T-Shirt Filing System

I am very, very excited to share today’s post! Warning: My idea of a good time involves organizing the heck out of everything, so if you don’t like this kind of stuff, feel free to skip this. I have to tell you though, this will revolutionize the way people organize their t-shirts. (Yeah, I wish.) I had this idea a while ago, but due to time constraints we weren’t able to carry it through until this last weekend. Better late than never, though. So, what is it that we did? Basically, we designed a way to “file” my tank tops/t-shirts. Yes, file them. As in a paper filing cabinet. You’ll see what I mean in a bit.

See, I’ve always thought that storing t-shirts and tank tops in drawers was inefficient and messy – if you stack them on top of each other, you’ll end up with a huge, disorganized pile. Plus you can’t see them all at the same time and you always end up looking for the one at the bottom.

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So then I thought: if I store my underwear vertically, why can’t I try the same with t-shirts? I wear a size small, so they would still fit in the drawer (we have an Hemnes dresser from Ikea and the drawers are quite deep). I tried that, but unfortunately, the mess was still there. I liked it better than the stack though, because I could see all my clothes. (Note: these pictures are from my skirts/shorts, because I forgot to take before pics of my t-shirt drawer. But it works the same way.)

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That’s when it hit me: we could design some sort of filing system! It would basically be two long rods (acting as rails) and then shorter rods perpendicular to the longer ones, where the t-shirts would be folded over. Confused? Yeah, probably. But it’s really simple, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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You can see that the system consists of two towel rods screwed to the drawer sides and more metal rods perpendicular to the long ones. Like in a filing cabinet, you can shift the short rods along the long ones so you’re able to shift through your t-shirts. Doesn’t it look neat? I think I might be in love with this system! Now that we know it works, we just have to do the same with all the other drawers. Oh and although the initial design was my idea, it was my boyfriend who cut and gave form to all the rods. We make a good team!

Here’s how the drawer looks right now:

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A close up from above: (you can see I’ve left two spare rods to the right. Also, although it looks a bit tight, I assure you I can shift through my t-shirts very easily and there’s definitely room for a few more!)

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Doesn’t it look neat and organized?

And now, for the detailed how-to:

  1. Measure the inside of your drawer face (for the long towel rods)
  2. Decide the measurement of your short rods (the distance between the long towel rods); I decided I wanted to fit two tank tops on top of each rod, so I based my measurement on that)
  3. Buy towel rods of your desired measurement (if they don’t sell your exact measurements, you can cut them down to size with a hand saw) and install them inside the drawer using screws (I recommend you save one of the screws until after you insert the short rods – so screw three of them and leave one for later)
  4. Buy thinner metal rods (I think they sell them in rolls). You’ll need to add about an inch and a half or two on each side (so three-four inches) to the measure you obtained in 1. to obtain your total measure. Cut them to size. (So, to be clear: the distance between the two long rods + aprox.  3.5 inches = measurement at which to cut the short rods)
  5. Using heavy duty pliers, twist the edges of the short rods to give each edge sort of a ⊂ shape, so each rod will look something like this: ⊂--⊃ (all joined together, obviously)
  6. Insert the short rods into place (you’ll need to maneuver them slightly!) and you’re ready to use your brand new t-shirt filing system.

I hope the instructions are clear enough and that you liked the project – and if they’re not, let me know of any questions you might have in the comments! I’ll answer them as best as I can.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments.

71 thoughts on “T-Shirt Filing System

    1. Ainhoa @ ALittleBite Post author

      I’m sure it will! You just have to find the right materials for it. We’re lucky because my boyfriend designs bath accessories and such so he has access to a lot of materials and built it to fit our drawer exactly.

  1. Tami-Scramble

    This might be the most original and brilliant idea I’ve come across in a long… LONG time. Ainhoa- this revolutionizes drawer organization! Please tell me you are going to submit this to all the big blogs- this needs to be featured across the blogesphere. Immediately.

  2. Molly

    Very impressive! I store all my tees in vertical stacks (and pack my suitcase that way too), but this takes it to a whole new dimension. Bravo!

