make your own coffin!

The Pattern

coffin cutout Decide how big a coffin you wish to make. Draw that coffin shape on a piece of cardboard. Next, trace the same shape around it, allowing X-amount extra -- the extra will fold down to make the sides of your coffin, so you can make them as deep or narrow as you want. This example is tiny, I only allowed an inch all around. It works as a gift box, but you'll probably want to make yours bigger! Draw straight lines connecting the two outlines at their corners, CUT out and chuck the corner bits, and FOLD along the black lines (score with a mat knife/sharp edge so you get a crisper fold edge).

box with sides foldedYour cardboard should now look like the photo at left. You'll be folding it up kinda like a box. When you've got each bit folded down right, use masking tape to hold 'em that way as you move along. Once you get it all folded, use the packing tape over it. Tape the heck out of that sucker so it'll hold its shape, it should feel nice and solid. coffin box folded & taped

If you'd like more reinforcement, cut some lil' rectangles out of cardboard, fold 'em in half, and glue them over each corner on the inside of the box to strengthen those corners.

Get It Covered

After your coffin bottom is taped nice and sturdy, cut a square piece of velvet (or whatever you're covering it with) a couple of inches bigger than the coffin. You'll be wrapping it just like a gift, so allow for folds and such. Fold it over the cardboard as neat as you can and glue the ends down in the coffin "inside bottom". I was really lazy with this one and just taped it down. Don't worry about messy stragglies in there, as they'll be covered by the coffin liner insert. Just try to get those corners neat...

we begin covering the box...

Put A Lid On It!

The lid is constructed in the same way as the bottom half, but should be about 1/2 inch bigger all around than the coffin's bottom half (a nudge more if you're using velvet to cover it -- this one was taffeta so I kept it small). Test it out, putting the two box pieces together before you cover them. They should fit quite snugly at this point.Go ahead and cover your lid with fabric like you did the coffin bottom.

Every Coffin Has A Silver Lining...

Take your coffin bottom and trace it on cardboard. You'll be covering this to make a lined insert. Cut the traced pattern out and cover it with the material you've chosen for your lining. Take the coffin lid, turn it over, and trace that, too. Cut this piece out of cardboard and cover it as well. Each covered cardboard piece should fit snugly into your coffin -- but wait: don't glue it in yet! Something very important hinges on the next step...

coffin box closed


Cut a piece of ribbon for your hinge -- the size will be relative to the size coffin you're making, but you want it to be able to open comfortably without pulling, and tuck neatly inside when closed. You can hinge it at the top, bottom, or side. You may want to look at the closeup photo of a bottom hinge to see what I'm talking about here. If the ribbon you're using is delicate, you might want to double it over. Glue one end of the ribbon to the underside of each of the cardboard linings you made.

Pop those linings into their respective places, and test your hinge. If your coffin opens and closes well, then go ahead and glue the lining inserts in place. Note: If you're going to add a THIN strap, go ahead and glue the ends of it under the lining here as well (see picture). I glued and sewed the ends of my strap to the liner before I glued it down, to make the strap extra tough. If your strap is bulky, just attach it to the outside of the coffin, through holes or grommets.

Keep It All In...

The first couple of coffins I made were snug-fitting enough to close without a need to latch them, however, if you're planning to use 'em for heavy-duty totin' you'd better add some kind of latch or closure. This can be as simple as a "frog" (those decorative loop & ball closures) or snap attached to two strips of fabric. You can screw in a real metal latch -- there are lots of cool ones available -- but you might want to cover the bolts inside so they don't snag your stuff. You can sew a piece of ribbon to each side and tie a bow (although you'll have to tie and re-tie every time you need to get out a quarter for parking). An elastic or leather strap snug around your coffin would look good, too (old purses are great for stealing hardware from). Get creative!

Mr. Spookytoes rests his weary bonez

Top That...

Now's the time to add whatever you want to the top and sides. I just glued a snippet of embroidery in place on one, added a metal bat to the other. You may want to sew your decoration on instead of just gluing, for a bit ofextra stability. That's it! Stash your black lipstick in there and go show the world you're not only morbid, you're pretty darn crafty!

(Note Mr. Spookytoes over there, enjoying this cozy little coffin -- making Gundies everywhere turn green with envy...)

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