The other day I tried to put a bunch of shoes away that have been collecting under my dresser, and around it, and… well, let’s just call it a “shoe infestation.” I’ve been really into flats this summer, and I guess it shows.
Anyway, I found that I really didn’t have a place to put all of them in my closet. I have a shoe stand, but it seems better for larger shoes, not little flats. I can’t hang over-the-door or hangs-from-the-closet-rod organizers due to the accordion doors and limited space. But I was able to find one tall, skinny piece of wall left open that was just wide enough for a pair of shoes…
Suddenly, I had just had to make a shoe organizer.
I tried to take pictures and write down instructions as I went. This is my first tutorial… ever. So, here goes!
- About two yards of cotton fabric (for the length)*
- Tape measure
- Sewing machine (unless you really like sewing by hand)
*For fabric, I actually used a twin-sized flat sheet. Sheets have many uses besides just lying on top of beds – they are wider than most fabrics from the store and are often cheaper, so they make great fabric.
The space I wanted my organizer to fit was 70″ long by 8″ wide, so that is the size of my organizer. However, it would not be difficult to change the dimensions.
First, if you are using a sheet, cut off the hem down one side. (You are welcome to pick out the stitching to save fabric, of course, it would just take some time and for me this was a quick and
dirty easy project.)
Next, starting from the top of the sheet (head), cut a strip for the back of the organizer. For simplicity’s sake, I added 1″ seam allowances all around, so my piece was 72″ long by 10″ wide.
I cut two strips for my backing to make sure it was strong (being that it was going to hold several pairs of shoes).
Now it’s time for the pockets. First I measured a pair of my flats across the largest part to make sure I cut the pockets big enough.
It took 3″ more to go around the tops of my shoes than straight across the back. I wear a size 8 to 9 in flats (is that weird?). If you wear a much smaller or larger size, or want to fit a more substantial shoe (though I woudn’t suggest boots!), you’ll want to measure your own shoes before you cut your pockets out.
I cut the pockets to be 9″ long (to end up 7″) by 13″ wide. The 13″ is for 10″ across the back strip with the added 3″ to go around the shoes. Make sense? I cut out one pocket and then just cut around it to make the others – much less measuring.
By going with 7″ tall pockets, I was able to make 10 of them to fit perfectly along the backing and my wall space.
I then did a quick iron of all the pieces. Yes, it would have been better to iron the fabric first thing, but I wasn’t sure how much of it I’d be using and didn’t want to iron the whole thing. Spur-of-the-moment, quick and easy projects are like that.
And please don’t look at my awful ironing board cover. My hubby has a habit of staining them for me… though I do appreciate that he irons his own uniforms. =0)
Once you’ve got your pieces cut out it’s time to put in the pleats. They’re what make the shoes fit, and also make the organizer really cute.
There are a couple different ways to figure out where the box pleats need to go. If you made the same size of pockets, the middle of the pleats will be at 6 1/2″, and the ends will be at 5″ and 8″.
If you made your pockets a different size (or if the measurements above are confusing), simply fold the bottom of your pocket in half, right-side-in, to find the middle. Mark it with a pin. Then measure half your pleat measurement (remember my pleat was 3″, so half would be 1 1/2″) in from the fold. Put a pin in each layer at that mark.
No matter the technique you used, fold your pocket in half (right-side-in) across the bottom. Push one of your pins at the 1 1/2″ (or 5″ and 8″) mark through both layers of fabric. You can then take out the extra pin. You won’t necessarily need to do all these steps for the subsequent pockets – I’m just trying to make it easy to understand (and hopefully not harder!).
Now, still keeping your middle/foldline pin in the fabric, line it up at the pin that goes through both layers. Congrats – you just made a box pleat!
Put a pin through all the layers near both ends of the pleat to keep everything in place. You won’t need the middle/foldline pin any more, but be sure NOT to take out the other pin in the middle that goes through both layers. Here’s how it looks on the right side. Super-cute box pleat!
Now it’s time to sew down your pleat so it stays in place as you work on other parts of the project. You CAN skip this step and just keep in the pins, but they have a tendency to fall out or poke you as you’re working on other things. Because I was going with huge 1″ seam allowances, I sewed my pleats down at just under 1″.
Hurray! A basted box pleat and no pins to worry about.
Now it’s time to hem the top of the pockets. Again, I used a 1″ seam allowance, so I turned my hems under 1″. I thought it would look nicer than a small hem at the top anyway.
To essentially kill two birds with one stone, I used a zigzag stitch across the hem and over the raw edges in back. You could fold the edges over twice or use a serger, but I thought the zigzag looked really cute and made it so I didn’t have to do any of that. Again, quick and easy. =0) And now you have a finished pocket!
Now back to the backing strips. If you made two strips, you’ll want to put one on top of the other and pin to keep them together. Then, starting from the top, you’ll need to mark where the bottom of each pocket needs to go. Because I went with 7″ tall pockets without space in between (but also no overlap), I just had to measure every 7″ down. I did this on both sides so the pockets would be placed straight more easily.
Time to add a pocket! You’ll want to mark where you want your seam across the bottom of your pocket (again, I used 1″). Then, placing it wrong-side-up and up-side-down (confusing? hopefully the picture will help!), line up where the seam on the pocket will be with the first set of pins for your bottom-of-pocket placement. Pin in place and sew. Sewing a straight line across this may be difficult, so if you want it to be perfect you’ll want to draw a line (chalk or disappearing ink is best) to follow.
Place and sew all your up-side-down pockets except for the last (bottom) one.
For the last pocket, line up the bottom edge with the bottom edge of the BACK side of the strip. Sew across at the same seam allowance.
Look a little strange? It’s okay – we want it that way. =0) Just fold the pocket back to the front side, and it will enclose all the edges inside of the pocket!
Now you’ll want to fold all your pockets back up, and sew in place. I just sewed down each side over all layers. Taa-daa! Now they are actually pockets!
The last sewing you’ll need to do is to finish off the edges down the sides. To make it super easy, I serged down mine and then folded them over and sewed them down. You could fold the edges twice and sew, or fold once and sew them down with a zigzag stitch. You could even just leave them as-is for an I-just-made-this-thing-to-throw-in-the-closet or an I-think-it-looks-more-vintage-if-I-leave-strings-hanging look. The choice is yours.
For hanging, I added a couple large eyelets, which also helped keep the two back layers together at the top. I think, though, that it would have been better to place them closer to the edges and add another one in the middle. If you want to hang your organizer from a rod, you could sew on a couple tabs. I’m sure there are other ways to hang it, as well. Feel free to let us know in the comments. =0)
All done and filled with flats! Since I used the eyelets I just installed screws through each one and into the wall. I must admit, I wasn’t fond of the fabric design originally (hence I used it for this inside-closet project), but I really like it now. I guess anything is cute with box pleats!