Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DIY hall closet organizer

You know those lovely craft projects for organizing your front hall table or wall with a place for keys and mail and tissues and umbrellas and reusable shopping bags and so on?  Yeah, must be nice to have any space at all inside your front door.

Not that I'm complaining, much: for a while I had this crazy idea about moving to a bigger place in my neighbourhood and the open house tours revealed that I'm incredibly lucky even to have a closet there.  What was it with those 1940s builders?  Did winter not require coats then or something?

To make matters worse, you pretty much fall into my kitchen from the 'front hall', so the counter caught all the stuff that comes and goes in one's everyday existence.

Now, I did put together a fix for this, an incredibly makeshift affair that worked okay, even if it wasn't pretty.  But I dreamed of something better, and finally, after at least three years of longing to reuse the same pieces in a more functional fashion, I had the time and materials and a gorgeous new Bernina sewing machine for which I wanted some simple sewing projects to start off with.

I present to you: my hall closet organizer:

(Yes, that's the 'After' photo.  I know, sad - isn't it?  Where do all those water bottles come from anyway, and why on earth do I keep them?  There aren't that many picnics in a summer.)

Let's break this baby down into its parts.

1/ An over-the-door hook thingy from IKEA.  It's got six hooks with 2-3/4" centres and some spongy padding to keep it from scraping the paint off your door, so I love it, and have several.

2/ A garden variety shower organizer with two hooks - vital, if you want to accommodate those umbrellas.

3/ A supercheap clear plastic shoe organizer from the dollar store.  It originally had a metal hanger sticking out of the top, useful for connecting it to the over-the-door thingy, but I cut it off for this project.  And I have to tell you, I hated the thought of reusing the shoe thing here.  I so wanted to sew my own pockets.  But you know what?  A DOLLAR.  Clear Pockets.  Strong enough to last 3 years already of bottle storage.  And about an hour of my time saved (to say nothing of the fabric savings.)  Sometimes even procrastinators have to be practical.

4/ My new addition was 8 yards (post-shrinkage) of - again, cheap - 19" wide, pre-hemmed on the sides, linen tea towel fabric.  I bought this years ago when I was fantasizing about becoming skilled at embroidery, and wanted a canvas.  This stuff was black and white which I love, and apparently I thought I'd need a whole lotta yards of it, but after washing and drying it I hated the feel and stuffed it away in a drawer to get musty.

When I remembered it for this project I had to wash it again, of course, and this time it came out like butter.  So, craft tip:  Even cheap linen is amazing if you only wash and dry it enough.


Since it's already hemmed, you're going to love the width of the tea towel fabric exactly as it is and worry only about length.  Mostly.


Main piece: 60"

Top facing: 6"

Pockets: 1 at 5", 1 at 6.5", and 1 at 8"

Tabs: 6 at 6" long and 2.5" wide


1/ On one cut end of each pocket and the top facing piece, press a 3/8" fold, then fold up again at the same distance and press again.

2/ Press one end of the main piece up by 1.5", then fold the edge of that down by 3/8" and press that too.

3/ Fold each tab lengthwise and press flat, then press in a tiny fold on each of the long sides so you can topstitch it shut later.  You are not worrying about the short ends at this time.


1/ Stitch down the folded hems for each piece, including tabs.  I used black thread and tried to sew really straight.   Emphasis on 'tried'.

2/ Place unhemmed edge of main piece against unhemmed edge of facing, right side to right side, then tuck the business end of the tabs between the two layers so the ends are flush with main piece and facing.  I laid the ends flat and butting sides at points exactly 2-3/4" apart.  (remember the centres on the over-the-door hook?) Stitch together, using a 1/4" - 3/8" seam.

3/ Fold facing back, press it open, then fold it behind main piece and stitch the sides of the main piece and facing together.  Topstitch the main piece about 3" down from its top edge to secure facing.

4/ Pin el-cheapo shoe organizer to top left corner of the right side of the main piece, just below the topstitched seam.  Sew all four sides.

5/ Pin shortest pocket piece wrong side up onto right side of main piece, with the unhemmed edge closest to the shoe organizer, such that said edge is about 6" lower than said shoe organizer.  Stitch along the unhemmed length, fold up and press open, then topstitch along the seam.  Sew sides of pocket to sides of main piece.

6/ Pin middle pocket piece as in 5/, but 7.5" from bottom of shortest pocket.  Continue as for 5/.

7/ Pin largest pocket piece as in 5/, but 9" from bottom of medium pocket.  Continue as for 5/.

8. Topstitch all three pockets into sections to suit your needs.  I sewed up the middle of the deepest pocket, then divided the middle pocket into three and the top pocket into four.


1/ Hang tabs over over-the-door hook thingy.

2/ Hand shower organizer over the second-from-right hook.

3/ Fill as needed.

4/ Have a cup of tea/some chocolate so you can face cleaning up your sewing area.

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