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Origami Nesting Boxes

These finished boxes are so pretty, but they take some patience to create.




Get Out Your Ruler:
Here are the numbers you need to make the boxes. Each box has four key dimensions. The first number is for the box bottom; the second for the box lid; the third for the fold of the box bottom; and the fourth for the fold of the box lid. Measure precisely, and follow the directions below. All measurements are in inches.

Box Size: 4 x 4 x 1 1/2
Key Dimensions: 9 7/8, 7 1/4, 1 1/2, 1/2

Box Size: 3 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 1 3/8
Key Dimensions: 9, 6 1/2, 1 3/8, 7/16

Box Size:3 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 1 1/4
Key Dimensions: 8 1/8, 5 13/16, 1 1/4, 6/16

Box Size: 2 7/8 x 2 7/8 x 1 1/8
Key Dimensions: 7 1/4, 5 1/8, 1 1/8, 5/16

Box Size: 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1
Key Dimensions: 6 3/8, 4 7/16, 1, 1/4

Box Size: 2 1/8 x 2 1/8 x 7/8
Key Dimensions: 5 7/16, 3 3/4, 7/8, 3/16

Box Size: 1 3/4 x 1 3/4 x 11/16
Key Dimensions: 4 7/16, 3 3/16, 3/4, 1/8


  • Book-weight paper
  • Bone folder
  • Glue


  1. Step 1

    Cut book-weight paper to 11 by 17 inches; load into color copier. Striped fabrics placed diagonally onto copier will work out vertically on box. To make the largest box at left (4 by 4 by 1 1/2 inches), cut 9 3/4-inch square for bottom and 7 1/4-inch square for lid.

  2. Step 2

    Fold the corners of each square toward the center, using a bone folder or other thin blunt tool to make precise creases. Fold one side of the bottom 1 1/2 inches toward the center; crease and unfold. Repeat for other three sides. Do same for lid, folding each side in 1/2 inch.

  3. Step 3


    At each corner of bottom and lid, fold diagonal crease that bisects the small square created by previous folds. Unfold the two opposite sides. Refold remaining two sides of square along crease so they stand upright and form two walls of box. Fold up third side, tucking diagonal corner folds inward against it; wrap third side over folds; lay in place. Repeat for fourth side. Glue points together at the center.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2001



Reviews (58)

  • patriciasart 1 Apr, 2009

    These are so cool,glad you have these instructions,I want to try making them!

  • patriciayvonne 22 Feb, 2009

    I have been making these for years using Christmas cards. I am sure it will work for BIG BOXES too. Measuring is not that important. Cut two squares of ANY SIZE. Fold the first peice according to these instructions. Cut off 1/8" from each side of the other square. Fold second peice using insturctions again. The top fits all the way down on top of bottom piece. Voila!! With practice you can center designs in paper or words from cards.

  • MonicaMont 18 Feb, 2009

    I'M very confused about the key dimensions, how are you going to measure 5 7/16 or 4 7/16 ??? with the ruler?????

  • lbuser 16 Feb, 2009

    Yes, Barbara, this is a craft. This was so much fun but the instructions are confusing until you actually follow them. I went onto utube and there are video instructions there. Scrapbook paper works well for normal gift boxes, I put necklaces and earrings in these and gave them as Christmas gifts. The boxes were enjoyed as much as the gifts inside.

  • humblyyours 15 Feb, 2009

    This last year I've gotten aquainted with spray adhesive. I think that I will try this instead of the copy machine. Fabrics or fancy papers can be glued to the heavy paper. We've made flash cards and this year we used the adhesive to glue items for display for the grandchildren's science fair project. Works good for gluing photos too.

  • BarbaraRL 15 Feb, 2009

    I'm confused how this is an organizing tip. It looks like a craft.

  • BarbaraBowen 15 Feb, 2009

    I learned how to make these boxes years ago and I still love them! I've made lots of little boxes out of beautiful Christmas cards and put them in a sleigh on my table for decoration at Christmas, they look like pretty little presents in the sleigh. You can even manuver the bottom to show the person's signature who gave you the card. Instead of glueing the points together though, using a small square of scotch tape is way easier, and since it's inside, it doesn't show. Have fun!

  • Pamasaurus 15 Feb, 2009

    To copy the design of wall paper or a print you want to reproduce as a box, that's why you use the copier.

