Tuesday, January 19, 2010

File Folder Tutorial

I loved making up this fabric file folder to haul papers to and from campus.  So much more satisfying than my old plastic yucky green one!


Supplies and Cutting Directions:

  • Twenty-four 5" fabric squares for outer cover
  • 1/2 yard fabric for lining: Cut to 15 1/2" by 27 1/2"
  • Fast2Fuse interfacing: 15" by 27"
  • Decorative thread
  • 6 side buttons, 1 front button
  • 3 to 4 inch thin elastic cord

Sew Outer Patchwork

  1. Arrange fabric into 4 rows of 6 squares each and sew rows together.  (Tip: if you iron the seam allowances in opposing directions, you can “lock” the seams as you join the rows in Step 2.)
  2. Sew rows together. 

Prepare Fast2Fuse Interfacing

1.  You’re going to draw a number of lines on the interfacing to provide guidelines for cutting it to the right shape and indicating the fold lines.

  • Draw a line 1 1/4" in from each of the long sides.  (Later in the directions I will refer to this as the horizontal line).
  • The rest of the lines are drawn across the width of the interfacing.  (I will refer to these as perpendicular lines).
  • Draw the first perpendicular line 3/4" in from the left side.
  • Draw the next 9"  from the first line.
  • The next is 1 1/4" in from the previous line (continue to use the last drawn line as your marker).
  • The next is 9 3/4" in.
  • The next is 1 1/4" in.
  • The remaining should measure 5" (though it won’t matter if it is a little more or less than exact).

Here is a diagram of how the drawn lines on your interfacing should look. 

file folder lines drawn


2.  Using the drawn lines as a guide, cut out your interfacing so it looks like the drawing below.

file folder cutout

3.  Round the edges on the right side.  I usually just grab whatever round object is at hand (in this case, it was a spool of ribbon), draw a curved line and then use scissors to trim.

4.  On the left side, come in about 3/4"  from each of the long horizontal  lines and draw a short line to meet the 3/4" perpendicular line you drew earlier.  Use this line as a gage to gently round the corner and then cut out along the 3/4" perpendicular  line.  (Note: the cut begins 2 inches from the raw edge).

5.  Your interfacing should now look like this:

TIP:  Don’t worry if your interfacing isn’t lying flat.  Mine had come off the bolt and was curling – the only reason it lies flat in the picture above was because I taped it down.  Once the fabric is ironed on, the interfacing will behave and lie flat.

6.  Very lightly use your rotary cutter to score along the horizontal and perpendicular fold lines (which means that you don’t score what remains of the first perpendicular line that you drew in at 3/4" from the left side).  The goal is to create a natural fold line.  You do not want to cut all the way through the interfacing.  (However, if you do, don’t worry.  The fabric will still hold everything together.  As you can see in the photo below, I did press a little too hard along some of the line.)

Add the Fabric to the Interfacing

1.  Iron the lining fabric to the unscored side of the interfacing.  (Tip:  When I’m ironing, I use a teflon sheet – release paper would also work – under the fusible so I don’t accidentally fuse the interfacing to my ironing board).  Be sure that the fabric is ironed securely.

2.  Trim around the edges of the interfacing.  (Tip: I use a rotary cutter and ruler along the straight edges and use scissors for the cutouts and curved sections).

3.  Fuse the pieced section to the scored side of the interfacing.  Once again, trim the fabric to fit the interfacing. 

Finish the edges

1.  Center your piece of elastic on the right side (the front flap).  Gently open up the Fast2Fuse and insert the elastic. 


2.  Begin just shy of the elastic and satin stitch the edges of the folder holder, catching the elastic.  (A moment for full disclosure: the direction I just gave is what I intended to happen.  What actually happened is that the elastic shifted and got caught in the satin stitching on the bottom side.  Since the elastic was secure, I decided to call it good).

