DIYdiy projects

diy project: vintage sheet file folders

by Grace Bonney

this fun diy project comes from blogger and etsy shop owner katherine jalaty. a fan of vintage linens and office supplies, katherine decided to combine both of her loves into one great diy project: vintage sheet file folders. this is such a fun way to use vintage sheets that have seen better days, but still have a few patches of usable fabric. thanks so much to katherine for sharing this project with us!

CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!



1. Fabric (Katherine is using vintage sheets here, but any thin fabric will do)
2. File Folders
3. Spray Adhesive
4. Scissors or a Rotary Cutter
5. Cutting Mat


1. First, you need to choose your fabric. Fat quarters are the perfect thing to use because if you measure and cut carefully, you have just enough fabric for two folders.


2. Assemble the rest of your materials: a file folder, spray adhesive, and either scissors or a rotary cutter and mat. As you can see my fabric was pretty wrinkly to start with. You can press your fabric if you like, but it is not necessary. All of the wrinkles will smooth out when you attach it to the folder.


3. Trim the fabric so that it is slightly larger than the folder all of the way around. The less fabric the there is around the edges of the folder the more careful you will have to be when adhering it. Now set the fabric aside and apply a generous, even coat of spray adhesive to the OUTSIDE of the folder. Make sure all of the edges are thoroughly covered with adhesive.


4. Put the folder (sticky side UP!) back on the table and gently place the fabric on top. It is best to start at one end and gently move to the other end.


5. Using a credit card, start at the center of the folder and gently press all of the air bubbles and wrinkles to the edges of the fabric. By the time you are done you should have a nice, smooth surface.


6. If you would like to, you can run a small rolling pin over the whole thing (paying special attention to the edges) a few times just to be certain that the fabric is nicely adhered all over.


7. Last, flip your folder over and use either your rotary cutter or scissors to trim away the excess fabric. It can be a little tricky around any curved edges, so you might want to use some tiny little scissors.


8. TA DA! Now you are finished with your folders and it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to organizing those bills. :)


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  • Brilliant! Have tons of both vintage sheets and these file folders. No more buying overpriced ones at Staples. Hooray! Thanks for this.

  • I wonder how long these would last before starting to peel…? Katherine, have you tried any sort of spray varnish on them? Or Mod Podge?

  • From the first photo I thought… Oh darn, I thought this was going to be vintage fabric, but this looks like vintage fabric PRINT folders! Then I scrolled down! WOW, these are so darn cute and perfect! Somehow I just picture mine with more wrinkles!!! I may still attempt this though! Thank you for the cuteness!

  • thank you all so much!

    KV–i shared your concern, which is why i paid close attention to the edges. you might want to try extra-strong spray adhesive, just to be safe. my concern with modge podge would be that the edges would curl. it is tough to find a good, strong adhesive that won’t also soak through the fabric or curl the paper.

    so far my folders have been fine, but if anyone else tries another method, please email and let me know! i am always looking for new ideas and ways to successfully adhere fabric.


  • Yeah, I’m with you Samantha. I barely have time to USE my filefolders let alone make them all pretty to sit in the cabinet where no one will see them! Maybe making file folder boxes for gifts would be the next step in this project! :)

  • I’m so in love with this. Its so adorable and seems so quick & easy. I can’t wait to try this amazingly creative idea! Thanks for sharing it ! =)

  • I think it’s actually one of the quicker ways to enjoy a craft project that is not only fun but practical.
    Thanks for another great DIY project, Grace!

  • Cute but I’d probably never do it. I’m surprised you didn’t iron the fabric first.

    One safety concern – you shouldn’t be cutting the fabric by pulling the rotary cutter towards you. You should cut away from your body and use a ruler designed for cutting.

  • I LOVE THIS!!! I wish I had used this method when I made my fabric box and shelve! It would have been much easier. Thanks for sharing this. I am going to give it a try.

  • Such as quick, easy project, and a great way to use up old linens that are too threadbare to keep on the bed!

  • Since I use files alot, I am going to try this. I have also covered address books, notebooks etc. with fabric, but I use fusible Wonder Under, which is an iron on webbing. It isn’t wet or sticky and works faster than glue too.

  • Fun revisiting fabric I had in 1970 in the last photo….Had the blue flowered one accented with black. Made an iron-on fabric shade for first apartment kitchen. Painted walls to match. “Gotcha blue” is back. Thanks for this fun idea to motivate someone who dislikes beige file folders. No longer have the fabric or harvest gold Wowie-Kazowie yellow and green bedsheets. (Sigh.) I’ve tossed all the wrong things….

  • This is my kind of project! It’s so quick and simple, yet you get such a beautiful outcome. I love it!

    As someone with a stuffy day job and without a lot of time to big DIY projects on the weekends, these kind of projects are ideal for me because it allows me to express myself without making a huge commitment of time or energy. Thank you Grace for posting these kinds of projects that not only look great but feed my creative soul!

  • I was just trying to think of how best to do something like this two days ago — I love the result and I love that someone else has figured it out for me (better than I would have, too!)! Thanks very much!

  • Great project for those of us who love all kinds of office supplies. I can’t wait to try it on file folders and some old journals that need new covers. These folders will definitely hold something very special in my vintage file cabinet!

  • You could really use any fabric, new or vintage. For kv: To re-enforce the edges, how about folding some seam binding over the edge and basting or fusing? Makes the project a bit more putsy, but maybe you could do this only on your most used files.

  • Just wanted to let anyone who has concerns about peeling or fraying, that I’ve been doing exactly this project to folders for a couple of years now and have never had a problem (and I handle my folders alot!). However, I’ve found that the tigher the fabric weave, the better the finish on the edges.

  • I love this idea! Good to know that the edges aren’t going to fray too. I have some vintage sheets I got to make some clothing out of but now that the seasons are about to change, I might change my mind and do this!

  • Fun project. Getting the sheet flat wasn’t as straightforward as I thought based on your pictures. Starting at one end and using the credit card to smooth as you go worked for me. Thanks for such a great idea. These will be some great birthday presents this year. I was thinking of making some matching pencils to go along with.

  • I have some fabric I wanted to use in my office but never could figure out what to do with it, what a fun, useful idea… Not only can I decorate the file folders but I can have the folders sitting in an open file box for decoration and usefulness…

  • This would be great for coworker gifts. Get a print of something they love (ie: superman fabric) and make them a couple as a gift! Thanks for this!

  • I’m a high school English teacher and absolutely DREAD grading papers… so I ‘hide’ them in file folders on my desk. Considering that the beige folders hold these dreadful contents, I think I’ll give this project a shot… if nothing else, the folders will be pretty to look at even if I do know what’s hidden inside of them! Thanks for the great idea :)

  • Love this! I covered hanging file folders with wrapping paper for my office. This is such a fast and easy project to do! It only took me 15 minutes or so to whip out three of them. Can’t wait to put them to use!