Behind the scenes of writing my book: Cartonnage Basics & Beyond - The - Colorway Arts

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Behind the scenes of writing my book: Cartonnage Basics & Beyond - The complete guide for fabric

One month since we had the launch of my first cartonnage book “Cartonnage Basics & Beyond – The complete guide for fabric box making”. The time just passes so fast… So far, I didn’t have time to stop and share with you a little bit of the “behind the scenes” of making the book! So now that the Holidays are over, 2018 is a full new year in front of us, let’s do it first thing!

Let’s start with the idea of making this book:

Well, I have been teaching cartonnage for a while, both local and online classes, and I have made several instructions for the classes and for the DIY kits I sell. My instructions are always very complete, tons of pictures, lots of pages, no steps missing….. so, I remember the day one of my students said “you should put those instructions together and make a book out of it”…. And I said…oh, why not? That can be a good idea for the future…. And that idea actually stayed in my mind, and I started planning, thinking, organizing. But make a book for what projects? Then, at the end of 2016, I made one special box for my husband to keep their coffee cups, and I have written about that, it was a beautiful box, we loved, and we still use it everyday…

The box was kind of big to make it, like for classes and to have kits, but it was so functional, that I decided to try the same model but a little smaller. Then, looking for the right size, I decided to start with one that I have already designed, “the k-cup box” and start from there. So, I only used the pieces for the actual box, and changed everything else….the dividers, the lid, added tray, closure….. and the final box was so beautiful and practical! My daughter is using it for her jewelry stuff.

When I looked at the final box, I realized that I could use it to write the book and take the opportunity to show from the very beginning, the basics of simple boxes and improve them adding pieces and turning them into more functional boxes…. that way I decided to start with the single box and the “fabric organizer box” to show the basics, and then going further to the “fabric treasure chest”, and then, adding a drawer underneath and make it as a “suitcase” I had the “fabric treasure chest with hidden drawer”. That was the first plan to make the book! And it was beginning of 2017!

The first pieces:

As I said, the first one was my daughter’s jewelry box. Then, I decided to make the complete set to see how the boxes would look like together. Here are the first ones I made designing the projects:

At this point, I also realized that would be great if my friends Sherri Jones and Lynn Hodge could join me adding some extra content to the book. So, I asked, and they agreed! That way Sherri made some embroidery designs to add to the boxes and Lynn helped me share the idea of painting the fabric and then making the boxes, what for sure, increase the fun!!

Testing the project pieces:

Before actually start writing the book I had to make sure that my project designs were right! So, here, a lot of work involved! From my first scratch, I draw the file for the company that cuts the paper to me to cut the first tests. After done, I made one more set of pieces checking, adjusting, changing…..of course, so many details to fix …that’s the designing process…..trying and error…..

Here some pictures of the process when testing the first projects:

After the adjustments in the file to cut the paper, I was ready to cut more kits and start making the pieces and taking pictures to write the book.

Making the boxes and taking pictures for the instructions of the book:

It was already summer when I started taking the pictures during the process of making the boxes. Choose the right fabric for this was a “big deal”. To look good in the book, the fabric needed to be contrasting with the white back, and the back of the fabric couldn’t be light to show up better in the pictures….. so… I looked at so many stores till I was happy with the blue fabric I decided to buy for this. And now, that the book is done, I’m completely sure that I made a great decision…. That fabric really helped a lot in the pictures!

Here is myself taking pictures for the instructions….. before I forget, let me tell you that the book ended up with 700 pictures, all of them taken by me!

It took me a while to finish the pictures for the instructions and to start writing them with the kids on vacation…. It was a crazy time, that’s why the book ended up being ready just in December.

Designing the book:

I’m used to make boxes, take pictures and write instructions but design something like a book it’s definitely out of my reach…..and I wanted my book to be beautiful! Complete, but most of all….clear and beautiful! At this point, I had already hired my friend Priscila Tordino from Piju Designs to design the book and make it real! She is an excellent professional; she was the one that designed my logo and also designed my website, so she was pretty familiar with my work so far. It was a pleasure to work with her and looking at the book now I know I did the best choice I could! So, I went taking the pictures, writing the content of the book and sending to her and she was working in turning that into the book you can see now.

Taking outside pictures:

The book wouldn’t be what it is if wasn’t also for the beautiful outside pictures we took with the boxes. So, in August, I was done with the pictures for the instructions, the main pieces were done, and it was time to go to Indy to meet my friend Priscila who helped me taking the pictures outside. It was a great time! We went to a beautiful park in Carmel, and we took wonderful pictures! Some of them are here, including the book cover!

First, look at how beautiful the park is:

And then, some of the pictures we took there:

Some other pictures we took on that day in other places:

I also took the opportunity I was in Indy to see Lynn and take the pictures for the painting part of the book, it was a great time. We had so much fun, I took all pictures and brought home the fabrics that after I finish here making the boxes.

