August 15, 2010

My New Fabric-Covered Box Drawers!

I did a project yesterday!  And it turned out even better than it looked in my head!!  Isn’t it the best thing ever when that happens?!

fabric drawers!

Our house is extremely (embarrassingly?) Ikea-heavy with the decor… so I’ve been trying to find ways to personalize our Ikea, make our home more us.  I got these awesome vintage handles from Portland vintage-stuff-shop Smut (So Many Unique Treasures) awhile back, for some other project that didn’t really happen… so they were waiting for the perfect use…

fabric drawers!

And then in the move, we discovered that these boxes we were using from Pete’s work fit exactly perfectly into this shelving unit!  The idea turned out so well that you totally can’t tell they’re just old cardboard boxes behind those fabric fronts:

fabric drawers!

So, I’m going to show you how I made them, but you may just want to use some concepts with different kinds of boxes and a different kind of shelving unit to fit your own home needs…

For each drawer, I used:

  • a cardboard box that fits perfectly into the shelf space
  • a piece of fabric about an inch longer than the front of the box on all 4 sides
  • a vintage handle
  • screws to fit the handle, and washers for each screw
  • a hot glue gun
  • a box cutter, scissors, a screwdriver, and embroidery scissors

Start out by cutting the three (side and back) top flaps off the box.  Don’t cut off the front flap, the flap attached to the side where the fabric will be going.  I’ll talk about what to do with that flap later…  Then decide on handle placement, poke holes where the screws will go, and stick the screws in through the back, so the front looks like this:

fabric drawers!

Center your fabric piece on top of the box front, then use your embroidery scissors to cut little holes where the screws are.  Push the screws through the fabric, so it looks like this:

fabric drawers!

The screws holding it in place will help keep the fabric all lined up while gluing.  I glue the edges down starting with the bottom center, work my way outwards, up one side, up the other side, then the top, starting with the center again.  I glue a couple inches at a time, squeezing the hot glue along the fold of the box, then press the fabric down from above the fold, around the corner down to the cut edge of the fabric, so the glue spreads out from the box fold to the fabric edge.  Make sense?  The great thing about using hot glue is that by the time you finish one side and start gluing the other side, the first side is cooled enough that you can pull it taut, smoothing out the fabric nicely.  Once the sides are all glued down, you can go back and smooth the corners down well with some extra glue:

fabric drawers! fabric drawers!

Now take out those screws for putting in the handle.  There are a couple different ways to deal with the top flat.  For the first box drawer I made (the orange+gold patterned one), I just cut off the top along with the other flaps, and wrapped the fabric around the top.  Sadly, that made for a not-straight top edge, which I’m sure will bother me forever… So for my second try, I cut the flap off with a couple inches attached, then I folded that bit over and taped it down.  I did this before the fabric-gluing step, by the way…

fabric drawers!

And, for these first two drawers, this is how the handle was attached in the back – an extra piece of cardboard for extra strength, washers, screws through all the layers to the handles…

fabric drawers!

So then for my last drawer, I realized I could just not cut the front flap at all, fold it down, and use that flap for my extra cardboard layer.  Duh!  It was easier in theory than in practice – the flap doesn’t like to be held down flat like that (when I was first trying to get my holes placed, pre-fabric-gluing, I ended up pushing the entire screw and screwdriver through both cardboard layers – washers are important here!).  So, it’s a bit tricky, and requires some effort and patience, but it works out great in the end – straight top edge, extra strength where the handle is attached, simple construction…

fabric drawers!

For that last drawer, I used a square of fabric that happened to be the exact size as the box front, so no extra to fold around the edges.  When gluing the top edge of the fabric down, be sure to account for the top flap being folded down, so you don’t stretch the fabric unevenly after gluing.  And, a top view of the handle:

fabric drawers! fabric drawers!

Tah dah!  I love them so much!  Plan on making more, as soon as Pete brings more of these boxes home from work!

fabric drawers!

Now we just need to figure out some awesome things to fill all those empty shelf squares…

fabric drawers!

Filed under: general crafts,home stuff,tutorials — leethal @ 1:42 pm
  • helena

    i did this sans drawer-pull to mine as well. some with fabric, some with cute designer wrapping paper. SO much cheaper than buying baskets or boxes to fit the shelves!

  • http://www.byhandathome.com/ kendra

    they look fantastic! nicely done! (aren't those empty spaces begging for yarn?)

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  • http://www.leethal.net/ Lee

    Haha yes, I think so! But, so much of the house is already taken up with yarn, I think my partner would appreciate it if I didn't fill more than 1 square with it…

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  • Erink

    love this!

  • pinkwind

    Love the fabric covering. When we were using cardboard boxes as semi permanent storage i used end of rolls of wallpaper all over them, gave them extra strength. Love your idea with the handles, nice touch of class!

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    Depending on the box, they can be made sturdier then some of what they are selling out there.. Great Thinking!  I just may do this!

  • codexlibris

    I’ve done this! But I like your method better. :) BTW, if you don’t have boxes from work, banker’s boxes (the ones made for holding files) fit very nicely into these shelves – and that way the top edge is perfectly straight.

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