Thursday, March 6, 2014

Craft fail & recovery. Lining drawers with fabric, twice.

I won't lie.  It took two attempts to line the nightstand's drawers in the guest bedroom.  The second method was a keeper!

My first attempt to use "stiffened" fabric as a drawer liner was an utter failure. Using fabric inside the drawer seemed ideal - this way you can find something exactly your style and cover up the insides of the less than perfect vintage drawers.

The technique and instructions I found at Blue Eyed Yonder basically involved soaking fabric in a fabric stiffener and ironing fabric flat before it dries.  Then you take your perfectly flat and stiff fabric and cut to the dimensions of the drawer and use double sided tape to make it stick.  Hmmm.  Sounds easy, right?  And her Pinterest worthy photos show gorgeous results, so it obviously works for most people.  Except for me.

Where I went wrong (if you're a skimmer, the last lesson is probably most important):
  1. Attempting to iron fabric damp with a liquid similar to glue is going to make you have a bad time.  It gunked up my iron pretty good, so then I had to deal with that.  Working with a large amount of sticky fabric was not fun either.
    LESSON: Plan for iron to get messy and allow serious clean up time.  Cut fabric into manageable sizes BEFORE adding stiffener.  This.  My fabric size was annoyingly large.
  2. After fabric dried all the way, I realized the fabric stiffener didn't really soak through everywhere evenly, so it created different textures throughout the fabric.  Some areas were more stiff than others.
    LESSON: Cut fabric into smaller batches.  Use bigger bowl to be sure you can really work the product into the fabric.  Use more fabric stiffener and liquid.

    Honestly, I thought I had coated it fairly evenly, but trying not to make a mess and rotating that much fabric in a small bowl was not easy.  Ugh.  I still thought I could "save" the project, so I went back and painted on more fabric stiffener onto the softer sections of fabric (see photo), which actually worked.

  3. Even after gunking up your iron and trying to make sure fabric is hanging super flat to dry, it still had a weird texture to it.  Not like paper.  Unless it's like a piece of paper you wadded up and then tried to iron flat.  It looked like that.  I even tried to iron it again (dry).  More gunk on the iron with no results.
    LESSON: Try using a light weight fabric.  I think the fact that I used a canvas-like home decor weight fabric may have sabotaged this from the beginning.  
At this point, I let the fabric sit in a drawer for a few months.  Yes months.  I had felt defeated by it and worse, I really liked this fabric so it really stung.

Saving the project
I realized if the steam in my iron was reactivating the dried fabric stiffener, then maybe I could wash out the stiffener and still use the fabric.  I cut out a section of the fabric a few inches larger than the nightstand's drawer and rinsed it out with lots of water.  The water had some bubbles and a light milky color, so I realized the fabric stiffener was actually washing out of the fabric.  This stuff is probably meant to be permanent and it's not really *all* gone, so I still ironed my fabric and let it dry flat, but it was significantly softer than compared to what I started with.

Method Two - the one that worked for me: Upholstering drawer liner

I decided to wrap a board with the fabric so it would be easily changeable, because the one thing I do like about the old fashioned (plastic?) drawer liners is they are easy to clean and wipe down.  This method of drawer liner gave me the visual "pop" I craved but it's still temporary in case I change my mind later.

  1. First I cut cardboard about 1/4" smaller than my actual drawer dimensions to allow room for the fabric.  You could use foam core board, but I happened to have brand new cardboard leftover.
  2. Next, wrap the board in felt.  This gives it a little more substance and gives a slight upholstered look.  Lots of glue and it stuck nicely to my board.

Last, I wrapped the board in my Robert Allen blue dot material.  But it needed more convincing than just glue.  If you look closely, you can see where I used a household stapler (in addition to the glue).  I used a extra bit of felt where I wanted to staple to make sure it wouldn't go through to the other side.  Classy, I know, but it worked and was so easy!  I even added a bit of ribbon to help pull the drawer bottom out if I ever need to.  

Then I dropped them into the drawers (with the ribbon towards the back).  And VIOLA!  The finished product.  I hope our guests are pleasantly surprised when they look in their nightstand!

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