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.
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.
- 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.
- I then used the heat bond to hem the edges of each piece of fabric.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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?
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