Fabric storage boxes – how to!


“I’m not buying anymore fabric until I sew through what I have, ” is a statement I make at least every three months. One day, I might actually follow through with it. I have no problem with hording art and craft supplies, but I was running out of storage space. We’ve got a great sized apartment, especially for Brooklyn, but it’s no suburban house with a basement and extra rooms. I have to keep my fabric in the small second bedroom we turned into a craft room, in the company of tubs of spray paint, power drills, and extension cords. For years, I’d been keeping my fabric in boxes sorted by color, the fabric piled in and somewhat folded, but really more wadded up. Searching for fabric involved digging and pulling everything out, which made it difficult to find anything or get ideas. I poked around on the internet and pinterest for storage solution ideas, but most of them seemed to assume I had a large suburban house, or a house at all.

I tested a version of Makezine’s filing cabinet and hanging file folder fabric storage, but I thought the hanging file folders were too flimsy to hold up any substantial amount of fabric. As an alternative, I designed a sturdier version using dowels, and it doesn’t require an actual filing cabinet. My hanging fabric file boxes have totally revolutionized our craft room and made fabric digging so much easier! Here’s my instructions for making your own fabric file box.

Hanging Fabric Storage Boxes 


Plastic hanging file folder boxes with lids, like these. (I used clear ones so I could see my fabric easier and because clear boxes would take up less visual space in the room).

Wooden dowels. I used dowels that were 3/8″ in diameter. How many dowels depends on how many fabric hangers you’re making. You’ll be able to get about three hangers from one full sized dowel.

7/8″ Washers. You’ll need two washers per hanger.

6X1/2 sheet metal screws with a flathead. You’ll need to screws per hanger. It’s important to get flathead screws because rounded screws will bump the edge and prevent easy gliding.

Tools needed:

-A ruler, a saw, a drill, and a screw driver.


Here’s a photo of how my system works: the fabric hangers are dowels with a screw and a washer at the end. The fabric is draped over the dowel. It’s a pretty easy process to make, but can be time consuming depending on how many hangers you need. (I think I made about 100). I’d also like to give a quick shout out to the company who designed and made this amazing duck fabric – De Islas.


Step 1: Measure and cut the dowels. 

Plastic file folder boxes have two grooves instead that are designed for the metal hooks on hanging file folders to hang in. You want each dowel to be slightly wider than the width of the inner groove, so it will rest on the edges with a bit of over hang. I made each dowel 12.75″ wide, because that’s the width of a file folder.

Make a mark on your full sized dowels every 12.75″. (You should be able to get three hangers out of a full dowel). After you’ve made all your marks, cut the dowel into pieces using a saw. Use some kind of clamp to hold the dowel in place.



Step 2: Drill guide holes for the screws

This will save you lots of time and frustration later. Using a small drill bit (I think I used a 3/32 bit), drill a hole in the center of the end of each dowel, about 1/2″ into the dowel.


Step 3: Insert the screws and washers 

On the each end of each dowel, put a screw into the washer hole. Then put the screw into the guide hole you created. Using a screw driver, twist the screw tightly into place, until you can’t twist anymore.


Step 4: Put your finished hangers in the boxes and add fabric!

I made six of these boxes, and I kept my fabric sorted by color. No more digging! I just have to open the lid and I can see exactly what I have.



Look how neatly these boxes fit on our shelf!