Introduction: Emergency Door Curtain Organizer

About: I am a high school engineering teacher (formerly an engine design engineer) and mother of two little makers who loves developing new projects - both personally and for my children and students to work through.

Safety in our schools is at the forefront of everyone's mind, and back-to-school time is a great time for teachers to take a moment to prepare for anything the year may bring.

One item safety officials recommend for the classroom is a device to block visual access to a room that can be easily applied and removed (like a curtain to block the window on the door). This project combines a window curtain for your classroom door with storage pockets to allow you to put all the critical information you may need in an emergency exactly where you need it - right at your fingertips as you leave the classroom!

And even if you have your school safety countermeasures taken care of, this organizer is a great way to block out all those silly faces that try to distract your students as they are walking down the hall...or block out the adults that might think you are nutty for trying to act out osmosis in front of the class. You could use the pockets for exit tickets or even as a place for students to turn in work as they's completely customizable and up to you!


  • Fabric of your choice (approximately 3/4 of a yard; some cute school-themes prints can be found HERE.)
  • Sewing pins (no more than 15 needed)
  • Scissors (something sharp enough to cut through fabric)
  • Thread (one color that matches your fabric is best)
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine*
  • Wooden dowel (3/8" diameter, ~20" long)
  • (2) adhesive hooks (I used the hooks seen HERE, but anything you have laying around would likely work.)

*If you don't have a sewing machine, feel free to hand sew this project with a needle. For basic instructions for how to hand sew, please see the helpful instructable HERE. Or, if you need a refresher for your sewing machine, I recommend this tutorial HERE.

Step 1: Measure and Cut Your Fabric.

For the main curtain, you will need to cut a piece of material that is a little longer than the window and more than twice as wide as the window. The standard size of a classroom door window is 32" x 6", so this instructable will operate on that size - but make sure you check your sizes and make any changes necessary. Our finished curtain will be 8.5" wide (to cover the whole window and hold a standard sheet of paper) and about 34" long. The dimensions shown in the fabric template includes the material you will need for seam allotments and other folds.

Note: Most quilting or flannel print fabrics are 36" (perfect for this project), but depending on the print and they way you want to the print to face, you may need to get a full yard of fabric so you can make your fabric hang with the print facing the direction you choose. I was making a few of these curtains for my colleagues and almost made one with sideways cats before I caught myself, so make sure to check your print direction before you cut!

In addition to the main curtain, you should cut fabric for as many pockets as you want. The fabric for the pocket should be half with curtain fabric width (in this case 9") and as tall as you prefer. For my project I created two pockets that are 15" long to completely cover a sheet of paper with some wiggle room.

Step 2: Sew the Pockets

Before you can put the curtain together, you will need to prepare and place the pockets on the curtain.

Don't get bogged down with the measurements here unless you are trying to make something extremely precise. For each pocket the first step is to fold over the top edge of the pocket so there won't be a rough edge exposed. Fold over the fabric at the top of your pocket material by about an inch or so and stitch it down with a simple straight stitch as seen in the photos.

Once you have your pockets prepared, it's time to put them on the larger piece of fabric. Wherever you decide you want the pockets, line up the edge of the fabrics (as shown) and make a straight stitch across the bottom of the pocket fabric as shown with the black dotted line in the picture. This stitch acts as the bottom of the pocket so this is your last chance to make sure the pocket will be the depth you are hoping for. Take a second to measure where this seam should be if you have a specific object you are hoping to put in the pocket.

Reminder: Make sure you start attaching the uppermost pocket first or you could accidentally stitch through a pocket.

Step 3: Sew the Curtain

Being careful not to twist or bunch the pocket fabric, fold over the large fabric of the curtain lengthwise so only the wrong side of the fabric is showing. Pin the fabric in place and then stitch a large U-shape around the edge of the fabric as shown, leaving approximately 1/4" from the edge for a seam allowance. The top edge of the curtain should remain unstitched and open.

Step 4: Flip and Finish the Curtain

Carefully flip your project right-side out through the open edge of the curtain. Make sure all the corners have been completely flipped before you move on. Feel free to use the end of a pencil to help push them out if your fingers don't seem to be doing the job.

The last seam you need to sew will be along the top edge. First, fold the rough edged into the curtain (see picture) by at least a half inch. Then, fold over the entire curtain by another inch or two. Pin your fold in place. Remember, this doesn't need to be perfectly measured to work, but this is a good time hold your project up to the door to make sure you aren't folding things over too far. You will likely hang the project an inch or so above the top of the window and no one wants a curtain that comes up an inch short, so make sure to take the time to check the length before you stitch. When you are satisfied with the length, make your last seam as shown with the dotted line in the picture.

Step 5: Hang and Fill Your Completed Organizer

Slide the dowel into the folded over fabric you just stitched and hold it up to the door, marking where you want to place your hooks. Make sure you keep the hooks far enough apart that you have room to slide the curtain completely out of the window area. Adhere the hooks to the door and place your curtain organizer by resting the dowel on the hooks.

Now that your completed organizer is hanging, have fun filling it. Here are some suggestions for items you may want to put in organizer:

  • class rosters
  • emergency procedures
  • safety cards (My school has red/green cards we slide into the hallway in case of a lock down to express our status.)
  • exit slips
  • student turn-in folders
  • candy to munch between classes when patrolling the hallway
  • stickers to give to students to brighten their day

One final note: You may want to buy some extra supplies. Within the first day of hanging this on my door, I had several other teachers ask me to make them one. :)

Classroom Organization Challenge

Second Prize in the
Classroom Organization Challenge