Monday, March 31, 2008

Tutorial: Necklace organizer

So, I've had this craft burning a hole in my brain for, like, months now. Because I have this rad jewelry box that Bubba gave me that does everything except keep my necklaces from wildly embracing each other and turning into a big spaghetti mess.

I've tried sticking their pendants into the ring holder parts. I've tried carefully laying them out under the removable tray. I've tried leaving them unclasped. I've tried throwing them in there overhand style. Nothing works. Every time I open that box all the necklaces have reached out and grabbed onto 16 other things and created a giant wad of beads, bangles and knots.


Until I had a night of eventful insomnia and I managed to mastermind a solution while also staring at the ceiling and listening to *some people* snore and steal my sheets.

I would craft an insert that would fit into the mirrored lid of the box. It would have tiny hooks to hang all the necklaces AND it would have a little pocket at the bottom for their big snaggly pendants to hide.

Oh, but what about the mirror? I certainly can't be trusted to poke earrings through my ears without the very necessary guidance of the mirror.


Oh yes. Now we have a deal.

A hundred years later (yesterday) I finally had the opportunity to get this craft out of my head and into my jewelry box.

Thanks to Bubba, aka Materials Master, I had the "Magic Material" with which I could craft this project and thanks to Kate, I had the fabric to make it pretty. All the other parts and pieces I managed to fill in using my own imagination which mostly consisted of the $1 bin at OSH and the tools from Bubba's garage.

So, the Tutorial part. Right, here we go...

Project: Necklace Organizer Insert

Supplies & Tools:
Corrugated plastic sheeting or For Sale sign (large enough to fit inside your box lid)
Fat quarter of fabric
Matching thread
12 Eye or hook screws (+ or - depending on your needs)
4-6 inches of coordinating 1/2" ribbon
E-6000 or other strong craft adhesive
Box cutter with sharp blade
T-square or ruler
Wire cutter
Sharpie or other marking tool
Painter's tape (masking tape also works fine)
Bench vice (optional)
Super 77 spray mount adhesive (optional - you can use E-6000)

Step 1: Measure & cut the corrugated plastic to fit

First of all, this is what corrugated plastic looks like:

I opted for a nice $7 For Sale sign rather than a billboard sized sheet of it at the hardware store. This was MORE than enough for this project, even allowing for the number of Whoopsy! measurement mishaps I was planning to have.

Once you have your plastic in hand, go to your jewelry box and measure the interior width, height and depth of its lid. If the depth of your lid is shallower than the corrugated plastic + a half inch or so, you might have to rethink your materials. My box lid was just under an inch deep, so this material combo worked just fine, even loaded with jewelry.

Then take your measurements, plastic, box cutter, Sharpie and T-square/ruler to a nice cutting surface and mark your exact measurements on the plastic.

When you cut out the plastic, CUT JUST INSIDE YOUR MEASUREMENT MARKS. This will leave enough room to wrap it in fabric and add a pocket so that it will fit snugly in the lid of your jewelry box without being too large. If you cut it exactly the same size, it won't fit.

If you're super anal retentive and paranoid like me, you can now check to make sure that your plastic piece fits the lid with a *tiny* bit of room around the edges to spare.

Step 2: Cut out the mirror window

If you're like me, you need a mirror to tell you when you're about to jam an earring into your eye. So - cut a window into your plastic piece so that once you insert your Insert (teehee) you'll still have a mirror to warn you of imminent danger. If you're all super coordinated and don't need this kind of assistance, then you can skip this step and keep your fanciness to yourself.

No one likes a show-off.

Using your ruler and Sharpie, measure in about 2 inches in from the edge of your plastic and make a mark, do this from top, bottom and both sides and then use your ruler to draw an interior border to guide your box cutter.

*Note: 2 inches is the size that worked best for my measurements (12w X 7 1/2h), but you can use whatever border width makes sense for your lid. Just leave enough of a border so that your insert will be sturdy enough to hold necklaces on hooks without bowing.

Step 3: Cut out the fabric

Lay your fabric out flat, right side down, and tape to your cutting surface with your painter's tape. Then, using your ruler, measure your fabric around the plastic so that it is the same width of your window border (from Step 2) MINUS 1/4 INCH.

This will mean that when you wrap the frame, the fabric will not show through the window hole.

Step 4: Cut the fabric to wrap the frame

First, tape the plastic insert with its newly cut window hole to the freshly cut fabric, right side down. Then, using your box cutter, cut from each corner toward the middle of the fabric, making two triangles and make one straight cut from the triangle points to open the fabric completely.

Step 5: Wrap your insert with fabric

First, place your plastic insert on your right-side-facing-down fabric and give your plastic frame a light coat of spray mount. Or, if you're using another adhesive, apply it to the plastic now.

Then pick up both of the side inside flaps and pull them snugly around the window hole and stick to the plastic. Do the same with the top and bottom flaps, securing them to the plastic.

Then, take the corners of the fabric and pull tightly around the plastic, securing to the frame.

Now, using your adhesive, apply another light coat to the plastic and newly wrapped fabric and wrap the remaining fabric tightly around the frame and press firmly to the plastic, fully wrapping the frame.

