Thursday, November 17, 2011

Into the Closet

Okay, first of all, I have a confession to make. I’ve been cheating on my Writing hobby with my Sewing hobby. Writing knows about it and isn’t sure whether we’ll ever be able to patch things up. I’m afraid I may have to make some sort of faithfulness pledge, and that never seems to work out with my hobbies. Sewing is okay with being the other hobby – but then Sewing has never cared about appearances or other people’s feelings. So while the two of them duke it out over who gets my attention, I’ll share the results of my dalliance.
I’ve had this shoe organizer in the hopper for a while now. I don’t know whether I mentioned previously that this is for The Piemaker’s shoes, which were jumbled in a mess on the floor. He has 20 pairs of shoes, not counting the motorcycle boots, hiking boots, cowboy boots and running shoes which are all piled up elsewhere, like the garage. The ones in the closet are expensive, good-quality shoes, and we were stepping on them and tripping over them every time we walked into the walk-in closet. Thus the need for the over-the-door shoe pocket hanger.

Here’s something I never knew: men’s shoes are huge! In the allotted space on the back of the door, I could have fit as many as 40 pairs of women’s shoes, but in the same space I can only fit 10 pairs of men’s shoes. Shocking.

It went together fairly easily after I did the measurements and math ten times to make sure.

I have to draw things before I make them, otherwise I’ll end up with something quite unexpected. I read a lot of tutorials and looked at a lot of pictures. I think the one I followed most closely was here.

This is the result. The finished size is about 24” by 78”. The backing is two layers of cotton blend canvas, with an additional layer of stiff interfacing between. (You can see my basting stitches which I forgot to take out before the pictures.)
This pretty elephant fabric is another supposedly vintage bit of home dec yardage I got on eBay earlier this year, originally intending to do something kitcheny, I think, like an apron or tablecloth. But it was ideal for this project since the design was in a perfect pocket-size repeat across the fabric. The trim is from a set of Michael Miller Peacock Lane coordinates (quilting cotton).

Each row of pockets is made of an 11” by 48” piece of the elephants with a wide strip of QC to bind and reinforce the top edge. I sewed the pockets vertically first and then folded the base of each pocket to create an expandable gusset (for those HUGE shoes!).

The edge of the canvas is bound all the way around with another wide strip of the QC. All of the bindings are cut straight rather than on bias – it’s easier to make, plus no stretch is required in this project. At the top I folded over the end to make a hem and 4” opening for a rod or bar for hanging.

Sewing big, heavy pieces like this is a pain in the ass and I now remember why I don’t like quilting. Sewing should not be an aerobic exercise, it seems to me, and when I find myself panting and sweating just to lift and manipulate the thing through the machine I just get cranky.

But it’s done now, and it looks pretty good.
Except in this photo, it’s not in the closet yet. Why? Because for the first time in years, I took a good look at our closet and was disgusted by what I saw. How did it get so unbelievably filthy? There was dust on all the clothes and shoes, the shelves were positively grimy, and even the walls were looking dingy. This is a smallish walk-in closet that we share (yes I do let him have space, but just in this one closet), with no window, so the only ingress for dirt is us. We are really not that dirty, I swear. Anyway, that discovery led to an all-day closet-cleaning event. I started when Piemaker left at 7 AM and was just finishing when he came home at 6 PM. I pulled every single item out, washed the shelves, walls and rods, dusted all the clothing, cleaned the hangers (and got rid of about 200 of them), dusted the shoes, vacuumed the floor to death and then put everything back in.

So much for the simple shoe organization project.

Since I’d already cut into the Michael Miller fabrics, I went ahead and made a set of covered hangers. I followed a Martha Stewart idea, but added a sort of neck extension at the top to cover those nasty poky wires. The hangers are not padded, it’s just an envelope of fabric that slides over the wire hanger to keep things from slipping off. However it would probably be pretty easy to add a layer of batting to the fabric when sewing, or you could wrap batting around the hanger before pulling the fabric over. There are lots of padded hanger tutes out there, but they are mostly for wooden hangers, and I really just wanted to spiff up some of the wire ones which we seem to have in abundance.

As my fabric scraps got smaller and smaller, I made a few closet sachets, some with cedar to keep the monsters away (we have moths and crickets that eat our clothing), and some with lavender, just because. Now the closet is the nicest place in the house.

Don't worry! I have not completely forsaken the writing. I have made some progress on the novel and fully intend to return to it now that I’ve had my little affair.

Hope your days are filled with creative pursuits,


1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love the shoe organizer! I was disappointed to read that the fabric was vintage; I would be ordering it right now!

    For me, writing and sewing are not that interchangeable. I've been sewing since before I was big enough to work the foot pedal by myself, and can do it in my sleep. When I sit down to sew, I get results equal to the time and effort invested.

    Not so with writing! It either flows or I'm blocked; not much middle ground. So I pretty much drop everything when I'm inspired, and try to forget about it the rest of the time. Just last night, as I was sitting on the floor starting a hat project and watching TV with the mister when I had to stop, go into a quiet room and write for over an hour. And right now, in a quiet room, I've got nothing! That's why I never refer to myself as a writer; I am more of sporadicic scribbler.

    And don't even get me started on the closets! Uggh!

    xo, Anita