How to cover dresser drawers with fabric

Written by louise harding
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Dressers are a favourite piece of furniture in today's bedroom, but they weren't always used for storing clothing. According to, "Medieval dressers had colourful store items for the king's noble feasts." The function of the dresser evolved over time. "By the 19th century...wood dressers kept in closets." A bedroom reflects the personalities of its owners. One way to achieve a custom look for dresser drawers is to apply fabric on the front drawer panel. Fabric covering is an innovative way to camouflage wood gouges and blemishes or to decorate with more colour and flair than paint alone.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paint - your colour choice, interior latex paint, matt or semigloss (your preference)
  • Paint brush
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Fabric cut to front of drawer measurements + ½-inch on all sides (x number of drawers)
  • 1814gr liquid clothes starch
  • Sponge craft brushes
  • Scissors
  • Bucket
  • Old towels for dust sheets
  • Sponge
  • Craft blade/knife
  • Drawer knobs
  • Screws

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  1. 1

    Use a paint brush to paint the entire dresser using a latex-based, interior paint in a matt or semigloss finish in a colour complementary to the fabric. Allow it to dry.

  2. 2

    Lightly sand the front panel of the dresser drawer with a fine-grit sandpaper, just enough to provide a hint of texture. Clean all sandings away.

  3. 3

    Pour half the bottle of liquid starch into a bucket.

  4. 4

    Place the dresser drawer, front panel up, onto a clean, old towel on the floor.

  5. 5

    Soak the fabric panel in the liquid starch in the bucket until the fabric is completely soaked through.

  6. 6

    Place the fabric panel on top of the dresser drawer. Use a sponge to smooth the fabric panel onto the drawer, smoothing out all of the air bubbles and wrinkles. Any wrinkles and bubbles will be visible when the fabric dries. Smooth by pressing your sponge from the centre toward the edges.

  7. 7

    Allow it to dry. Repeat with the other drawer fronts. Once all the fabric is dried, proceed to the next step. It will usually take overnight or longer for the fabric to be completely dry and hardened.

  8. 8

    Use scissors to trim any excess fabric along the dresser drawer edges. Most fabric will shrink when allowed to dry with the starch.

  9. 9

    Use a craft blade/knife to cut a hole in the screw holes of the dresser drawer.

  10. 10

    Spray the drawers in a well-ventilated outdoor area with clear spray paint for a finished gloss or matt look. Allow them to dry.

  11. 11

    Install drawer knobs into the screw positions in the dresser drawer. Reassemble the dresser.

Tips and warnings

  • The best fabric to use is cotton. Manmade fabrics often are prone to unravelling along the cut edges. Apply fabric cutouts, such as cartoon characters, with the same liquid starch and centred on each painted drawer front.
  • If using a floral fabric panel, cut out flowers from the fabric for an added touch, and use liquid starch to apply them on the side dresser panels. Spray with clear spray paint if desired.
  • Always use spray paint in well-ventilated, outdoor areas.

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