Build a Custom Vintage Mail Sorter-Inspired Cubby Shelf for Fat Quarter and Craft Storage
While in the process of putting my basement back together after a very long and drawn out basement renovation, my mom decided I most definitely needed more storage space for my fat quarters and miscellaneous crafting gear. My solution was a custom built 32” x 55” x 7” wall cubby shelf with 7”x7” cubby slots, perfect for fat quarter bundle storage:
Once I had measured up and sketched out my plan, it was off to the hardware store for a bit of lumber (and a positive attitude in tow never hurts).
You can see in my photos that the backside of my cubby unit is open – if you wanted a closed back shelf, this would be easily rectified with a single sheet of 1/4” plywood cut-to-size. I liked that open look – for some reason being able to see the wall behind makes the wall shelf seem less over-bearing to me – The largest factory wrapped fat quarter bundles from Moda fit really well (perfectly, in fact! I designed it that way…), and because there are 28 cubbies, there is plenty of room for miscellaneous craft storage and display (including some of my pretty Aurifil and the vintage crafting and sewing notions I’ve collected over the years)
I went to work researching and measuring, researching and measuring. I initially wanted to put shallow 12″ kitchen cabinet uppers on the wall, but was worried that even with the shallow 12″ depth it wouldn’t be shallow enough – that they would protrude too much, especially in my ‘head space’ above the workspace area of my office desk. Plus – these cabinet uppers were going to cost a fortune and I didn’t want to spend the next year saving for them.
I started looking for storage alternatives and what I fell in love with was this rustic-looking mail sorter cubby from Target …but I estimated that I’d need quite a few of these shelves to make a dent in the storage I needed. The numbers on the front are really cute though, right?I also considered this shoe storage unit but I was worried about how sturdily I would be able to attach it to the wall given that it is made of mdf, and that it is almost 12″ deep so would protrude off the wall quite a bit. On the floor or up on short legs, this would be a great storage system. It’d even work well up on a desk… but for me in that space that 12” depth was the deal breaker.I would need to make something on my own.Inspired by this post at Remodaholic I drafted and sketched up my own, custom, made-to-fit fat quarter bundle sized wall-mounted cubby shelf. The shelf finishes in at 32″ x 55″, with each cubby being 7″x7″ square, perfect for storing fat quarter bundles:
✴ NOTE: ✴
Always DIY safely (wear safety glasses!) and at your own risk.
Sew at Home Mummy Tip:
make sure to wipe away any excess glue that seeps out from under your divider boards as you go – keep a paper towel or rag handy to wipe away the goop before it dries.
the yellow blur to the right of my right hand and under my left hand is my spirit level
that’s my ‘don’t bug me, I’m concentrating’ look…
Sew at Home Mummy Tip:
consider checking your local dollar store for paint supplies like foam rollers, brushes and trays.
for less finicky projects like this I use cheaper painting products that I can just throw out – easier than worrying about cleaning them when I’m done!
make sure to pre-drill pilot holes slightly smaller than the screws you’ll use before attaching the French cleat!
drill is Black and Decker’s MATRIX
…and, a wider angle of some of my sewing space – and here’s the tutorial on how I made two sewing machine tables, one of which in the picture below (for less than $80 each) –
1. Start by marking your first long board – starting at one edge, measure 7″ and draw a line. This is where your first 7″ divider board piece will sit, and each board will have 7″ between, like so:turn the bottom board on its side, apply a thin bead of wood glue on the 7″ piece of divider board which will make contact with the bottom board and from the underside of the bottom board and aligning the edge of the 7″ board with the mark you made, nail in place.Continue nailing your first row of sides in place until all 6 first-row dividers are in place.2. Apply a bead of glue to the tops of each of the divider boards you just nailed in place. Nail your next long board on, making sure to check that each side board is level before nailing through the top of the long board into the divider boards below. Ensure the long board edges are flush on either side before nailing.3. Toenail (i.e. – shoot those nails in on about a 45 degree angle) your next row of side boards in place,again placing them every 7″. Make sure you keep checking that your boards are level and square with the ones below them (as much as possible – I had some warped boards so I did the best I could).You can’t really see my spirit level here very well (well, it’s just a yellow blur) – so you’ll have to use your imagination a bit – but check that each divider board is level as you go before you nail from the top down:4. Keep going! Lather rinse repeat – measure out your 7″, mark, bead of glue, toenail, wipe excess glue away. Repeat all the way across, repeat the process with the long boards until you’re done all four rows of cubbies.5. Apply your sides using the same process – beads of glue along each point of contact, then nail in place.6. For extra support, I added 2 screws at each divider contact point all the way around the perimeter of the cubby shelving unit, first drilling pilot holes with a pilot bit smaller than my wood screws, and then screwing the wood screws in just under flush or countersinking them slightly (so that I could fill the recess with wood filler and you wouldn’t know there was ever a screw there)7) Using wood filler and caulk, fill all of the screws, knots, cracks, imperfections, and corner joints (caulk is best for these seams between the dividers and long boards; a thin coat of fill over dark knots will help paint and primer to cover the dark color better).**If you’re planning on staining, fill imperfections and screws with a stainable wood filler, like this one , and make sure to color match your filler to the type of wood you’ve used. Don’t use caulk.**8) After letting your filler dry, sand to smooth, repeating the process as needed. Clean all surfaces of dust and debris with a dry cloth.9) Apply primer and paint, or stain and sealer, according to manufacturers instructions.10) Apply French cleat wall hanging system according to enclosed instructions, making sure to first drill pilot holes in your self unit before screwing nails to ensure the wood doesn’t split.11) I ended up using several more screws to attach the cleat system to the wall and shelf than were included – total overkill, but I wanted to be sure there weren’t any issues with it *ever* coming down – and you’ll notice in the picture below that this French cleat system comes with a built in level system so that you can make sure that whatever you’re hanging is perfectly level:12) You’ll notice because I have an open back on the shelf you can see the– easily hidden with a strategically placed fat quarter bundle!I’d love to see pictures of your fat quarter storage in the comments – what do you use? and if you make this project, make sure to leave a comment with a picture or a link to a photo of yours, I’d love to see it.
easy diy fabric stash organization – how to store your fabric, fat quarters, craft and scrapbooking supplies