Just a little bit about my art and life in general....

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ribbon drawer organizer project

I have noticed that a lot of my time is spent trying to find the materials I want to work with. So I thought I would work on a few organizer projects to make life easier for me. My first idea was to make something to organize my ribbon and lace collection. I thought a box frame with some dowels to put the spools onto would work nicely. We had saved a few of the old wooden drawers from our old kitchen cabinets. These would be perfect. I knew they would be good for something! The condition of the drawers weren't too good but I figured a little paint would work wonders. So here is my project...


1. Old drawer
2. Wooden dowels (I used 1/4 inch but for wider drawers 3/8 inch would be better)
3. Wooden wheels or caps to fit on the end of the dowels that can be removed to add more ribbon spools
4. Ruler/T-square
5. Drill with bit to make holes in the drawer slightly larger than the dowel diameter
6. Paint primer
7. Top coat paint
8. Paint brush
9. Hand saw to cut the dowels to length
10. Sand paper


1. Measure positions for the holes for the dowels. First I decided the depth within the drawer I wanted the dowels to sit. They need to be far enough out to allow for larger sized spools. I chose 3 inches from the back of the drawer. I made 3 marks down the side of the drawer 3 inches out and then with the ruler connected these marks to make a line.

I chose to space my holes 4 inches apart. Starting at the bottom of the drawer I measured and marked the spacing I wanted.

Then I made the same marking on the other side of the drawer.

2. Drill holes: With my cordless drill and a drill bit larger than my dowels I drilled holes at the positions I marked. Keep the drill straight vertically so the holes are straight. I had some tearout of the wood as the drill pushed through -- but I wasn't trying for perfection.

3. Before I started the finishing work I "dry" fit all the dowels just to make sure I had drilled the holes properly. Once the dowels were in position I marked the length I needed with a pencil so I could cut them to length. I used a hand saw to cut them.

4. Prepping the wood. I cleaned and sanded all the wood surfaces that were a little rough including the dowel ends. Then I brushed off the drawer so it was ready to paint. I also removed the old drawer handle and saved it to put on after the painting was finished.

5. Painting: First I painted the wood with a white primer paint. When all sides were finished and dried I painted the top coat. We have many old cans of paint around and I chose this Robin's egg blue. I did have to paint two coats to get the proper coverage. I chose not to paint the dowels because I was anxious to finish up on this project.

6. I replaced the drawer knob and fitted the dowels and their ends together. Then I added the spools of ribbons.

Yeah! All done! I was a little impatient and didn't organize the colors much but may do this later when I have more time -- or maybe not since I never have more time. I definitely want to make another because I have more spools to add. I have a few narrower drawers to use. Also I would like to add a square of fabric that hangs down from the top to cover the spools and protect from dust and sunlight. I set the drawer at the back of my work table and I love it!

What I would do differently -- next time... I think the dowels I used for the wider drawer were a little too small in diameter for the span of the drawer. They tend to sag a bit when I have a lot of heavier spools on them. And I think that the spacing of 4 inches might be a little tight -- 4.5 inches would be better.


Karen said...

Wow, that looks great! Nicely done. :)

Athena's Armoury said...

It looks fantastic! What a great idea to repurpose those drawers.

Happy House Quilts said...

Oh my gosh that is awesome!!! I want one!!! you could sell them at etsy!!!

Candy Stick Lane said...

You Rock! Thank you for taking the time to share all the steps :o) Great Job!

Die Hohe Dame said...

awsome project... i need one of those!

Rain's End said...

I'm glad everyone like the ribbon organizer drawer project. My husband thought I was crazy for saving those drawers so I am really happy that I figured out a good use for them! The other nice thing about the drawer is that with the knob handle I can carry it to wherever I am working -- since I don't always work in my art area ;)

Tricia McKellar said...

Very cool! :)

gigi said...

Fabulous project and one that I needed to know about... :) Question: how do you keep the ribbon ends from drifting to massive lengths?!

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lawanaguy said...

I think this is an awesome idea. So easy to integrate with a sewing area. I may do this my self.

kym said...

I have been searching for a way to organize my seemingly hundreds of spools of ribbon and this is perfect! I even have some drawers from an old desk that were too nice to just throw out so I am excited to put them to good use! Thanks so much for the great idea.