  3. Missy

    Great idea but I have a question…how are the shirts on the rod? Are they just laid over them, like in half, or are they folded some other way? Also, how deep is the drawer? I love this idea and I’m trying to figure out how to make it work in my drawers. My shirts are all Medium or Large and my dresser drawers are maybe 6 or 7 inches deep so I don’t know if this will work or not for me.

    1. Ainhoa @ ALittleBite Post author

      Hi Missy! I fold my shirts in half and then lay them on the rod so it hangs on both sides. I hope that makes sense, and if not, let me know!
      I’m pretty sure your drawer is deep enough for it! Mine was a bit smaller (about 5-6 inches at most) and it worked fine.

  4. Keri

    This is brilliant! I’ve tried stacking my t-shirts vertically before, but had the same problem you did (still looks messy). Plus if you take more than a couple shirts out, the whole stack starts to sag into a pile. Wish I had thought of this! So clever.

    1. Ainhoa @ ALittleBite Post author

      Oh yeah taking out one of the shirts was definitely a problem before! I really love how it turned out, because I know I’ll actually be able to keep it tidy from now on, and not just for a couple of weeks!

  5. cathy

    VERY VERY cool idea! I’m desperately trying to recreate it in my current drawers. The sides of my drawer are actually in far enough that I can skip the towel rod step. But I spent an hour today in Lowes trying to find the right rod/material for the shorter pieces that the shirt actually hangs on. The smallest/thinnest metal rod could not be cut by their wire cutters – even the heavy duty ones that I bought and returned 5 minutes later. Can you be more specific as to the exact metal rod you used..and what tool you used to cut it??
    Thank you!

    1. Ainhoa @ ALittleBite Post author

      Hi Cathy! I’ll be honest – my boyfriend did all the pieces, I just designed them. And he works designing/building bathroom accessories, so he has an advantage. But I just asked him how he did it, and he said: it’s easier if you use aluminum because it’ll be easier to cut/fold. You can cut it with a “rotaflex” (check google images http://www.google.es/imgres?q=rotaflex&hl=es&client=safari&sa=X&rls=en&biw=1440&bih=693&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=agv803_vxagtnM:&imgrefurl=http://birubao.blogspot.com/2008/11/la-leyenda-de-johnny-rotaflex.html&docid=mOL4bPrDoIc7yM&imgurl=http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_aJF1VVBrBwk/SRcuuTkbuRI/AAAAAAAAAQ0/Gh3xFfNaJ8w/s400/Johnny%252BRotaflex%252B02.jpg&w=400&h=235&ei=SDWwTurTIYXsOc7ymaMC&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=166&vpy=198&dur=21179&hovh=172&hovw=293&tx=130&ty=97&sig=112151281745367962104&page=1&tbnh=108&tbnw=184&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0), or even one of those giant scissors you use for gardening. Then fold it using “giant” pliers. Although I’m pretty sure someone at your local hardware store can help you finding these tools, as well. Best of luck and let me know if you have any other problems!

  6. Jami Baker

    Any similar ideas for closet space?! I need all the help I can get when it comes to organizing….I desperately want it…haven’t figured out how to implement it.

    1. Ainhoa @ ALittleBite Post author

      Hi Jami! I’ve been thinking about something similar for closets, since the rest of my shirts are on a shelf, but I haven’t come up with anything, at least for now. I’ll let you know if I do though!

  7. Katie

    Just saw this on pinterest, and it was meant to be! I am in the process of going through my clothes so I have more room in my dresser, and I just finished my shirts. Thanks a bunch for posting this!

  8. Marshall

    This is how I have my shirts in the drawer, minus the rods, I just stack them horizontally instead of vertically.

    But THIS?! This is a genius idea!!

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      I’m glad you like it Marshall! I should update this post because I’ve used it for almost a year now and the drawer is still perfectly organized without having to do anything.

