“Where is my…….?” This must be a question I ask myself at least 5 times a day. I lose almost everything (much to the dismay of my family..) and I have to admit that I am a messy worker. I waste a lot of time looking for the things I need; bobbins, needles, screwdrivers, tape measure, scissors, pliers – you name it. Tools aren't really lost as they are almost certainly somewhere, usually under something. For everyone's sake, I felt it was time to change the way I do things.
I came up with the idea for a sewing mat organizer one morning after spending four hours the night before searching for a regular presser foot for my sewing machine, only to find it at the bottom of the waste collector of overlocker. I found it mixed in with a collection of sewing machine needles, pins and almost empty bobbins.
The needles are always good, as I will always throw away the bad ones immediately, as this is best practice to avoid potentially dangerous broken needles. But I didn't know what to do with all the ones at the bottom of the scrap bin. I counted 22! Should I throw them away and start all over again? I would hate to waste good needles like that.
So how about starting over with a proper sewing mat organizer that would eliminate the need to guess where and what type of needles are? But what about the zipper foot and the rest of the tools that tend to disappear when I'm working on my infamous messy table? How about using a clear material to make pockets so I can see exactly what's inside?
I decided to design a new sewing mat organizer pattern and project for you that would not only keep my tools in one easy place but also serve as a scrap collector. I also added a handy reference ruler and a place to pin, sort and store my sewing machine needles.
I was so focused when I was doing this project that I didn't realize how difficult it might be for you to follow. It reminded me of the story of the emperor's new clothes, except the clear vinyl is there, but it's so difficult to photograph. I was going to use completely clear vinyl plastic to make the covers, but I chose vinyl with a pattern so you can see it in the tutorial. Personally, I would only use clear vinyl so I can more easily see what's in the pocket, but I'm sure you won't be able to see the pockets at all in the tutorial.
This sewing mat organizer includes a needle organizer, a small ruler (in centimeters and inches), and two pockets (one will double as a scrap collector and the other can hold your tools). In a separate tutorial I'll show you how to make a pincushion, but here are 125 pincushion designs for you to choose from and add to the mat.
So, let's get started!
- 3/4 yards of quilting cotton fabric
- 1/2″ yard of clear vinyl
- Thread to match the fabric
- Polarization band
How to download
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How to print the sewing mat organizer pattern
To use Adobe Reader to download and open the model. To print the size of your cardigan pattern, print on it Current size And Landscape form. Do not scale the pattern.
How to Make the Sewing Mat Organizer
Before you start making this project, make sure you have all the materials. For best results when sewing with vinyl, using a Teflon foot is essential. Practice on a piece of vinyl using the Teflon foot if you have never worked with this material before. You can also check out this tutorial on tips for sewing with vinyl:
Cut out the vinyl pieces using a pocketknife and a cutting mat. I find the pen knife tool to be the best when it comes to cutting corners. Keep in mind that the two front pockets are made slightly differently.
We want the scrap catcher pocket to hold open to potentially catch scraps, while the other pocket is designed to hold more closed to better secure your valuable sewing tools.
First step: sew the bias onto the carpet
If you need to make your own bias binding, follow this tutorial:
Sew the ribbon to the mat starting on the right side of the fabric at 3/8″.
Turn the ribbon over and sew again using the “stitch in the ditch” technique.
Iron the rug with plenty of steam and set aside.
Step Two: Sew the Scrap Catcher Pocket
This first pocket will allow you to catch any sewing scraps that may fall from your sewing machine or overlocker. It serves the same function as our very popular serger waste recovery project. You may want to check out this tutorial to get a better idea of the concept.
We will start by squaring the corners by placing the waste collector piece, printed side up, on the cutting mat.
Join the printed sides of the corners together.
Use your clips to keep the corners together.
Sew at 1/4″.
Do not point the seam back and forth but instead tie a knot.
Turn the corners right side out. From the point that forms on either side of the scrap catcher/pocket, fold the edges measuring 2″ wide to form a gusset.
Clip the fold to hold it in place.
Topstitch both folded edges at 1/8″. This is done to ensure that the poop catcher/bag will have a square shape and will hang with the bag open.
Place the pocket on the right side of the quilted mat and leave a margin of 1/2 inch from the bias edge on the right side and 3/8″ at the bottom. The distance at the bottom changes because as you sew the pocket, the corners are rounded.
How far left? Make sure the topstitched edge folds just above the edge where you will sew the pocket to the mat.
Sew at 1/8″.
As you go around the corner, flatten the vinyl so you can move the mat. As you sew the corner, open the seam allowance. This is the trickiest part of the whole project, so take your time.
Third step: sew the storage pouch
This second pocket will contain the items you use most when you sew: a pair of scissors, a measuring tape and a seam ripper to name just a few practical items, but the choice is yours.
The pattern will give you a hint on how to fold the side pleats, so follow it carefully. Make the folds and hold them together with the clips.
Line up the pocket with the right pocket and start sewing on the right side. Make sure you're happy with where the pocket is going, because there's no chance of changing your mind once you've sewn the pocket.
Sew the pocket at 1/8″.
Finally, sew a stitch line in the middle.
Step Four: Transferring the Ruler and Needle Holder
I printed the ruler and needle arrangement chart that are included in the pattern on T-shirt transfer paper. You will use it to mark the image of the needle organizer and ruler on the sewing mat where you can always find them.
According to the instructions on the paper, I'm supposed to iron the transfer paper with a very hot iron.
Experience with burning the fabric tells me that I need to protect the fabric around the transfer.
I followed the instructions on the product and despite a careful transfer I must say that I am a little disappointed with the result. The graphic has a yellowish tint, and not as attractive as I would have liked but it will be very useful.
If you're adventurous, there are many other ways to print the chart and ruler onto fabric. Here are 4 methods of printing fabric at home that we talked about previously that will also work.
And you're done. Now neither you nor I have any excuse for not finding the exact needle we want or any of the other commonly misplaced tools.
Join me next time when I share with you the pin cushion that goes with this rug, but if you can't wait, take a look at these 125 pin cushion designs we've collected for you.
Till next time! And don't forget to leave comments and questions with photos in the comments section below.
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