How To Create a Thrifty Industrial Shelf Tent

How To Create a Thrifty Industrial Shelf Tent

Amanda Johnson
Feb 22, 2011

We're reorganizing in our apartment, and are finally ready to tackle the ominous backroom! The space serves as a storage room as well as a small office. In addition to painting the space, I thought it would be nice to use a sheet I found at the thrift store to make a cover for the industrial shelving unit which serves as a place holder until we can find a great locker or armoire for the room. Check out the step-by step process, and learn from the little mistakes I made along the way.


  • Fabric (I used a properly cleaned sheet I found at the thrift store)

  • Fabric Scissors

  • Pencil & Paper (for measurements and notes)

  • Tape Measure

  • Iron & Ironing Board

  • Industrial Strength Stick-Back Velcro

  • Sewing Machine (or Fusible Bond Tape if you don't have a sewing machine or sewing skills)

The Process:

  1. Measure the height, front, and sides of the shelf

  2. Calculate the size to cut your fabric. (Divide the perimeter of front in sides by two, add length for your seam allowance and also for the size of pleats you want. It is always better to add more length than you need and wrap the tent around to the back if you have extra width at the end.)

  3. Measure the fabric and cut it. If you are using a sheet, you can save yourself some time and utilize the finished edge of the sheet for the bottom hem. (I made a mistake and didn't remember to allow for my pattern to meet in the middle after the hems were sewn. This was sort of fixed later when I sewed the pleats.)

  4. Iron the cut sides of each panel for the hem. Fold over twice so that the cut edge ends up inside the hem.

  5. Sew the side hems, or if you have fusible bond tape instead, follow the directions on the package to close your hem.

  6. Iron the top (and bottom if you're not using a sheet) hem of each panel, and sew them or fuse them together.

  7. Figure out where you want the pattern to meet at the pleat, then fold over and iron at that spot. Fold the flap in half and iron again.

  8. Stitch closed the pleat at the top of each panel (or fuse them together if you're not sewing).

  9. If you have one long strip of velcro, cut to size and put the front and backs together before sticking on the fabric. I cut my velcro into 6 even strips and placed them at the end of each panel and where the corners would be.

  10. Lastly, find the center of the top of your shelf and affix the velcro to the top.

That's it! I wanted my tent to be a little shorter than you might like, because of floor cleaning reasons (I didn't want the fabric to get dirty and have to worry about cleaning it, re-ironing the pleats, and redoing the velcro). Also, after completing this project, I thought it would have been nice to make pleats at the corners as well. Oh well! Maybe next time! At least the eye sore is gone.

Images: Amanda Johnson

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