Bookshelf covers

If you have both bookshelves and a child of a certain age in your home, then you have experienced the child pulling the books off the shelf and throwing them all over the floor.

At first, I thought the “right” way to respond was to teach the baby to leave the books alone. After several months of failing to do that, I tried removing all the books on the bottom shelves, but then I had an office filled with stacks of books and a living room with eerily empty shelves. Eventually, I decided that the easiest solution was to block access to the books, and since I couldn’t find an existing product for this, I decided to make one.

This was a very quick and easy sewing project, and I was able to use only materials I already had lying around.

I started by measuring my bookshelves and cutting rectangles out of an old sheer curtain. Using a sheer or semi-sheer curtain has several advantages: the visible threads help you keep your cuts square; you can place your rectangles to take advantage of the existing hemmed edges; and the fabric is see-through enough that you can look for books without removing the cover.

I hemmed the edges of my rectangles, and then sewed down strips of the loop (softer) side of some adhesive outdoor-strength velcro to the vertical sides. It’s important to use a very strong velcro so that little hands aren’t strong enough to take the cover off! The adhesive on the velcro stuck to my fabric well enough that I didn’t need pins, but it was weaker than the velcro sticking to itself, so it needed to be sewn down.

Then I put the other side of the velcro on, aligned the whole thing on my shelves, and stuck the other side of the velcro down, pulling as tightly as I could. And that’s it, all done!

It probably would have looked nicer with white velcro, but black is what I had. The other flaw is that I suspect the velcro will not come off the shelves cleanly, but these are relatively cheap bookshelves, so I don’t mind replacing them once everyone in my house is old enough to leave the books alone.

The bookshelf covers have been very effective. The toddler hasn’t gotten into the books at all, and it’s pretty easy for adults to get books when we need them (especially compared to the complicated baby proofing solutions in our kitchen). This was a simple project, but I’m really pleased with it!

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