Making the boxes with embroideries and painted fabric:

Then was time to make the chapters for adding embroideries and making the boxes with the painted fabrics. Sherry had already given me the embroideries she designed and stitched. So, I started making those boxes, taking pictures and writing the chapter. Some of the pictures of this process you can see here:

After that was time to make the boxes with the painted fabric. As Lynn was far from me, I decided to try some stitches to make one treasure box using the fabric she painted but with a few stitches…. I’m pretty sure she would do much better, but I didn’t have time to come back to Indy, so, I did anyway….as a demonstration I think was valid!

Taking more outside pictures:

I felt that I needed to take more pictures outside because we weren’t sure if we have taken a good one for the cover…. So I asked permission in a Garden place here in Michigan, and I went there to take some extra pictures. The place is so beautiful, and I’m happy I got some more beautiful pictures there. Take a look at some of them:

Look how beautiful the place is:

Well, I learned A LOT about taking pictures, I’m definitely ready to take some more outside after the snow melt here!!

Choosing the publisher:

Yes, I know, it’s weird to find the publisher with the book almost done, but this is a self-published book and the first choice I had when I started writing wasn’t a good one for a book so full of pictures, and I just discovered by that time (my bad!!)…..then I had to find another option. I ended up using Bookbaby, and I think I did a good choice. I liked the paper quality, the service, the customer help center….. and most of all, we didn’t need to change so much in the design of the book that was almost done at that point!

DIY kits:

In all this meantime I was also working with the kits, get ready with them cut, clean them up, stamp, separate in kits, add covers…..well, make them as the DIY cartonnage kits you know.

Corrections and printing the book:

Well, after each chapter was done I read and made all corrections needed. When the book was completely done, then I sent it to the company that printed one book for the final review. I was so excited! It was Friday after Thanksgiving when I received the book. Opening the box and seeing the book printed was a “great experience”….it was a lot of work involved….. So, I spent all weekend reading, correcting, making notes….. and then, on Monday I sent all corrections to my friend, and she fixed everything needed! On Tuesday we sent the new file to the company and that time I bought more copies. With one detail…. The launch was already scheduled for December 09 (less than two weeks after that day…. OMG… I don’t like short times…but I had to work with that!!). To complete the story, the books arrived at my house on Thursday, December 07 at 1 pm and we left to Indiana for a class and a book launch on the same day, 3 hours later….. JUST IN TIME!! OMG again….. I will do better next time, for sure!!

Making the online complimentary free class:

As I want the experience of the readers to be the best I can offer, I decided to include in the book one complimentary free online class that is inside of my cartonnage school. That way more than seeing the pictures and the instructions of the book you can also watch some steps in videos. The class itself is not a complete guide for fabric box making but have lots of basic information in videos for you to make sure what you are doing. Also, you can be in direct contact with me in the class. I would say it’s not always easy to ask questions for the authors when we read a book right? Not in my case, I will always be there to talk to you! So, during the time I was waiting for the books to come, I made all videos….. was a great time…. I used a beautiful fabric, and you can check this class online. Take a look at the promo video for the class:

First book class and book launch:

So, on December 08 we had a full day class in Indy for a great group of students, and we made the main piece of the book, the Fabric treasure chest, using the DIY kits I had prepared. The class was so fun! The students made wonderful boxes; we had so much fun. Take a look at some pictures and also to the video we made at that day:

And on December 09 was the book launch at Quilt Expressions in Fishers, IN, a great quilt store. I saw so many students that were taking classes with me for a long time; I met new ones, it was really great time! I can say that was “a dream coming true,” and I’m so happy and so thankful to all groups of students that were always encouraging me to make more, to improve more and not to be afraid that English is not my native language. As cartonnage is my passion, I believed that I could….. and I did it!

Now, my book is on sale and I already started receiving some feedbacks, reviews, and pictures of the boxes that were made following the book. I couldn’t be happier! Mission accomplished! Take a look:


"Great book. Detailed and very nicely done. I am new to this, so I am anxious to watch the videos that come with the book also."

"The directions given in the book are clear, and the pictures are helpful. I plan to make every piece of the book!"

"I am enjoying your book so much. I am reading it slowly from cover to cover. I can just hear you talking as I read. It is quite an accomplishment to write a book in a language that is not your native language! Can't imagine doing that myself."

Pictures of a box made by Judy, she made it following the book! Beautiful Judy! Thanks for sharing!

If you want to buy the book, it’s available on my online shop, Amazon or the publisher shop.

Also, for more information about the book you can check my website here.

If you have already bought the book, please take a minute to make your review, that would be great, and I will be able to know your opinion and plan the future of my projects! I will also love to receive pictures of the boxes you make following the book/online class! You can share the pictures directly in the free online class, or you can send the pictures to me at

Thank you so much! I hope you like the book and have so much fun making fabric boxes!!

If you want to schedule a custom class for your group with me, please contact me!

1 Response


October 25, 2020

Hi Claudia

I absolutely love your book and your videos. The projects are beautiful and you are a born teacher. I want to ask whether you would ever bring out your book as a digital download or ebook ? Our postal service in South Africa is not very reliable and the import duty would be quite expensive.

Kind regards and keep up the great work
Beatrijs Morris

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