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Saturday, 11 August 2018

Free Pattern/Tutorial: Quilted Hanging File Organizer

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
"M" for Michael...
A couple of months ago, I posted about a fabric wall organizer that I customized from a free pattern. At the end of that post, I said that it would make a useful — not to mention space-saving — gift for college students. One of my cousins is letting go of her one and only offspring this month as he travels abroad to attend university.

Immediately after completing the previous organizer for me, I thought about how I could further customize one for him and post it as a tutorial.

So this one's for you, Mikey. Seems like just yesterday you were a baby crawling on the floor of my house. Now you're literally flying away to pursue higher education. Wow.

Before I get started, let me give a shout-out to Sara at Radiant Home Studio for the original inspiration. This organizer is based on the project she shared on Spoonflower's blog three years ago.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Monogrammed Quilted Hanging File Organizer...

This version of the organizer adds back some length; it's 30" long. It also has three pockets, but one is half-size, suitable for smaller items like envelopes. (I put this pocket in the middle, but placement is totally up to you.)

To personalize it, I added my man's initials to the finished project using a "faux appliqué" technique, which I will feature in a follow-up post.

Fabrics are the two green-toned selections from my "big fabric purchase" earlier this year of the Ann Kelle Remix Metallic designs for Robert Kaufman. The binding was made from a fat quarter of the smaller chevron print.

For the back panel, I went the recycling route as I like to do whenever I can. The quilt "batting" was cut from a fleece blanket and the fabric itself was from a pillow case.

A pair of queen size pillow cases for $1.99...

Now, I admit that the pillow case was purchased (on sale, a pair for $1.99) for this specific kind of upcycling and has never been used as a pillow case, but you get the idea.

The size was almost perfect: 21" x 30".

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By the way, this is going to be a VLP — Very Long Post!

Gather Supplies

To make this hanging file organizer, you will need:
  • two (2) pieces of fabric for backing, 15" wide x 31" (38cm x 79cm) high (note: after quilting, the finished piece will be trimmed to 14" x 30" or 36cm x 76cm)
  • one (1) piece of quilt batting (or substitute), 15" wide x 31" high (38cm x 79cm)
  • two (2) pieces of fabric for file pockets, 17" wide x 17.5" high (43cm x 44.5cm)
  • two (2) pieces of Peltex for file pockets, 13" wide x 8" high (33cm x 20cm)
  • one (1) piece of fabric for envelope pocket, 17" wide x 10.5" high (43cm x 27cm)
  • one (1) piece of Peltex for envelope pocket, 13" wide x 4.5" high (33cm x 11cm)
  • three (3) yards/metres of 1/2" double fold bias tape
  • two (2) 1/2" grommets
  • thread
  • clips, pins, ruler, rotary cutter & mat, scissors, marking pen, etc.
Quilting cotton weight fabrics are recommended for this project.

Quilt Back Panel

Take the two large pieces of fabric for the backing and put them together with right sides facing out, and your quilt batting in between. This is your "quilt sandwich".

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Make the quilt "sandwich"...

Pin generously. Baste or glue the layers together if you feel the need to do so.

Start in the middle and sew a quilting line across the surface of the quilt sandwich. Alternate sewing to the left and then to the right of that first line as you make your way out towards the ends. Begin quilting from the same edge each time; i.e., move left or right, but do not spin your quilt sandwich around 180 degrees.

Try to maintain a flat, even surface as you quilt and go slowly for best results.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Do some quilting...

I chose to quilt diagonal lines based on the fabric's print. If — like me — you're not an experienced quilter, it's a simple technique that yields good results. Short of that, feel free to draw lines on your fabric to guide you.

When you're done, give it a good press and then trim the edges to arrive at a 14" x 30" rectangle, or about 36cm x 76cm.

Find something with a round edge to round off all four corners of the back panel piece. (Keep an old CD on hand in your sewing kit for this purpose.)

