It’s one of my favorite days of the month, Furniture Fixer Upper Day!! My dear friends, y’all know how much I enjoy a good furniture makeover, but today’s vintage brother sewing machine cabinet makeover was a DOOZY!! This might be the very definition of a fixer upper ha ha!
Here she is:
A local gal reached out to me over the summer to ask if I would be interested in a few things her tennants had left behind. She did warn me that it all pretty much looked like trash, but she has seen my work and had faith in me. The fact that she was willing to drive it all to my house sold me for sure. Yes! For FREE? I will take all your trashy pieces, thank you!
I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.
This cabinet was pretty darned cool though.
I mean, it IS ugly, but also kind of retro, and I set out to make it functional again!
Like most sewing machine cabinets, the top opened up and here is how the inside looked:
Remove the innards
There was no machine, so saving all those parts didn’t make sense, so I started by removing them with a screwdriver…
A bunch of screws later and this was what I was left with:
I wasn’t able to remove that funky piece across the top, but I was left with a pretty nice sized cabinet!
The tops of these cabinets come with two pieces, one that has a hole for the machine and a solid piece to work on.
I removed them both and the solid one will become my new top:
Once I had that part done, it was time for a good cleaning! I started with my shop vac to remove decades of dust that was below the treadle part of the machine.
Then, I mixed a TBSP of White Lightning into a half gallon of warm water:
This is my go-to cleaner for prepping furniture for paint.
I cleaned this cabinet inside and out, using a terry cloth applicator pad (they come two to a pack), which is perfect for this step!
I like to go back and wipe everything down once more with clean water to rinse away any remaining dirt or residue.
This thing actually wasn’t super dirty!
Fill in missing veneer
When it comes to missing veneer, nine times out of ten, I will do the work to remove it if it is in such poor condition. However, for this piece, I decided instead to remove what was easily coming away and then fill it in with Dixie Mud.
Several other smaller knicks and scratches were filled and sanded as well and I was finally ready to get to the fun part!
I had it all filled and ready to go when I realized that there was a small area of veneer across the top that was separating. I decided I would just pull away what was not adhered well, thinking that it would be a small piece, and then I would just fill in that small area.
I sure did pull an entire strip of veneer away from the dead center of this cabinet door, top to bottom!
So then, I decided that I should have just removed the veneer to begin with. I laid it on it’s back so I could remove all of the veneer.
This door was actually HOLLOW! The only wood on the front was a super thin layer…
Can you believe that? Had I removed that veneer, I would have been removing half the thickness.
So, I glued that back down to secure it…
And I had no choice but to reattach the strip I pulled off with Wood Glue and patch it…
Multiple bad words may have been used in the makeover of this cabinet.
There is really no way to make that patched piece so smooth that it wouldn’t be noticeable through a layer of paint, so I had to scrap my original plan and color and go in a whole new direction. The drama wasn’t over though. Stay tuned!
You can see how noticeable my patch job was down the center there.
I gave the cabinet two coats of paint and let it dry.
Then it was time to paint the inside, and to do that I laid it on its back to make it easier and left it to dry.
More disaster ensues
The door ended up closed and because the handle had been removed, I went to open the door by prying it up from the bottom and this happened:
More bad words.
I had to glue that piece back and add more Mud to fill.
Finally, I sanded everything smooth with a sanding sponge.
After wiping away any dust with a clean cloth, it was time for Operation Camouflage.
What better way to hide the patch job down the center and on the bottom than with a transfer?
But it had to extend from the top all the way down to the bottom, so it had to be big.
I found a transfer that would work!
This is a newer transfer called Meet Me in the Garden:
Would it have been my first choice for this piece? No.
Am I going to try like crazy to make it work? YES! I have to lol.
Transfers can leave a slight halo effect that shows up more on darker pieces, but using a finishing pad on it will help to diminish that…
Sealing will take some of that away also. And can you see the marks left in the paint finish from the burnishing tool? Sealing it will make those marks disappear also!
After applying this large transfer, it seemed like it needed something else.
I ended up pulling this Flower Collector transfer out and using it also:
I chose to add these pieces:
Next, I needed to seal this piece to protect it.
I actually just dipped the stir stick in my paint and then into the clear coat, but this will help to minimize the “ghosting” effect you get when you run your finger across dark painted pieces.
The rest that was solid black was sealed with this mix, two coats.
I have sealed over transfers with tinted sealer before without any issues, but this one had a lot of white in and I did not need anything else to go wrong lol!
Vintage Brother Sewing Machine Cabinet Makeover: The After
Let’s see if I was able to save this one!
Yes? No? Maybe??
I would not have originally chosen this transfer for this piece, but I am kind of loving it, especially against the black!
I was very pleasantly surprised that the white of the florals were still nice and bright over the dark paint color.
And what do you think about the feet??
I purchased a couple of options on Amazon but these won out and were very reasonably priced. You can find them HERE.
They were a bit on the shiny side, so I did give them a spray of Rustoleum Metallic Gold spray paint:
Then I just screwed them right into the bottom:
So easy! (And this petite drill is my favorite!)
I picked up this pull at the Home Depot and gave it a quick spray also:
Here’s a bit of side view, and with the light, you can see where the top had the notches cut out for the hinges, but the black paint camouflages them more in person:
They also tell some of the story of this piece!
And what did I do with the inside?
I chose this gorgeous Plum Crazy:
It’s so vibrant!
For the shelf, I had to make a trip to the Home Depot. I had one of the guys there cut it to size for me to save me some time.
Then I sanded all the raw edges smooth before painting in two coats of Plum Crazy. The shelf and the entire inside were sealed with Gator Hide since it might take some abuse.
I used these shelf support thingys that I added by drilling four holes to support them…
As you can see above, I taped off my drill bit, so I would know how deep to drill without going all the way through.
I did NOT need another disaster so close to the finish!
Then, I just plugged them into the holes. There are holes in the shelf supports where you can screw them right into the underside of the shelf as well for more sturdy support.
Here’s the inside naked…
And I don’t mind the funky piece across the top at all.
You can also see the hole where the plug came out on the opposite side in this view:
Again, I left it to tell the story.
And I’m glad I added the gold letters. They help tie in the legs and the pull…
This makeover sure did have its moments, but it now has a chance to function for many more years to come!
Don’t forget to check out what my talented friends have for you today as well!
I get to cross another project off this list!!
See what I’ve completed so far below:
I’ve now got five pieces of furniture sitting in my house that need to go to my booth lol!
I’ll be back on Tuesday with a much more simple makeover, this metal quilt rack:
Update! See how paint worked its magic on this piece HERE now!
Have a lovely fall weekend!
Don’t Miss a Thing!
If you like what you see, there are several ways to follow along!
Get FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $50. No code needed at checkout! Orders under $50 always enjoy $8 flat rate shipping! Most orders ship same or next business day!