  9. Bleugrey

    You have jump-started my creativity! LOVE THIS!!!! I’m thinking of padding the rods to avoid creasing my shirts… Maybe even making sachet dividers like a an actual filing cabinet.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Oh those are awesome ideas! I thought about dividers but never got around to making them (my drawers are too shallow for that, I think). I’d love to see pics if you ever do that and/or the padding!

  10. Claudia

    This is really cool ! I have TONS of t-shirts and they always fall over however neat the pile starts out to be… I also saw something similar for organizing fabric in a filing cabinet (I am a sewing enthusiast :)

  11. Rebecca

    You are brilliant! Your ingenuity just saved me $300 or so – I was going to buy a larger dresser, but now I don’t have to!

    Thank you!

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      I don’t iron all of them, but if they’re fold properly they don’t have any wrinkles (except where you fold them). I should update this post with a more recent picture… the shirts shown in the picture are mostly empire-cut tank tops which is why it seems they have a lot of wrinkles. In reality, it’s just the nature of those shirts (flowy with an empire cut) that they seem wrinkled when folded. Nowadays I have normal t-shirts in there and they aren’t wrinkled at all.

  12. Suzanne

    Fantastic idea. My brain works the other way (left to right) and I like shortcuts so I think I will do straight rods from left to right…and just drill holes for them on the top sides of the drawers. That will eliminate the towel rods and I can just bend the ends of the rods at a straight angle. The less often used T’s can go on the back rods.

  13. David

    Where did you find the smaller metal rods? Do you know what they are originally used for so I can find some similar ones?

    This is a great idea.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Hey David, my husband used to work at his family’s business and the firm was a bath accessory manufacturer so he got the supplies at work… sorry I can’t be of more help.

  14. Courtney

    Love this idea! Saw it on lifehacker. I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the towel rods? Are they also from Ikea? Do you know what kind they are? I was looking on their site and can’t figure out what you used.


    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Hi Courtney, my husband got all the supplies at work (he used to work for a bath accessory manufacturer), so we didn’t buy any of the materials at Ikea. Sorry I can’t help you with that.

      1. Ainhoa Post author

        Wow, thanks for the info, David, really! I’m going to update the post later on to include your comment :)

  15. Courtney

    What an awesome idea! I’m designing my new walk-in closet right now and will definitely use this for my t-shirts and tank tops!!

  16. Susie

    Love the idea! I’m going to try this idea with portable plastic file totes and the “rods” that are in hanging files for my boys’ closet. They share a small room and don’t have a dresser. There’s room for storage under their beds and in their closet. I’ve already revamped the closet with rows of wire shelving and some smaller hanging space – my boys aren’t the formal types and don’t have much that needs to be hung. Can’t wait to get started!

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      My shirts are very lightweight, so I haven’t noticed a crease or anything. It might be a different story for bigger / heavier t-shirts though.

  17. Viviyanna

    I ran across your blog while viewing some ideas on organizing closets and drawers on Oprah.com. I love your idea albeit a little tedious to make. But if I use it, I have a husband who is very handy and could do it in a heartbeat. I was concerned about wrinkles until I read a previous reply that said it was the kind of material and type of top you pictured. I think you should petition for a patent. It seems like such a good idea, and believe me, I’ve seen quite a few. Someone WILL steal it as their own.
    Thanks again; I will save for future use.

    1. Ainhoa Post author

      Thanks! We’re still considering the patent idea, it’s just a bit more complicated than we anticipated :)

  18. Helene

    I did a similar storage idea in a letter/legal size file box with a top (makes it easy to stack) bought at Staples and added Pendaflex folders. I then draped the t-shirts over the Pendaflex folders.

  19. Sweety

    That’s a super smart idea! I store my clothes in a cupboard which have shelves… You have any suggestions for that?

  20. mena

    o.m.g. WOW. This was on Oprah’s website! SO glad I came across this! Question for you: I also have the same Ikea drawers. Is it possible for you to outline the actual measurements? I’d greatly appreciate it!! I’m so challenged at measuring such things and I will be going at this project solo, so cutting and sawing will be all unto me!:)
    I’d love to hear from you! You and your hubby do indeed make a great team btw!:)

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