I hope you got last week’s free shape, as it has SO many uses. I mentioned in this post that you can use the butterfly by itself. But even though the box is shaped like a butterfly, there’s a way to use it for an unlimited number of designs by slightly altering the box. That’s what makes it this week’s Frugal Friday design. Let me show you how to alter the box’s shape to match the contours of almost any design.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. You pay the same price. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials.
(In case you didn’t grab it last week, you can still purchase it here).
What type of shape should I use?
You can use many different shapes for this, but here are some pointers–
- Your design should be a regular cut file, not a 3D design.
- It should be symmetrical or one that works backwards. Words, for example, wouldn’t work. Neither would a map of the U.S., because the shape is noticeable. But I’ll give you a tip on how you can use text or these kinds of designs.
- Ones that are a single layer with internal pieces (holes) work great. The butterfly in the original box is like that.
- It works with designs of multiple pieces as well, but I’m going to suggest you start with a single piece design. I’ll give you tips at the end for how to a layered design.
The great news is that once you make a template of the box, you can save it to use over and over with other designs.
Step 1: Adjust the butterfly box
Start by adding your butterfly box to the page. Then ungroup it just once, move the score lines to the side for now and delete the butterflies.
What’s left is the box shape. We need to get rid of the areas on the top and bottom of the design that are the outlines of the butterfly wings. I’ve indicated those here in gray.
There are different ways to do that but I’m going to suggest using the Modify tools. We need the front and back of the box to be symmetrical and straight. When you look at the box from the front, you shouldn’t even see the shape of the design on the back because it’s the same shape right behind. By doing it this way, we ensure that. Here are the steps:
Draw a rectangle that covers the butterfly wings. You need the bottom of the rectangle to right at the upper left corner (I’m pointing to it in red here). It will be slightly above the corner on the right side, because the designer did not make this symmetrical originally.
Make an exact copy of the rectangle just below it using the keyboard shortcut CTRL/CMD+↓. Move it straight down until it covers the wings that are on the lower edge. Again, make sure the top edge of this rectangle is right in the corner at the right. Mine is slightly above, so I’d need to scoot it down a tad.
Select the 2 rectangles and group them.
Align the pieces
Use the Align tools to align the middles of the rectangle set and what remains of the box. This is going to make sure that we’re cutting off the same amount on both top and bottom. Double check to make sure you’re still in the right position in relation to the corners we talked about.
Open the Modify panel. Select the rectangle set and the box and click Subtract. Since we drew the rectangles last, they are at the top (front) of the order. They will slice off the portion of the box that’s below them and then disappear. We’ll be left with just the box — no butterfly wings.
Edit a few points
Now we need to account for how the corners were not quite even. Look at the right side of the box. I need to delete the 2 points I’m pointing at.
That will make the edge of the flap a straight shot from the upper right corner down the diagonal to the outside edge of the flap. Repeat that on the bottom right edge as well. You may have more or fewer points, depending on how well you placed your rectangles.
Save the box
You can save the altered box to your library at this point. That makes it easier to use next time. Just make sure you note that it is NOT your original design.
Step 2: Add your new shape
Now add your design to the page. I’m going to demonstrate with the one called Heart Lattice.
- My design is a single piece, but you may choose one with multiple pieces. I’ve given tips at the end of the post for how to work with those.
- Position your design over the top half of the box and resize it. Its bottom edge needs to be a bit above where the box will fold (I’ve indicated that here with a blue horizontal guideline). And it needs to be less wide than the top edge of the box (between the vertical guides I’ve shown here). Note that there are flaps that will fold in — that’s what’s outside the guidelines to the left and right.
- Once you’ve got it in place, use the Align tools to make sure the box and design are aligned along the centers.
- Use the keyboard shortcut ALT+SHIFT+↓ to make a mirrored copy below.
- Use the arrow key on your computer keyboard to move the mirrored copy straight down. Move it until it’s the same distance from the edge as your top one is from the top edge.
- Group the 2 designs together.
- Select the design group and the box and align their middles and centers in 1 step using Centralize.
Step 3: Create an offset
The design pieces are what you are going to glue onto your box. We will create an offset around them to create a bigger shape, so that you have a border on the box around the design.
Select the set of shapes and make an offset. It can be any size that looks good to you — just be sure the offset does not go past the edge of the box at the sides. (The original butterfly box goes right to the edge of where the flap starts.) Again, I’ve given you a visual reference here with guidelines. It won’t matter if it’s past the bottom edge — we already know the pieces to glue on will fit because we kept them above the fold line.
HINT: As you move the slider for the size of your offset, watch the left and right edges of the bounding box. Watch for its width in relation to the fold where the flap meets the box. Or, keep the score lines in place and use those for reference of the same. Another option is to use Smart Snapping to align the middle of your shape to the edge of the box.
