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“Helena” a repurposed sewing cabinet

I am starting to do too many “like” projects. I know a lot of bloggers name their pieces, so I thought I’d give it a try to see if it makes things easier for me to remember this repurposed sewing cabinet. (as a reference)

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I named this piece after my Aunt Helen, who gave this to me. They had removed the sewing machine, so I didn’t have to do that dreaded chore.

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The top had some wear and some scratches, but it was solid wood.

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Typically, I remove the hinged part in the front and install a shelf for a laptop or other small items that need to be stored. I decided to mix this one up a little.

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I removed the entire “top”.  I pried and banged and voila!   There was a ridge of thin wood that was inset in the top.  I used a rasp to remove the bulk of the wood, and then the orbital sander to smooth it all out.

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This is the part that I removed.

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I sanded the finish off of the top of the cabinet. You can see the difference here. On the left is the top, on the right is the “framed” piece I removed.

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I used my paint sprayer to prime it and paint it. I used the same paint I used on the items in my bedroom last summer. It is from Glidden, Crisp White Linen.  It is almost white.

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I used a dark walnut stain from Minwax for the top.

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I wiped on two coats of Wipe-on Poly.

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Kreg Jig
To use the Kreg Jig Jr. adjust the slider to the thickness of your wood. Mine is set at 3/4 inch wood.

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To attach the top to the base, I used my Kreg Jig Jr.  I clamped it right on the base.

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Pretty pocket hole! (ugly glue left from the manufacturer)  I didn’t notice it in real life. EVERYTHING shows up in pictures!

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I tuned the base upside down on the underneath side of the top.

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I inserted my self tapping pocket hole screws to attach the base to the top.

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There ya go! I think it’s missing something.

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I had the plaster-type applique that I got from Jan.  I first tried to glue it with Gorilla Glue Super Glue. The underneath side of the applique is very shiny, and a little concave. The super glue didn’t have anything to give it “tooth”.  So I then reached for the handy dandy Gorilla Glue Dries White 2x Faster!  This glue has never failed me, and this time was no different. Because there was empty space, the Gorilla Glue had room to do it’s stuff. In case you’ve never used this glue, I’ll tell you that it oozes or expands.  That’s what I love about it. Use too much, and it will ooze out, but used correctly YOU will LOVE it too!

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I painted the applique to match the cabinet (table base). I have not distressed this yet with sanding and or glazing. Folks around these parts just don’t “get it”.

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I LOVE the dark walnut with the white!  It’s my favorite look.

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I love giving new life to something that somebody was ready to discard! Isn’t she pretty?  This was the first time I had removed the inside “frame”, but I bet it won’t be the last time!

Here are a few other cabinets I have redone:
Vintage Sewing Cabinet     Repurposed sewing cabinet-laptop desk (10)    
You can click on the picture to go to the post.



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A teacher at heart, Gail relishes the chance not to show off her projects, but to help others find their inner handywoman, step-by-step. Her blog, MyRepurposedLife.com, chronicles her scrap-saving adventures and has been featured on countless DIY magazines and websites, including Women’s Day, Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy. She is a longtime influencer for both Krylon spray paint and Gorrilla Glue. With a tribe of more than 400,000 followers, Gail is inspiring a new generation of DIYers to pick up some tools and get to work.
About gail@myrepurposedlife.com


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Beautiful – I re-do these too – searching always!

  2. girlfromwva says:

    looks beautiful!

  3. I love your transformation!! The dark wood against the white is just gorgeous!

  4. I think I’m about to Pinterest all of them. I always feel bad about the ones abandoned in the thrift stores. I think I’ll go rescue the one I saw the other day.

  5. I’m sending you my sewing cabinet.


    I’m playing catch-up over here… good grief I wish I lived next door to you!!!


  6. It’s such a lovely transformation and all your other projects are great!

  7. It is gorgeous and deserves a name – all designers name their handbags!…Helen is a fine name for that piece. I love all of your cabinet creations.

  8. Love the dark top with the white! So pretty!

  9. I really like how you refinished the cabinet with the mix of the dark stain top and white body. I was given an old sewing cabinet that was in pretty bad shape (looked like it was left somewhere damp). I just painted the whole thing white however “her” legs are a dark brown metal. She just got some jewelry in the form of chunky white ceramic knobs with antique brass details. I spray painted the brass Espresso to tie in with the dark brown base. She still needs a little something for the pop out drawer though.

    Have a great day!

  10. That is the coolest Sewing Table makeover I have ever seen! Great work, it looks stunning. -K

  11. She is very pretty with her white body and brown top.Trish

  12. Cute! I love the dark stained top with painted white base. So nice.

    I like that little jig thingy too.


