My Mom needed a way to organize her spools of thread and preferred a rack that hung on the wall. Since it would be going in a sewing room I thought it would be nice to incorporate fabric into the design. What I came up with was to cover an old window in fabric, replace the glass with plywood, and attach rows of pegs. Mom was very happy;) Here's how to do it.
Step 1: Materials You'll Need
1" x 2" pine or poplar
Hammer, chisel, putty knife, screwdriver, exacto knife, sandpaper, brush, measuring tape, table saw, drill, bandsaw
Step 2: Prep Your Window
The first step is to get your window ready. After donning your gloves and safety glasses remove the old glass and disposed of it properly. Clean off the old glazing and loose paint with your tool of choice. I used a combination of chisel, knife, screwdriver and cursing. Whoever put those panes in did not want them coming out! Sand your window and clean the frame to remove dust and loose debris. If the paint on your frame is peeling you will need to remove it. Fortunately the paint on my frame was in good shape so I lightly sanded it so the glue would adhere.
Step 3: Glue Fabric to the Window Frame.
Good ol' Mod Podge works great for this project as you can glue and finish with the same product. Start by laying your fabric out facedown on your workspace. Coat the entire front face of the window frame with Mod Podge. Next lay the frame facedown on top of the fabric. Stretch the fabric taunt under the frame and make sure you don't have any wrinkles. Weigh the frame down with several stacks of books until the glue dries. 30-60 minutes.
With the front glued begin wrapping the sides and gluing them down. Coat the sides of the outer rails of the longer sides, bring the fabric around and smooth it out. You may or may not need to use books again to hold the fabric in place.
To glue the short ends of the window you're going to need to decide how you want to finish the corners. This is somewhere between wallpapering and wrapping Christmas presents. I chose to continue the fabric from the long sides around the corner by cutting a "tab" about 1" long. Once you've covered both corners on that end, apply Mod Podge to the short side and press the fabric in place. Trim any excess fabric.
Step 4: Cut and Glue the Window Panes
As I learned on my first pane, you can't cut the fabric at a 45 degree angle from each corner. For the dimension of my windows it worked out to be roughly 73 degrees and I made a little cutting guide (white piece in pic 1). It doesn't look like it would work, but it does because the sides aren't flat. The good news is you can patch in a small piece in the corner if you make a mistake. Placing the patch under the larger flaps hides it very well.
With the window facedown make your cuts with an Exacto knife on all the panes. Turn your window over for gluing. Again apply Mod Podge to the sides and smooth the fabric down. This is also a good time to coat the entire fabric surface in Mod Podge to protect it.
Step 5: Cut Plywood Backs
Measure the opening in the back of the frame where the glass used to be. If you removed a glass pane without breaking it you can use it as a pattern. Also measure the depth of the recess to determine the thickness of plywood you'll need to use. In my case, I had a bunch of 1/2" ply scraps from another project and it wasn't too thick. 1/4" plywood would be sufficient. Cut your plywood to the appropriate dimensions.
Step 6: Make Your Peg Boards
Determine the layout for your pegs on one of the plywood pieces. Draw circles to represent the base of each thread spool to find the best spacing between spools and rows. Alternatively if you have spools of threat you can simply use them to experiment with the layout. For me it worked out to 5 rows of 4 pegs or 20 spools per pane.
There are many ways you could mount the pegs to the boards. I chose to have the spools sitting at a 45 degree angle making the thread color more visible. But you could simply drill holes directly into the plywood and have the pegs coming straight out of the board. This is completely up to you. Making the little angled "shelves" of pegs takes longer but is worth the effort in my opinion. I also briefly considered drilling holes into the ply at a 45 degree angle, but the spools would not have a base to sit on and I decided against it. Again, up to you.
To make the little "shelves" you will need 1x2 (3/4"x1 1/2") pine boards. Mark out the length of your pieces and the hole spacing on the 1" side of your board. Because these will be ripped in half you only need to drill half as many pieces as your total. For instance, my frame required 30 little "shelves" so I measured, marked and drilled 15 pieces. Using a 1/4" drill bit, drill completely through the wood at each peg location.
Cut your pieces to length and mark an end with a 45 degree angle which bisects the exact center of the board. Before ripping your pieces, round over all 4 corners using a band saw or jig saw. I did this step after ripping and it's a bit trickier that way. Set your table saw to 45 degrees and rip the boards with your blade centered on the line you marked. (Get and use a GRR-Ripper from Micro-Jig. Great product. Better cuts, safer hands.)
Step 7: Glue, Paint & Fasten
Now it's time to cut & glue the 1/4" dowels into their holes. Cut a 1/4" dowel rod into 1 1/2" pieces (120 in my case). Sand the dowels smooth and round the edges on the visible end.
Paint the peg shelves and plywood with your paint of choice. I used chalk paint.
The easiest way to mount peg shelves is to hot glue them to the plywood, then turn over the ply and secure with 3/4-1" screws. You don't need a lot of hot glue as the screws are the real strength. Predrill a pilot hole to avoid splitting. Use 2 screws per peg shelf.
Step 8: Secure Boards Into Window Panes
It's not necessary to glue the boards into the frames although that's an option. I chose to use glazing points just like you would for glass. I used 1 or 2 on each side of the pane.
Step 9: That's It!
And you're done. Your Mom is going to be so happy!
There are other options for making Mom happy such as a fabric covered window mirror, family picture frame or something else you dream up. Can't wait to hear your ideas and comments! Thanks for reading.