A Handmade Tale : Custom Sewing Chest

A Handmade Tale : Custom Sewing Chest

Posted by Helen | December 9, 2016 | Sewing Inspiration
DIY Sewing Storage Chest

DIY Sewing Storage Chest

I come from a family of makers. This has always been a point of pride for me and something that has given me many joyful experiences in my life. I recently posted about my sisters handmade wedding, which showcased the hard work and talent of not only my family, but my new extended family, too!  More and more people are taking an interest in handmade practices and developing skills in things like sewing, woodworking, food preserving, you name it!  It makes me so happy to see this and to know that other children are going to have great experiences like I did, exploring creativity and making things with their hands.

I could go on and on about makers in my life and their seemingly infinite talents, but this post is about someone in particular. This post is about my dad.  My dad has had a woodworking shop in the basement of my family home for as long as I can remember.  It is a simple space, only about 12′ x 14′, and a good portion of that is taken up by our freezer. It has walls covered in tools and drawers full of different sized files, nails, and screws.  He would help me build things, and build things for me; whatever my heart desired. He embraces making things for others and will always say yes to a request, which, as a primarily selfish maker myself, seems practically saint-like.

I asked my dad not long ago if he could make me a sewing chest.  Something to store my increasingly large collection of sewing tools, thread, and other supplies. Something larger than your average sewing box, but not as big as a regular chest of drawers. I considered the classic look, with the fold-out drawers, but this didn’t seem like the best use of space.  In the end, we decided to go with a simple box with three shallow drawers and one large drawer for bigger items.

DIY Sewing Storage Chest
DIY Sewing Storage Chest

My Dad suggested incorporating dividers into the box to help keep things organized and found these awesome cutlery inserts at Home Depot. Each drawer has a unique inset, for storing different things.  The thread drawer has a tilted spice insert, so the thread is clearly visible and accessible inside.  I can’t tell you how much this has improved my sewing experience!  I used to have all my thread jumbled in a box, and it would get tangled up and become a stressful mess.  Now, I have it organized by colour and can easily see what is available. Each drawer also has a space on the side for larger items which won’t fit in the inserts.

DIY Sewing Storage Chest Thread Storage Thread Storage Thread Storage

The other two shallow drawers have cutlery inserts, perfect for scissors, markers, and other small sewing tools. I love opening the drawers and knowing exactly where any tool will be.  It makes cleaning up after sewing a breeze, too. I just open the drawer and place the items in their spots.  I’m not typically a hyper-organized person, but I always appreciate a good system, and I need a little help keeping things in order.

DIY Sewing Storage Chest DIY Sewing Storage Chest  DIY Sewing Storage Chest
DIY Sewing Storage Chest

The bottom drawer is a bit larger and does not have an insert.  I am using it to store my serger thread, buttonholer, and many zip lock bags full of various notions.  I have a bag for zips, binding, elastic, cording, and hardware. The bags themselves are a bit messy, but they are at least separated.

DIY Sewing Storage Chest DIY Sewing Storage Chest

The sewing box is made from red alder, which is perfect because my TNT pattern is the Alder Shirtdress. The bottom of the drawers and the back of the chest are made from a thin board, to help maximize the amount of space inside the drawers and minimize the weight overall.  The corners of the box and drawers are joined using dovetail joints, which is a bit of woodworking wizardry that yields beautiful results.

DIY Sewing Storage Chest
Thread Storage
DIY Sewing Storage Chest
DIY Sewing Storage Chest

The drawers have gutters on either side, where they slide onto corresponding wooden rails inside the box.  The rails have rounded edges on the outside, so it is easy to slide the drawers on and off without having to hit it at the exact right angle. There is no stopper on the drawers, so they can be easily removed from the box and carried using the gutters.  I often pull out the thread drawer to see all my thread options in the best light.

DIY Sewing Storage Chest
Thread Storage
Thread Storage

My dad chose these pretty brass handles for the drawers and spaced them evenly on the front of the box. He also put wooden handles on either side of the box so it can be lifted and moved.  I say can, because it is quite heavy!

DIY Sewing Storage Chest DIY Sewing Storage Chest

Thankfully, the box is right next to my sewing spot at our kitchen table, so I can leave it be and pull out the drawers if needed. It was designed to fit next to my sewing machine in a modular shelving unit my dad ALSO made for our apartment years ago. Woweee, am I lucky or what?!

DIY Sewing Storage Chest
DIY Sewing Storage Chest

I hope you enjoyed reading this handmade tale! Feel free to pass this post along to any woodworkers in your life for some Christmas present inspiration 😉  Special thanks to my dad for all his hard work and generosity <3



Blog Comments

Wow. What an amazing gift! It’s so well planned and beautiful. Your dad did a good job.

Thank you, Lisa!

That is fantastic! I love how he did the gutters to be slides and handles! Also the spice rack for storing your thread is genius. I’ll have to see if that will work for me! Kudos to your father for such lovely work.

Thanks Laura! The spice racks work so well for the thread, and even a regular cutlery drawer makes a great thread storage solution if you cant find the right spice rack 🙂

Beautiful Helen! There is a rather LARGE sewing community out here that would love to have one of those (hint hint) I too come from a making family although I’m the only sewer 🙂 My mother was a painter and my father made all sorts of nice things including finishing basements in houses that he did for years. Now in his ’80’s he teaches stained glass at his local community centre to a small group of dedicated followers 🙂

Thanks, Kathleen! Sounds like you come from quite the family of makers, yourself!

This is beautiful! What a talented dad you’ve got 🙂

Thank you, Kelly!

Oh my, this is so special….so much love, talent and Craft has gone into that chest. Like father like daughter eh?

That’s right! Thanks Sarah 🙂

Nice to see it loaded up with sewing stuff. Thanks for not showing the first dovetails I cut 😉

Thanks Dad! All the dovetails are beautiful, you are your own worst critic!

What a beautiful work of art and keepsake. Talent doesn’t just run, but races – in this family!

Thank you! <3

Not sure if my previous comment worked! This is stunning Helen. Your dad is so skilled.

Thank you! He is, indeed!

So. Beautiful. Your Dad created a work of art!

Thank you, Sue!!

Great post, love that you see yourself from a family of makers. I guess the “craft shelf” had some influence. Love MOM

Thanks <3

This is so awesome! What a special gift from your Dad, and what a special Dad to have made it for you. 🙂

Thanks, Carolyn! I am a lucky girl!!

This is beautiful! I am also fortunate to have a father who excels at woodworking: my home is filled with custom furniture that he made just for us, and we get to use it every single day! As craftswomen ourselves, we know how good it feels when someone loves and uses what we’ve made for them–I hope your father feels the same joy knowing that this sewing box is well-loved and constantly used! =)

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