Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FALL Letter Box Ensemble Tutorial

Celebrating we are the first official day of Autumn this year 
by posting a new seasonal project.
Create a large-scale 3d decoration
using letter boxes (resembling wood cut-outs)
plus a 3d pumpkin and special embellishments for each.
Letters are assembled as lid and base, glued together,
given a decorative front and other decor,
then attached to a covered foam-core strip
for an ensemble that can be used year after year.
Cut files for this project are available as a set through
SVG Attic, and soon through SnapDragon Snippets.com.
Individual designs for letter boxes, pumpkin box, 
bushel basket, slice form apple, scarecrow, etc., 
are available through Silhouette America's online store.
(Modifications and notes are listed at the end of this post.)


1.  Identify and cut the shapes.
For letter F:
A lid front and accent front
B base back
C lid left edge boxing
D lid lower section boxing
E lid upper right section boxing
F base right side boxing
G base lower section boxing
H base left upper section boxing
I decor whole and half leaves

For 3d pumpkin box and letter A:
A box front
B upper and left side boxing
C right side boxing
D box back with trap door
E finger hole key cover (trunk shape, too)
F accent pumpkin front and overlay, leaf & vine
G 2d letter A

For tall L with scarecrow stick:
A tall L front with accent front
B left side and bottom boxing
C right side with end and top boxing
D tall L back
E right and bottom boxing
F left with top and end boxing
F (far left) scarecrow base hay shapes
G scarecrow decorative front shapes
For wide L with bushel basket and apples:
A wide L front with accent front
B left side and bottom boxing
C right side with end and top boxing
D wide L back
E right and bottom boxing
F left with top and end boxing
G bushel basket bottom octagon
H basket side sections (8)
I accent strips wide and narrow accent
J slice form apples and stem accent shapes
(8 apple shapes each for 4-6 or more apples)

2. Prepare the boxing strips by folding at vertical perforations to match the shape of F. Fold tabs inward at perforations.

Here you can see the boxing strips arranged around the F front shape to help determine where the strips will be attached, and the folding direction for side perforations. Attaching tabs are up.

You will note the symbol cutouts in the flanges at ends to help you understand which ends connect to each other.

3. Because the letter box designs are offered in the cut file as originally created, flanges overlap at corners for extra strength. My preference is to reduce bulk and layers so that the front's edges can join smoothly. To help this happen, I create my own "miter" cuts at the outward corners by bending to arrange the two sides that come together in the 90 degree corner. Holding that position, I use hand scissors to make a cut through both layers from the inside intersection to the corner, then discard the clippings.

Do this at all outward corners. However, you DO NOT need to do this as the inward corners, which will take care of themselves.

4. Identify the left long edge of the F front and the corresponding boxing strip long edge. Apply glue and align the straight letter edge at the perforation/fold edge, with ends lined up exactly. Attach and apply pressure to ensure an even, smooth seam.

It may be helpful to turn the assembly face down and press against a smooth, flat surface from the letter box inside.

5. Fold the bottom segment so that the tab perforation edge aligns with the bottom straight edge of the F shape. Follow the same procedures as in Step 4 to attach and secure this edge.

6. Identify the next boxing strip, here the right lower strip, then align the tab end of the previously-joined strip and the straight end edge of the new strip. (You can see the double dot symbol on the tab of the new strip that corresponds to the same symbol on the end tab of the first strip.) Join ends.

7. Bend the first segment into position so that the F straight edge aligns at the corresponding perforation/fold line. Attach in place. 

8. Continue bending, aligning and attaching tabs and F edges to complete this strip's assembly.

9. Identify and join the final strip tab end perforation line to the second strip straight end, identified by the triangle symbol cut in the tabs near the target joint.

10. Align and join edges at tab/perforation lines for all edges. Prior to joining the final edge, prepare and join the final end and lead tab at the same time.

11. Because the boxing strips underneath the F front will cover the punch hole, use a tool like this sharp point awl, or embroidery scissors, skewer, etc., to open a corresponding hole(s) through the boxing strips behind.

