Published on August 6th, 2014 | by Julie Finn3
My Antique Shipping Box Fabric Bin
Our new house came with a magical garage.
In that garage, and in the nearly-falling-down-but-not-quite 1930s-era general store building next to it (we’re not really supposed to even go in it anymore, but I do, of course, and once I stepped on a seemingly random floorboard and felt the entire building sway around me), remain some of the original storage and display used in that store. Some of that storage and display consists of sturdy yet unlovely shelving, and those I feel free to varnish before setting them up in my home.
Other pieces, however, include a wall full of drawers of undetermined origin, a set of hand-built wooden cubbies with labels penciled on, and this antique shipping box from Aberfoyle Manufacturing (apparently my old general store once sold colorful cotton yarn!). I’m not interested in setting up these antique pieces, priceless only to me, as fussy display items, but nor do I want to, say, Mod Podge comic book pages all over them or let my kids graffiti them with spray paint.
Instead, I’m trying to keep these pieces as true to their original condition as I can, only adding to them what each needs to be functional in its new incarnation. This shipping crate, for instance, needed to be my new fabric bin! Here’s how I made it happen:
1. Clean it out (while cringing). Although the shipping crate, found tucked under a workbench in the garage (next to a couple of old truck tires that I gave to the kids for toys, on account of we’re real redneck like that), didn’t contain any treasure maps or savings bonds or whatever, it did contain dead spiders, an empty cigar box, and several inches of… rice hulls?
The kids and I used it as mulch for our container gardens, so whatever it is, I hope it’s not poisonous!
2. Rinse and repeat. The crate was UBER filthy, so I set it on the driveway, hosed it off over and over again until the water ran clear, and then let it dry in the sun.
3. Add casters. The absolute only modification that I wanted to make to this crate was to add casters, so that I one day wouldn’t have to have a newspaper article written about how I’d killed myself attempting to lift a giant wooden crate full of fabric. If you’ve never added casters to a piece of furniture but you’ve always kind of wanted to, stop putting it off! It’s the easiest job in the world:
To be fair, it helps that all this old furniture that I’m renovating is made of real wood, not particle board and laminate:
4. Cap any screw points. The screws for the casters went all the way through the bottom of the box–can’t have sharpy screw points snagging my pretty fabric! My partner had the idea to drill partway into wooden plugs, then glue them over the sharp points:
Isn’t he a clever boy?
The one big problem with a bin like this, I admit, is that I can’t see all of my fabric options at once. But considering all the times that every piece of fabric that I owned ended up spread out all over my studio even while using my last fabric storage system, I doubt that this will spell much practical difference from the old system, sigh, and it is much more compact for my studio’s small space.
I should tell you that this fabric bin does not hold my complete fabric stash–shameful and embarrassing, I know. My goal, however, is for this fabric bin TO hold my complete fabric stash.
Gee and darn, guess I’ll just have to spend all my free time sewing for a while!
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