Closet organizing can be daunting but it can also be fun, especially if you add unique and decorative elements that reflect your style. Customizing coat hangers is one way to do that, it’s a cheap and easy way to elevate the space with color, fabric and assorted notions (such as lace, ribbons and trim).
If you’ve ever seen an entire closet done with matchy-matchy identical hangers, you know how impressive it can look ;).
Here’s an assorted bunch of free tutorials, patterns and hacks (featuring over 70 projects so far) that will surely add some flair to your closet area.
Some are retro inspired, some shabby-chic and the rest are just fresh and fun.
You’ll find lots to choose from: fabric covers, knit or crochet pads, painted &/or decoupaged, yarn braided and more. Plus a bunch of bonus ideas towards the bottom of the page including hacks for making regular ones non-slip, how to sew secret closet safes to stash valuables and other neat ideas.
There is plenty of creative inspiration to be found for all types of hangers: Wooden, Plastic & Wire. Most are ready to get to work but there is one or two that seem (to me) better suited for staging photos (for online stores, Instagram, etc.) and boutique display.
Regardless of the project, very little supplies are needed and most are quite economical (which is nice when you’re wanting to make a bunch).
New Collection Update: June, 2022
A few quick tips before starting with the goodies:
- Scented varieties can be made by adding a few drops of your favorite perfume or essential oil to the padding before covering. You can also tuck in narrow sachets filled with dried scented herbs such as lavender.
- Paint markers are your friend! Personalize wooden varieties by writing names in a pretty script at the base & finish off with a sweet bow tied at the neck (especially lovely for Brides & Bridesmaids).
- Look for favorite children’s books at used book sales & garage sales. Cut out small illustrations to decoupage onto the wooden arms, a lovely way to introduce favorite characters to your children.
- Crochet or knit “sleeves” may look fiddly to whip up but they can be as plain or basic as you like. Simply work a piece to fit over the base (length & width) in whatever stitch you like. A good tutorial for sizing, stitching together & custom fitting can be found here from Karen M. Andersen (webpage no longer online so linking to web archive): crocheted clothes hangers. Optional: add a crochet flower or two and some pretty edging. That’s it! There’s also a nice article to read with a basic introduction to this technique found at lauramaedesigns.com.
- Avoid using decorative elements that will snag on clothing (such as gemstone buttons with clasps, dangles with metalwork, etc.).
- Polyester batting is favored over cotton varieties since it won’t absorb moisture (if using for damp items to dry).
- When braiding or wrapping wire varieties, some report success with doubling them up so they’re extra sturdy.
- If planning to give as gifts, consider making a full matching set for the recipient (say 6 or 12)…especially if you know they like them & are sure to go right in the closet.
- Hand towels/toweling (can be used as batting)
- Plastic bags (batting)
- Vintage household linens like runners & tablecloths (especially ones with holes & are beyond repair)
- Lace trims, ribbons, rickrack, etc., from items no longer suitable for use
- Pretty cotton prints from old garments & bed linens that can be torn into strips for wrapping or made into full cases (especially vintage pillowcases).
- T-shirts that can be cut into strips to make t-shirt yarn (for braiding)
DIY Boutique-Chic Clothes Hanger Projects
Because there are so many to review, I’ve separated the bunch into a few groups for easier browsing:
- Sewn Covers & Padded Projects
- Yarns & Trims (Includes Knitting, Crochet & Braiding)
- Assorted DIY (Includes Painting, Decoupage & More)
- Bonus Tutorials (Secret Safes, Non-Slip Tricks & Tips, Assorted DIY Ideas)
- Vintage Pattern Freebies (Two goodies from my personal collection)
Directions: Click on images to view project page, a new browser tab will open & save your spot here
How To Sew Covers & Make Padded Coat Hangers
There are some very similar projects in this group but I wanted to include them all so you can see how different fabric combos can work & just great for inspo overall. Don’t forget that there are a couple vintage goodies from my personal collection at the bottom of this page.
A vintage hankie is fused with Pellon then top stitched in place before the whole piece is quilted. The lace trim along the bottom is even sourced from vintage fabrics, really nice!
There is a full tutorial for the fabric cover but I wanted to point out that a piece of plastic tubing is slipped over the wire hook part. It’s little touches like this that can elevate an item even more.
Includes a pdf pattern to download but she also shows how to make a template for a custom fit. Fabric is lined with polyester batting (which she recommends over cotton if you plan on air drying garments with these).
If you’re trying to store treasures that need to be handled carefully, here’s a tutorial to make a set of archive quality padded arms from cotton muslin & cotton batting (both unbleached) & a bit of velcro.
How’s this for extra luxe! The wire is first strengthened with duct tape, wrapped with batting then transformed with fragrant dried lavender, pretty fabric scraps and satin ribbon.
