Sunday 20 September 2020

Reusing vintage storage

I haven't been doing any sewing this week, but I have been busy with a sewing-related project. I decided to take advantage of the late summer weather we've been enjoying, and work outside on something which I recently bought at an auction. It was described in the catalogue as a 'haberdashery cabinet', and it certainly looked like something for holding cotton reels in a shop.

Then, when I was cleaning out the drawers, I found this wedged under one of the dividers.

Proof! Shade label from a spool of thread

When I bought the cabinet, it was in a sorry state. It had clearly been used for storage in a workshop, and was very grubby and full of dust. There were sticky labels on the grimy glass fronts and on the drawers themselves, and the whole thing had been thicky painted with a plastic-like grey paint. However, when I pulled the labels off the drawers I discovered that they brought quite a lot of the paint with them, and underneath was attractive varnished wood. This photo shows the cabinet partway through the job of removing the paint from the drawers.

Originally, all the drawers looked like the bottom two

Most of the paint came off the drawers quite easily, because the surface underneath was varnished. I must admit that peeling it off was actually quite good fun! For the main body of the cabinet however, there was no alternative but to sand it down. This was why I took advantage of warm, dry days - this photo shows the state of my yard after a sanding session.

Guess where the cabinet was standing!

Buried under the paint at the bottom of the back panel was a small metal plaque. Unfortunately, I managed to sand off part of the writing before I realised that it was printed, but just enough was left for me to make out "J & P Coats" and "Paisley".

More proof!

Unlike the drawers, the cabinet is made from a wood with an open grain, and it proved impossible to remove all of the paint. So I decided that I would have to repaint these parts, albeit less heavy-handedly. I left the drawers and the plinth as plain wood, and just lightly sanded and revarnished them. I also removed the remains of the labels from the glass fronts, and gave them a good wash. Finally, the drawers were thoroughly brushed out.

The completed cabinet

Some of the drawers have wooden dividers which can be slotted into place wherever they are wanted.

One of the dividers

Nearly all of the wooden cotton reels which I have are for Dewhurst's 'Sylko' brand, but I did manage to find a few from Coats. Oddly, the Sylko reels fit much better! They are just the right size for the channels, whereas the Coats reels are shorter, so waste space. The 'Drima' reels, which came later (1970s?) and are plastic, are far too long, so I think the cabinet must predate these.

L to r: Sylko, Coats standard, Coats Super Sheen, Coats Drima

I don't have enough threads to fill an entire cabinet, so I am going to use it for something else. The previous owner had written lengths inside some of the drawers, and this gave me the idea.

Lengths written in the channels

My enormous collection of zips lives in a box, and I have to go through the entire lot to find anything. By storing them in here, I will be able to tell at a glance that whatever colour/length combination I need, I almost certainly don't have it!

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