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How To Line Drawers With Fabric

Last Updated on November 7, 2012 by Kristi Linauer

Good morning, all! Yesterday I tried to finish up a project that I started…well…about three months ago. I still didn’t get finished, but I’m almost there!

Remember my fabric-lined kitchen drawers?

I just love them! It always makes me smile when I open up my drawers and see that bright, cheerful fabric. So why fabric? I used fabric because I can never find any shelf/drawer liner that I like. I know that there are places that sell some great options online now, but still, none of them are ever bright enough and fun enough for my taste. So when I saw this cheerful striped canvas in JoAnn Fabrics, I knew I wanted to use that for my drawers.

Obviously, using fabric instead of drawer liner requires a bit more work. It’s also a little more permanent (although I’ve encountered more than one shelf liner in my life that was as bad, if not worse, than trying to remove stubborn wallpaper, and ended up just putting new shelf liner right over the old liner).

So here’s how I did it…

First, I used painters tape to tape off the sides of the drawer right at the bottom.

Next I cut a garbage bad into strips and taped those to cover the sides of the drawer.

I cut a piece of my fabric a couple of inches wider and longer than the drawer bottom.

Then I used spray adhesive on the drawer bottom.  I always, ALWAYS use the kind that says “web” instead of “mist”.  The mist adhesive sprays are incredibly messy.  They cloud up, float through the air, and get on everything!  I’ve never had that problem with the web adhesives.

After waiting the suggested amount of time, I placed the fabric on the bottom, smoothed out the wrinkes, and then used the dull side of a knife to press the fabric into the corners.

With everything pressed into place, I let it sit about 30 minutes.

After giving the adhesive time to set up, I used my X-ACTO knife to cut away the excess fabric.  Then I removed the tape and the plastic.

Now because these are for my kitchen, and I really wanted the fabric to be protected and the edges to be sealed, I put two coats of water-based clear sealer over the fabric.  I used some of the Rustoleum Polyurethane in a matte finish that the good folks at Rustoleum sent to me.  Naturally this makes it more permanent, but I’m okay with that.

And after it was dry, the drawer was done!

If you’re opposed to using a spray adhesive, there are other ways you can do this.  On the drawer I lined, I actually used wallpaper paste (Mod Podge would work too) and brushed it into the bottom of the drawer.  In the end, it worked well, but I found it a bit harder to work with than the spray adhesive.

Wallpaper paste doesn’t “grip” the fabric immediately, so using a knife to push the fabric into the corners while trying to keep the fabric from slipping around was a bit of a challenge.  The good thing is that with wallpaper paste (or Mod Podge), there’s no need to line the sides with plastic since there’s no overspray.  I personally prefer the immediate adhesion that I get with spray adhesive, so I don’t mind the extra step with the plastic, but like I said, both ways work out in the end, and each have their “pros” and “cons”.

Also, if you prefer something a little less permanent, you could use Mod Podge for adhering the fabric to the bottom, as well as for sealing the fabric.  Since Mod Podge is water-based, you could (somewhat) easily remove the fabric in the future if you decide you’d like a change.

My main suggestion is to find a fabric that has some body to it. Thinner fabric would be an absolute pain to work with. The fabric that I used was canvas, and it worked great.

So go and make those drawers pretty on the inside! 😀

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

    These look great! Another option would be to simply buy some vinyl or oilcloth and cut it to size, no glue required. A less permanent option, and also not as many fun colors or patterns, but it wipes clean easily. A second option would be to wrap a thin sheet of basswood cut to the size of the drawer in a fun fabric and set it in. I tend to like things to be more permanent too, though.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Love this idea. It would definately brighten things up. One could also use some iron on vinyl over a fun fabric to make it waterproof.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 10, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Its perfect, Very nice How-to 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I love the vibrant colors! Thank you for giving an alternative option to those of us who are not comfortable with going permanent. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ashley @ DesignBuildLove
    February 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    great tutorial! I love the colorful pop inside the drawers and love that fabric can be an option and give so much more versatility!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 1, 2012 at 11:41 am

    This is SO nice!! I want to do this with a striped IKEA fabric on a desk I am re-doing. Thanks for the info on Mod Podge as I was wondering how I would be able to change it if the fabric got worn down, down the line.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Striped Pillow With Painted Detail
    April 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

    […] So in the meantime, I decided to practice using some leftover striped canvas that I used for lining my kitchen drawers.  Here’s how it turned […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 3, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I love this idea! Question though, how would you clean the cloth after some time? Like if I wanted to wash the cloth liners to make sure the clothes stay clean?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Just wondering if you’ve tried this process using liquid starch?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Just curious, do you think using a modge podge as a sealer would be bad if silverware or the rims of glasses rested on it? I know it’s non-toxic, but do you think it’s ok to let things that we will be drinking or eating off of rest on the dried modge podge? Just wondering as I am doing this same project in my kitchen right now.


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I love the pop of color–really pretty! This reminded me of a similar trick when lining the back of a bookshelf with some color…just cut a piece of foam board to fit, wrap it in pretty fabric, glue/staple & voila! Essentially it would be a false bottom for the drawer. I think I’ll go try this 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I love this idea. I recently purchased a lovely set of drawers that have had contact used as a liner. I removed the contact and found I was left with a nasty sticky mess. Tried a couple of methods to fix that but the sticky keeps re-emerging. I had considered fabric but worried about it moving around. You have handed me the perfect solution. I want to refurbish the drawers and when I do I will use your fabric fix to sort out the bottom of the drawers. Thank you so much for sharing your projects.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 17, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Its such a very nice idea to make a line drawers with fabric and its looks so nice.thanks for providing me the tutorial for that.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Wendy Schaefer-Miles
    February 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

    This is fabulous! You can be your own kind of crazy! Use up those favorite swatches of fabric!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 15, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    I was just thinking about something like this but I want something I can take out and wash. I am thinking some fabric, cut and sewn so I can do just that and pop it back in when clean.