By Nikol Lohr
Not just for the school-bound, this cute felt caddy is also at home in your office (on the side of your filing cabinet), kitchen (fridge), or on any metal door.
You can also easily adapt this caddy for a specific purpose: bed frame caddy for dorm room or camp (pockets for book, flashlight, cellphone, ear plugs); knitting (skinny pockets for needles, lots of wee pockets for accessories); sewing or quilting (add a pin cushion, a long pocket for rotary cutter, a small button-flap pocket for extra blades, and a triangular, open-bottom pocket for scissors); car caddy (pockets for iPod, cellphone, GPS, chargers, pens, change for tolls). If you don’t have a metal surface, try the hanger or loop options at the end of the tutorial.
Because it’s lightweight and non-woven, felt is the perfect fabric for this type of project. Even with multiple layers for pockets and appliques, felt is airy and easy to sew, and doesn’t require any special finishing. I’ve included directions for thick felt or standard commercial felt, which should be doubled, and made a project with each type of felt.
The instructions are for an 8″x24″ caddy, sized for a half-height locker, but you can scale it to whatever size you need. (While I don’t give explicit instructions for the simple winter accessory caddy, it’s roughly 12″x14″ before the hanger flap, and uses a children’s hanger.)
(See also Resources at end of project.)
1 yard wool or wool-blend commercial felt usually on 36″ bolts OR 1/2 yard of thick farm or sturdy handmade felt all-synthetic felt will work in a pinch, but it’s much flimsier
Sewing machine and thread
Embroidery floss to match felt
Sharp embroidery needle
Lightweight paper packing paper or cheap wrapping paper work well
Seam ripper or sharp embroidery scissors
6-8 rare earth ring magnets extra-strong magnets with hole in middle
Felt scraps for appliques (optional)
|Download the Applique Template PDF
Right click to save the PDF to your desktop. Directions on downloading PDFs.
Note: Be careful with strong magnets if you have gobbly pets or small children. Swallowing magnets can be very dangerous. These magnets are so strong that it’s unlikely a pet or small child would ever be able to get them apart, but better safe than sorry! Keep them up high and stuck to something metal until you’re ready to use them.
Locker dry-erase board Both typically about 6″x8″ and available at dollar stores. I got mine in the Target $1 section.
Note: Commercial felt is typically thinner than “farm” felt (made by small roving mills on smaller needle-felting machines) or handmade felt, so you’ll double it to add body. The pictures will illustrate a locker caddy being made from a single layer of thick felt and a winter accessory caddy being made from a double layer of standard felt.
Step 1: Wash, dry, and press the felt (skip for all-synthetic felt and handmade felt). Machine-made felt is needle-felted, so it can benefit from some wet felting for stability. I like to use a washing machine on a hot cycle with cold rinse, and dryer on hot/high. You can also hand wash in hot water with a little soap and agitate by hand, then shock with a cold rinse. Washing will give it a bubbly, rumpled appearance, so when the felt is dry or near-dry, press flat on both sides with a hot iron.
Step 2: Cut out the main pieces. Standard felt: Cut out four 8″x24″ rectangles. Two of them will form the back of your caddy, two will form the pockets. Thick felt: Cut out two 8″x24″ rectangles.
Note: Your layers can be different colors.
Step 3: Sketch out the front and pockets. Cut your paper to the size of your felt rectangles. Use the paper template to plan out your pockets. I made 2 “frames” for my mirror and dry erase board, plus pockets for tissues, phone, pens and pencils, etc.
Note: I recommend making pencil slots the full width. Mine only accommodate retractable pens, if you want the locker door to close. You could even plan a cut-out slot that goes through both layers to allow notes to be slipped in through your locker vents. You will probably want to use a few extra magnets around the slot to stabilize the caddy overall. If you’re planning for specific items, lay them out on your pattern to get the size just right.
Step 4: Mark the seams and cuts. Determine which lines will be seams and which lines will be openings. I used a dotted line to mark seams and a solid to mark cut edges or openings. Remember, you can orient the pockets to open to the top or the side.
