Several years ago, The Husband bought me a nice oak toolbox to hold my new and vintage costume jewelry. It was very nicely made, and it had lots of little drawers to hold everything. The problem was that it took up the entire top of my dresser, and since it had a hinged lid, I couldn’t put anything on top of it. Well, to be honest, I shouldn’t have put anything on top, but of course I managed to bury it in clutter. Which meant that I couldn’t ever open the lid.
I successfully ignored this little problem spot for years, even on the rare occasions when I got the rest of the bedroom clutter under control. The perfect solution was given to me several months ago, but I didn’t realize it, so I just kept right on ignoring the problem.
Recently, I decided I was tired of looking at the pile of junk on my dresser (it’s getting a facelift too, stay tuned!), and it was time for the toolbox to go. I may find a different job for it, but for now it’s moving into my closet until inspiration or aggravation strikes. So I cleared the junk (and the dust) off the top, and then I ran out of enthusiasm.
I wandered over to my computer to see what kind of clever jewelry storage option I might find on Pinterest. I kept seeing jewelry organizers made from picture frames and shadow boxes, but I didn’t have a big picture frame laying around, and the only shadow box I own is not easy to open.
Then I remembered the vintage sewing case. It belonged to The Husband’s grandmother, who was a professional seamstress. The frame was still solid and sturdy, and the hinges were still tight, but the fabric covering was dirty, smelly and fragile. At first, I thought I would be able to just put a coat of paste wax on the frame to preserve the worn, yellowed paint. As I began cleaning it though, I noticed the grime that had built up over more than 50 years was not coming off.
My new plan was to replace the fabric with something that was more “me” while re-using the old tacks that held it in place. Since I was going to re-paint a side table with some DIY chalk paint, I decided to paint the sewing case at the same time. While the fabric was off, I measured all of the frame pieces so that you can make your own jewelry case*, even if you don’t happen to have a family heirloom laying around.
Once I re-painted the frame, I gave it two coats of soft wax to protect the paint. Then, I talked The Husband into drilling a lot of pilot holes so that I could add screw eyes (for hanging) and more cup hooks to the frame. It originally had about 6, but I wanted a bunch more to hang my necklaces from. It took some time to screw in all the hooks, but the kids were happy to “help”.
I found a linen (not to be confused with stinky burlap) remnant at Hobby Lobby, but while it had the look I wanted, it was very plain. Then I remembered I had run across a blog full of illustrations from Jane Austen novels. Perfect! I downloaded the illustrations that I wanted to use, and printed them (mirror image!) onto iron-on transfer paper. I cut a double layer of the linen fabric for each side (because a single layer was too transparent), with about a half-inch margin so that I could fold under all the way around. You’ll want to be sure that the fabric has to stretch a bit so it’ll look smooth when it’s tacked on the frame. I ironed the “seam allowances” smooth, cut the corners off to reduce bulk, and then ironed the transfers on.
Once the transfers cooled, I set to work attaching the fabric to the frame. I was able to re-use most of the original tacks, and it was pretty easy to tap them back into their original holes. I tacked the 4 corners down first, then the center of each side, and then filled in the rest until the fabric was tacked down all the way around. Then I flipped it over and did the same with the back.
Once the fabric covers were in place, I decided to print off a couple more illustrations onto cardstock, and decoupage them onto the flip-down door. I have had bad luck with ink smearing with Mod Podge before, so I used Mod Podge spray on the paper to set the ink, then brushed on gloss Mod Podge to glue them down and seal them. No smears this time!
6- 1×2 10 3/4″
1 piece thin plywood 10 3/4″ x 10 1/8″
(optional) 2 pieces thin plywood 12 1/4″ x 27″ -OR- enough upholstery fabric to cover the front and back with 1/2″ fold-over all the way around
2-1 1/2″ hinges
1 piece of ribbon, yarn, twine or light-duty chain approx. 14″ long
1 hook & eye
36 cup hooks
36 finish nails
A bunch of upholstery nails (if you’re using fabric for the front and back)
OR wood glue if you’d rather use plywood for the front and back