paper tape will extend beyond the top edge of the lid.

Do the same with the second piece of paper tape along the other edge of the body-and-lid.

Here's the front side.

Trim off the excess paper tape.

Step 7
Cut a slit along the paper tape at the hinge line. I've cut an actual notch for visibility, but a slit is sufficient.

Apply tacky glue to the back side of the tape in only the section shown.

Press that section of the paper tape onto the side of the chest. 

Remember those blue arrows in Step 3 indicating points of high stress? This tape acts like a tab which reinforces the joint of the walls here and prevents them from coming apart.

Do the same with the tape on the other side of the chest.

Step 8
We're going to prep the rest of the paper tape now. Cut slits every 1/2" - 5/8" along the remainder of the paper tape. 

Don't measure - just eyeball it. Snip all the way through to where the tape is stuck to the lid.

Front view

Back view

Now comes my favorite part - attaching those semicircular lid side pieces. We need a quick-hold adhesive for this so fire up your hot glue gun again. Be patient and wait till the glue gun is fully warmed up - you'll want the glue to be pretty fluid. Don't use tacky glue for this step because it dries too slowly for what we're about to do (needless to mention, don't even bother with Elmer's white glue).  

The aim is to have that lid curve around the rounded edge of the semicircular side pieces. There will be resistance, of course, because the lid is a flat piece of cardboard and even with the bent flutes, will want to remain so. We'll work in stages to counteract that resistance - don't be tempted to glue everything at once because the hot glue dries fast and pieces will keep wanting to spring apart from each other.

Step 9
First, apply hot glue on the inside of the lid, close to the edge of the cardboard and beginning at the hinge. Apply just enough to span the first three flaps of the paper tape.

Starting with the corner, quickly press the edge of one semi-circular side piece onto the glue as shown. Hold it in place by hand until it's dry (it won't be hot through the thickness of the cardboard). It will probably still be a little wobbly, but the next step will fix that.

Step 10
Apply hot glue to the inside of the first three flaps as shown,

then quickly press them down onto that semi-circular piece. Again, because the grocery sack paper is pretty thick, it'll only feel warm (but be careful of leaks - those might be hot!) Overlap the flaps as needed to curve around the rounded edge of the semi-circle.

Now the semi-circular piece will be a lot more stable.

Step 11
Apply hot glue along the inside edge of the rest of the lid. Yes, do the whole distance.

Curve the lid around the rest of the rounded semi-circular edge of the side piece and hold it in place till it dries. The far edge of the lid will probably protrude beyond the side piece, which is fine - that overhang allowance was deliberately included in the measurement to allow for imprecise alignment during the gluing process. 

Step 12
Apply hot glue to the inside of the last three flaps as shown, and fold them down. The whole side-of-the-lid is pretty stable now.

Step 13
Apply hot glue to the inside of the remaining flaps (I do them in groups of three or four so the glue doesn't dry) and fold them down, overlapping them as needed to accommodate the curve of that rounded edge.

One side attached!

Let's talk about that overhang now. When you're attaching round pieces to flat pieces and working madly-fast with hot glue, you're not going to have the time or luxury to perfectly align, position and reposition stuff. Typically, a seam dries solid in about 3-5 seconds. The lid piece was cut with a little allowance for that. If you're making several of these chests, you might find that this overhang isn't even consistent across the chests, because it depends on how snugly the lid wraps around the side piece each time you do the glue-and-hold process. We can trim this overhang later - a little longer is infinitely better than having it be too short .

Step 14
Now we'll attach the second side piece. Because the lid is already partially-curved into shape around the first side piece, attaching the second piece will be much easier and you'll encounter far less resistance. Apply hot glue to the entire length of the inside edge of the lid.

Immediately press the rounded edge of the second side piece into the glue, attaching the corner at the hinge first, and wrapping the lid around the rest of it. Hold it in place till the glue dries.

As with the first side piece, glue the flaps down to secure this second side piece. Work with the flaps at either corner first, as this will be where the lid will most try to separate and spring apart.

All flaps glued down!

