Great Crate Seats

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my cousin (who’s also living at my mom’s house) is a third grade teacher at an inner city school and also working on her master’s degree. Major props to her for keeping a positive attitude through the grind!

So because she teaches at an inner city school, funding for classroom supplies can be slim. On the other hand, the school also gets grants for bigger projects. She has a reading corner in her room where she’s been using plastic filing crates flipped over with seat cushions on them. Some of the kids have to use these as their regular chairs, which means she loses out on precious storage opportunities.

We found this fantastic blog from a fifth grade teacher, her crate seats were our inspiration for the seats.

The first thing we did was pick out a fabric that would be durable and could hide dirt easily. We always have coupons and manage to find the best deals at JoAnn, and this time we found a remnant of a teal fabric in the clearance . BTW, remnants get a cheaper price on the remaining partial yardage. Turns out this remnant wasn’t enough for all 12 crate seats, but we got 6 out of it and picked up a yellow sunbrella fabric (I know it won’t hide dirt easily, but we’re hoping the durability of it overrides that).

I got a 4′ by 8′ piece of ½” thick sanded plywood from Home Depot and had them cut it into a 3′ and 5′ section. Since I don’t have a table saw, I use my circular saw attached to a Kreg rip-cut. It’s one of those fantastic tools that let’s you set the width of the cut up to 24 inches.

*Side note:  I have a ‘work table’ that I do most of my projects on toIMG_1469 keep from taking up valuable space on the dining table. When you clamp your plywood to whatever you use for a work table, make sure your blade doesn’t go through the table. Which is exactly what I did. Luckily, the cut is shallow and just on the corner; now it’s just a reminder of one of my many projects.


I measured the inside dimensions of the crate, noting what the minimum dimensions of the plywood could be because the padding and fabric would add additional width and length. My measured dimensions were 12½” by 15½”, I had to calculate how I could get the most out of the plywood with the least amount of waste. Knowing that I have to account for kerf (essentially the width of the saw blade) which is roughly 1/8″ depending on your blade, I figured I could get 3 – 15½” sections from the 4′ by 5′ section going along the 4′ side. (3 x 15½” = 46.5″). With 3 of my 15½” pieces cut, I adjusted my rip-cut to 12½” and was able to get 4 boards (4 x 12½” = 50″). Not too shabby if I do say so, just a 1½” by 5′ strip and 3 – 10″ by 15½” boards leftover.

With 12 pieces of wood ready, I cut out my fabric to be quite a bit bigger than the wood. This is not an exact science, it’s just fabric; kinda how I feel about hair, it’s just hair and it’s not the end of the world. As you can see from the pictures below, I just made a batting sandwich, centering the materials within one another.

When it came time to staple, I followed the same process as the French memo boards. A staple on each side ensured nothing shifted too much, you can also see the edge of the teal fabric in the picture above. Then I stapled a ton so all sides were covered and taut. For the corners, I cut off the excess batting at a 45° angle, pulled one side of fabric taut, folded the corner in, folded the other side taut and stapled it down. I cut 6 – 6″ long strips of each fabric about 2½” wide and stapled it the underside of each seat to form “handles”. So in the end the yellow seats have teal handles while the teal seats have yellow handles.

In my typical fashion, I didn’t get finished pictures, it’s a learning process. When I do get pictures, I will add them.

Oh and my cousins class made me THE CUTEST CARDS! They thanked me for making the seats and for helIMG_1497ping out in the classroom, luckily my cousin was there when I was reading them since I needed some interpretation.


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