Closet Boxes


It should come as no surprise but...my dolls have too many clothes and I have too little space!!!! In fact, they have outgrown the closet I built three years ago. In this, a period of transition when I change my dolls into Fall clothing, I had to stop and solve a growing problem.....how to store their mountain of clothes in a way that is organized and easily accessible.

When I first started making doll clothes, I bought lots of Barbies to "display" the clothes. I thought spending $8-12 on a doll was cheaper than, say, buying a mannequin. That excuse wore thin when I ran out of space for the both the dolls and their clothes! So....three years ago, in a post entitled "Taking Stock" I built a simple closet and purchased a skirt rack for more storage. Still... I still ran out of space. I began wrapping clothes in tissue paper and putting them in boxes down in the cellar. The problem was, I couldn't find anything and when I did...everything was wrinkled!

While there are plenty of DIY ideas floating around the internet on how to build a bigger, better closet (my favorites are the ones on Suzanna William's blog, "The Building of...THE PRIORS." And though I'd love to make one of these, I simply don't have the wall space. So I needed a quick and easy solution which is the focus of this post. The two ideas featured here are neither new nor  original. What is different here is that I have taken a common concept and adapted it to a simplified, inexpensive and time saving storage method. The materials are free (recycled packing boxes from ordering dolls). And no special tools or skills are required.

No More Wire Hangers!
Originally this idea comes from Mattel and the way it packages its stand-alone Barbie fashions which are mounted on a cardboard or clear plastic shape conforming to her body. But it was Suzanna's blog that  really planted the idea in my head. It is really brillian and solves lots of problems when it comes to hanging up outfits, particularly those consisting of several items.
1. Lay the doll down on a piece of paper and trace the length of her neck out to the widest part of her shoulders. Then trace around both sides of her body down slightly past her hips.
2. Slightly part her legs and trace inside. This allows you to create a template which accommodates trousers and bathing suits.
3. Remove the doll and connect the top shoulder point with the rest of the body. Trace this off onto a stiffer cardboard which you will use as a template. I have made two of these, one with the legs and another without.
4. Now trace the template onto a stiffer cardboard. I've recycled much of the cardboard packaging that comes into my home. My favorite is the thin corrugated cardboard used for the post office (priority mail) boxes. It is easy to cut with scissors, allows you to still pins in it, yet provides a sturdy form for the garment. Punch a hole in the neck and add a little bit of wire bent into a small hook. Hint: If you don't feel like making your own hooks, Christmas Ornament hooks work really well!
What I LOVE about these hangers is that you see the entire look at a glance. It keeps individual elements from being displaced. Even better, it saves space and it makes it easy to hang odd shaped clothes like strapless dresses and asymmetrical garments! If your form is too wide or too narrow, simply modify the hanger to fit the need! (I'll also be making these for my guys!)

Accessories can be draped over the form or clipped on. (I've used those miniature clothes pins to attach the gloves in the middle photo.) And if you have a top or dress with spaghetti straps, cut slits into the shoulders of the hangers to accommodate the style!

The Closet Box
Again, a super simple idea that is VERY practical and can be stored anywhere!
Choose a cardboard box suited to the dimensions and quantity of the clothing. It should be broad enough to accommodate the garment, shoulder to shoulder, plus about 1/2 inch (1.5cm) on either side. Add a little contact paper to spruce things up if you feel inclined. Poke a wooden dowel near the top and voila! You're good to go. I've organized my clothes by type and color. In this box: dark toned evening gowns.
After hanging up all the dresses, you can add some tissue paper to the "floor" so that it folds over the clothes as you close the box. Be sure to mark the contents (and the direction) on the outside of the box. I've used some old belts to keep the boxes shut.
It's not furniture, but it solves a problem!
The advantages to this system is that, the clothes are hanging upright as opposed to laying flat and wrinkling. And...when you need either a single item or the entire wardrobe, the box becomes an annex closet that can be transported anywhere for quick access. When not in use, it's like storing a miniature closet on your shelf.

The Closet Suitcase

In my cellar I also have some old luggage I'm not using. I simply installed a rod inside this carry-on and hung up my dolls' fur coats. On the outside of the bag, their fur accessories (stoles, trim, handbags and hats) are placed in the pockets! Then it's back down to the cellar and onto the shelf!

While we're on the subject.....this being the season of "Back to School," now is the time to look for all sorts of handy containers--like pencil cases-- to store tiny objects. This helps keep the interiors of drawers organized.
(Top photo) I found these really great little pencil boxes with small compartments on both sides. One side I used for glasses and tiaras and the other for a variety of belts.
(Middle photo) Like everyone else, I use those plastic drawers on my desk top. At the dollar store I found small, clear containers normally destined for nails, nuts & bolts. I use them to store jewelry. The nicest thing is to be able to see what's inside without having to open the box up. 
Bottom photo) At the local craft store, look for bead boxes. Here, I'm using one to store doll shoes. Again, you can see what's inside.

I have a ways to go before everything in the house is sorted and completely organized. But at least, I know I'll get there quickly and inexpensively!
It's so much easier to find exactly what I'm looking for now!!!
(Note: There is an update to this article: Taking Stock (Again). Sept. 2, 2018.)

All text and images property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2016. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you

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