How embarrassing, I would have never shared this mess with my readers, except for the fact that I turned it into this!
Beautiful, isn't it? :-)
So, I had been pricing those fabric drawers online, and the cheapest I could find for anything that wasn't designed in colors for a kid's bedroom was 8 bucks apiece. I mean, they're just glorified cardboard and fabric and I could never justify paying that much for cardboard! That's when I got the idea: I have fabric here, and I also already have some 10x10 cardboard boxes in the basement from a prior project. Here's how I did it:
First, you will need:
Hole punch: (preferable a crop-a-dile or something else that punches small holes and has a long reach, otherwise a nail will probably work just fine.
Fabric: In total, I used about 2.5 yards of fabric, but I recommend 3 yards, because then your pattern will all go the same direction when you cut it out.
Cardboard Boxes: My shelf had 9 spots for drawers, so I used 9 boxes.
Drawer Pulls: Optional, but it really gives it an expensive look.
Spray adhesive--alternatively, you can use a hot glue gun, but I would only use it on the folded over edges, because it can make bumps in the fabric once dry.
Screwdriver for attaching hardware
Hot Glue for assembling boxes
Extra cardboard (a small amount will do)
I got my boxes from Amazon. they need to be 10x10x10 to fit the standard cube shelving units, which are actually 11x11. To start, take out as many boxes as you need and assemble them. I used hot glue instead of tape, since it keeps the outside of the box clean. As for the top flaps, I folded them down inside each box to give it strength, and it also made the top of the boxes look much cleaner than if I had cut them off.
Next, I did some calculations to see how to cut out my fabric strips. I wanted to cover the front and sides, with a 1" allowance on each edge to fold around the top, bottom, and back. This will make them look less like cardboard boxes and almost indistinguishable, even if the drawers are pulled out. I initially had planned to cover just the front, but I am glad I decided against that.
When I was doing calculations, I figured the boxes are 10x10x10, and so I would need 30" to cover the box itself, but since cardboard boxes are imperfect, I wanted to add 1" of fabric to each edge (which worked perfectly).
This is how I cut out the fabric. I recommend putting something down and using a rotary cutter if you have one. Make sure you are only cutting the part of the fabric that has pattern on it, not the white edges (I trimmed those off prior to cutting my pieces).
I tried to get a photo of my 12x32 piece of fabric, but whenever I put fabric on the floor, Chunk thinks he has to sit on it. I think it works anyway.
Next, You need to lay down some cardboard that is wider than your fabric, so that any overspray of adhesive will not stick to the floor. Ideally, this should be done outside, but I am stubborn. Just open a few windows and turn on the fan so the spray adhesive can be ventilated, if you do do this inside.
Next, place the fabric right side down and center your box on it so that you will have about 1" to fold over the top and back. Pick up the fabric on each side and hold it on the box a few times, moving the box until it is in just the right spot.
I sprayed the right side first, taking care to get glue on all the edges, and then I rolled the box over to the right on top of the fabric. Then, I sprayed the middle and left sides, and rolled the box back to the left over the fabric.
Then, I smoothed out the front first (since that's what everyone will see), and smoothed out the sides. The spray adhesive dries quickly, so you want to work fast to get good adhesion. If you wait a few minutes, the spray adhesive will still be tacky, but it is a very weak adhesion at that point so you will need to spray more.
I carefully folded down the sides first, then the front top of the box, just like wrapping a gift.
It is important to note that I made sure that I lined up every box exactly the same, as pictured below. I always used the side that had a fold on the bottom to be the front, since it would be a clean edge. Plus, I noticed that all the boxes had the same lean, as they did not sit completely flat. Using the same side for the front makes sure this lean is uniform and undetectable.
Here's how it looked after I finished covering all 9 boxes. I was amazed at how much neater it looked, aside from the box of craft supplies on the right and all the dog toys on the left, that is. Doesn't that opossum look real? Chunk loves it, he is a very spoiled little dog.
I loved how the look was so far, but I decided that adding drawer pulls would make these things look really expensive and real. I wanted to get some of those vintage glass hexagon knobs, but the cheapest I could find those was for about 5 bucks apiece, and I was not about to spend 50 bucks on knobs for cardboard boxes. I went to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found 9 drawer pulls for 79 cents each, totaling $5.50 after taxes. They match the fabric well, and they look awesome.
I looked these up online to find the retail price, and they're between 3 and 4 dollars a piece! Score!
To attach the handles, I used my Crop-a-dile hole punch, which makes 1/8" holes. Alternatively, you could probably use a nail and hammer to punch holes through the boxes without messing up the fabric.
One thing I always have trouble with is measurements. I'm pretty good at basic stuff, but when it comes to figuring out how to center drawer pulls on a box (not knobs, but the ones with 2 holes), that's a bit tough for me. I can do it, it just probably takes longer than the average person. Luckily, at my father in-law's suggestion, I made a template, and it saved me SO MUCH TIME! I already knew the approximate center, but I wanted these to be perfect. Upon measuring the box, I realized that after all the folding, the front from top to bottom was about 10.5" and side to side it was still 10". I used another box and cut out what would be the front, being sure to match the measurements of a finished box. I marked the actual center with an X, and then I found the center of the drawer pull. I measured how far out from the center it was to each hole, and that's how I marked it on the template. I measured a few times to make sure it was all correct, and then I punched holes in the template where I marked the drawer pull holes, so that I could stencil them onto each finished box. I also made sure to mark the top of the template to match up with the top of the box, just because I knew it wasn't 100% perfect, so this way every single box would be consistently "not 100% perfect," and thus less noticeable.
I took out each box, placed the template on top, and marked the holes. Then, I used my crop-a-dile to punch the holes out.
The screws that came with the hardware were 1" long, and that meant they were longer than what I needed by about 1/4 inch. To remedy this, I cut out rectangles of cardboard a few inches long and about 1 inch high, and used the template again to put holes in them. I then used them inside each box and put the screws through them before I put them through the box:
So, there you have it: A way to make CUSTOMIZED shelf cubes instead of going broke on the store-bought kind.
I love that the fabric almost makes a continuous pattern throughout the boxes. If you get really meticulous, I bet you could match the pattern!
Now, I had most of my materials on hand, so this project only cost me $5.50, but if you needed to buy all of the materials, there are a few ways you can go about it.
I would never recommend that someone use free Priority mail boxes for any home project, since that is illegal, and they don't come in 10x10 sizes anyway.
A pack of 25 10x10x10 boxes costs $22.00 on Amazon, but you could contact your local restaurants, as they all get shipments each week and thus get rid of many boxes. Perhaps you could have them collect the size you need.
My Fabric was something I bought for a project a couple of years ago, and I went in another direction with it. You can get upholstery fabric for this project, but quilting fabric would work just fine. You can often get quilting fabric for $3.00 per yard when Joann's has a sale, or you can use one of their coupons for 40% off that the usually offer. Check their website for deals.
There are knobs available at Home Depot for 80 cents, so you can definitely find some knobs for a low price. For just a little bit more, you can get plain white knobs. I used the drawer pulls because it is what I happened to find that matched.
If you make your own, please post your results in the comments, or on my Facebook page.