Yarn & Trims (Includes Knitting, Crochet & Braiding)
Quite a range of projects here, lots of creative ideas. The intention of a technique can be varied: To make grippers & non-slip, to glamorize wire and plastic hangers, to give garments some protection (ie. preventing sharp points at the shoulders), etc.
This technique adds a pop of color to the “neck” part positioned right below the hook, not for the whole piece. If you’re into color-coding your closet, this could be a great option.
This is new to me, I haven’t seen this type before (where the space is filled with crocheted chains). Another similar design is found here: craftygardener.ca. I’m going to have to sit & work at this one because I can’t make heads or tails of how this comes together lol.
I love the mix of colors here, notice the bobble shell edging along the bottom…so pretty! She also provides instructions for the little quince flowers that are stitched at the center.
The pictures on this tutorial for how to wrap the wire with yarn are really good, you see how to start (with a larks head knot) & then cover the rest with half hitch knots. She used Aran weight cotton for this & reports good results.
This can be a tricky wood shape to find patterns for, this crochet tutorial does the job nicely. A 100gm ball will yield 4. Recommends using double-knitting or light worsted weight yarn. Skill level: Beginner/Easy.
The tutorial is done really well with lots of pictures & details provided. This will work for wooden clothes hangers that are about 16.5″ wide.
Old-Fashioned Macrame Style
Two different colors of yarn are used to cover the entire piece in a macrame knot technique. This one goes way back & you’ve likely seen stacks of them in your grandmother’s closet. Terrific stash buster too!
This is another technique that used to be very popular back in the day made with Phentex or Nylotex material strips. Years ago I worked with a gal who would make these when we were on the night shift (I think she used t-shirt yarn?). I regret never asking her to teach me the technique. This tutorial is great though, I’ve long looked for it.
These are adorable with eyelet or lace trim wrapped around plastic hangers then finished off with a little bow tied at the neck.
Assorted DIY Projects Featuring Paint & Crafts
These are mainly for wooden varieties but there are a couple ideas for wire ones too. Stamps, stencils, paint markers, washi tape, spray paint…lots of directions to go with this bunch.
Decorative with Decoupage
The wood is sanded, painted, distressed then decorative embellishments added that are finished with a protective coat of polyurethane.
The place where I stash neat tips and odds ‘n ends…the focus is still on how to improve the space with coat hangers.
Secret Closet Safes & Storage
These feature little pockets to stash valuables, passports and anything else you want to organize or keep private…especially useful when traveling.
No-Slip Tips & Hacks
Quick DIY tweaks showing how to make coat hangers non-slip with assorted household supplies including pipe cleaners, hot glue and yarn. Effective “gripper” fabric strip ideas: velvet, felt and even pieces of of wide rubber bands. Especially useful for slippery clothes & garments with thin straps.
Assorted DIY Ideas
Transforming hangers into other useful closet organizers. Just a couple so far but more to come!
Vintage Pattern Freebies
Below are two different vintage goodies from my personal files (circa 1940’s). One is for a bias-trimmed slipcover and the other has pockets (for holding gloves, handkerchiefs and whatever else you like).
- 1/4 yd. percale or chintz
- 2 yds. percale bias trim in contrasting color
- Lay hanger flat on a piece of wrapping paper. Trace around top edge. At sides, draw straight vertical lines, 5″ deep. Connect vertical lines by a horizontal line. Cut out template, making a slight curve at point where wire hook occurs.
- Fabric: 2 pieces from paper template. Allow 1/4″ all around edges for seam allowance.
- On one piece bind curve for wire hook with bias trim.
- On each piece bind straight (lower) edge.
- Place pieces wrong sides together and join by binding around sides and top edge.
Source: The New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing (1946)
1/2 yard Quilted Cotton
1/2 yard Satin Ribbon (1″ wide)
Bias Binding, double fold, of contrasting color
Clark’s “Anchor” Six Cord 80 yards Sewing Thread
1 piece – 11″ x 16″
2 pieces – 5 1/2″ x 16″
- Bind one long edge of each 5 1/2″ x 16″ piece with bias trim.
- Place one 5 1/2″ x 16″ piece against 11″ x 16″ piece (right sides together), matching long sides and raw edges.
- To shape top, lay a coat hanger against long edge, draw a curve to correspond and cut.
- Baste pieces together.
- Baste other 5 1/2″ x 16″ piece on 11″ x 16″ piece (right sides together) so that the bound edges meet.
- Stitch around outside edge, leaving a 1/4″ opening at center top. Turn to right side.
- Divide bottom section into 3 sections and stitch along markings through both thicknesses.
- Buttonhole stitch around opening at top center.
- Insert hanger in case and tie ribbon into a bow at top.
Source: Easy-To-Sew Toys And Gifts, The Canadian Spool Cotton Company (1945)