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!