DIY Fabric Lined Shelves

These DIY fabric lined shelves are one of those love/hate projects for me. I love how they turned out but I hated the process.

These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more.

Back when J first put together our built-in shelves (we hacked the Ikea Billy Shelves), I was totally indecisive about how to handle the back of them and had this crazy idea that dark blue would look fabulous. It definitely did not. The shade was a bit too “recycling box” for me and I went with a satin finish that picked up the light and had a sheen that just wasn’t my cup of tea. I knew that I’d need to make a change at some point, but life took over and now here we are.

I researched some options for using foam core board and wrapping paper. I ultimately decided to just suck it up and apply the fabric of my choice directly to the backs of these shelves. I combined information from tutorials from A Thoughtful Place and Hi Sugarplum! If I could do it all over again, I would still use pieces of each tutorial, but different pieces, which I’ll touch more on this below.

For this tutorial, you’ll need enough fabric to cover the backs of your shelves, permanent spray adhesive, heat bond (or some sort of iron-on, no sew, tape), a working iron, scissors, a pencil, a tape measure, ribbon, and a glue gun. As you’ll see from my notes at the end of the tutorial, all of this may not be necessary, but that’s for you to decide.  I’ll go through what I did and what I would do differently next time at the end. Here’s what I did.

  1. The first thing I did was lay out my fabric. Using my fabric and tape measure, I measured and cut it down to 2 inches more than the size I needed for each side. Since my fabric had a relatively geometric print, I tried to use the print as my guide. I was only partially successful with this. For the record, the opening in the top part of these Billy Bookcases is 30″ x 35.5 ” so I measured the sides of my fabric to be 32″ x 37.5″ respectively.These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more.
  2. I then used the heat bond to hem the edges of each piece of fabric.These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more.
  3. From there I lined my floor with trash bags and applied spray adhesive the the back f the fabric. I also applied spray adhesive to the actually back of the fabric. Starting at the top, I slowly worked my way down, trying to keep it straight and smoothing any air bubbles out as I went along. This was such a hassle- the adhesive didn’t stick very well and was a nightmare to get off of my fingers. As you can tell in the below photos, I really miscalculated my measurements somewhere between cutting the fabric and hemming it with heat bond (I suspect I went wrong with the later part). In looked through the tutorials once again, I noticed that the edges were actually lined with ribbon in the Hi Sugarplum! tutorial. This seemed much more appealing and cost efficient than starting over again. So I made another trip to Joann’s.These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more. These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more.
  4. Upon returning home from Joann’s I realized I wanted nothing to do with that spray adhesive and had failed to plan how I’d adhere the ribbon to the shelves. Luckily, I remembered pretty quickly that I had a mini hot glue gun So I got to work on gluing the ribbon into place and it worked like a charm!

These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more. These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more.

Here are my thoughts on how I would do this project next time:

I think I created a lot of unnecessary extra work for myself. If I could do it all over again, I’d skip the heat bond step altogether and just cut the fabric down to size. I would also avoid spray adhesive (spray adhesive and I broke up after this project!) and use the hot glue gun on the fabric as well as the ribbon. Maybe you’re a person who is was better with cutting a measuring and you won’t even need the ribbon. I am not that person.

These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more. These fabric lined shelves are great way to add new life to boring shelves and bookcases- the great thing is that there are notes on what parts of the project worked and what parts can be done better next time. Click the photo to read more.

All of that being said I am very happy with the results of this project. A few close friends and family members love to give me a hard time about the fact that I use a lot of gray in the main parts of our home, but I’m all for having a neutral background with lots of color.

Update- 6/30/15: Just wanted to pop back and give everyone an update- for the most part these have held up well, but some of the corners are coming down so I used E6000 to adhere them back and thus far it’s worked like a charm!

If you could pick a fun color or pattern to add into the mix in one of your rooms, what would it be and where would you use it?

Check out more the full project gallery and don’t forget to follow The Life Jolie on Pinterest for more great inspiration!

