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Closet Hanger Safe for Travel & More

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We originally designed this clever little storage solution for the frequent travelers out there. It's perfect to slip onto a hotel hanger, fill with your valuables, then cover up with a hanging garment. But it works equally well in your own closet. It's also a great way - when you're traveling or even just when planning your daily work wardrobe - to collect all the accessories that go with a particular outfit. Put lingerie, jewelry, scarves and belts into the zippered and slip-in pockets, then hang up the outfit itself over the Safe. Everything you need for that day's outfit in one handy place! Even with double zippers, clever pockets, ribbon ties and more, our Hanger Safe is surprisingly easy to make.

We made both a pretty floral version as well a more masculine striped version, originally using fabrics from the Petal Sateen collection by Tanya Whelan for FreeSpirit Fabrics. This is an older collection that is no longer readily available. We recommend staying with a sateen weight fabric for the best results. We found two new home décor collections to consider at Hawthorne Threads: Time Warp by Jessica Jones for Cloud 9 Fabrics and the Canvas collection by Cotton & Steel. Click on the swatches to see the full collections.

      

This project is easier than you might think, but there are quite a few steps. As always, we recommend reading through the directions once or twice to really cement the steps in your brain. As we often say, "Make it in your head first, then start sewing!" 

The closet safes finish at approximately 12¼" high x 16¼" wide. The front pocket fits documents up to 8½" x 11". The two back zippered pockets are excellent for wallets, passports, jewelry and more. The zippered opening of each pocket is about 14½". The top pocket is approximately 5" deep, the bottom pocket is about 6". The hanging straps are a 6" high loop.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies



The supplies listed below are for ONE hanger safe.

  • 1 yard of 54-55" wide cotton sateen (decorator weight) for the body of the safe, the back pockets and the zipper end tabs; we used Petal Dot in Pink and Petal Dot in Red 
  • ¾ yard of coordinating 54-55" wide cotton sateen (decorator weight) for the front pocket and straps; we used Sweet Rose Bouquet in Parchment and Wallpaper Stripe in Red
    NOTE: We used the stripe fabric for the pocket and straps on our Red sample, but opted to stay with the main pink dot for the straps on our Pink sample. The straps require just FOUR 2" x 13" strips and so can be cut from one WOF 2" strip from either 54" sateen fabric. 
  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond 
  • 1 yard of 20" wide light-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 950F Shir-Tailor®
  • TWO 16" standard zippers; we used Coats Polyester All-Purpose Zippers
  • ½ yard ⅜" wide ribbon for front pocket closure
  • ½ yard of ⅛" wide ribbon for the zipper pulls
    NOTE: We purchased our ribbons locally and chose colors to best coordinate with both the fabric and the zippers.
  • All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Straight pins 
  • Seam gauge 
  • Seam ripper
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

All our pieces were carefully fussy cut to make the best use of all motifs in our chosen collection. If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial on How To Fussy Cut

The sample shown in our in-progress photos is our Red Hanger Safe. The Pink Hanger Safe was made following the exact same steps. The only difference, as mentioned above, was the choice to the make the straps for the Pink Closet Safe from the main dot fabric rather than the front pocket fabric.

  1. Download and print Hanger Safe Piece 1, Hanger Safe Piece 2, Hanger Safe Piece 3, and Hanger Safe Piece 4
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the four pattern pieces along the solid lines.
  3. Butt together the four pieces to create the full pattern, following the assembly arrows drawn on the pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together
  4. From the fabric for the for the body of the safe, the back pockets and the zipper end tabs, cut the following: 
    ONE 17" wide x 2" high rectangle
    ONE 17" wide x 5¾" high rectangle
    ONE 17" wide x 5½" high rectangle
    FOUR 1" x 2" tab rectangles
    Using the pattern, cut TWO pieces
  5. From the fabric for the front pocket and straps, cut the following: 
    TWO 17" wide x 12" high rectangle
    FOUR 2" x 13" strips for the straps
  6. From the mid-weight fusible interfacing, using the pattern, cut TWO pieces.
  7. From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 17" x 2" rectangle
    ONE 17" x 5¾" rectangle
    ONE 17" x 5½" rectangle
    ONE 11½" x 16" rectangle
  8. Cut the ⅜" ribbon length in half into TWO 9" lengths.
  9. Cut the ⅛" ribbon into TWO 5" lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Main panels

  1. Find the two main fabric pieces and the two interfacing pieces you cut using the assembled pattern.
  2. On the interfacing pieces, measure 2" down from the top curved edges and make a mark. Do this on both sides. 
  3. Using a see-through ruler and rotary cutter, cut ½" from both sides from the 2" mark down to each bottom corner, then cut ½" off the bottom. 
    NOTE: You can use scissors, but a rotary cutter makes this step faster and easier. If you only have scissors, first draw a line to follow.
  4. Place one trimmed interfacing piece on the wrong side of each main fabric piece. There will be ½" of fabric showing along the sides and bottom; only the top curved edges will be flush. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.

