Switchplates

on Mar 19, 2008 in Craftiness | 57 comments

Switchplates were the March 2008 theme for my Out of the Box creativity challenge. I took some in progress photos but not a full-blown tutorial. I even forgot to take a stylized photo of the one I traded that night, very unlike me! Fortunately making these are extremely addictive so I had plenty more for that purpose. Guess which is Leil’s and which is Caitlin’s?

Feel free to ask questions about missing steps.

I used a standard white plastic switchplate for the base, Yes! paste and Mod Podge Gloss Lustre. I started off trying to use Mod Podge as both the adhesive to attach the fabric and as the top coat. Everything slipped around so I changed to Yes! paste for attaching the fabric. It provided just the right amount of tack to keep things in place.

The other construction element I experimented with was the center hole. I tried cutting a slot in the fabric and bending back the wings to paste them to the backside, a standard technique when using paper or contact paper. I wasn’t satisfied with this technique for fabric. The fibers tended to fray and it was difficult to get the tiny bits of fabric to hold well. I made a simple facing for the hole and was very pleased with the tidiness of the final result.

To make a facing:

Punch some holes for the screws:

The missing steps:

  • push the facing fabric through the switchplate hole, bring all the seam allowances to the back, use Yes! paste to glue it all down
  • brush the front of the plate with Yes! paste and smooth the fabric down
  • turn back the corners and slather with paste to get them to stay in place (see final photo of switchplate back to get an idea of how I did mine)
  • apply a good thick layer of Mod Podge to the whole thing
  • try to be patient while it dries, start unscrewing every switchplate in the house

Finished switchplate now residing in my friend Margret’s home (I sure like the fabric on this one! the feedsack fibers gave it a fabulous texture):

Back sides of finished plates:

    57 Comments

  1. Hi. I think these are adorable. As a crafter and artist, I’d love to do this for my house. As an electrician though, I can point out the possible danger of having fabric on the inside of a switch plate. A switch is an electrical device that controls the current to a circuit to either turn it on or off. Electricity is somewhat unpredictable. If there is any sort of arc — technically a slight spark, the fabric could catch on fire. If the wires are somehow pinched in the box and short out, the arc could start the fabric on fire. Turning a switch on and off sometimes creates a small arc or spark, but I’m not sure if this would be enough to start a fire. I’m definitely not comfortable with the fabric that comes through the switch hole, though I think its brilliant. The best bet is to have nothing behind the switch plate that isn’t UL rated for the job. I’ve seen small electrical fires in boxes. I’ve seen arcs from plugs and switches when a wire with a nick in the insulation decides to fail. It’s a lot bigger and brighter than static electricity and it often scorches the inside of the box if it doesn’t melt the wire insulation. The box contains the occasional problem so that it can be fixed and doesn’t necessarily start a fire. But by adding flammable fabric to the mix, I don’t know what the results will be. But I have to say, the wheels are turning on an alternative because these switchplates are just too darned cute.
    Kelley

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    Kelley

    May 2, 2008

  2. Kelley: Thank you for your detailed answer. Someone else mentioned safety earlier in the comments. I ended up doing a fair amount of research but had a hard time coming up with anything detailed.

    What do you think about the insulating pads that people use for draft proofing their light switches. It seems that would provide a UL protected layer between the fabric on the plate and the box.

    I also felt better about the fact that Mod Podge is a non-flammable material. Obviously it’s not UL rated but I’m wondering if the fabric being treated with that is somewhat of a barrier. Hmmmm… and as I write that it just occurred to me that there’s a material you can apply to fabric and drapes that makes them non-flammable, a requirement for vendors at big convention hall shows. Now that may just be the ticket if the fabric coming through the hole is treated. Off to research that now!

    Thank you for bringing up the issue. I do take it seriously and would like to write a follow up post about this.

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    Administrator

    May 2, 2008

  3. These are very cool. Have you ever tried using paper? I’ve been doing some paper crafting lately, switching off from sewing, and so that is where my head is right now. I use the mod podge to coat all my ATC’s and it comes out looking so nice. Thank you so much for sharing.
    nancy

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    Nancy

    June 3, 2008

  4. Good idea, but cut the hole for the switch and use glue that dries clear for the inside switch area to hold down edges….no other fabric on the inside is necessary.

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    Moon

    September 22, 2013

  5. I have recently been covering my switchplates with scrapbooking paper. However, when I get the paper on using rubber cement, I then turn the switchplate over and using the exacto knife cut to the very edge of the switchplate. That way there is no paper on the back side of the plate. Then I spray them with clear lacquer. The only problem I am having is getting the paper to adhere to the edges. Can anyone give me a suggestion of a better kind of glue to use that would keep the edges glued to the sides?

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    Corinne Sechrist

    August 16, 2014

  6. Hello Kathy. First of all thanks for sharing this amazing post with us. I really appreciate the idea of using a fabric to decorate the switch plate cover. I am having large ceramic switch plates in my home; they look very classy with printed designs on them. After reading your post, I will definitely try this for my daughter’s room and I am sure she will love it.

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    John

    December 25, 2014

  7. Was the facing sewn on before pushing through.

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    Diana Casarez

    February 23, 2015

  8. These are lovely. I’m planning to use fabric on switch plates as well. What do you recommend to make them non-flammable? Did you end up using it? How are these holding up over the years? Thanks.

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    anjuli

    May 26, 2016

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