Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vintage Sewing Cabinet

Refinishing this little piece has been a leisurely process. Here it is last July when we rescued it from a storage unit, missing one drawer pull (which never did reappear).
We thought it was a bedside table until we opened it and discovered the top drawer wasn't a drawer at all.
I decided to call it a sewing cabinet.  I can picture the top cubby holding scissors, pincushions, darning knobs, and thread used by a relative in olden times as she mended worn elbows and little boy's socks. 

It had these darling bun feet.
And this curvy detailed little apron.
They spoke to me very quietly of homey charm.  And it wasn't a big or important piece so I felt free to be creative.  Plus I had a suspicion that the wood wasn't exactly fabulous so I wouldn't feel guilty about painting the wood (yeah, I'm one of those people that actually prefer the look of wood over paint).  I couldn't wait to transform that scratched finish into a distant memory.

Out came my hand sander.  The mahogany was nice on the drawer fronts, but the rest was just "white wood".
I don't know what it's really called, but I've run up against it before.  It seems to be used because it stains well.

Alas!  Cheap wood on the side panels too.  That evil red stain screamed (loudly) of bleeding through the white paint I wanted to use.
Indeed, it even bled through three coats of Kilz primer.  
Maybe the oil-based would have blocked it better?  Oh well, on with my favorite white paint and some polycrylic finish on top.

I was thrilled with the newly-painted cabinet.  And relieved that not a trace of red bled through.
Shakespeare was right--all's well that ends well.  (Seriously, that guy is a bit of a know-it-all.)

Then waaaay back in September with winter hovering on the horizon I posted a "How To" about using vintage pages as drawer liners.
I loved the random look and color of the sheet music, but decided later to add some sewing specific images (thank you, Graphics Fairy!) to the drawers--because it is a sewing cabinet after all.
And I loved the spark that images of sewing machines, scissors and old costumes added to the sheet music.  That brings us to November.

Over the holidays I worked on acquiring new drawer pulls.  Currently she's sporting two clear vintage glass knobs on top and two ivory knobs with graphics from Michael's on bottom.
Why?  Because I'm incredibly indecisive sometimes and if one of you has a violent opinion about the right choice I'd be eternally grateful.  (Although if four metal knobs with a bit of detail would drop from the sky into my waiting hands, I wouldn't pay any attention at all to your opinion.  Sorry.)

Once I choose the knobs, I'm calling her doneAck!  She just whispered to me that she'd like a little lift-out tray on top.  Pretty please, with sugar on it?  Sigh.  Sometimes I wish furniture wouldn't communicate their preferences quite so clearly to me.  Dare I hope to be one hundred percent really-and-completely finished with this little charmer before spring summer next year?

Stuff like this doesn't happen to Miss Mustard Seed!  She can pull off a major piece, beginning to end, in five hours not five months--you can read about it here.  Thank heavens she's supportive of those of us who  take a little longer or I'd feel about one inch tall. 

I like to think that I'm letting the sewing cabinet evolve, sort of like the boy's room to home office over at Between Naps on the Porch (love her Metamorphosis Monday)!  Or maybe word has gotten out amongst the vintage furniture that I'm a softie?

Relieved to be in the home stretch,


  1. Great transformation of that cabinet. Glad that red didn't keep coming through. Hate when that happens.

  2. She looks gorgeous! I'm kinda partial to the original handles, too bad one went for a walk!!

  3. It looks amazing. But of course it does, because everything you do turns out wonderfully!

  4. Oh and I like the knobs on the bottom. Very chic.

  5. You should bring one of the original handles when you come the next time and we can see if that little place south of us has one. That is you would prefer those handles. We can combine it with a trip to Queen of Tarte's new digs.

  6. What a great find. I love old pieces. You did a beautiful job on it.If these old pieces could talk. LOL!

  7. Love it! It'd make a great knitting table, too. ;)

  8. Neat cabinet. I am partial to the bottom knobs too, unless you are trying to get a little sparkle or color pop... I love, love anthropology for knobs- they always have something unusual and fun.

    What did you decide.

  9. I love the finished product - great job !

  10. Beautiful conversion! You not only rescued it but also give a new life to it. Now there is sufficient space for sewing machine & accessories.