Painted Sewing Box

2 Materials
4 Hours

If reorganizing and decluttering is on your resolution list, our chalk painted sewing box is a great way to coral all your threads and findings in one pretty sewing kit.

Is there something you just go giddy over whenever you come across it? For me, that one thing is a J. & P. Coats thread cabinet with hand painted typography (like the one below). I can’t help but want one (who’s with me on that)! But in sad news, we just don’t have space for one!

So we’ll paint our own small version using Dixie Belle chalk paint and Gemstone Mousse! Our painted sewing box is a nod to the striking graphics.

Keeping it authentic, I’m going to hand paint most of it but will also use a transfer. Transfers are so fast, easy and instantly satisfying!

I have a simple trick to transfer the centre part of the thread logo above onto half the lid!

See how it all comes together: WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Here's what we're starting with:

Although my thread cabinet idea is the focus of this painted sewing box, I have an ulterior motive. Truth be told, I’m using it to experiment with transfers and stencils to build confidence for bigger pieces of furniture. Since chalk paint is still so new to us, I’d rather get the learning curve out of the way on a small piece like this!

To start, remove all the hardware.

The paint is flaking on these metal pieces that help the sewing box cantilever and they’re even a bit rusty.

So into the ultrasonic cleaner they go! You can read more about that process on our blog (link below where you see our logo).

Back to the sewing box, it’s in pieces and sanded. In the process, Hubs removed the old knobs and feet.

Mahogany isn’t my favourite wood, because the tannins tend to bleed right through light colours of paint. But we have a fix for that. Before we paint, we apply two coats of Dixie Belle BOSS primer to prevent bleed-through. I’m using my mini angle brush to apply it. Because I still want some of the wood to show around the graphics and transfer, I’m using clear BOSS.

A lazy Susan and paint pyramids are indispensable tools so I can rotate the work and brush right to the edges without having it stick to the surface.

While the wood pieces dry, I paint the clean hardware with a coat of Dixie Bell Fluff chalk paint.

Below, I’m using Hub’s best trick for painting multiple little pieces: sticky side up masking tape on a paint stick. When you stick the metal hardware on, they can’t shift!

Watch the video to see how I set this up. It really is the fastest way to paint multiple small pieces!

Once the chalk paint is dry, I add a coat of Gemstone Mousse in the colour Golden Gem. Be sure to stir the container really well before using to incorporate the metallic. To apply the mousse, you can use a makeup sponge, but I actually find a fingertip even better (as I show on the video).

Gemstone Mousse is water based, so it cleans up with soap and water.

Before adding wording to the front of the painted sewing box, I cut a mask for the white background behind the letters.

Then I paint with Dixie Belle Fluff, offloading the bulk of the paint in the middle before moving to the edges with a drier brush. Brush from the edge toward the middle. That will prevent bleed through under the mask.

I designed an outline of the the wording in illustrator and flipped it to create a mirror image. Then I printed it on an acetate sheet and cut to size for each section. At this point, you have to be really careful not to smudge the ink because it stays wet on the acetate.

Centre and tape it to the chalk paint section. Take a ball point embossing tool (or substitute a pen or pencil) and trace around the lettering pressing firmly. This will transfer the lettering to the chalk paint!

At this point you can fill in the lines with Gemstone Mousse and an artist’s brush or gold foil. The foil doesn’t stick to some spots so the background shows through making it look worn and antique. Just the way I like it!

I really love this technique to transfer designs because you can see exactly where you’re positioning it!

To tie in the thread theme, I’m adding these cotton stems from the Belles and Whistles Magnolia Garden Transfer. Using a transfer is pretty as well as practical. It will help hide the veneer touch-up after removing the handle if I place it strategically!

As you rub, the transfer will release onto the wood. Then you’ll be able to lift a corner and peel away the clear plastic as you go.

There’s nothing more satisfying than spending a few minutes to get a painted effect! Head to our blog to see our trick on erasing the 'halo' that sometimes occurs around transfers.

To finish off this half of the lid, I finger paint Gemstone Mousse around the edges. It looks beautiful with the gold tones in the transfer!

Here’s where that thread label comes into play. I’m hand painting it on the other half of the lid. With an artist’s paintbrush, I paint midnight sky in the middle and around the perimeter. I outline all the edges first, then fill in the centre portion to get neat edges.

After 1/2 an hour, I fill in the middle with Gemstone Mousse. It’s starting to take shape!

Now, repeat the transfer process with the wording and hand paint that too with an artists brush!

A steady hand and a little patience and I’m almost done! Watch the video to see my technique for hand painting the lettering.

Add a Stencil

Stencilling with chalk paint follows the same principles I use with any other paint. First I tape the stencil in place so it doesn’t shift.

Using a small stencil brush, I dip into the paint and offload it onto paper towels so it’s fairly dry. Then pounce the stencil brush up and down across the stencil. Carefully lift the tape and remove the stencil.

Isn’t this Morrocan stencil gorgeous?

I hand it off to Hubs to spray Dixie Belle’s clear satin on everything. Since Gemstone Mousse is a water based product, I prefer to spray it because over brushing can reactivate it and smudge all my hard work.

Assemble and add back some knobs. Instead of wooden knobs, I substitute bobbins! How apropos?

I’m happy with how our painted sewing box turned out; it sure does fulfill my love of vintage thread cabinets!

Isn't the inside pretty too with the Morroco stencil? I also lined the inside with upcycled wallpaper from a discarded wallpaper book.

Free J. and P. Coats Printable

For anyone who wants a printable of the graphics on the front head to our blog (link below where you see our logo).

If you enjoy learning about new things alongside Birdz of a Feather, don’t forget to  subscribe! Also follow us on social media (copy & paste in browser – or use the direct links at the top of this post):





Suggested materials:

  • Vintage sewing box   (thrifted)
  • Dixie Belle Paint   (

Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?


Join the conversation