Cabinet Cover – a tutorial

I have this cabinet with drawers in it in my office/studio.  It is filled with Very Important Papers and Very Dangerous Items and basically just Stuff-I-Don’t-Want-Valérie-to-Touch.  And of course, she loves to open up the drawers and get everything out.  Loves the compass with its pointy end…  I can’t add any safety thingies (technical term) to keep the drawers from opening.  So I did this.

Very inconvenient because you have to untie everything to open a drawer and then tie it up again.  And the determined mouseling can still get at the compass…  So I made this.

It’s inspired by the file cabinet cover in 101 One-Yard Wonders.  Only that one doesn’t have a back part and I wanted one.  This tutorial is for a cabinet that is 11″ wide, 15″ deep, and 23.25″ high.  And I made a patchwork top because I’m always making things more complicated than they need to be looking for ways to challenge myself… I used 1/2″ seam allowance everywhere and bound the edges (so no hem allowance). I also finished all raw edges that weren’t hidden somewhere (like in a binding).  I used my serger for that but the overlock stitch on the sewing machine works too.

Materials :

-one yard of medium weight home dec fabric (I used a striped fabric to make the patchwork look cool)

-11″ of medium weight denim (it’s as wide as the home dec fabric, so 54″ wide)

-6 big buttons (mine are 1.5″)

-matching thread (I used a heavier thread when sewing on the buttons but you could use the same one everywhere) and appropriate needles (one for machine, one for hand sewing buttons)

Step 1: Cut out your pieces from the main fabric.

Back : 12″ x 23.75″

Sides : 15.5″ x 23.75″ (cut 2)

Front : 11″ x 24″ (cut on the cross grain so that my stripe is horizontal rather than vertical; if you want it on the long grain, you would need more yardage; it’s also a little longer to account for the drawer handles)

Top : if you aren’t doing the patchwork, you need 16″ x 12″.  If you’re crazy like me, you need 3 different sizes, 4 of each : 5″ x 5 ” (cut on the bias for a diagonal stripe, making sure the squares are all identically striped), 5″ x 2.5″ (2 horizontal stripes, 2 vertical stripes), and 4.5″ x 6.5″ (2 horizontal stripes, 2 vertical stripes).

Step 2 : Cut out your pieces from the binding fabric.  It will be used sort of like bias tape but there are no curves so no need to cut it on the bias.

1 piece 12″ x 1.75″

4 pieces 24.5″ x 1.75″

1 piece 42″ x 1.75″

6 pieces 5″ x 5″ (these are for the button tabs)

Step 3: Sew the patchwork top. Skip this step if you aren’t doing the patchwork.

a. Take two square pieces with the diagonal stripes right sides together.  Make sure you match up the stripes perfectly.  Sew. Repeat with the two other squares and press open the seams.

b. Take two small rectangles (one horizontal stripe, one vertical) and sew them together on one short side.  Repeat with the other two.  Do the same with the larger rectangles. Press seams open.

c. Take these two pieces right sides together.  Make sure you match up the center seam and stripes perfectly.  Sew and press seams open.

d. Sew one of the small rectangle pieces you made in step b to one side of your square, taking care to match up the seams.  Repeat on the opposite side of the square with the other small rectangle piece, making sure you reverse the vertical stripe placement. Press seams open.

e. Sew one of the big rectangle pieces from step b to the long side of your main piece, matching the rectangles seam with the square’s center seam. Repeat with the other big rectangle and the opposite side.  Press seams open.  Done with the top!

Step 4 : Sew the sides to the back.  Take one of the side pieces and the back piece and sew them along one of the longer edges.  Repeat with other side of back piece and other side piece.  Press seams open.

Clockwise from top left : front piece, top patchwork piece, side-back-side piece.

Step 5: Bind the edges.

a. Take one of the 24.5″ pieces of binding fabric.  Pin it to one of the short edges of your side-back-side piece, right sides together.  Sew.  Press the binding toward the seam allowance.  Press it again to the back, encasing the seam allowance.  It should extend  a quarter inch past the seam.  Pin it so it doesn’t move and, from the right side, stitch in the ditch so that you catch the binding on the wrong side.  Repeat on the other side of the side-back-side piece and on the long sides of the front piece.  Cut off any extra binding fabric.

b. Take the 42″ piece of binding fabric and sew it to the bottom of the side-back-side piece (so one of the long edges).  Press it toward the seam allowance but don’t press it to the back yet.  You should have some extra binding fabric at each edge.  Press that extra fabric towards the wrong side first so that you’ll have a nice, neat edge.  Then you can press the whole thing to the back to encase the seam allowance and stitch in the ditch.

c. Repeat step b with the last piece of binding on one short edge of the front piece.

All three pieces once the binding is sewn on

Step 6: With right sides together, pin the patchwork top to the last raw edge of the side-back-side piece.  Match two corners of a short edge of the top to the seams in the side-back-side piece.  The top should extend 1/2″ past the bound side pieces.  Sew.  Take your time in the corners.  Clip the seam allowance down in the corners, making sure not to clip the stitching, and press seam open.

Step 7: Sew the unbound edge of the front piece to the unsewn edge of the top piece.  Press seam open.

Step 8: Make the button tabs.

a. Fold a square of binding fabric in half (right side inside) and sew.  Press open the seam, centering it on the piece. Repeat with the other squares.

b. Sew one short edge.  Clip seam to 1/4″ and clip corners, taking care not to clip through the stitching.  Turn piece to right side (I used a ruler to get my corners nice and pointy) and press. Repeat with the other pieces.

c. Make buttonhole on each piece.  I used the buttonhole foot on my machine and start the buttonhole 1/2″ from the sewn short end.

d. Measure and mark 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 of the length of the side pieces.  This is where the tabs will be sewn.  Sew each tab to a mark.  I stitched in the ditch of the binding seam again.

Making the buttonhole tabs

Step 9: Mark where you want your buttons on the front piece.  I used the buttonholes in the tabs to guide me but I also measured and marked the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of the length of the front. And done!

Notes :

Buttons can seem fiddly but I thought it through.  Other options were a zipper, snaps, and ties.  Zippers are even more fiddly and I think Valérie would figure them out faster (she can already undo some zippers).  Snaps are way too easy to undo.  Ties are too much work to tie and untie.  I just can’t see Mr. Mouse being happy untying 6 ties to get at what he wants and then retying them all.  He’d just leave the whole thing untied with completely defeats the purpose.

Also, if you have a very determined child, you may want to have 4 buttons on each side.  I would use slightly smaller buttons in that case to keep the look balanced.  I would also make the tabs slimmer.  Say 1.5″ rather than the 2″ that I have here (so cut your pieces to 4″ x 5″ instead).

I thought of topstitching all my seams on the patchwork and that could have looked nice but in the end, I decided not to.  I could say it’s because I thought it might look a little too busy but really, it’s because I didn’t want to add even more work to this project. If you use a plain fabric, the top stitching could be nice.

Creative mommy at home to two wonderful little girls, trying to juggle family, sewing, exercise, family, knitting, photography, and did I mention family?

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Posted in Creating, Tutorials
One comment on “Cabinet Cover – a tutorial
  1. […] got around to and a two-drawer file cabinet cover.  That cover was the inspiration for my own cabinet cover, actually!  Two of the projects in this chapter don’t involve sewing (framed tack board and […]


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