Sew a Hanging Organizer {free sewing tutorial}




Okay, I know that 'Hanging Organizer' is the most boring name that I could possibly come up with but the amazing thing about this latest sewing tutorial is that you sew each pocket separately before sewing them all together in a column (heck, you could even sew them in a horizontal row if you wanted). And each pocket front can be made with fabric, mesh, or vinyl - how cool is that??? So you have the opportunity to customize this organizer to fit your needs!

My original intention was to design a car stuff organizer. 2 pockets are just the right size for that, just sew a strap to the top to hang it from a seat headrest. I also attached grommet panel that I designed to the bottom of it and used bungee cords to hold it securely.

This stuff organizer was sewn with Cotton + Steel fabrics, of course!

Next I sewed 5 pockets together, put the grommet panel to the top, and now I have a wall, closet, pantry or wherever organizer that hangs from Command Hooks!

But really I sewed it for my closet in beautiful Grace fabrics from Anna Griffin.

So let's get on with it:
Hanging Organizer Sewing Tutorial
First, plan.

The organizer is made up of 'pocket units' that are each 10'' tall and 12'' wide. You can also choose to add a grommet panel to the top or bottom of the organizer. There is also a hanging strap option.

If you want a car organizer like mine, make 2 pocket units. Sew a grommet panel at the bottom and a hanging strap at the top. 

My closet organizer has 5 pocket units and a grommet panel at the top. There is no hanging strap.

Then decide whether each pocket front will be vinyl, mesh, or fabric. Your pockets can match or all be different. It's all up to you!
Cutting:
For each 'pocket unit,' you will need:

1 fabric rectangle 11'' x 13'' for the pocket back

1 mesh or vinyl rectangle 8 1/2'' x 13'' for the pocket front or 1 fabric rectangle 17'' x 13'' for the pocket front

1 fabric strip 2'' x 13'' for the pocket binding

For the optional 'grommet panel,' you will need:

1 fabric rectangle 4'' x 13''

1 strip 1 1/2'' x 12'' stabilizer (suggested: ByAnnies Soft and Stable Stabilizer, Pellon Flex Foam or fusible fleece)

you will also need 2 extra large eyelets (or similar)

For the optional 'hanging strap,' you will need:

1 strip 4'' x 16''

For the backing (not optional), you will need a long rectangle of fabric that is 10'' times the number of pocket units plus 1'' tall, and 13'' wide. So if you have 2 pockets it should be 21'' x 13''. For 3 pockets - 31'' x 13'', 4 pockets - 41'' x 13'', 5 pockets - 51'' x 13'', and so on.

The backing also needs stabilizer, the same type listed above for the grommet panel. Cut (or piece together) a rectangle the same size as the backing rectangle of fabric.
Press the binding strips.
Press all of the binding strips bias tape style. Fold in half lengthwise, press. Open and fold the long edges to the center, press. Fold in half again and press.
Sewing:
If your pocket front is a 8 1/2'' x 13'' piece of mesh or vinyl, wrap the binding strip around the top 13'' edge. Clip or secure with pins. Stitch in place close to the fold.

If the pocket front is fabric, fold the 17'' x 13'' rectangle in half to make a 8 1/2'' x 13'' rectangle. Wrap the binding strip around the folded (top) edge. Pin and stitch in place close to the fold.

fabric pocket

vinyl pocket

mesh pocket

The rest of this tutorial is the same no matter what the pocket is made of: fabric, vinyl, or mesh.

Lay the pocket front on top of the pocket back with both right side up and the bottom edges together.

Baste the side edges. You can baste the bottom edge too, but I got away without doing that.

Note: if sewing on top of vinyl makes your sewing machine foot stick, try placing a drop of sewing machine oil on your finger and running it over the bottom of your foot. This will help the foot slide smoothly and you can wipe the oil away after.

Repeat until all of your pocket units are sewn.
Sew the pocket units together:
1. Arrange the pocket units in a column in the desired order.

2. Pin or clip them together one by one, the top edge of one to the bottom edge of another.

3. Stitch all of the pockets together.
Sew the grommet panel (optional):
If you want a grommet panel,

1. Fold the 4'' x 13'' grommet panel strip in half in half lengthwise. 

2. Stitch the short ends with a 5/8'' seam allowance. Turn right side out and press flat.

3. Insert the 1 1/2'' x 12'' piece of stabilizer into the grommet strip (it will be a tight fit) and baste the open edges together with a 1/4'' seam allowance.

4. Mark the placement of the grommets in both corners as shown above and install the grommets according to the instructions. Or see my Rope Handled Tote tutorial to see how I do it.

5. Center the grommet panel on the top or bottom of the column of pockets (right sides together) and baste in place.
Sew the hanging strap (optional):
1. Fold the 4'' x 16'' strip in half lengthwise. Stitch the long edges together with a 1/2'' seam allowance.

2. Turn the strap right side out and press it flat.

3. You probably want the hanging strap at the top of the organizer, so baste the ends in place 1'' from each edge as shown above.
Sew the back of the organizer:
1. First prepare the back of the organizer by applying the stabilizer. I used ByAnnies Soft and Stable, so I basted it in place 1/4'' from the edges. If you are using fusible fleece or fusible Pellon flex foam, you can fuse the stabilizer to the backing piece.

1. Place the backing piece on top of the column of pockets, right sides togehter and pin or clip all the way around.

2. Stitch all the way around with a 1/2'' seam allowance, leaving a 6'' opening for turning.

3. Clip the corners and press the edges back at the opening. Turn the organizer right side out through the opening. Press it flat (careful not to touch the iron to the vinyl if you used it!).

4. Pin or clip the edges of the opening. Sew it closed.

5. To secure the pockets to the stabilized backing, topstitch just below the bottom of each pocket.

And it's done! This tutorial may seem long, but sewing a Hanging Organizer is really very fast and easy. You can sew one in an afternoon.

For a similar horizontal version of this, see my Bedside Pockets Organizer. :)

Happy sewing,