Also known as
a shirt box

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Rectangular boxes in three varieties (shirt boxes)
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Rectangular Box & Lid

What you will make:

Make a rectangular box with a lid, also called a shirt box, in a variety of sizes and depths. This is a very versatile box that can be used to package almost any gift. It can also be made without the lid and used as a letter box, napkin holder, etc.

Small rectangular boxes are perfect as party favors and for packaging sweets and candies. The project includes a printable pattern for a Halloween treats box with a plain version that you can decorate for any holiday or special occasion.

Instructions are given at the bottom of the page for making the rectangular box in any size.

Here's what you need:
  • Cardstock or cardboard (poster board and Bristol board work well)
  • Glue or double-sided tape
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Bone folder or empty ballpoint pen
  • Ruler
  • Optional: Decorative paper (wrapping, art, etc.), spray adhesive.

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Rectangular Box & Lid

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose a box to make. Download and print the pattern.
Make a lightweight box by printing directly on cardstock. For a stronger box, print on computer paper and trace or transfer the pattern to cardboard before proceeding.

Follow the same instructions for both the box bottom and box top (lid).

Pattern Transfer Techniques
  • You can easily transfer a pattern to heavier cardboard by printing on transfer paper. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using these products.
  • You can also use carbon paper to transfer the design. Place the carbon paper face-down on the cardboard and lay the pattern face-up on top. Trace over the pattern lines with a pencil—you may want to use a ruler or straight edge.
  • Finally, the simplest technique for transferring a pattern requires nothing more than the printed pattern and a pencil. Use a soft lead pencil (#2 or softer) and a firm hand to trace over all the pattern lines to be transferred. Turn the pattern face down on the cardboard and trace over the lines from the reverse side. (You should have no trouble seeing the lines from the back if you pressed hard while tracing them.) This type of transfer is usually good for 2 or 3 uses.

Printable Patterns

Rectangular bottom
Rectangular box bottom pattern
Rectangular top
Rectangular box top pattern
Smaller rectangular box pattern
Small Deeper
Small, deeper rectangular box pattern
Halloween Treat Boxes
Pattern for two Halloween treat boxes
Red Christmas Box
Pattern for red Christmas box
Green Christmas Box
Pattern for green Christmas box

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

Step 2: Cut

Cut around the box pattern on the solid black lines. Try to make your cuts very straight. The box will be stronger and fit together better if the cuts are very straight.

Using a straight edge and craft knife will make some of the cutting easier, but be sure to protect the table with a cutting mat or thick piece of cardboard. Caution: Be careful. Craft knives are sharp and should not be used by children.

Step 3: Score Rectangular box - score fold linesFold Lines

Score along each of the four fold lines. Scoring the fold lines makes for easier folding and sharper creases.

To score: Turn the box pattern with the marked lines up. Score along each of the fold lines (red in this illustration). On cardstock, use the bone folder or empty ballpoint pen to make an indent, not a cut. If you are using light- to medium-weight cardboard or poster board, use a straight edge and a craft knife or scissors to make a half-cut.

Heavy cardboard requires a cut score. Make a cut score by cutting all the way through the cardboard in a series of dashes. Hold the craft knife against a straight edge to make the cuts. Long cuts increase the flexibility of the fold, but weaken the cardboard. Base the length of the cuts and the space between the cuts on your need. You may want to do some testing on a scrap of cardboard.

Step 4: Fold SidesRectangular Box - fold

Fold one side along the score line, then unfold. Repeat for the other three sides. When using thick cardboard like Bristol board, fold back so that the score is on the outside of the box. Lighter cardboard can be folded either way.

Step 5: Cover with Decorative Paper (optional) Rectangular Box - cover with decorative paper

Cut a rectangular piece of decorative paper larger than the box pattern by ¼" to ½" all around. Center and glue to what will be the outside of the box. Fold the excess paper over and glue, or just trim away.

Tip: It is very important to use a very good adhesive when covering a box with decorative paper, or laminating. Glue sticks and glues marked as suitable for children will not give a strong enough bond. When using a spray adhesive, follow the instructions for a permanent bond.

Rectangular Box - snip corners for glue tabs Step 6: Snip Corners

Snip each corner on the dashed line. This creates the glue tabs needed to assemble the box.

Step 7: Glue
Rectangluar box - glue tabs and form box

Fold the cardboard into a box shape. Be sure the glue tabs are on the inside. Glue the tabs to the sides of the box with a good craft glue. You can also use staples or tape.

Follow the same instructions for both the box bottom and box top (lid).

That's it! Your box is done!
Rectangle (or shirt) box with lid

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Make Your Own Rectangular Box & Lid (Shirt Box) Pattern

It's easy to make a rectangular box in just about any size and depth. The basic box requires a pattern for both the top and bottom of the box. You'll need two pieces of cardboard the size of the bottom, plus two times the depth added to both dimensions. The only differences between the patterns are that the sides of the top are shorter, and the top rectangle is slightly larger.

  1. MYO - Draw rectangle the size of the box baseBoth patterns, bottom and lid, are based on a rectangle. In the center of the cardboard, draw a rectangle the size you want your box. You'll draw a slightly larger rectangle as the basis for the box top/lid pattern—add twice the thickness of the cardboard plus about 1/8" to both dimensions.

  2. MYO - Draw lines for box sides Measure out from each side the desired depth of your box, and draw a line parallel to the side. Join the lines to form a rectangle. (For a standard shirt box, make the depth of the top a little less than the depth of the bottom. To reveal more of the box bottom, make the top's depth anywhere from ½ to ¾ of the bottom's depth. See the Deeper box pattern as an example.)

  3. MYO - rectangular box pattern Extend the lines of the smaller rectangle out to meet the lines of the larger rectangle. The lines extended from the shorter sides are glue tab fold lines. The lines extended from the longer sides are glue tab cut lines.

  4. Assemble the box following the instructions in this project.

Back to Top
Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Plain pattern printed on patterned cardstock

Tip: Print the plain pattern on the back of patterned cardstock.

Rectangular box with tag from same cardstock

Tip: Save scraps of cardstock and cardboard. They can be used to make gift tags or to reinforce bag bottoms.

Bonus Patterns

Halloween treat boxes

Tip: Use the Halloween Treat Boxes pattern to package your Halloween candies and sweets. The plain pattern can be used to make favor boxes for any holiday or party theme.

Christmas boxes in red and green

Tip: Print Christmas box patterns in holiday season red or green. The patterns come in two options—plain white or polka dot bottoms. Decorate the box top with Christmas Quilling or in anyway you like!

Deeper rectangular box made with marbled paper

Tip: Make your own patterned cardstock by printing a design on white cardstock, then printing the box pattern on the back.

The marbled paper for this box was created by printing Aunt Annie's marbled swirls ePaper on white cardstock.
Box lid cover with painted tissue paper

Tip: Cover box lids with decorative tissue paper. See how easy it is to create your own fancy tissue in the Tissue Paper Painting craft project.

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