Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Tutorial: Clothespins on a Hanger

I first used these hangers-with-clothespins when my mom made them for me, years ago.  They fit her priorities, and mine, of being useful, thrifty, resourceful, and homemade.

When those hangers wore out, I made more, and I've used them for drying plastic bags, wet skirts briefly fluffed in the dryer, shower poufs, hand-washed pantyhose, and much more.

When the children were little we called them The Bitsy Hangers.  I would sort the "bitsies" --socks, pot holders, little tights, and such-- out of the wet laundry, then I'd hang the bigger things on the line and they would hang up the little things on the hangers.

Recently I got inspired to make more.

 So here's how, along with a few DAISNAID* steps since I refined the process as I went along.

*Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Here's what you need:
Fabric: somewhat sturdy, not stretchy, and a good inch bigger all around than your hanger, minus the hook.
Wooden spring-type clothespins
Hangers: pretty much any size and type
cord: a cotton cord works best but nylon will work as well if you burn the ends, since they tend to unravel quickly when you cut them.  It should be thin enough to fit through the spring of the clothespin, but thick enough to stand up to lots of use.  I've used old basketball-shoe laces in the past, and narrow bias tape, so almost anything will do, really.  Mom sometimes made her own cord out of narrow strips of fabric, folded together and zig-zagged.


 Fold the fabric to make two layers.  Lay the hanger on top.  Sketch a cutting line a good inch out from the hanger, all around, but then mark a line straight across the neck, about 1/2 inch up from where the wires go horizontal.

 And here's my first DAISNAID step, because I didn't allow quite enough seam allowance with this striped fabric.  You can always take in but you can let things out only so far, as every seamstress knows. So allow a good inch all around, especially with plastic hangers.

Cut along the chalk lines:

 Optional: serge along the neck opening:

 Fold under and press about half an inch along the top and bottom edges on both fabric pieces--

 Then stitch down the top edge.

Now you need to take one of your fabric pieces and mark where the clothespins will go along that seam allowance you pressed up along the bottom edge.  I like 7 to 9 for an adult hanger.  The outside ones should be about 3/4 inch from the edge.   I am of the fold-in-half, mark, fold-in-half-again school of thought, but if you like to measure and divide, help yourself.  2 1/2 inches apart works well.

Count your chalk marks to figure out how many clothespins you'll need.  Cut an 8-inch piece of cord for each.  Thread the cords through the little springs and set aside carefully, as the cords will crawl back out when you aren't looking.  Again, you might need to briefly melt the end in a candle flame before it'll thread through the spring.


 Lay the ends of the cords side by side at a chalk mark and zig-zag them onto the inside seam allowance.  Here's where you'll appreciate the virtue of plain cotton cord, as it isn't as slippery as nylon.
 Discover that you zigzagged OVER the cord instead of THROUGH it. Oops.


 Retrieve the clothespin.  Re-thread it.  Re-sew it.  Have some tea.


 After all the cords are firmly sewed in place, trim your threads.
Then lay the two fabric sections down, right sides together, and sew a 1/2 inch seam on each side, from the  bottom edge to the neck opening.


While it's still wrong-side-out, tuck the hanger inside to check the fit and adjust as needed.  You don't want a super-tight fit, but neither do you want the ends all floppy and droopy.  And you want enough extra fabric along the bottom edge to sew it up without your presser foot tangling with the hanger, when we get to that step.

Trim the seam if you like.
Snip the curve.

 We note another DAISNAID step here, as I tried sewing up one side before I attached the clothespins.  Mistake.

 Turn the cover right side out and press it--

Insert the hanger, popping the hook out of that opening you left at the top.

Use a zipper foot for the final step, if you prefer.
Match up the bottom edges and carefully stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge.

If you're like me, run out of bobbin thread 2 inches from the end.  Have more tea.

 Rethread the bobbin.
Finish stitching.
Trim the loose threads.

And you're done!

 You'll find lots of uses for it, I promise.
Kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, even outside on the clothesline.

Feel free to comment if you have questions, successes, or a better way to do any step.


  1. I don't sew, but I loved this tutorial simply for the humor. :-)

  2. Crystal, if you are going to sew and enjoy doing it, you must have a well developed sense of humor. What else is there to do but sigh and laugh when you sew in a sleeve upside down - twice - and you have been sewing for years?!

  3. Ooh! I can't wait to give this a try.

    One question--the zigzags holding the cotton string in place will still be exposed on the back side of the finished product, is that correct?

    Great tutorial!

  4. Shari--Yes, the zigzags show on the back. I guess you could zigzag the strings onto the seam allowance only. Let me know if you try that. :-)

  5. Thank you SO much! If I didn't have a two day old baby and under orders to do "nothing" I'd pull out my sewing machine this morning!

  6. You've changed your fomat! I almost didn't recognize you!!

    Looking good, though....

  7. I have wanted something like this for years and have only found cheap plastic contraptions. I think this would make a great gift for a friend. Thank you so much. PJ

  8. I agree with PJ that it would make a good gift...anyone want to gift me one? or more?

    to let all know I'm not really this greedy/needy I'll leave this anonymous, this time

  9. I like them! I will have to make some so the short girls can help with the laundry

  10. I've done the same thing by clipping things directly onto a hanger. Not as artistic as yours but it does the same job. Some of us are just too lazy to be pretty.

  11. I just began reading your book "Tea and Trouble Brewing". I'm an avid reader and don't say this lightly -- 4 chapters in, and I am captivated!! I could gush on and on, but I won't. Instead, I'm going back to read more. (Oh, and to order your other books) I also plan to go back and read all your blog entries -- can't wait!