Furniture doesn't have to be made of wood. Some of my favorite pieces often are made of fabrics combined with wood or natural sticks.
Here is a design for a hanging wall rack that can function like a soft shelf in any room of the house. This might be the perfect opportunity to use fabric travel mementos or vintage, family linens.
20 by 29 inches
1. A sturdy piece of fabric, 60 by 21 inches, for the flat back piece. Measurement has been doubled for front and back (Illustration 1). Canvas, home-decor fabrics and denim all work well. If using something thinner (like quilting cottons), add a sturdy interfacing or stiffer fabric layer inside. This will help it hang well and hold its shape when you use the wall rack.
2. A second piece of fabric for the three loops on the front. This piece can be a decorative or pieced strip of your favorite fabrics.
Cut or make a strip 18 by 35 inches (this strip will be divided approximately into thirds). Fold 1/2 inch over down both long sides and topstitch to hem the edge. Press the edges. (Illus. 2)
3. A yardstick (to cut), wood slat or stiff cardboard (foam core works, too) for the top. Length: 20 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
4. Embroidery thread if you want to add some big, decorative hand-stitching.
5. Favorite sticks (optional), for decoration
A. Start with the flat piece for the back. Fold in half (with right sides together) and sew across to create a tube (Illus. 3). As you sew, leave a 5-inch opening in the center of the seam for turning later. Next, fold the tube flat. Move the first seam so it is not on the fold (Illus. 4).
B. To finish the back piece, stitch down both sides leaving an opening at the top of each side. Turn the backing right-side out, through the 5-inch opening in the first seam. Press finished rectangle flat.
C. Hand or machine stitch across 1 3/4 inches from the top to form casing for the cardboard or wood slat (Illus. 5).
To make a pocket across the bottom: Fold bottom up 4 inches and press to form a pocket. Topstitch up sides and in several places to form dividers. This pocket is great for note tablets, pens etc.
D. To mark placement for the loop fabric, draw (or mark with pins) four lines as follows (Illus. 6):
First line: 2 1/2 inches down from the top edge
Second line: 10 inches down from top edge
Third line: 16 inches down from top edge
Fourth line: 22 inches down from top edge
E. Fabric loops on the front: Mark two lines across this fabric, one at 14 1/2 inches down from the top, and the second one 10 1/2 inches below that (Illus. 7).
F. With right sides together, center and stitch (1/2-inch seam allowance) loop fabric to top line on the backing. Fold the fabric over the seam and topstitch across 1/2 inch from the fold (Illus. 8).
G. Place the next line of loop fabric on the second line down. Stitch across to hold (Illus. 9).
Repeat this for the next loop. For the last loop, fold 1/2 inch under, then topstitch the last loop.
H. To finish, sew two rings on the back — in from the edges 2 inches or so (Illus. 10).
I. Put a few dots of glue on one side, then slide your wood or cardboard inside the sleeve at the top (Illus. 11). Press flat while glue dries. Your new rack can hang on two hooks or picture hangers.
Charms or other decorative elements will make your fabric wall rack more personal. I have added bamboo and curly willow sticks to my design. The sticks also help keep the rack flat against the wall.
The same design can be made smaller or larger for various functions: maybe a long, narrow one to hold hand towels in the bathroom or place mats in the kitchen. I am off to make one from my painted fabrics to hold brushes and paper in the studio.
Diane Ericson's studio is in Ashland Art Center. View her work at www.dianeericson.com.