How to Turn a Sewing Base Into a Planter for Christmas

Introduction: How to Turn a Sewing Base Into a Planter for Christmas

About: Avid DIYer, hobby chef and gluten-free food blogger. Would have become a chef years ago when I went back to school to get my chef's certificate but no one trusts a skinny chef!

I was on my way home from work one day when I came upon an older gentleman trying to hoist a vintage sewing machine into a dumpster. I stopped to ask him about it. It had belonged to his mother and he was clearing the house so he could put it on the market. It was starting to rain, so I asked him if I could have it and he gladly obliged!


Step 1: Taking Apart

As I was taking it apart, my wife had a brainstorm. After the top was off, she decided the drip pan belly, where the sewing machine is stored, would make an awesome planter.


Step 2: Restore the Metal

I wouldn't normally do this, but the metal base was so dirty I hosed it down. It was such a hot day, it evaporated fast. My wife and I tag teamed to sand down the rusty spots on the metal with sanding sponges so we could reach into all the tight areas.

After wiping the dust off thoroughly, I sprayed on a few thin coats of Tremclad clear to protect and prevent further rust.

Step 3: Seal the Drip Pan

With the base done, I turned my attention to the drip pan. My wife originally intended to plant directly into it, but as these things go, she changed her mind. It's a woman's prerogative, after all! But before she did, I sealed the inside of the drip pan with Liquid Rubber. Liquid rubber is perfectly safe to plant into and will protect the wood from water. Since the drip pan already had holes in it, it would've been perfect to leave outdoors too for summer planting. This step is optional, but it does also help produce friction for the liner which will come later.

Tape off the edges and wrap it with freezer paper. I didn't want to accidentally get the rubber compound on the outside of the wood; my wife had plans to stencil that.

The inside was a bit dusty (it was stored for a while after we cleaned it) so I used an air compressor to blow it out before painting.

Liquid rubber is thick, so I use a paper cup to transfer some into a container to paint with. As you'll see in the video, I start with a brush to get into the corners, then apply the rest with a mini roller.

Liquid rubber is water based, so you can wash it out of the brush and roller with warm soapy water.

Step 4: Sand

Sanded the wood on the outside of the drip pan to prepare it for the next step. We used a fine grit just to provide some tooth.

Step 5: Stencilling

Because of the awkward shape of the oil pan, my wife had to stencil the piece vertically. To help with that she uses clamps to hold the stencil at the top. After the first coat was done, it wasn't looking great, but I knew it would look awesome in the end. On the sides, tape off the bottom curved edge so you don't get paint on it.

Step 6: Using Glaze

My wife wanted a transparent look for the paint for this next step of stencilling, so she mixed some glaze with white paint. As you can see on the side, the look is vastly improved now. The pattern really pops now; it almost looks 3-D.

I forgot to mention that one trick when stencilling an awkwardly shaped rounded piece like this is to cut a piece of wood on an angle to prop it up from underneath. You could also jam in some shims underneath instead as a substitute.

Step 7: Top Coat

My wife prefers to use a matte finish on antique pieces, like this one from Varathane. Give the stencilled wood a few coats to seal and protect.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Because the drip pan was never meant to be a standalone piece, there was a gap at the front we had to fill in so you can't see the inside. I cut a piece of scrap wood to fill that in. However, we had to darken the edges so it would match the end grain on the drip pan. The end grain always sucks in more stain than the rest of the wood so it had to be darkened quite a bit.

Watch the video; you'll see it took 6 tries before we finally figured out all we had to do was mix mineral spirits with a touch of black colourant. Then I just swiped it onto the sides and my wife stencilled it to match the rest of the oil pan. After sealing it with the matte clear coat and letting it dry, we attached the piece to the front with L-brackets.

We also added a Trofast tray from Ikea as a liner so the plants won't sit too low in the oil pan. The liquid rubber provides just enough friction to keep it from shifting.

Step 9: Add Poinsettias

Poinsettias are a quintessential Christmas plant and they look pretty stunning in our finished planter! To get a tiered effect, we added two plastic food tubs in the back to raise the red poinsettias above the front row of plants.

We had them in an East facing window, but the house next to us is so close it was blocking out the sunlight. So my wife moved the planter into the kitchen where they'll get the brightest south-facing light. She also moved the two smaller plants onto the treadle to give them some space.

We couldn't be happier with our new holiday decor piece!

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