Step 15
Mark the position of the overhang on either side of the lid

and trim off with a sharp knife.

Voila! Perfectly aligned.

You might notice, however, that the lid "pops" up and doesn't stay shut. This is because the hinge is merely a fold in the cardboard instead of an actual hinge seam between the lid and the body. There are several ways to keep the lid from springing back up when shut. 

Here is one technique from another chest long ago: an inner "lip" around the body that uses friction to create a snug fit.

There's also a hasp that will secure the lid once it's closed, but this lip will keep the lid from springing open even without the hasp.

I use this inner-lip-friction method a lot in my cardboard builds, but it does require a precise fit to work, plus the extra steps of slicing strips of cardboard, bending them exactly so, and gluing them to the inside of the box to make that lip. Therefore, this technique is most energy-efficient when making just one or two items when you can take the time to ensure that fit. 

When you're mass-producing 50 chests, we need a simpler (and less time-intensive) alternative. Enter paper fasteners.

Install one on the lid and the other on the body,

use one of those Rainbow Loom rubber bands (remember those?),

loop it on the upper stud (which should be inserted pretty snugly into the cardboard to hold the rubber band in place)

and loop it over the lower stud (which should be inserted with some "give" to make the "looping-on" easier,

like so,

and the lid stays shut.

Easy for little hands to do (although the littlest hands will need help installing those paper fasteners).

If this is the end-point of your build, the actual position of those paper fasteners won't be important - as long as they're centered, and separated sufficiently far apart for the tension in the rubber band to keep the lid shut. Our chests were designed to be embellished with jumbo popsicle sticks, so those studs had to be placed where they could accommodate the width of those sticks.

This is a separation that worked for us.

Manually measuring and centering 100 paper fasteners for 50 chests could get tedious, so I made these 2 cardboard aids. The one with the hole is a template for marking the position of the insertion points for the paper fasteners. It's exactly 6" long, so aligning it along the edge of the lid and the body will allow you to mark a central spot 7/8" from either edge.

It made quick work of marking those 50 chests!

Here's how I used the other cardboard aid. 

Remember the paper fastener on the body of the chest that had to stick out enough for the rubber band to loop easily and repeatedly around it. This cardboard aid has a slit through which the paper fastener's prongs can slide when you insert them into the chest.

Press the paper fastener in fully, separate the prongs on the wrong side of the cardboard, cover the prongs with tape  (to protect little hands from being poked or cut),

and slide the cardboard aid out.

There is now a perfect gap between the stud and the cardboard surface, allowing easy looping of the rubber band around it.

That gap also allows the edges of the popsicle sticks to tuck under it.

It made installing 100 paper fasteners go a lot more quickly!

Here are the finished chests. There are fewer things more glorious than a mass-produced wall of cardboard things against a backdrop of even more cardboard. 

There are many ways to dress up a plain treasure chest but here is the version our kids will be making during our summer program.

The older kids will be given a bare treasure chest and a lot of freedom to paint it, glue popsicle sticks onto it, glue popsicle sticks onto it and then paint it, add ribbons to mimic leather straps, stick on gems for a bit of bling, and anything else they're inspired to do. They will work with tacky glue, scissors, ribbons, gems, paint, Sharpies, and cord.

The preschoolers will be given the chests with the popsicle sticks already glued on, and they can paint or not-paint, or color everything with markers, or add stickers, or their names in foam letters. They will work with washable markers, stickers, and paint. 

Finally, everyone gets to pick their rubber bands and secure the lid shut. 

I hope you make these some day! 

One last thing before I sign off. At the beginning of this post, I showed remarkable (and excruciating) restraint in praising the extraordinary marvelousness of cardboard. Hardest thing ever. Interestingly, there appeared yesterday in the New York Times, an article doing just that (the exulting, I mean; not the restraining)! It's called "The Magic of a Cardboard Box". Never mind that they're almost an entire decade behind - it's always a cause for rejoicing when anyone recognizes cardboard's incomparable superlativeness and spreads the word. In The NYT, no less. The New York Times, people! Need I say more? No, I do not.