12. Slide the box base into the backside of the box lid.

NOTE: Complete the assembly through the second half of Step 16 before attaching the lid and base as described below.

13. Join the base and lid by extruding hot glue or equivalent quick-set adhesive between the base and lid layers in several positions where the boxes fit paticularly closely, such as at the bottom of the stem, at lead side, under cross bars, etc. Take care not to add too much, and that the glue be smoothed with outer surface finger pressure to help the F cosmetically look nice.

14. Position and attach the F decorative front, taking care to line up the hole punches, and to ensure that the margins around the offset F decor shape are even.

15. Layer whole and half oak leaves. Arrange as desired, then glue the bottom four in place.

16. Create a twine or string loop on the back center of the top leaf.

Position and attach the top leaf so that the loop appears to hang around the brad inserted into the punch hole.

Here is the completed F letter box with oak leaf swag


17. Complete the Slant Top Pumpkin Box assembly by following the steps in separate tutorial (click here). Return when assembly is complete to follow the rest of this tutorial.

18. Prepare the boxing strips by folding at vertical perforations to match the shape of L. Fold tabs inward at perforations.

Here you can see the boxing strips arranged around the L front shape to help determine where the strips will be attached, and the folding direction for side perforations. Attaching tabs are up.

You will note the symbol cutouts in the flanges at ends to help you understand which ends connect to each other.

19. Fold tabs into position at corners and trim miter seams as for F shown in Step 3.

20. Position and attach the long left boxing segment to the corresponding edge of tall L.

21. Fold the lower boxing segment into position along the bottom of the L front, align the straight edge and tab perforation corner and attach in place.

22. Fold the end tab of the right side boxing section inward and align behind the straight edge of the boxing lower side end, and attach in place.

NOTE that the boxing tabs have cutout symbols to help determine which edges join.

23. Continue to fold each subsequent segment into position to align with corresponding straight edge of L front and attach. Before the final (top cap) segment is joined in place, also prepare the lead edge tab to join to the boxing end straight edge. Apply adhesive to tabs of both these areas, then align and position both in one operation.

24. Position and attach decor L front to the lid.

25. Complete the L base assembly in similar (mirror image) manner. 

This image shows the joining of the second boxing strip for the base.

26. Assemble the scarecrow shapes into units (such as hat base + brim + rim, glove base + finger section + cuff, etc.)  ... 

... then assemble onto "straw edge" base.

27. Attach cross beam support shape behind assembled scarecrow. 

NOTE: you may want to cut and layer a second cut shape to provide more strength.

Reserve the completed figure to place on the tall L front until letter boxes are positioned and joined to their base, in Step 43. 

28. Assemble the wide L in a similar manner.

29. Prepare the bushel basket side sections by folding the bottom tabs inward. Also fold the top tab sections back and glue in place as the basket's rim.

30. Position each segment of the octagon base to line up with the tab perforation line. Glue in place.

Repeat this process for the remaining 7 side sections.

31. Place the pointed end of the longest ring strip at the edge of the selected side section of the basket that will be the center back. The ring strip should have the slight arch shaping curving upward. 

Glue each rim edge even with the ring strip, positioning each section so that it touches its neighbor.

32. At the back, overlap the straight edge end over the lead pointed tab end and glue in place.

33. Repeat this process for the shorter ring strip, placing it approx. halfway down the basket side.

34. Glue the long and short accent ring strips along the center of corresponding ring strips already in place.

35. Prepare the 8 slices for one apple by folding face-to-face at the center perforation.

NOTE that one of the apple shapes will include the small stem.,

36. Apply adhesive to half of one of the two apple shapes to be joined. Place it back-to-back with the mirror half of the adjacent apple. Only half of the apple is being joined. Align edges and center perf exactly and apply pressure until secure.

37.  Add a third apple to the assembly. First apply adhesive to the un-glued half of the second apple shape joined in Step 36 above, then align it with the first half of the shape being added. Line up edges exactly and apply pressure as before. Add a fourth apple shape to the assembly to form half of the slice form apple.