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Use a CD to round off the corners of the back panel...

Make Pockets

Fold the pocket pieces in half with right sides together and sew a 1/4" (6mm) seam along the longest edge. Press the seam open.

Adjust the placement of the seam as desired, ideally away from the top or bottom edge to reduce bulk. (I was able to make both of my file pockets look the same — with the gold chevron appearing along the top and the bottom — by doing this.)

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Make pockets...

Turn right side out and press.

Slide an appropriate piece of Peltex inside this tube of fabric, with the fusible side towards the exterior of the pocket (i.e., the side that doesn't show the seam).

Centre the piece of Peltex from side to side (there should be 2" or 5cm of fabric on either end) and push it up against the edge that you have chosen as the top of the pocket. Clip.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Position Peltex pieces and prepare to fuse...

Fuse and then topstitch along the top edge. Do this for all of the pocket pieces.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Topstitch top edge of pockets...

The final step is to fold in the sides of the pockets to create a "bellows" effect. This allows the pocket to expand along with its future contents.

Start by folding the excess fabric on each side to the back. (This is the part with just fabric; i.e., no Peltex.) Then fold it back to the front, leaving 1/2" or 13mm extending beyond the first fold.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Fold both sides of each pocket to create a "bellows" effect...

I obviously didn't have the ruler absolutely flush against the fold, but in the above photo, the part being measured should be 1/2" or 13mm wide.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Press and clip...

After these folds have been made, give the edges a good press with a hot iron.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Topstitch down the top fold on both sides of each pocket piece...

Topstitch through the first fold on each side of the pockets. Do not stitch through the second fold.

Secure Pockets to Back Panel

After making this twice, it finally dawned on me how to sequence the sewing to avoid crumpling up the Peltex.

Position the top edge of the first pocket 2.25" (~ 6cm) down from the top of the back panel. Pin or clip along both sides. Place and pin the remaining pockets 2" (5cm) apart. (There should also be 2" remaining along the bottom under the third pocket.)

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Position and mark the placement of your pockets in desired order...

When you're satisfied with how you've positioned the pockets, mark their placement with a pen. (If you mark close to the edge of the back panel, it will eventually be hidden by the binding.)

Now unpin and set aside the bottom two pockets. This way, you'll only be crumpling the quilted panel as you sew.

Pin the bottom of the top pocket to the back panel. Pay particular attention to the sides, keeping the folds even so that there is a consistent 1/2" (13mm) exposed on either side when the pocket is pressed down flat.

Baste the sides of the pocket to the back panel.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Take care to keep pockets even on both sides when you sew up the bottom...

Run a line of stitching along the bottom of the pocket to secure it to the back panel. Again, make sure that the sides are even!

Retrieve the second pocket and pin/clip it into position according to the marks made previously. Baste the sides, then secure the bottom in the same way as you did for the first pocket.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
All three pockets secured to the back panel...

Repeat the same process with the third pocket.

Before pinning each pocket, make sure it's oriented the right way. (Says the person who basted one of her pockets upside down.)

Bind & Finish

I made my own bias tape using a square of fabric (a fat quarter does the job nicely) but you can definitely use a store bought version if you don't want to bother. (Check out my tutorial on how to make your own professional style continuous bias binding.)

The binding is done in two steps; the first is to pin and sew it to the back of the back panel.

NOTE: there are various ways to attach binding. If you have a (different) preferred method, by all means go with it.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Make a fold in the binding tape at the beginning, so you can finish without raw edges at the end...

Unfold your your binding and lay it wrong side up along the bottom edge of the back panel, roughly in the middle. The raw edges of the tape and the quilted backing should be even.

[Note that the photos show my own binding, which had not been professionally folded. Double-folded binding done the way I described a couple of weeks ago (or that you purchase) will have one of the smaller folded edges wider than the other. Align that wider edge with the edge of the quilted backing here.]

