21 October 2014

DIY: fabric-covered FLYT files

I’ve got a heck of a DIY for you today, dear readers! Finally! Perhaps you’ll recall the shelf got relocated into the office to make space for the crib in the guest room/nursery.

I mentioned way back then that I had “big plans” for those file folders at the bottom. See, I thought the all-white would be a good look for that dark nook, but it was a little too monochromatic, even for me.

So I started to wonder if I could cover those magazine files in fabric. They’re just super-basic cardboard files from IKEA – five for $2! – that I purchased over a year ago. They’re called FLYT, if you’re in the market for some files:

I was willing to experiment with covering them to figure out what worked, but lo and behold, I asked and the internet delivered, in the form of this tutorial. Even more fortunately, I knew exactly the fabric I wanted to use to cover them.

That’s the photo I sent Mr. P to choose the fabric for Baby P’s crib skirt. He liked the damask print more, so I only left the store with that one... but sure enough, I’d gone back within a week or two to get the feather fabric, as well. I can’t help it! I just love fabrics too much, you guys.

I picked up a pot of Mod Podge while I was there, too (are you surprised I didn’t have any after all these years of projects? I am, a little).

The fabric came from Jo-Ann, and for once in my life, I was able to find it online. Unfortunately, by the time I went back to get it, it was in two scraps, just over a yard long each.

So I had to be a bit economical and plan out exactly how to budget my fabric before making a single cut. I finally realized that, because there was no “up” or “down” to this fabric, I could tile them like so:

Doing it this way meant it took less than a yard of fabric to wrap four files! High five for not wasting pretty fabric. And if the fabric hadn’t been cut into two separate yards already, I probably could have covered eight files with just 1.5 yards.

I then just cut the fabric in half using the two files as a template to evenly divide the fabric between them, rolling them along as I made the cuts:

I ended up with two halves of the fabric like this, which I could use as templates for the other four files:

(PS: kneeling on the fabric while cutting it ruins all your hard work spent ironing. ugh.)

The different shapes that I cut mean the files are wrapped differently. Basically, one file is wrapped starting and finishing on the front (long side), while the other half begins and ends on the back (short side) of the file. Does that make sense? If not, hopefully it will as I go on – or if you give it a try yourself!

I started with a piece that would begin and end wrapping on the back (on the right in the above photo) and slathered the front side in Mod Podge.

Then I stuck it down in the middle of the fabric and worked my way around the file, brushing on lots of Mod Podge and pulling the fabric taut around it.

(Disclaimer: Mod-Podging on carpet is not an activity, I expect, that most landlords would happily condone. But I did not spill! Or drip! I am a careful and good tenant, in the end!)

I kept going until I’d wrapped the whole thing and trimmed off the excess.

I didn’t do anything fancy at the edge – I just trimmed it as neatly as possible (no stray threads!) and mod-podged it into place. This was the first one I did, and the edge wasn’t that neat, though I did improve with each one. Still, with the busy but monochromatic design of the fabric, plus the matte finish of the Mod Podge, it’s not easy to spot the edge, even when you know where it is. Of course, I started with one where the fabric ends in the back (on the short edge) to master that technique before trying it on the front edge!

Then it’s just a matter of using the Mod Podge to press all the flaps down on the insides and at the bottom.

Sometimes I’d snip the edges if it meant they’d lay flatter when folded over, but it wasn’t always necessary. I just did whatever worked and mod-podged it into place!

For all the half-assing with the cutting and gluing into place, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the finished product was!

And once I had my fabric cut and got into the rhythm of things, I could cover a file in about ten minutes! Of course the inside edges aren’t super pretty...

But who cares? No one will ever see that part. And the front sides that they will see are gorgeous!

So how much did I spend on this project? Here’s my best guess:

Time spent:
About two hours, counting the ironing, cutting, and gluing the fabric into place. Not bad at all!

Cost (for six):
Two packs of FLYT files: $4 (bought a while back, though)
Two yards of fabric: $10 on sale
Mod Podge: $4 with coupon
Foam brush, scissors: already owned
Total cost: $18, or $3 per file

Considering each of those files would cost at least $5 a pop at a store, if not more, this turned out to be a great upgrade for cheap! Plus, I have leftover files (four more!), fabric (half a yard), and Mod Podge (more than half the bottle), so they’re actually even cheaper than that. High five!

Of course, I didn’t just make these to be pretty. I wanted them to be functional as well. I’ll show you how I did that tomorrow!


Janice said...

What a fantastic idea!! I saw those at IKEA and decided I needed them but didn't like the plain look. Next time I'm there, I will pick some up and cover in fabric! I LOVE the finished/polished look!

Rachel C said...

I love this. Such a nice and easy way to make boring storage look better.

mOHAmed said...

Very good job! I want to do the same with wallpaper.