    NOTE:The reason for cutting back this interfacing is to keep it out of the seam allowance. Without first trimming, the multiple layers of the heavier sateen plus the interfacing would be too hard to turn and work with.

Front pocket

  1. Find the two 17" x 12" contrasting rectangles and the 11½" x 16" piece of lightweight interfacing. 
  2. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of one of the two fabric pieces, aligning the top edges of the two layers. This will leave ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along both sides and across the bottom. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
  3. Place the fused rectangle and the plain rectangle right sides together. Find the exact center point along the top of the plain piece and mark with a pin.
  4. Find one of the 9" lengths of the ⅜" ribbon. Pin the ribbon at the center point mark against the right side of the fabric. One end of the ribbon should be flush with the top raw edge of the fabric.
  5. Pin the layers together along the top edge only. sandwiching the ribbon between the layers.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together along the top edge only, securing the ribbon in place. Press the seam open.
  7. Fold the two layers wrong sides together, pulling out the ribbon. Press well, making sure your seam is right along the top edge.
  8. Edgestitch across the top.
  9. Place one main fabric panel right side up on your work surface. Place the front pocket panel on top of the main panel, aligning the sides and the bottom edge. Pin the layers together along the sides and across the bottom.
  10. Find the remaining 9" length of ⅜" ribbon. Pin it at the center top raw edge of  the main panel so it lies right on top of the ribbon stitched in to the pocket panel. 
  11. Machine baste the second ribbon length in place within the seam allowance.
  12. Set the in-progress front panel aside.

Back zippered pockets panel

  1. Find the two zippers and the four 1" x 2" fabric tabs.
  2. Place one tab right side down on each end of each zipper. The tab should cover up the zipper stop and be approximately ½" in from the raw end of the zipper. On the bottom of the zipper, simply pin in place.
  3. On the top of the zipper, open the zipper first, then pin in place.
  4. For each tab, stitch straight across, through both layers, at approximately 1" in from the raw end of the zipper tape. You want to stitch just below (zipper top) and above (zipper bottom) the zipper stops.
  5. Fold the tab back along the seam line and press. Edgestitch in place close to the raw edge.
  6. Repeat for each end of each zipper. These tab ends will fill in any gaps within the pocket openings, creating a lovely finish on both ends.
  7. Find the three main fabric rectangles (17" x 2", 17" x 5½" and 17" x 5¾") and the lightweight interfacing cut to the same sizes. 
  8. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing piece on the wrong side of its matching fabric piece. 
  9. Press under the bottom 17" raw edge (if your motif is not directional, just pick one side) of the 2" strip ½" to create a clean folded edge. 
  10. Unzip one zipper. Place it right side up on your work surface with the zipper pull to your left. 
  11. Center the folded edge of the 2" strip along the top of the zipper. The folded edge should be approximately ⅛" from the zipper teeth. Pin in place.
  12. Attach a Zipper foot
  13. Edgestitch the top edge of the zipper to the bottom folded edge of the pocket strip. Start with with the zipper about half way open. 
  14. Stitch to the middle, where you're approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Lift up your presser foot. 
  15. Twist your fabric around slightly in order to be able to carefully close the zipper. 
  16. Re-position your fabric and finish sewing to the end. 
  17. Find the 17" x 5¾" piece. Press under the top 17" raw edge (if your motif is not directional, just pick one side) ½" to create a clean folded edge.
  18. Repeat the above steps, pinning and then sewing the top of the pocket piece to the bottom half of the first zipper. Take the time to carefully measure the distance from the folded edge to the teeth; you want it to match the ⅛" distance you used above.
  19. Press under the bottom 17" raw edge (the remaining raw edge) of the sewn 17" x 5¾" piece to create a clean folded edge. 
  20. Unzip the remaining zipper. Place it right side up on your work surface with the zipper pull to your left.
  21. Repeat the above steps, pinning and then sewing the bottom of the sewn 17" x 5¾" piece to the top half of the remaining zipper. As above, take the time to carefully measure the distance from the folded edge to the teeth; you want all the distances to exactly match. 
  22. Finally, find the 17" x 5½" piece. Press under the top 17" raw edge (if your motif is not directional, just pick one side) ½" to create a clean folded edge.
  23. Repeat the above steps, pinning and then sewing this top folded edge of the final pocket piece to the bottom half of the remaining zipper. 
  24. You now have a complete back panel made of three fabric rectangles and two zippers. The top, bottom and both sides are still raw edges.
  25. Fold under the top raw edge ½" and press well.

