DIY Book Shelf: From Shoe Rack to Book Shelf

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

With my son’s collection of books getting larger and larger, his reading materials have outgrown their storage basket.  I have been browsing online to see what cute and effective storage ideas I could find and came across some pocket shelving.  The problem is that I wasn’t willing to pay its cost if it wasn’t going to hold all of his books.  So I held off.

 Book Shelf Idea

Shortly thereafter, while visiting my parents, my mom asked if I wanted a shoe rack she was going to toss out.  At first I said no because I had no need for it and certainly didn’t need any additional clutter in my home.

Then all of a sudden it hit me!  I was thinking about the shoe rack and it dawned on me that I could turn it into something similar to the pocket shelving I had previously been eyeing.

Once I got home with the shoe rack, I took to Pinterest to see if I could find if someone else had done something similar.  I mean, why do trial and error if someone else already has it figured out?  But I couldn’t find anything.  So I decided to just do it my way and I absolutely love how it turned out!

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

I’m certainly no seamstress, but I do know the basics of sewing.  And not only that, but I don’t even have an average sewing machine that has all of the basic functions.  I have a miniature sewing machine that only does a straight stitch and was still able to pull this off.

Step 1 – Find the perfect material to make the shelves/pockets.

I decided to go with a canvas-like material so that it would be sturdy.  And I liked this particular design because the words were fitting with books and reading.  I purchased 1.5 yards and used it all.

Step 2 – Take measurements.

As far as width I lucked out with not having to do any measuring because when folded in half, the sheet of material was exactly the width I needed.

Width Measurement

Measuring the length was a little more tricky and required some little helping hands.  Before measuring, I made sure I had the poles I’d be using in their appropriate slots and removed any excess poles I didn’t need.  Each pocket requires two poles, one in the top back and one in the bottom front.  Just repeat the pattern all the way down the shoe rack being used.  My shoe rack was tall enough for four shelves.

Next, I literally strung my flexible measuring tape around the poles and draped it how I wanted the pockets to fall.  I preferred to have deep pockets so that I could fit as many of my son’s books in them as possible, without having any topple out the front.  I ended up with three deep pockets and then the bottom pocket I had to make some adjustments on because it would fall closer to the floor.

Length measurements can be tricky.

To take the length measurement we started at the top back pole and wrapped the measuring tape around it because I was going to be sewing a slot to insert the pole.  Then we draped the measuring tape down to the pocket depth we wanted.  Next, we continued the measuring tape around the bottom front pole and made sure to add enough extra length so I could sew a seam on the bottom side of the actual drape.

Add additional length so there's no oopsie like this.

I know – sounds pretty confusing, but take a look at this and you’ll kind of see what I mean.  This is my first attempt at a pocket and a big oopsie on my part, haha.  The back of my one-sided designed material was showing!  So much for trying to plan and think ahead.

Now you can see why it’s important to add some extra length to create that seam on the underside of the drape.  Luckily, I was able to fix it by sewing on some additional material and you can’t see the seams where I added it on.

Step 3 – Mark your measurements and make your cuts.

As I just mentioned, I needed three pieces with the same measurements for the deep pockets.  And for the bottom pocket I needed to cut the material a little shorter in length since it was closer to the floor and wouldn’t drape as deeply.

Step 4 – Pin and sew.

Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes!  When ready to start pinning and sewing, the first thing I did was sew a finished look to the sides of the pockets.  I simply folded the edges back slightly and sewed a straight seam all the way down.  This will give a simple finished look and no frayed threads along the sides of the pockets.

Fold sides slightly and sew to provide finished edges.

Nice finished edges.

Next, take a pole and wrap the top of the material around it and pin it in place.  Remove the pole and sew along the pins.  If you have a one-sided and one-directional design as I did, make sure you’re actually doing this at the top of the design.  I would have hated to end up with the materials wording design upside down.Pin along the pole and sew.

The last part of sewing was the bottom part.  With the back side of the material face up, I folded back the bottom about 6″ (according to my measurements), pinned it in place and sewed along that edge.  This seam lies on the underside of the pocket’s drape so it can’t be seen when in place.

Fold the bottom back.

The seam will be on the underside of the drape.

Not only does this create a finish to the bottom, but now you have a slot to place the bottom front pole.  And that’s all the sewing you need!

Slot to insert the bottom front pole.

Repeat the same pinning and sewing for all pockets.

Step 5 – Put it together.

It’s finally time to put everything in place and admire the finished product!

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

If you’re using a super flimsy shoe rack, you may have to do something to the sides to stabilize it.  Once we put the books in ours, it was fairly stable I think because of the weight of the books, but it’s final resting home also provides some stability in case it were to rock side to side.

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

17 thoughts on “DIY Book Shelf: From Shoe Rack to Book Shelf

  1. Oh my goodness, what a fabulous idea. I was just looking at all the books all over my girls’ bedroom… this would be perfect. Thanks for sharing

  2. That is such a great idea. I need a new book shelf for my girls. They have so many books. Something like this would hold them so much nicer too.

  3. This is such a great idea. I have a shelving unit like this at home and this is a great way for me to re-purpose it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *