A home for the Janome: Cabinet Makeover

This one is not strictly a sewing project. But it is crafty. And linked to sewing. So I think it counts.

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A few weeks ago we took a trip to Ticino, the Italian canton of Switzerland to visit M’s family. It’s beautiful there and we go fairly regularly. This trip however had a couple of important purposes: 1) pick up the car so I can practice and (finally) pass my driving test and 2) pick up the sad and unused sewing cabinet languishing in a corner of M’s sister’s flat. All went well – car and cabinet are now with us in Geneva.

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The cabinet had been M’s mum’s. Lovingly crafted from chipboard and veneer back in the 70s/80s by someone in the village, now forgotton. It had been bashed around a bit and one corner looked particularly sad, with peeling cracked veneer.

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Back in Geneva we headed to the DIY shop and strode around trying to look like we knew what we were doing… this was made harder by the French factor. Try explaining “primer for a shiny surface” without the vocab – eek (it turned out the shop only sold a primer/paint combo anyway). Eventually we left with a boot full of supplies.

We started by taking the cabinet apart and giving everything a good clean, before turning our attention to the damaged veneer. I found a really helpful tutorial here. The steps are essentially: 1) cut and then prise off the damaged part, 2) sand and clean, 3) iron on the replacement veneer, 4) cut and sand it to size.

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Having dealt with that, we filled various holes, and added some pretty trim to the front. This is a trick I’d seen lots of other people do (thanks internet). It really makes a huge difference to an otherwise boring piece of furniture.

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We then sanded the whole lot and gave it a couple of coats of white paint (this took yonks as each coat had to dry over night and we could only do one side at a time).

Finally we added a pretty new doorknob and put the thing back together. So far so good, but the crucial piece to fit around the sewing machine was still missing. My original plan was to order this online but the only sites seeming to do custom ones were in the USA and once I factored in shipping etc it was going to be pricey. So we went back to the DIY shop and bought some more wood. We couldn’t quite figure out how to make it stay in place. We batted around a ledge, sliding parts and other complex ideas but decided to think a bit more before buying the parts. The next weekend I went away on a girls weekend in Brussels (hurray!) and when I came back there was a lovely surprise – M had not only cut the part to a near-perfect fit, he’d built ingenious little legs for it so it could just rest on the same platform as the sewing machine. Hero.

So here it is in all its almost-finished glory:

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I say almost because I want to add some storage inside the door. I just haven’t quite decided what yet.

*UPDATE 12FEB*

I had a request for a few more photos showing how it works. So here’s a little collage courtesy of pixlr.com:

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1. Open the front door

2. Open the top flap and rest it on the (now-fully-opened) front door

3, 4 & 5. Reach inside, pull the lever under the sewing machine platform and raise it up

6. Insert the extra piece that fits around the bed giving you a nice flat surface

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Hope that helps! 🙂

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