  • susanhorn 15 Feb, 2009

    Am I missing something? Why does #1 say to put the paper in a color copier? I don't see any link to printable directions here.

  • NDW 15 Feb, 2009

    We're moving soon, and I've got such a list of good ideas I'm going to put into action when we do!

  • jnetti 15 Feb, 2009

    I am so inspired to make these boxes. Thanks for the idea and the instructions.
    Thanks for all your thoughts and for sharing detalis of your lives and the website to check out. I feel I am at home making this project with all of you.
    I love the idea of using fabric too. I can't wait to try these boxes. Jnetti

  • Leslie-Webb 3 Dec, 2008

    Several years ago I made orgami boxes the same as this, but of fabric. I cut up a silk shirt that could no longer be worn. I ironed on a light weight fuseable backing. (any lighth wieght fabris is good). When folded carefully the flaps that go inside hide the backing. You get a slightly more rounded look, but you have reclyed.

  • MindyUmbaugh 24 Aug, 2008

    thanks for the websites Marianaa! it really broke it down for me!
    I think I'm going to use these to help organize my small bathroom cabinets! I can put my little earrings and jewlry in them! This' a really cute idea!
    Thanks too for the stories shared!

  • Marianaa 14 Jul, 2008

    anyone that is having trouble should look in:
    It will help a lot!!!!!

  • Marianaa 14 Jul, 2008

    Itn n n n s not about being a visual person, otherwise we will all be visual persons. The thing is this in not clear!! I reall donn n n n t get it!

  • KayakChickee 8 Jul, 2008

    You can see a video of this exact technique on youtube. Here is a link:
    Otherwise, go to and it is under "Etsy How To: Make a box out of scrap paper!" Hope this helps.

  • debbiewilson 9 Jun, 2008

    I agree I really find it very difficult without pictures showing step by step.

  • ArleneBoz 7 Apr, 2008

    Step by step pictures are a must for doing a origami box.
    The directions are confusing without step by step pictures!
    I'm a visual person!

  • peaceandlight 6 Apr, 2008

    Joanna, bless your sweet mother! I am sure she is smiling from heaven.

  • neslara 29 Mar, 2008

    what a beautiful gift, and such a heart warming story Jo!

  • rusticpumpkin 28 Mar, 2008

    I never thought of scanning fabric patterns on to paper. What a brilliant way to make co-ordinating accessories for a room by scanning your fabric onto paper to use for all sorts of decorating projects. Thank you, Martha!

  • JoannaMcGinn 28 Mar, 2008

    About my mother's work with these.: She did it while battling a facial cancer that eventually killed her, but she made these boxes as long as she could see, but had to give it up when it took over her eyesight.

  • JoannaMcGinn 28 Mar, 2008

    My mother made over 3700 of these as gifts for people incuding mental patients who had no visitors. She was written up i papers as well,. She learned it as a child in the 20s. She used discontinued wallpaper saples and would measure them to fit the designs of the paper. There were/are exquisite.

  • creakyjane 27 Mar, 2008

    These are great sizes for creating gift boxes for the jewelry I make. Thanks for the crafters tips too!

  • TIADINA 27 Mar, 2008

    I love this kind of craft, thanks a lot for the idea!!! In n n n m thinking in a lot of differents ways to use this boxes. Tkanks again.

  • Meems 27 Mar, 2008

    I used old Christmas cards and did small boxes to be used for very small gifts at Christmas.

  • wendolynaragon 27 Mar, 2008

    these will be a great personal touch to gift giving!

  • ovestobake 27 Mar, 2008

    These are so neat! I would love to try this craft, so I'm glad to see how very easy this craft is.

  • pammlspj 26 Mar, 2008

    They work well using wallpaper.

  • Jordy 26 Mar, 2008

    I made these with my Grade Ones...6 year olds. They are so easy and so effective.
    Rosy Hammond

  • cjvandijk 26 Mar, 2008

    There are lots of people who have filmed making these and putting them on the web. Here are two from youtube that will give an idea of how to make these. Their measurements are different than the ones here, but once you make one like they make on youtube, then you will be able to use the above directions and measurements.

  • marydan1973 26 Mar, 2008
    I've done this using greeting cards. They turn out very small but cute. This site has some pretty good directions and illustrations. The craft is for children - if they can do it so can I :-)

  • origamidoll 26 Mar, 2008

    Many scrap-booking papers are a good weight for this project and come in lovely prints, some of which are derived from fabrics.I use them for origami when I want heavier papers. Wallpaper scraps or samples are also fun if not too stiff or heavy.

