Project How-To: Heirloom Organizer


R: Victorian organizer by Gloria McKinnon; L: Red, white & blue version by Shannon Miller

Is organizing your sewing room one of your New Year’s sewing resolutions? If so, you are going to love this wall organizer designed by our friend Gloria McKinnon! Gloria, who is the owner of Anne’s Glory Box in Newcastle, Australia and who many of you know from her DVDs, books and teaching engagements, displayed this pretty and practical project at one of our sewing events some years back. We featured a tutorial for it soon after in our March/April 2010 edition of Sew Beautiful. The organizer is perfect for holding tools and notions in your sewing room, and it could also be used in an office, on a bathroom door or even a kitchen. It is very easy to make and you likely already have many of the items needed to sew it, such as fabric and lace scraps.

What You Need:

  • Lace scraps
  • Quilter’s cotton fabric in coordinating prints
  • Base fabric and lining, two pieces 14-1/2 inches x 24 inches plus enough to line pockets (finished hanger width = 14 inches)
  • Accent base fabrics for borders and pockets
  • Assorted vintage hankies, dresser scarves and the like
  • Assorted buttons, beads or other notions for embellishment, as desired
  • Thread (We used Mettler® Metrosene® Plus in a coordinating color.)
  • Basic needle for hand sewing
  • Rotary cutter and cutting mat
  • Large plastic ruler
  • 1/4-inch-wide iron-on fusible web (We used Steam-a-Seam 2®.)
  • Straight pins
  • 13-1/2-inch-long wooden rod for top of wall hanger (You can cut a 13-1/2-inch piece from a wooden yardstick, use a narrow piece of wood or a sturdy dowel rod.)
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (large enough for base fabric)

Start with a plan:

1. Using base fabric as a template, plan a desired arrangement for your pockets, keeping in mind that pocket sides must line up to raw edge of base fabric, as they will be sewn into side seams. Pockets may be varied in size and placement as desired. We spaced ours 1 to 2 inches apart. TIP: Sketching your design is a quick and helpful way to plan your composition.

2. Decide which assorted fabrics and vintage hankies you would like to use for each pocket. Keep in mind that different parts of the hankies can be used; for instance, you might use a corner placed on diagonal or a corner placed horizontally.

3. Cut fabric to size for each pocket allowing for a 1/4 inch seam allowance on all sides. Each pocket requires two pieces of fabric – an assorted print for the front, and a piece of base fabric for lining.

4. Cut hankies to accent pocket as desired.

5. Complete all embellishments before lining pockets. Keep buttons away from seam paths. Apply any buttons over edges after constructing front.


Note that base fabric and accent fabric pieces include 1/4 inch seam allowance on all sides.


1. With wrong sides together, stitch embellished pockets to linings, leaving side edge open (fig. 1).

2. If your base fabric is not one piece (has borders), stitch borders to complete base of wall hanger. Finished base must be 14-1/2 inches x 24 inches.

3. Fuse interfacing to wrong side of base piece.

4. Arrange pockets on base, making sure left and right raw edges are aligned.

5. Apply iron-on fusible web (such as Steam-A-Seam) to lining side of each pocket along sides and bottom edges, leaving top side open. Fuse pockets to base to secure them during construction (fig 2).

6. Fold 1- x 5-inch strip of fabric in half lengthwise and stitch a tube to create a loop hanger finishing 3/8 inch wide. Tack stitch to top center of base (must be centered to hang level, or you can create a longer strap hanger and tack an end to each side) (fig. 3).


7. Pin together lining piece to front right sides and stitch a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving an opening on bottom edge for turning right-side-out (fig. 4).

8. Turn right-side-out and press.

9. Insert wood piece from bottom opening and push to top seam. Using a zipper foot, stitch close to wood to encase hanger (fig. 5).

10. Pin lining in several places around edge of pockets to keep it smooth. Topstitch base pockets through all layers (fig. 6). NOTE: If your pocket has a hankie flap, simply move hankie out of the way while stitching this pocket edge.

What are your sewing resolutions for the new year? If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, be sure to check our Martha Pullen Online Store – we have plenty of patterns, books and more to inspire you!

Happy Sewing,


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