Once you’ve got your offset created, pull your shapes off to the side for now.
If your design has lots of large internal pieces, the offset may create those as holes. You can leave it like that so you have holes in the box. They will still outline your design. Or you can release the compound path and delete all those internal pieces.
Step 4: Weld
What we want to do is to have only the top half of our offset on the upper and lower edges of the box. That’s just what Weld is for. Open the Modify panel, select the box and offsets, and click Weld. You could instead use the Weld icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
Now we have all the pieces we need. You’re going to want to send your box shape to the back of the order. When you weld, the pieces will end up in the order at the point of the one farthest up in the order. Since the offset was created last, it was at the top of the order. Therefore, when you weld that to the box, the heart-shaped box is now at the top of the order. Send it to the back for the next step.
Step 5: Cut and assemble
Pull your score lines back over and centralize them with the box. We need to double check the score lines, so they need to be at the front in order to see them. Make sure that they are meeting up correctly at the corners and make any necessary adjustments.
Now you’re ready to cut your and assemble your box! Here’s mine. The original size is perfect for holding extra blades.
Let’s say you’ve done this once and you’re hooked. Let’s talk about more ways to use this box and technique:
Pieces with multiple parts
The basic box is pretty simple, but you can make it as interesting as you like with more pieces.
- Many designs with multiple pieces will have a background piece that everything else glues onto. You can use just that piece when you creating your offset. This house design is that type, and I’ve filled the background piece with pale yellow so you can see which one it is.
Before you start, arrange all the pieces. Sometimes what looks like a background piece isn’t really. For example, on this design a piece like the front baseboard (the one just below the piece I colored pale yellow) could have been made to sit below the main body of the house, not on it. That could throw off your offset sizing.
- If it doesn’t have that, just make sure the pieces are arranged and grouped before you make the offset. The box itself is going to act as a background piece anyway. Here’s a tree design like that.
- Notice that when I created the offset, I got internal pieces on that tree design. The same will happen with many designs. I would probably release the compound path and delete them, but it’s up to you.
- The key is to make sure that the overall size, including the offset, is the size that will fit on your box.
- Make sure any time you resize your pieces, you resize them all at the same time.
Using text or one-way designs
Let’s say you love the idea here, but want to use wording. Here’s what makes that tricky. The original design for this box is such that when you look at it from the front, the back is perfectly aligned with it. That means you have to mirror the back side, which is what we did when we made a mirrored copy below in Step 2, part 4 above.
Now look what happens if I were to do that with words:
The words at the bottom are backward — you wouldn’t be able to read them. It’s not that you can’t make an offset in the shape of the words. It’s that you’d have to glue the words on backwards for it to fit it. Some designs, like a map of the U.S. as I mentioned, will be like this as well — mirroring them doesn’t work. You can still use the general technique in several other ways:
- Use another shape and then add the words or other design. You’ll just make a copy and rotate it instead of mirroring it.
The font I used is called Amastery Script. You can find the cake design here.
Here’s how I could reimagine my box if I wanted to use it for blades and label it.
That font is called Skinny Minnie. The blade is my own design.
- Put your glued-on shape on one side of the box only. There’s no law that says it has to be on both. You can make the back side flat if you like.
- You could make your box so that the front and back aren’t symmetrical, like this:
I put the sentiment on one side, and some balloons on the other. Again, the design is completely up to you. It would look good either way — symmetrical or not.
Another fun way to amp up any design is to create dimension.
- You can use pop dots for this. This is especially fun with multi piece designs.
- What about adding googly eyes on an animal like this frog?
- You could even get super brave and play with a pop-up design.
- Before you glue on your pieces, run some or all of them through an embossing machine like a Cuttlebug or Sizzix (paid link). Even the box would be cool with some embossing. Or deboss them with your Curio. This makes a simple, quick design really stand out (stand out — get it? LOL!).
Print and cut
You can absolutely use this type of project with a print and cut like this car. You’ll just use the outer cut line as the piece you offset.
Sketch and cut
If you have one of the awesome sketch files from the Silhouette Design Store, you can use those as well. You can sketch right on the box, or on another piece of cardstock and then glue it on. How gorgeous would this flower design be with a foil quill?
To have something to make the offset from, you just have to make sure your file has an outer cut line (not all in the SDS do). I would normally suggest making an offset to create an outer edge, but that doesn’t always work well with sketches because they are often open paths. I was able to do it with the design above. It just depends on the complexity of the design and the strength of your computer. It does help to make the entire design a single compound path first.
You could use drawing tools instead to make an offset-like piece, or just use another shape to frame it in. I used this sketch design with this frame.
What other fun ways can you come up with to use this box? Please share in the comments!
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