As each the four shapes of a half apple are joined, stack-fold them on top of each other and make sure that the center (perforation folds) line up exactly, too. Give the edges a good squeeze between fingers to help apple take shape.

38. Complete a second half exactly like the first (only one half will have the stem). Prepare to join the halves by assembling flange-like half apples into a semi-circle as shown. Apply adhesive to the underside faces of one half only, then place the two halves together, adjust so that all matching edges line up exactly. Press the half shapes - two of them - that are being joined.

39. Glue the tiny contrast stem shape over the stem extension, and if desired, the reversed stem shape on the opposite side of the extension, too.

Complete all the apples you plan to use to "fill" your basket, plus one or more to place in front of the letter L.

40. Position and glue the bushel basket on the L lower "leg". Fill part of the basket with shreds of paper or tissue paper or excelsior, etc., and glue in place as well as you can. Dry-fit the apples to see how you want them arranged, then glue them in place, attaching to filling, bushel sides or other apples as securely as you can.

Here is my completed L, though there is still one loose apple not seen here.

41. Prepare a base strip for the letter box assembly. I use a strip of foam core cut approx. 3-4" wide x the "foot print" length of my arranged letters. (This project turned out to be slightly longer than 14", and I luckily I found extra long brown corrugated specialty paper at JoAnn Fabric & Crafts.)

Here I have used adhesive to attach paper to form core. The top surface was attached with a thorough, smooth coat of glue, smoothed in place. Next, I scored paper next to the front core edge so it would bend snugly around, folded/wrapped and glued to the narrow front edge, scored at the next core edge, wrapped and glued the bottom surface ...

then trimmed excess paper at back and ends. (Ends and back core still exposed.)

42. Use a strong, quick-grab glue such as Fabri-Tack or hot glue to attach the letters to foam core base, according to your dry-fit arrangement made previously. Letter fronts should align, and remember to allow front space to place the apple.

43. When letters are in place, dry-fit the scarecrow/post over the tall L, then attach in place by applying adhesive where its surfaces will touch L. Glue loose apple in place near wide L.

Here is a view of the finished product.

As mentioned at the top of this post, this project can be created using multiple file designs from SnapDragon Snippets purchased individually through the Silhouette America online store. Most of these designs use large shapes that require 12x12 cutting mat and cardstock.

F letter box 29348, enlarged at 157%
L letter box 30048  enlarged at 157%
(L will be " "standard" shape, same height as F; L boxes for this design as shown have been modified to a taller vert. stem for scarecrow, or a longer base for basket)
pumpkin box 66244 as original size
letter A use the text tool in Silh. Studio to create a letter that is approx. 4.28" t x 3.4" w
scarecrow 66245 as original size (create your own post strip)
oak leaf swag 66250 (card)
bushel basket 41389 reduced to 90%
3d apples 34489 as original size


  1. Hi Jodi, I love your blog. Did you mention where to buy this Fall file? I just can't seem to find it in the tut. Thanks.

  2. When I get the post done, it will include the information. It will be available as a set from SVG Attic to purchase and download as an svg file. The individual elements are available now from Silhouette America's online store and eventually will be also from SnapDragon Snippets.com. For this project, sizes were changed. A fact sheet of those changes may be available soon if folks are interested in purchasing individually (not nearly as economical as from SVG Attic, though).

    1. Yes, I would love a fact sheet. I bought all the individual files in the Silhouette Store because I have the subscription.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Design file Silh. store numbers and enlargement/reduction specifics are now included in the post, at the end.

  3. Could I put a couple of mum flowers from the Harvest Splendor kit in the pumpkin if I weighted it down with something on the inside? Would make a cute vase of mums!

  4. Hi! This is so adorable!! I have searched the Silhouette store high and low for the 3D F letter box and I cannot find it? Am I overlooking it? Also which file should I download for the leaves on the F box?

    1. You can find this as a set available at SVG Attic. On Silhouette America site, search '3d f letter box' under special search operations, or here is the link: http://www.silhouettedesignstore.com/?page=view-shape&id=29348