  13. I’m glad I went ahead and put the bunny pics on my blog since you missed them on FB…I just loved that little guy! (or maybe girl..lol) You’re right about it’s ears…they weren’t even bunny size yet..he was such a little thing! (kinda looked like a mouse in some of the pics!)
    Sounds like you’ve been a busy lady with all that mowing, sanding, sawing and assembling! lol OH and I did wear shoes in the garage this time! (my poor foot is black and blue and sore!)
    Your cabinet turned out lovely..I like the white with the dark wood…so pretty!
    Try and stay cool girlfriend!
    Love ya loads!

  14. Ms. Helen is GOR-JUS … your first “named” piece. LOVE it : )

  15. oh- and of course I have a link to you so that my friends can also discover and be inspired by you! Thanks again!

  16. I am a new fan and wanted to let you know how much I enjoy seeing your projects. The best part is seeing the before shots and then the dramatic transformation step-by-step. I finally started my own blog and currently am repurposing the lumber from a barn I just torn down into a new chicken coop. It’s in the early stages though. Keep up the good work. I’m a subscriber now and look forward to all of your future projects!

  17. I love that look! The dark top is so pretty with the white base. I like the applique you added, too.
    Helena is one of my favorites!

  18. Gail, your aunt would be very proud of the way this one turned out. Great job.

  19. I’m sure Helena thanks you. She’s beautiful now.

  20. Helena…
    Boy that brought back memories for me!
    When I was in high school (just a “couple” of years ago now! Ha!) my name in German class (yes, I know… a real useful language… I should have taken Spanish!) my class name was Helena.
    Then… when I got a heifer for 4-H I named her Helena!
    Yes… I “Like” your name; Helena!

    Great job on the cabinet! I’m sure it’s another project of yours to show up at the Kreg site! I saw some of your others there already.

  21. Gail this is freaking awesome! You’re like the sewing cabinet guru or something! Awesome job!

  22. Oh mY! I just Love your transformation. I still have my sewing machine cabinet sitting here half finished. I think you just inspired me to get motivated and finish it. Thanks for sharing!

  23. LOVE. Do you have plans to sell her/it? I bet something like that would fly off the shelf in your booth.

  24. Great job Gail… love the contrast of the dark wood against the white.

    Another suggestion for you, use your silouette and cut out a nice saying to put on the front of the table.

    I have 2 of these just waiting for me to tackle, that is what I plan on doing to them.

    Hugs, Deb

  25. Gail that turned out beautifully!

  26. This is so stinkin’ cute…love the dark wood with white, such a classy look. Aunt Helen never looked so good, lol! I must get some of that Gorilla 2X glue…sounds like a must have!

    Oh man….a new Silhouette?! Just when I was ready to buy the old one, now I am thinking I might have to wait for the larger one…don’t know what that puppy is going to set me back, do ya?!

  27. This is awesome. I used a old sewing machine cabinet just like this to make a portable stand for my Miter saw. Just used that yesterday.

    Oh, Guess what I bought yesterday, The Kreg Jr. We are working on our kitchen pantry, Framing is about done.


  28. It looks great, as usual!
    I like the naming idea! It’s a good way to keep track of projects! When yous tart taking things apart, you can write things like.. the leg is part of Veronica… :)

  29. It looks great, as usual!
    I like the naming idea! It’s a good way to keep track of projects! When yous tart taking things apart, you can write things like.. the leg is part of Veronica… :)

  30. Helena looks great but the pink cabinet is my favorite.

  31. I have absolutely got to get one of these old tables! This is another winner–I love the wood stain top with the white base, too.

  32. I really, really love this! Great job!

  33. Gorgeous, Gail!! I love the stained wood on top. I may need to check out that glue. It sounds perfect!

  34. helena looks nice and pretty now! love her little applique!

  35. helena looks nice and pretty now! love her little applique!

  36. All the cabinets look amazing, love the colours you used!

  37. I love this!~ I love how furniture looks with a white bottom and a dark top! And the little design on the front made it perfect!

  38. I love the Kreg Jig site. So many wonderful projects! I am a beginner to all this and was inspired by the pictures of all the wood working projects. Love you blog and detailed projects.

  39. I love your transformation!! The dark wood against the white is just gorgeous!

  40. It is gorgeous! I always love your creations!! I just bought a sewing table at a garage sale over the weekend for about $20. When I came back to pick it up with my car, we found an old sewing machine still in it! Not sure what I am going to do with the machine… maybe just leave it in there and set mine on top!

  41. ‘Helen’ is beautiful!!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I read and appreciate every word!