Retrofit Sewing Table Organizer

About: I'm an engineer, designer, and maker studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

I lucked out on finding a well-used (but still lovely) mid-1970s sewing table and sewing machine at my local Goodwill for $30. (Singer Futura 900, for those of you who are curious.) It was a STEAL.

After getting my prize home and set up in my room, I realized that the only thing that I didn't absolutely love about the sewing table was the way my excess of sewing supplies rattled around in the spacious drawers. With a little bit of spare time one weekend, I crafted a cute set of drawer dividers out of materials I had on hand, and I was able to complement the aesthetic of the remainder of the table.

This Instructable will teach you how to make a similar set of inexpensive, sturdy, and beautiful dividers for the hand-me-down sewing table (or any furniture) in your life.

Step 1: BOM/Parts List

You will need the following:

  • Supplies:
    • Foamcore
    • Contact Paper
    • Hot Glue
    • Disposable Cutting Surface (I used some cardboard I had lying around.)
  • Tools:
    • X-Acto Knife
    • Scissors
    • Hot Glue Gun
    • Ruler/Straightedge
    • Measuring Tape
    • Pen and Paper

Step 2: Measure Drawers.

Using your tape measurer, grab the length (L), width (W), and height (H) dimensions of the inside of the drawers. Jot them down with that handy pen and paper.

Make some quick decisions about the general shape and size of your drawer dividers. I chose to make my dividers as pictured above. The top drawer is very shallow, so my dividers ended up being about 1.75" tall, while the dividers for my bottom drawer ended up being 4" tall.

Step 3: Clean Out Drawers

As I mentioned in the introduction, I bought this sewing table second-hand. It clearly had a lot of use. There were pins, bits of thread, dust, and random debris hiding in the bottom of both of the drawers.

If you don't wipe down, vacuum, or otherwise clean out the drawers, the contact paper we prepare in future steps will not stick. I ended up picking out all of the pins from the bottom of the drawers, wiping the bottoms out with damp paper towels, and calling it a day.

Step 4: Line Drawer Bottoms.

Referencing your measurements from earlier, cut out a piece of contact paper that is slightly larger than the bottom of each drawer. Peel the backing from the contact paper, and smooth it gently onto the bottom of the drawer - starting from the center of the drawer, and moving towards the edges.

The excess contact paper will bend upwards along the sides of the drawer. Carefully trim off the excess contact paper with a utility knife, using the corner of the bottom and the sides of the drawer as a guide.

Step 5: Cut Foam Core Organizers.

Now that the bottom of the drawers is covered, you need to make the frames of your organizers.

Because the drawers were so deep, I created a series of organizers to split the depth and make each section more manageable. For the shallower top drawer, I created a 3x3 grid to occupy 3/4 of the space of the drawer, front to back.

I did this by using the utility knife to carefully cut slots halfway through each strip of foamcore, and I pressed the cut slots together, resulting in a clean and relatively strong fit.

Before I did anything else, I test fit these organizers in the drawer to see if I liked how they looked.

Step 6: Wrap Each Foamcore Strip.

Here's the fun part!

After you ensure that each foamcore strip is sized perfectly, you need to make it match the bottom of your drawers. This gives it a seamless, intentional aesthetic. Plus, you can use the contact paper to cover the rough edges of the foamcore and any mistakes that you made while cutting the slots.

First, line up each foam core strip on a piece of contact paper that is long enough to wrap around the rest of the strip. Peel back the protective paper on the contact paper, and stick the foamcore to the exposed adhesive. Carefully smooth the contact paper over the surface of the foamcore - avoiding wrinkles and bubbles.

If it looks like the contact paper may wrinkle, I'd suggest unsticking it and trying again.

Crease the contact paper over the top edge of the foam core strip, making sure that the corners are fully engaged on the adhesive side of the paper. Once you smooth both sides down, the contact paper should stay on its own.

Test fit the wrapped pieces individually by setting them into the drawers. Use your utility knife to trim off any excess paper.

Step 7: Trim Out the Slots, and Glue in Place.

All of your individual pieces of foam core are ready for the final assembly!

The last step is to use your utility knife to cut out the excess contact paper that is covering your slots and fit the foam core strips back together like they were in Step 5, when we test fit the assembly.

Finally, once you are happy with the placement of everything, hot glue the foam core strips together by running a smooth bead of glue down the corner of each of the foam core strips.

Use hot glue to tack your final assembly down into the drawers, and you've made a cute set of custom drawer dividers for anything you can think of!

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