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Erica from Healthy Christian Mom
    April 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

    This is such a wonderful idea. I have a set of shelves in the room that I plan on turning into a “Mom Cave.” They really could use a pop of color. The colors for that room are purple and cream so I am going to look for fabric with those colors.
    Pinning this to my Mom Cave Pinterest Board right now.
    I am so happy I found you on Women with Intention Wednesday:)
    Erica from Healthy Christian Mom recently posted…Easter: Who is Jesus? A Fun Way to Use Resurrection EggsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 1, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      A “Mom Cave”- I love it! It sounds like it’s going to be really beautiful, I’ll look forward to seeing how it turns out!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Reply
    Trish
    April 2, 2015 at 2:17 am

    These look great. It look like it was a lot of work but well worth it.
    Trish recently posted…Making a Statement With a Little Bit of Paint and Frog ChevronTapeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 2, 2015 at 7:41 am

      Thank you! It definitely was a lot of work, but I would change much of the process next time as I noted in the post. I think it wouldn’t have been too bad with those changes. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Debi @ Surroundings by Debi
    April 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    Great Job! They look fantastic! Thanks again for stopping by the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop!
    Debi
    Debi @ Surroundings by Debi recently posted…Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop!My Profile

  • Reply
    Katherines Corner
    April 3, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Your hard work resulted in a lovely look. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Watch for your feature on Monday xo

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 3, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    Hanniz
    April 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Great job! I like the geometric design in grey. It’s easier to add colourful accessories to
    Hanniz recently posted…Keeping Indoor Plants Alive with Rainy PotsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 3, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Thank you! People give me a hard time about all of the gray I use (I’ve had people tell me our house theme is 50 Shades of Grey) but I like a nice, neutral back drop.

  • Reply
    Holly
    April 4, 2015 at 3:05 am

    These look fantastic! Sometimes the greatest looking projects are the most difficult! I did something similar recently on our children’s craft shelves, but I happened to have some wallpaper spare and simply cut and applied it with pva glue mixed with water – but I had never even considered the option of fabric and now I’m wondering where I can apply that in the home! Thank you for such a great post x
    Holly recently posted…Hallway Redecoration – Part 1My Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 4, 2015 at 10:31 am

      It’s funny you say that because I considered wallpaper but it was a bit out of our price range and I ultimately fell in love with the print on the fabric. I’ll have to stop by your blog and check out your kids shelves! Thanks for stopping in!

  • Reply
    Creatively Homespun
    April 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I love this!! The color, the pattern, the amazing effect it gives! Everything about this screams… “DO THIS!”. I can’t wait! Thanks for sharing at the Let’s Get Real blog hop!!!
    Creatively Homespun recently posted…DIY: Simple & Sweet Owl PillowsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 5, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you- its definitely better than that horrible blue that was there before. I don’t know what I was thinking!

  • Reply
    Jen
    April 6, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    This looks fabulous! I have some glass door built in cabinets in my dining room and they are kind of dark. I don’t feel like the stuff I have displayed there is easy to see, but this might just be the answer to my problem. You make it easy, so I might just try it! Thanks!
    Jen recently posted…Meatless Monday -Tofu CacciatoreMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you- I hope it’s helpful for you!

  • Reply
    Jann Olson
    April 8, 2015 at 12:00 am

    A big job, but it sure did turn out nice. Love the fabric that you chose! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    • Reply
      Jessy
      April 8, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you, I love it as well!

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

    These look great! I’m working on a similar love/hate project too, aren’t they just the best? Ha no but really the bookcase came out really nice!!
    Emily recently posted…House TourMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      June 30, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Ugh, I’m with you -that project drove me nuts. At least I know how I’d handle it differently next time!

      Thank you for the kind words 🙂

  • Reply
    Shelby Bussard
    June 30, 2015 at 10:03 am

    That is such a great idea! You’re living room looks so cozy!

    • Reply
      Jessy
      June 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Thank you- I had to do something, the blue under it looked terrible 🙂

  • Reply
    Scott
    June 30, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I really like this idea and have a perfect place to try it out on. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Scott recently posted…Must-See Video Game Movies on NetflixMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jessy
      June 30, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks- I hope it’s easier for you (I felt like sharing my mistakes would help other’s attempts be a bit easier!).

  • Reply
    Raphaela
    June 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    I cannot wait to do this in my new apartment! Thanks for the inspo 🙂

    • Reply
      Jessy
      June 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      I hope it’s helpful- I can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

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