I like Small World, and Disney Cruises and I loved the idea of Fish Extenders for our recent cruise with Disney’s Social Media Moms. So I made my own Small World Fish Extender.*
Click here to read more about what Fish Extenders are.
If you are planning on going on a Disney Cruise and participating in the Fish Extenders gift exchange – you are going to need a hanging organizer thing to hang outside your cabin to collect all your gifts in. Sure you could order one on Etsy but since I am a little crafty I decided to make my own. I searched for patterns but all the ones I found involved using a ton of bias (nope) and were not that fun. So I decided to go it alone. Freestyle. Turns out it was super easy. I made two!
I operated without a proper pattern on this and you can too. Minimal sewing skills are needed but you do need a machine and the ability to sew zig zag and straight stitches.
One: The Body of the Fish Extender
- 2 pieces of fabric 11×40 inches
For the back/body of the hanging organizer, I used a striped canvas that looks slightly nautical.
Note: Using striped fabric is a fabulous sewing hack. It makes it super easy to cut a straight line and line up and attach your pockets evenly
For the back/body I cut out two rectangles of fabric 11 x 40 inches and sewed them together, right sides out, using a zig zag stitch about 1.2 inch from the raw edge. I left raw edges intentionally, which I later frayed. This is so much easier than sewing on binding. Have I mentioned how much I hate sewing on binding?
Two: The Pockets
- 3 pieces of fabric 12 x 10 for the “inside” and the outside border of the pockets
- 3 pieces of fabric 12 x 5 for the “outside” of the pockets
- 2 pieces of fabric 4 x6 for the small top pocket
You could make two pockets, or even 4 if you want. I stuck with 3 large personalized ones and a tiny one up top for small items.
For the larger pockets I cut and sewed two pieces of (1 inside, 1 outside) fabric right sides together. This was the trickiest part of the construction and it wasn’t all that tricky, actually. I wanted the pockets to have a contrasting lining that extended (like a trim at the top) to the front of the pocket. The “inside” fabric was 12 x 10 and the outside was 12 x 5.*
I sewed the two contrasting fabrics together along the 12 inch long edge, right sides together. I then refolded it, right sides in to form an even rectangle measuring 12 x 7.5. The seam I just sewed was now about an inch down one side. All this was to create a contrasting border on the outside of the pocket, where the the “inside” fabric appears on the outside, at the top of the pocket. You can see the border in the photos.
With right sides together, I sewed all the way around this now even rectangle, leaving a small opening on the bottom to turn the pocket right side out. Then I turned and pressed it. No need to close the small opening. It gets stitched over when you attach the pocket.
Note: if you want more simple pockets larger pockets without a border you could use one piece of fabric that was 12 x15 and fold it in half, right sides in to form a 12 x 7.5 rectangle, sew, turn and press flat.
Three: Pin and Sew Pockets to the Body
Now it was time to attach the pockets. I first pinned them. The tiny one up top was super simple – I just sewed around the sides and bottom edge.
The larger pockets were a little trickier but not too bad. First I measured and pinned them at equal intervals, pinning the edges along the right and left side about a half inch in from the outside edge. I then sewed them down on the right and left. I then formed a pleat and pinned the pockets along the bottom edge. Then I simply stitched across the bottom and the pleats to finish the pockets. Again – no need to use dreaded binding. The pleat makes the pockets more generous – leaving space for goodies.
Four: Sew a Channel and Add a Dowel
- 1 piece of dowel cut to 13 inches wide
- 2 wooden ends to cap the dowel
- red craft paint
Lastly I sewed a channel for a dowel by folding the top edge down and stitching across. I purchased the dowel and end pieces at Michaels, brought it home and cut to size and painted it red. If you are pressed for time, you could just thread through some ribbon
I also added a ton of embellishments at the end, including crochet accents, pins, name tags and a loop and carabiner. For the hanger/ties I used some colorful old binding. Finally an unfussy use for binding I can get behind, just stitch it up and use it as a hanging tie. I put crochet flowers on the ends. You can also use ribbon, string or colorful yarn.
I popped some foam “ears” in the top pocket and held it on with a rhinestone pin. To personalize the pockets I used some clothespin chalkboard tags I had also picked up at Michaels. Embroidery is cute but beyond my skill grand and I wanted to be able to reuse this again after our cruise. So all the personalization is removable.
Currently this is serving as a mail catchall in our hall closet.
This came out super cute! I didn’t really use or need a pattern but If I can do this – so can you. I am sharing the process if you want to replicate. Can’t wait to see your projects – please link and share!
* The fabric I used for this project is not technically Small World/Disney affiliated. It’s a print by Alexander Henry called “Smiles Around the World” that reminds me of Small world. I think it is adorable. I even made matching magnets with some of the fabric scraps and my laminator – and put them all over my cabin door.