Assemble the back layers

  1. Find the remaining main panel (the one without the pocket and ribbons). Place it right side up on your work surface. Place the zippered pocket panel on top of the main panel, aligning the sides and the bottom edge. Lightly pin the layers together along the sides and across the bottom, then pin across the panel along the top folded edge.
  2. Re-attach your regular presser foot or a Walking/Even Feed foot
  3. Edgestitch across the top folded edge of the pocket panel through all the layers 
  4. Measure 3½" from the bottom of the top zipper down towards the second zipper. Use pins or draw a guide line across the entire width of the panel at this 3½" measurement.
  5. Topstitch across the width of the panel, following the guide line. We attached a quilting guide bar to keep our line straight. This line of stitching creates the bottom of the top pocket. 

Make the straps

  1. Find the four 2" x 13" strips.
  2. Place two strips right sides together and pin along both 13" sides. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both 13" sides. Leave both ends open.
  3. Turn the sewn tube right side out. Press flat.
  4. Repeat to assemble the remaining pair of strips.
  5. Fold each sewn strap in half, aligning the raw ends. 

Assemble all the layers to finish

  1. Place the assembled front and back panels right sides together. 
  2. Find the original paper pattern. Transfer the markings for placement of both straps from the paper pattern to the top edge of the back zippered panel. Pin the straps in place. 
  3. The doubled raw ends should be flush with the top raw edge of the panel and the looped end should be hanging down against the panel. 
  4. Pin around the perimeter of the entire piece: the top, both sides and across the bottom. Along the bottom, leave an approximate 8" opening for turning. 
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the perimeter of the entire piece: the top, both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the bottom corners, curve at the top corners, and lock your seam at either side of the 8" opening left for turning.
  6. Clip the corners and notch the top curves.
  7. Turn the entire piece right side out through the bottom opening. 
  8. Push out the bottom corners so they are nice and sharp and gently round out the top corners. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this. 
  9. Press the entire piece well; you want it to be nice and flat. Steam and a pressing cloth is good for this step.
  10. Fold in the raw edges of the bottom opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press flat.
  11. Thread a hand sewing needle and slip stitch the opening closed.
  12. Find the two 5" lengths of ⅛" ribbon. Fold one length in half, loop and knot it through the hole in the zipper pull, as if you were attaching a gift or price tag. Repeat with the second zipper pull. 
     

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (7)

zauber-a said:
zauber-a's picture

can you make this with regular weight quilting cotton - just use a heavier interfacing? Thanks!

Amber

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Amber - We haven't tested it with quilting cotton so I can't give you a guarantee. It wouldn't be my first recommendation since we're already using a pretty stiff mid-wight in the suggested Decor Bond interfacing. As you move up from the mid-weights to the heavyweights, the options get quite stiff and make it difficult to turn things right isde out. If you decide to go with a quilting weight, you may want to stick with the interfacing listed to make manipulating all the pieces easier. Without the extra regidity of a heavier substrate, you would need to be more careful about what you put into each pocket.

bunny kingston said:
bunny kingston's picture

i really really like this idea, but it seems like those handles would slip off the hangers very easily. i guess, you could add velcro to the underside of each strap, just to make a grippy surface?

Kathy Kramer said:
Kathy Kramer's picture

Instead of sewing both ends of the straps into the bag, attach a square of sew-in velcro to one end of each strap and the matching squares of velcro to the front of the bag.  Then you can loop the straps over the crossbar of the hanger, attach the end of the straps to the front of the bag via velcro and there's no slipping off.   

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ bunny kingston - we had no problem with the straps slipping - it's a heavier fabric and the loops are shorter. But, yes, you could certainly add something "grippy" on the bag for extra security. Many hangers have strap notches as well, which would also work to help hold things in place. 

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