Step 5: Sew guide lines for the pockets. Pin your paper pattern to 2 layers of your felt rectangles (one layer for thick felt) and carefully sew along all the seams, using the longest stitch available on your machine. I used a contrasting color for clarity, but you might want to choose to use a color that will blend into your felt so your final product will be neater (unless you want a colorful, freehand look). Don’t forget to add an extra seam just below/inside of your cut lines. It might be handy to use one color for the regular seams and a different color for the cut lines. Tear away the paper once you have finished sewing.
Step 6: Sew the backing.
Note: If you’re using loops, you can attach them here or when you seam the front to the back. Standard felt: Sew the 2 large backing pieces together, working close to the edges. Thick felt: Sew a line close to the edge all around.
Step 7: Appliques (optional). Cut out appliques (use the templates or make your own) from the scrap felt and sew them to your front/pockets, avoiding any areas that will be cut out.
Step 8: Sew the front and pocket section to the backing. Before you attach the front and back, reinforce all of the edges that will be cut with 2 more rows of straight stitch. On my caddy, those were the edges around the frame opening, one side of each frame (where you’ll insert the mirror/board), the slit of the tissue pouch, the tops of vertical pockets, and the side edge of the horizontal pencil pockets. Then pin the front evenly to the back, lining up the edges neatly. Sew all pocket seams, using the guide lines as your guide. Remember not to sew the reinforced lines, which are there to stabilize your cut edges, not to indicate seams.
Step 9: Cut open the pockets. Being careful to only poke through the front/pocket layer, use a seam ripper or a pair of sharp embroidery scissors to start your cuts. Then cut out the frame openings and pocket slits. You can also trim around the outside edges to make everything flush if you like.
Step 10: Magnetize! Using embroidery floss to match your felt, and hiding your knot under the magnet, sew one magnet securely to each corner and one at each center side. Work through all the layers of fabric. Work around the ring evenly, using at 8-10 stitches per magnet.
Alternatives to Magnets: If your caddy won’t be used on a metal surface, there are other options for hanging it.
Suitable for a doorknob, coat hooks, over-the-door hooks or furniture spindles like bed posters, chair spindles or wheelchair tops, loops can be customized to suit your needs. You can also cut them in half and add velcro tabs for attaching the caddy to furniture — think slats on a chair back or bed frame, towel bar, bars of a car headrest, stroller, or shopping cart handle, etc.
Loops can also be used at the bottom of a project (as shown in the winter accessory caddy).
For each loop, cut two 1″ to 2″ strips to the desired length. Sew along both long sides, then sandwich and sew them into either your back seam (if you’re using 2 pieces of standard felt for the backing) or into your front/back seams (for thick felt). Allow about 3/4″ of each end of the loop to feed in between the layers, and reinforce the seam with 2 extra rows of stitching spaced at 1/8″ intervals.
A caddy attached to a hanger can be readily moved. Hook it over a door knob, closet rod, chair, coat rack — wherever you need it.
You’ll need a wooden hanger (consider a children’s hanger for smaller projects). Simply make your backing piece 2″ – 3″ longer than your desired caddy height. Overlap the excess over the crossbar of a wooden hanger and sew.
100% wool or wool-blend felt can be purchased in 1-yard increments from Joann.com.
Hand-dyed felt (pink felt in the accessory caddy) is Meltie Feltie:
Colonial Crafts sells 12″x18″ sheets of wool felt in many colors.
Stonehedge Fiber Mill sells large sheets of thick “farm” felt (brown felt in the locker caddy) in natural colors and white (you can dye it yourself with Kool-aid or acid dyes).
Amazon sells the fabulous ultra-strong Magcraft rare earth magnets which I used.
About the Author:
Nikol Lohr lives at The Harveyville Project with her partner, 2 cats, 7 sheep, and 7 hens. She’s the author of Naughty Needles & founder of Yarn School. She blogs at The Thrifty Knitter, is cupcake on Ravelry, and queenievonsugarpants on Flickr.