  • origamidoll 26 Mar, 2008

    One more thing - I see lots of commenters wanting diagram instructions, which are more common in origami. (So, where are they?) But there is a fun version of origami called "telephone origami': where only spoken or written instructions are give - very precisely - one step at a time. It works best for people who either already do origami or have excellent spatial abilities! Ha-ha. But it is also a good way to proof the written instructions which typically accompany origami diagrams.

  • origamidoll 26 Mar, 2008

    If you stiffen cotton quilting broadcloth with any of the usual stiffeners (I use half Elmer's white glue-all - NOT school glue, which yellows - and half water myself. Add more glue if you like it stiffer, you can make te boxes out of fabric. That makes them a gift, too. Cut out the sqaures AFTER stiffening and drying..
    Oh, and practice with paper fIrst so you will not mess up the fabric.

  • CindyPro 26 Mar, 2008

    Oh, this was so frustrating without the benefit of being shown! I tried hard but just couldn't understand the written instructions and had to give up.

  • marksmom 26 Mar, 2008

    I made nesting boxes for my son's Christmas gift(a certificate for a bike).I made 15 boxes, 3 different types. I use all types of paper for, wrapping, printing, newspaper....whatever I can find. Different types are more sturdy. Practice with whatever you have on hand.

  • LouLou2007 26 Mar, 2008

    I have the instructions for this project and the step-outs for it if anyone wants it ! Just email me at and I will be happy to send them to you pics and all. We're leaving tonight and won't be back until Monday so give me a little time and I will be more than happy to get them to you.

  • LouLou2007 26 Mar, 2008

    I suppose they didn't like what I had to say cuz' they cut out 99% of it!

  • LouLou2007 26 Mar, 2008

    I agree that more precise,descriptive

  • ClaudiaMarch 26 Mar, 2008

    The instructions need to make it more clear 1) where to find book-weight paper and 2) that you are copying "fabric" patterns onto the book-weight paper.

    I agree with sewicee that step-by-step pictures would be helpful.

  • mastrohome 26 Mar, 2008

    Use the paper you use for scrapbooking. Also cover paper will go throught a copier

  • mastrohome 26 Mar, 2008

    if you live in Ct and are a member of the ct chapter of the ASG we just did them as part of a meeting monday. they are really easy I wish I could film making them then put it on the web.

  • Lynn2966 26 Mar, 2008

    Diagrams are needed for this project. Copying fabric on to paper is just a way to make your own printed paper.

  • prohacs 26 Mar, 2008

    I assume the intent is to copy fabric patterns to the paper (what is book-weight?) - - most home copiers can't handle anything that large. I think the online paper company idea sounds like a winner!

  • prohacs 26 Mar, 2008

    I assume the intent is to copy fabric patterns to the paper (what is book-weight?) - - most home copiers can't handle anything that large. I think the online paper company idea sounds like a winner!

  • silviaff 26 Mar, 2008

    I have to say the same... it is more difficult to me, because I'm brazilian, and although I understand, sometimes it is really impossible... STEP-BY-STEP, PLEASE!

  • WVJane 26 Mar, 2008


  • WVJane 26 Mar, 2008


  • hanahoshi 26 Mar, 2008

    I would do a google search, there are directions with pictures all over the internet, and use the measurements as specified above.

  • jorgetavares 26 Mar, 2008


  • wygirl 26 Mar, 2008

    Where do you get book weight paper? Can you just use cardstock or medium-weight paper?

    Diagrams would with folding/scoring lines would be good.

  • pennypugluvr 26 Mar, 2008

    I second that idea!!!

  • RavenX 26 Mar, 2008

    I agree...a lot of projects on this site are great, but the step by step processes and instructions surely aren't up to Martha's standards.


  • mcsok 26 Mar, 2008

    I agree with the previous comment that step by step illustrations would be much easier to understand than written instructions.

  • Markey 26 Mar, 2008

    MS would do well to look at and their tutorials They have really fine examples

  • Diane_1969 26 Mar, 2008

    I totally agree with sewicee, in this case step-by-step instruction would be fantastic. However, I am going to give this a go anyway. thanks for a great site.

  • sewicee 25 Mar, 2008

    The boxes look really cool, but I'm so bad with written intructions. It would be nice to have a step-by-step illustration of the folding requirements.