Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wonder Box Cooker Tutorial

Now that you've discovered the magic and possibilities of the Wonder Box Cooker, here's how to make one for your family! Again, I wish I could give proper credit for this information and the adorable pattern, but it was passed along to me. I'm freely sharing in the interest of preparedness. :)

I personally found the instructions to be helpful as a basic guide, but you'll find that you're working with a big floppy mass of fabric most of the way through the process. Just remember that once you've gotten it stuffed, it should resemble a big cube, that you can set your pot in the middle of. My little brother made 2 of these things as Christmas gifts, and I know if HE can do on his own, so can YOU! My first Wonder Box Cooker turned out like this:

I followed the basic layout of the pattern and sewing instructions, but I took a few liberties in the design. I also found that once I had stuffed my Wonder Box, it would hold it's shape better if I tacked each of the corners down with a few hand stitches, (which you can see in the photo.) We went to WalMart and bought a bag of bean bag fill to stuff it with, for around $12. It turned out to be enough stuff to fill almost two of them!

Following are the instructions and pattern. I am italicizing all information that has been passed on to me.

Wonder Box Cooker Sewing Instructions
Materials Needed:
  • 3 Meters (yards are 3” shorter than a meter) soft cotton or broadcloth so it will conform to the shape of the pot. (½ can be coordinated …. two colors)
  • 19 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails of Polystyrene beads (it is an insulation that looks like the tiny separate Styrofoam bits that make up the protective packing in electronics, etc.)
"Polystyrene is about the best insulating material and it is also easily washed. If you are only able to get the solid pieces which are used for packing radios etc., you can break it up by grating it." The booklet also says "make cushions out of large plastic bags, mutton cloth or other washable material and fill loosely with any of the following: polystyrene, dried corn husks, woolen materials, feathers, waste nylon materials, flakes of newspaper, sawdust and wood shavings, hay or other dry grasses." In Canada we have a gray 'blow in insulation' in our attic, it would be impossible to wash without opening the wonder box but it may be added to this list as well.
Sewing instructions: When you sew the wonder box together you sew 2 of the 4 pieces together along the longest sides. You open each of the pairs now and place them right sides together and sew those 2 together all the way around the outside, making an awkward shaped cushion affair. Don't forget the opening to fill through. You then repeat with the 4 bottom pieces. One pair together, sew along the longest side, then the other pair. Open them up and place them right sides together, remembering to leave openings to fill through. I am adding a loop at this point to hang this by when not in use, or dry after washing.
The narrow part of the bottom pattern is the piece you will tuck into the bigger part of the bottom to make the pouch/nest for the pot to sit into.
Hoping not to confuse the issue. If you start where the bottom pattern says 90 (degrees for the angle) and sew down the right side of the pattern and stop just after the second 11 ½ " mark, before the pattern starts back up. That will be one of the two pairs. Do the same with the other two, put right sides together again and sew it all the way around the outside edge now, into the box or ball shape. The same goes for the top cushion, start at the 100, sew down the right and stop just after the 11" mark. The rights sides together and sew again making the shape of the top cushion.
It will not lie flat. It will take the shape of a square cushion when it is filled with the polystyrene beads, and the bottom cushion has a cavity like a nest or pouch.
Top: Fill a little less than ½ full while the bag is hanging. Approximately 7 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails.
A paper funnel works best, as the beads are very static prone. You may want to use an ice cream pail to pour from. Work with two people to fill—one to hold the funnel in and the other to pour. Spread a sheet on floor to catch beads.
Bottom: Cut 4 Fill approximately ½ full with polystyrene beads. Approximately 12 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails
Once this bag is filled, tuck the small end into the center to form the pouch/nest for the pot. Find a good pot that works well in this pouch. No long handles please.
When the pan sits inside the pouch/nest of the bottom, the pan is surrounded on all sides except the top. So… that is where the top/lid comes in. It is very important to keep all of the heat inside this wonder box cooker. One of the pages and the recipes explain that the lid/top of the wonder box must go on immediately with no places for the heat to escape or it will all be for nothing.

For more information on this little gem, see my other posts, The Wonder Box Cooker and Wonder Box Cooker Recipes.

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