You can leave this on your cutting surface to dry, pressed beneath something heavy like a phone book or a giant cat, if you have one. *Use them together for best results.

*I forgot to take a picture of this, but it was funny, I promise.

Step 6: Sew your pocket

First, cut out a strip of fabric about 2 inches wider than your insert and about as thick as your window border. For me (14"w X 7 1/2"h) this was 16"w x 2 1/2"h.

Then fold over one long raw edge and press. This will be your pocket seam, so you can decide if you want a matching or contrasting thread to stitch.

I used a contrasting thread, rather than Safe White, because I am crazy like that, but this is a big departure from my normal Just Don't Call Attention To My Mistakes white thread that I normally would have used.

Then sew one or two "Stay Stitching" lines along the bottom edge to keep your fabric from fraying.

*Honestly I was considering doing some "Pull the bobbin thread" gathering here, a la the Lotus Tunic cap sleeves, but it made things too complicated so I decided these could just be "Stay Stitches" instead. It does seem fancy though, doesn't it?

Step 7: Attach your pocket

Place your newly hemmed pocket right side down with the "Stay Stitching" on the top. Then place your wrapped insert right side down so that one long side lines up just below the stitches and so you'll have enough of the pocket fabric to wrap around your insert.

Apply your adhesive along the long edge of your wrapped insert and fold over the pocket fabric so that it sticks.

Then apply adhesive to the sides of the pocket fabric and tuck the corners of the pocket fabric in like you're wrapping a present.

Turn your wrapped frame WITH POCKET WOO! right side up and press beneath the aforementioned Cat and Phonebook combo or other super squashing device.

Step 8: Attach your ribbon pull

Cut a 4-6 inch section of ribbon and fold over, creating a loop. Then hand sew (I KNOW I KNOW!!!) to the center of the back of your wrapped frame, opposite end of the pocket so that it will stick up above the top of the frame.

Step 9: Attach your hooks

Lay your wrapped insert, right side up, and determine the number of hooks you'll use by spreading them out evenly across the top edge of the frame leaving enough space in between to accommodate the bulk of numerous necklaces.

If you're like me and could only find screw EYES that fit your needs (ie. were small enough and not gold) you'll get an extra step here. For those of you who are perfect and found the perfect screw hooks you can move on to Step 10 and keep your fancy mouths shut.

EXTRA STEP 9A: Open eye hooks

Using your bench vice OR a pair of pliers, hold the screw end of your screw eye firmly and use your (other) pliers to pull open the screw eye until there's ample space to slip a necklace.

Step 10: Attach your screw hooks

After laying out your screw hooks (look - like magic they go from screw eyes to screw hooks!) either mark out equidistant spots to attach your hooks OR use the supah handy fabric markings to do this for you. I'll let you guess which method I used.

Then simply poke your first screw hook through the fabric at the pre-determined (ish) location and screw it in. Go a few more rounds than you'd expect so that you have a good point sticking out on the other side.

The corregated plastic is key here, since it lets you screw right through the material and the screws stay securely.

Do this for all your screw eyes. Go on, I'll wait...

Step 11: Trim the screw eyes

Flip your wrapped insert over to the wrong side and, with your wire cutters, snip off the protruding pokey parts of the screw eyes.

Then flip your insert back over and back off each screw eye one or two rounds so that the pokey parts are no longer poking out. Yay! Less stabbing!

Step 12: Fit your insert into your jewelry box

This is the part we all love and, really, the reason I embark on any craft - The Final Pay Off.

You probably don't need me to tell you what to do at this point, but just for consistencies sake, take your finished Necklace Organizer Insert (yes, that's what I'm calling it because I'm *so* creative) and insert it into your jewelry box lid while MAKING SURE THAT THE RIBBON PULL DOES NOT GET TUCKED BEHIND THE INSERT.

It should fit snugly and should allow you to bend it slightly to slide it in. Thank you corregated plastic and Materials Master Bubba for this very handy advice.

Step 13: The fun part - LOAD IT UP

Now that you're done with the crafting you can start the real fun part: ORGANIZING. I started out loading bracelets, earrings and necklaces on the organizer, but in the end, opted for just necklaces since that alone frees up enough room in the rest of the box for everything else.

Oh, and tuck in the ends of your necklaces, with their big troublemaker pendants and what not, right into the bottom pocket. No more illicit affairs between chains and earrings? Oh yes, it is THAT good.

Um, just like magic? Yes, people. Crafty Magic.

Tomorrow - new project for Finny and Donk's Sewing Adventure.


  1. wow what a great design! It looks great. And I'm glad that your finding lots of uses for the fabric ;)

  2. Or you could just be like me and not own any jewelry.

    Bravo, as always, for your insanely ingenious craftiness. If I were a real girl, I'd want to be like you

  3. okay, now this is a nice idea. i need to try it. i think i have most of my jewels in a gravy boat in my bathroom.

  4. Are you a smarty pants?!?!

    That's a great idea. And I love the green jewelry box.

  5. Your tutorial is an awesome inspiration! Many thanks for sharing. I would like to feature your designs at

    Contact me here if you have a concern.


  6. Hi!

    We've featured your necklace organizer. Check it out here:



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