Falling in love… with a piece of furniture
When my Opa (grandpa) moved out of his house there was some furniture left behind. It was great timing for me since I was moving back into the area to start my Masters, and I was in need of couches, a coffee table, kitchen table, etc, for my new apartment. While in the house to take the couches I noticed the stereo cabinet… and fell in love. I’ve never fallen in love with a piece of furniture before. But this was just so retro, yet modern. A piece of fine craftsmanship from the early 1960’s. Handmade from solid, hardwood maple. I had seen it many times as a child, but never appreciated it like this.
I immediately began to think of how to re-purpose this wonderful piece. A side board or buffet? Storage for liquor and glasses? Perhaps just re-fitted with a new stereo system (CD and ipod / mp3 capable) and speakers. It was heavier than you could imagine, but I didn’t care. It couldn’t be left with the house – that was not an option in my mind.
With guidance from my dad and using a power drill, I took out the old stereo system and speakers. Even with those components gone the cabinet was still too heavy to carry, so I took off the top. After much laborious lifting and carrying, it finally made it to my apartment where I re-assembled it.
The need to protect
Enter beautiful, sweet, cuddly, chatty, black cat – Merlin (aka Miss Merlin, or Miss Furrypants). Actually, she’s my sister’s cat that I’m taking care of while she is gone for a year. [I also never thought I would live with a cat (I wasn’t raised with one, and didn’t care for those I met), but this one has warmed my heart]. Anyway, the issue then became how to protect the top of the cabinet from Merlin’s claws when she lands on the top, or launches herself off again – a frequent occurrence since a new piece of furniture is inevitably the new favourite spot for a cat to lounge.
Quilted cover – the easy way
I decided the easy answer was a quilted top for the cabinet. This allowed me to chose fabric and make the cover myself, plus the batting inside the quilt provides extra protection against anything hard or sharp placed on top – in this case the cat’s nails.
The main steps:
- Make a quilt sandwich (sew through top fabric, batting, bottom fabric)
- Add binding to finish the edge and hide the innards of the “sandwich”
I measured the top of the cabinet, and bought enough fabric for the top, bottom, and binding, and used a couple of scraps of cotton batting for the filling. Luckily I was able to get both the top and bottom pieces, side-by-side, from the same width of fabric. You could also chose different fabric for the top and bottom, and a more neutral colour of fabric for the binding, to make a reversible cover.
Always buy a bit more fabric than you think you need (I usually get 3-5 inches extra from a bolt of fabric). Also, be sure to gently wash (cold water soak is fine), dry, and iron your fabric before starting. This helps prevent bunching and shrinkage in the final piece if you want to wash it.
I then pinned together my “quilt sandwich” (bottom fabric, batting, top fabric) in many places and sewed lines length-wise and width-wise through the material. I decided on an irregular blocked/grid pattern, to give the piece a more modern feel. You want to aim to sew a line of some sort at least every 3-4 inches of area. Otherwise, your quilt will have too much “movement” between the top, batting, and bottom.
To create a tidy edge, I added binding. This is simply strips of fabric cut and sewed end-to-end, and then folded and wrapped around the edge of the quilt, and sewn in place. You’ll need to decide how much edge you want to see and multiply that by 4 for the strip width. The total length of binding is the perimeter of the piece plus several extra inches for attaching pieces and going around corners. Sew together all strips at the ends, and then fold lengthwise, the two long edges into the centre – press with an iron. Wrap the binding around the “sandwich” edge from top to bottom evenly and pin in place. Sew 1/4 – 1/2 of an inch from the inner edge, through the binding top and bottom, and the quilt sandwich in the middle.
The result is a beautiful, protective cover for my stereo cabinet, with the extra benefit of adding a modern feel to an old piece of furniture. And when I have time, my next project for this cabinet is to re-purpose it! Hmmm…. new stereo? Mini bar? What ever it is, I’ll be sure to let you know!