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Sewing Cabinet Makeover

Can you believe the transformation of this vintage sewing cabinet?? This sewing cabinet makeover is a keeper! This piece would be so useful as a desk or as a side table!  Let’s jump in!

graphic images showing before and after of sewing cabinet makeover

My Seamstress Sister

I had my first encounter with the world of sewing when I was nine years old. The youngest of four daughters meant that I benefited from the fun, elective courses that my sisters took in middle and high school. One of those sisters, Laurie, was especially interested in sewing classes with her beloved teacher, Mrs. Moore.

My sister loved sewing but she didn’t love fixing mistakes that she would inevitably make as a new seamstress.

Enter younger sister — me. She convinced me that ripping seams out with the seam ripper was a privileged job to have in the sewing world. It worked. I ripped out seams for her just because she told me it was such an honored position! Wow, the power of an older sibling 😉

The sewing machine that my sister used at home did not include a cabinet. In fact, I am not even sure how she acquired to the machine. The only thing I remember is that she used it on the floor and sometimes on the dining table.

Having a cabinet like this one would have been a luxury!

vintage sewing cabinet in original finish with power mechanism


Some changes had to be made so that the cabinet would be useful. First, my husband removed the machine along with the knee pedal. See that black thing on top of the sewing cabinet? It was mounted on the inside bottom of the cabinet where the operator’s right knee would have been. The seamstress would use her knee to power the machine. We really wanted to use it in the finished project.

Second, we decided that storage was the perfect solution to the empty space left after removing the machine. He added a shelf using some scrap plywood. This shelf will be so useful.

vintage sewing cabinet in original finish with cabinet door open showing the additional shelf

Clean and Prep

The cabinet had a good once over with the sander and then a thorough cleaning using my usual cleaning method with Simple Green.

I also gave the cabinet one coat of a stain blocker. General Finishes Stain Blocker White Primer will prevent any bleed through of the reddish tones in the original finish. If you are concerned about bleed through, it is best to use a stain blocker 🙂

Now for the Fun Part!

Now for the color! If you have read this blog for even a little while, you know that I am a huge Miss Mustard Milk Paint fan! The colors of the paint have such an old world feel to them and lend themselves so easily to the style of decor that I love! Mora is a neutral with undertones of an ever so soft green.

package of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint package with paint mixed up in small container

The crackling began after the second coat of paint was dry. This paint creates a beautiful aged finish to furniture. It will look as though it has been passed down through the generations!

close up image of side of sewing cabinet with chipping paint

I lightly sanded off the loose, cracking paint with a little bit of knife distressing.

top view of sewing cabinet showing glass drawer pulls and chipping paint
close up of chipping paint on sewing cabinet

A Little Bit of Jewelry

The sewing cabinet only had one knob so I had to replace the knobs. Glass knobs looks good on just about anything and Hobby Lobby has such a nice selection to choose from.

top view of sewing cabinet showing glass drawer pulls and chipping paint

The glass knobs really do add to the restoration of this piece.

front view of sewing cabinet with vintage chipping paint and vintage chair sitting next to cabinet

Replace the Knee Pedal

Remember the power mechanism that we removed? Hubby removed all the electrical parts first and then reattached it in the same place it was originally!

close up front view of sewing cabinet with chipping paint

Just another hint to the original use of this cabinet!

close up of sewing machine knee-press on sewing machine cabinet

Storage Area

The shelf creates such handy storage. Use it for a lap top or writing supplies. If you love watercolors like I do, this would be a great little work area with storage for all the supplies below!

front view of sewing cabinet with chipping paint and showing additional shelf

This sewing cabinet makeover would also be great desk for the student in your home!

full front view of sewing cabinet painted in a chipping vintage style and wooden chair. can be used as a desk

Put this cabinet between two side chairs in a living or family room for storage of remotes or other electronic items that we need in our day.

full front view of sewing cabinet painted in a chipping vintage style and wooden chair. can be used as a desk

Look Beyond the Obvious

In whatever room you choose, this desk/side table would be a perfect addition to your home!

I encourage you to look past the original use of a piece of furniture and see it’s potential. Old furniture that is no longer used just needs a little love and care 🙂

full front view of sewing cabinet painted in a chipping vintage style and wooden chair. can be used as a desk

Sewing Cabinet Makeover!

Do you have a vintage sewing cabinet that could be converted to a useful piece for your home? I would love to know if you are inspired to transform it! Let me know in the comments!

Save this to Pinterest — you never know when you might come across a sewing cabinet that needs a makeover!

Follow me on social media for more creative and fun projects! My fave is Instagram but you can also find me on Facebook and Pinterest too!

full front view of sewing cabinet painted in a chipping vintage style and wooden chair. can be used as a desk

Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy Reinventing!

graphic images showing before and after of sewing cabinet makeover

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  1. What a sweet makeover! My first sewing machine came in a cabinet like this that I bought at a real estate auction. I love the creative way you and hubby reinvented it!

    1. Thanks Patti!! We have had that cabinet in a bedroom closet for ages!! Hopefully someone will love it in their home too! Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. I might use it on the wall closest to my front door where I would put a small lamp, basket for mail and a pretty dish for car keys. I would love having that cabinet as a greeting when I come home. You did a great job. Sharon from NJ

    1. Thanks Paula! I tried to sew using a knee pedal but just couldn’t get the hand of it! I will hop over and read your post! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi there! I love this little table. I’m so glad you made it into something functional. You cant go wrong with MMSMP. Thank you for the inspiration! Pinned!

    1. Thanks for reading and pinning Cheryl! We love finding new uses for vintage pieces like this sewing cabinet. ☺️

  4. I know this is an older post, but can I ask you what you used to seal this piece. I just finished my first piece with mms paint and am not sure how to seal it.
    thank you

    1. Thanks for stopping by Joan! I have used General Finishes High Performance Topcoat to seal many of my MMS milk paint projects. The MMS brand recommends using their Tough Coat in their milk paint. I have used Tough Coat and I love it! I used the GF High Performance in Flat in this sewing cabinet makeover. Hope this helps! Tag me on social media with your project – I would love to see it! We are on Instagram and Facebook – those links are at the bottom of the post!?

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