3.  Continue to satin stitch all the raw edges.

Final Assembly

1.  Fold along the scored lines (both horizontal and vertical) and press to set.  Fold towards the lining. 

2.  Fold up along the two perpendicular lines that create the folder bottom and fold in the two side flaps.  (I folded mine so that the overlap edge was towards the back).  Line up the flaps at the top on one side and pin in place. 

3.  Hand sew a button onto the bottom section of the overlap.  (Time out for another moment of full disclosure: sewing on the buttons was the most difficult part of this since you are working inside the folder.  If I was making another one, I’d consider bright happy fabrics that wouldn’t object to a visible running stitch of pretty embroidery thread holding the flaps together – though, I have to say, those buttons do make me happy).

4.  Remove the pin holding together the flap and line up the two flaps on the other side of the holder.  Pin in place.  Sew the bottom button on.  Continue to move between sides as you sew on the remaining buttons.  I chose three buttons to a side.  (Tip: I found it better to move up from the bottom rather than sew all of one side and then the other since this way allowed me to have a greater opening to work with).

5.  Place your front button and sew in place.

Enjoy!  You’re done!


  1. Wow! I love it! Thank you for the great tutorial.

  2. Love it! Thanks for the tute!

  3. Very cute. And an excellent tutorial. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Thanks I will print this out and give it a try soon
    Just love the look!
    I appreciate you taking the time and writing and photographing the tutorial

  5. Beautiful! Love the pretty fabrics you used. Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. suebee said..

    I love it. I am going to try making one tomorrow. Thank you for such a great project and it is useful.

  7. That's adorable! I'm trying to think why I need one, now that I'm retired. ;)

  8. Awesome and beautiful Terrie! Thank you.

  9. You make this look easy- almost!
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  10. What a lot of work you have done and Thank You for this tutorial. It certainly is so much prettier than some manila folder. Beautiful. Keep creating...

  11. I like it, I like it!! Thank you!

  12. Hello from a quilter from Taiwan! What a great tutorial! This is the first time I've seen Fast2Fuse used in a project. How does it work? Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hello, again!

    I'm the "Anonymous" from 1/22 4:15 p.m. posting. I've finally figured out what my URL is. I would love for you to visit my blog, too.

    Have a nice day!

  14. OOH! FANTASTIC! On my list of things to do! That hand stiching at the end does look diecy though - I built a house shaped teabag holder and vowed to never hand sew through Peltex again:
    Maybe I'll give it one more go with the buttons!

  15. I love this idea and hope to make it - one of these days. It seems there are a lot of those ideas on the list. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I have several of the plastic variety, but it never would have occurred to me to make a patchwork version. Thanks for the wonderful and informative tutorial -- I know these are not easy to organize and photograph, and I appreciate what a nice job you did....and, of course, the cuteness and originality of the project itself.

  17. Hi Terrie, I made a beautiful file folder cover using your tutorial and shared it on my blog, telling everybody to come here to see your tutorial! Thanks, it's great!

  18. What nifty idea...thanks for sharing your tutorial..I have put a link to you on my freebies blog if thats okay...hugs Khris

  19. This is so awesome!!! SO much prettier than those ugly ole plastic file keepers!

    I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  20. Your file folder is beautiful. Thanks for sharing and providing instructions.

  21. This is so pretty! I just came across this via Craft Gossip and I'm so glad I did. I would love to link to this if you didn't mind.

  22. hi i loved this pattern. thank u for this tutorial. I'll try this soon

  23. Ohhhhhhh...thank you for sharing this tutorial! I am definitely putting this on the to-do list. I found you through the EQ newsletter (an old one...I'm just 'catching up'.

  24. Um... is there a way to make this without the satin stitch??? O_O
    it's because im only good at working with sewing machine, and my stitching skills are rubbish ^O^;;;;

  25. Thanks for the tute! Just posted a finished one today :)

  26. A friend of mine used some of my Reading and Writing fabric from Spoonflower to make this fantastic project...check it out here!

    I shared your tutorial with some of the folks on the Spoonflower forums....thanks for sharing!! :)