The Crib-Rail Sling Bookshelf

I’ve been wanting a sling bookshelf for a while now. We go to the library at least once a week, and as much as I tell myself and my kids that we’re only getting 1 book each, somehow we always walk away with at least 10. I’m such a fan of free books!

But the drawback to having such a thirst for reading is that we usually end up with a bookshelf like this:


So to remedy this, I’ve been price shopping for sling bookshelves online for a while. I finally found one on Amazon that was only $21, but I wasn’t crazy about the bright colors (I’d prefer calm colors in my house if I can help it…because, you know, they’re calming). When a friend said she would give me a free crib rail, I knew exactly what I wanted to make! And it only cost me $10 in fabric!

IMG_3095Step 1: Start with the crib rail.

Step 2: Measure how tall you want the bookshelf to be. You will cut the back piece to fit the height you want. I wanted to be sure it fit underneath the window in my living room, so I had to make sure I didn’t cut the backing too tall or it would look weird. The back piece will be a little larger than the front piece.

IMG_3098Step 3: My front piece had 6 slats that were a little too close together to easily fit books through. I would’ve liked to have had 6 shelves, but I’ll settle for 3 that I can actually get books in and out of. I jigsawed off the 1st, 3rd, and 5th rail pieces. These actually came in quite handy later.

Step 4: Sand. And sand. And sand. I was thinking about painting this, but I’m actually digging the whole rustic/old vintage look. And I think it adds to the charm of taking an old crib and repurposing it.


IMG_3101IMG_3102Step 5: Assemble. My husband gets a real kick out of power tools and measuring angles, so he was happy to do this part. Using one of the leftover rail pieces, he measured a small top brace, and a larger bottom brace based on how far I wanted the front piece to stick out from the wall. He then doubled both of those braces to give him 2 small and 2 large braces. After sanding down the edges, he used his nail gun to attach the braces.

IMG_3108 IMG_3109 IMG_3110 IMG_3111Step 6: Now comes the fun and rather tedious part…sewing. I estimated I’d need 2 yards of material and by some miracle that was exactly how much I ended up needing. I found this cute print on sale at JoAnns in the home decorum section. It’s a sturdy canvas, which will be necessary to hold weight. (Don’t do this with any cute cotton prints….that will be a very large waste of your time). I measured the width of the bookshelf and cut all my fabric to match, leaving about an inch and a half for a seam allowance. I then measured by eye each shelf using the fabric. The top shelf will need a little less material than the bottom shelf, which is why I didn’t just cut the fabric into 3 equal pieces.

IMG_3112 IMG_3113Step 7: After cutting all my pieces, I hemmed the length of each piece by just folding over a 1/4-1/2 inch of fabric once, and the widths by folding twice. I did this because the lengths will be stitched over once I secure the fabric to the rails.


Making a finished hem on the width of the fabric.

Step 8: Starting with the back of the top row, I stitched by hand the fabric around the top back rail.

IMG_3115Step 9: I then looped the fabric around the front top rail, making sure the fabric faces out. I made this loop rather large so that you wouldn’t see the fabric interior once books are placed on the shelves. It also makes the shelf a little more sturdy for holding books and having children tug and pull at them.

IMG_3119Step 10: I repeated this process with the second and third shelves. This is the most tedious part of the whole process, especially trying to get the bookshelf into a good position to hand stitch.

IMG_3117 And voila!! The completed masterpiece! It doesn’t hold as many books something that I could buy online, but I love the way it looks so much better than anything I saw online! I’m also not a fan of owning a ton of books, simply because there’s a library full of thousands of books that we can always change out for free, so why bother? This helps to keep our book hoarding tendencies to a minimum, and also reduce the book clutter. Win-win!

One other drawback is that you kind of have to tuck the bigger books into the bottom 2 shelves. I thought this might be a problem for my 2 year old, but after showing her a few times she got the gist of how to do it.

IMG_3123Hope you enjoy! Send me a picture if you decide to try your own!


Prayer Flags

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsiteI first read about prayer flags a year or two ago and fell in love with the idea. I’ve seen them quite a bit when searching for ways to decorate a small space or perk up an outside area. They’re cheap, pretty, fun, and meaningful.

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsite

They are a tradition for Tibetan Buddhists, where they are made colorful and rectangular and strung along the mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas. It is believed that they spread peace, wisdom, compassion, and strength as the wind blows past them into the countryside, bringing benefits to all. They are made to unravel for this reason; their pieces of string unraveling in the wind and spreading blessings throughout. Another interesting tidbit about these is that they are constantly being replaced by new flags, acknowledging the ongoing circle of life.

Our prayer flags consist of 4 different summer fabric swatches, 6 inches each, which cost me a grand total of $3! I just love this fabric! It’s so bright and cheerful!

We took turns cutting them into various rectangular-ish shapes and filling them up with prayers.

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsiteAt first I wasn’t really sure what to pray for, so I opened up my bible to the new testament. The beatitudes immediately caught my eye, as they are a reflection of all those Jesus blesses.

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsiteBut it wasn’t long into this craft before the house was chaotic. It always seems to me that the more I try to create an atmosphere of calm, peaceful tranquility, the more it erupts like a gigantic volcano of apocalyptic proportions.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

I could feel my blood pressure rising as my eldest started trying to draw on the walls in sharpie and cut into her dress with her scissors, while the toddler went after the dog dish (again) and the dog retaliated by growling and showing her teeth. In an effort to not loose the mood of the prayer flags, I decided now would be a good time to pray for all mothers, everywhere. This job isn’t easy sometimes.

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsite

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsite
One of my favorite bible verses….you just never know until you ask.

This is such an easy project to do with kids, and a great way to get a conversation started about how to pray.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There are many times in my household when prayer is just not what I imagined it to be. Praying with my girls often turns into a giggle fest or a tantrum. But I know the importance of establishing prayer, or at the very least them seeing me pray. These flags are a great reminder to me to pray more often. Even a quick prayer will often remind me of what’s important when life gets crazy.

Simple way to liven up an outside area and teach children how to pray. #prayerflags #rvliving #campground #campsite
LV’s prayer flag. If you’re wondering, her prayer on this flag is for apples. Yes, apples need prayers too.

We did these pretty quick, but there’s so much more you could do with them. I went back and added more scripture to each one. You could also embellish them with scrap ribbon and buttons, or just let the pretty fabric speak for itself. I created a pinterest board with a lot of different ideas for future reference, especially since these will start to unravel and fade soon enough. Follow ReliableRoots’s board Prayer Flags on Pinterest.

Or check out The Prayer Flag Project!

The Prayer Flag Project
Many blessings to you and your family this week!