Make a small 1/2" or 13mm fold at the start of the tape so that when you close off the binding at the other end, the raw edges will be hidden.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Overlap the end of the bias tape by about an inch...

Since this is (should be) bias tape, it will go around corners without too much difficulty; just use extra pins or clips in the corners to get the best results.

Pin the tape all the way around the entire perimeter. Overlap by about 1/2" or 13mm at the end and cut off the excess.

If you've made your own bias tape and it hasn't been double folded, attach the binding to the back by stitching with a 3/8" or 1cm seam allowance. If you're using store bought bias tape, let the fold line guide your sewing.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Stitch all the way around...

Be careful at the sides where the pockets are located. You don't want to sew the edges of those pockets into the binding.

Since bias tape will stretch and you may be adjusting the pins as you go, you could end up with a longer overlapping piece at the end than originally planned for. If so, trim it down before you sew it all the way across the original folded starting point.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
The ends don't need to overlap by a whole lot...

Now you're going to work with the bias tape from the front side.

Turn the whole thing over and — starting again at the bottom where the overlapping ends are — fold the tape over by about a 1/2" (13mm) and then fold again up over the raw edges of the quilted panel. If you're using store bought bias tape, the existing folds will automatically dictate how this works.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Roll the bias tape over twice to bind the edge...

Use pins or clips to hold the tape in place as you work your way around.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Clip the binding in place all the way around...

Now you're ready to sew.

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From the front side of the organizer, begin at the bottom (where you have the joined ends) and edgestitch on the binding tape.

There's no hard and fast rule about how close you need to stitch; whatever works for you to get this result on the front and back sides is good, usually 1/8" (3mm) or smaller.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Here is the front and back of the same section... absolute perfection is not a must, as you can see!

Given the size of this, it might be a bit tricky to sew around the corners, so take it slow. (If your machine has a platform or extension table that you can attach to raise what you're sewing to the same level as the feed dogs/throat plate, use it. It can be helpful to reduce the "dragging effect" that comes with sewing large items.)

When you're done with the binding, give the whole thing a good press, preferably with steam.

To finish, mark a couple of points, 1.5" (~ 4cm) down from the top edge and 1.5" in from either side. These will be the center points for grommet installation.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Install your grommet 1.5" in and down from the edges...

I won't be instructing you on how to install grommets. (If you're new to them, go out and buy a package; it will come with instructions.)

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Close-up view of middle pocket...

This organizer can get somewhat heavy once it's filled, so keep that in mind if you're going to use adhesive hooks. (As I found out, my original choice of hooks weren't the best.)

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Straight down view of bottom pocket...

However, here you can see a different way of hanging this that doesn't require adhesive hooks. I tied a length of cord together, pushed the two end loops through the grommets to the front and hung it from a couple of "over the door" style hangers.

Quilted Hanging File Organizer by eSheep Designs
Another way to hang this organizer...

I'll be back in two weeks with a quickie lesson on how to make make some faux appliqués to customize this organizer.


  1. This is perfect organisation for someone who is studying, or a sewing room, for that matter. Love your choice of fabric.

  2. This is a great idea and tutorial. I’m not a student but I could use one of these for the mail. Thanks! Also, that pdf will be very handy-can’t wait!

    1. You're very welcome, and thank you for visiting and leaving your kind words. :-)

  3. Gosh, Rochelle, I can think of lots of rooms and reasons to use this quilted fabric hanging organizer; office for filing in a cabinet when I have time, sewing room for light weight quilting books I am currently using for patterns, office for bills that need to be paid, office for cards that need to be sent each month, bedroom for magazines, etc. Thank you so much for posting this wonderful pattern. Peace and blessings, Vicki Robles

    1. You're most welcome, Vicki, and thanks so much for sharing your ideas. Many times we see projects that we'd like to make but don't quite know what the end use might be. Always appreciate when someone can add some inspiration for why we need to make something!


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