“Where is my…….?” That must be one question I ask myself at least 5 times a day. I lose just about everything (much to the chagrin of my family..) and I have to admit that I am a messy worker. I waste a lot of time looking for things I need; bobbins, needles, screwdrivers, tape measure, scissors, clips –you name it. The tools are not really lost since they are certainly just somewhere, usually under something. For everyone's sanity, I felt it was about time I change the way I do things.
I got the idea for a sewing mat organizer one morning after spending four hours the prior night looking for a regular presser foot for my sewing machine, only to find it at the bottom of my serger scrap catcher. I found it mixed up with a collection of sewing machine needles, pins, and almost empty bobbins.
The needles are all still good because I will always throw out the bad ones immediately, as this is best practice to avoid potentially dangerous broken needles. But I was at a loss of what to do with all the ones at the bottom of the scrap catcher. I counted 22! Should I dump them and start all over? I'd hate to waste good needles like that.
So what about starting again with suitable sewing mat organizer that would eliminate the guessing about where and what kind of needles they are? But what about the zipper foot and the rest of the tools that tend to go missing when I am working in my notorious messy table? How about using a transparent material to make some 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 an easy place but also double as a scrap catcher. I also added a handy reference ruler and place to pin, sort, and store my sewing machine needles.
I was so focused when I was making this project that I did not realize how hard it might be for you to follow. It reminded me of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes except the transparent vinyl is actually there, but it is so hard to photograph. I was going to use completely clear vinyl plastic to make the pockets but I chose a vinyl that had some pattern so you could actually see it in the tutorial. For my own, I'd use only clear vinyl so I could more easily see what's in the pocket, but I'm sure you wouldn't be able to see the pockets at all in the tutorial.
This Sewing Mat Organizer has one needle organizer, one small ruler (in centimeters and in inches), and two pockets (one will double as scrap catcher and the other can hold your tools). In a separate tutorial I will show you how to make a pincushion, but here are 125 pincushions patterns you can choose from and add to the mat.
So let's get started!
- 3/4 yards of quilted cotton fabric
- 1/2″ yard of clear vinyl
- Thread to match the fabric
- Bias Tape
- Teflon foot
- Leather needle
- Wonder clips
- Penknife (best) or Rotary cutter
- Walking Foot
- Cutting Mat
- T-Shirt transfer paper by Canon
- Inkjet Printer I am using the Pixma Canon TS5020
How to print the sewing mat organizer pattern
Use Adobe Reader to download and open the pattern. To print your cardigan pattern size, print on Actual Size and Landscape form. Do not scale the pattern.
How to make the sewing mat organizer
Before starting to make this project, make sure you have all the materials. For best results when sewing with vinyl, the use of a Teflon foot is a must. Practice on a piece of vinyl using the Teflon foot if you have never worked with this material before. You may also want to review this tutorial on tips for sewing with vinyl:
Cut the pieces in vinyl using a penknife and a cutting mat. I find the pen knife tool the best when it comes to cutting the corners. Keep in mind that the two front pockets are made slightly differently.
We want the scrap catcher pocket to hold itself open to potentially catch any falling scraps, while the other pocket is made to hold itself more closed to better secure your valuable sewing tools.
Step One: Sewing the bias tape to the mat
If you need to make your own bias tape please follow this tutorial:
Sew the tape to the mat starting on the right side of the fabric at 3/8″.
Turn the tape and sew once again using the technique of “stitch in the ditch”.
Iron the mat with a lot of steam and put aside.
Step two: Sewing the scrap catcher pocket
This first pocket will allow you to catch sewing scraps that might fall from your sewing machine or serger. It performs the same function as our highly popular serger scrap catcher project. You may want to review this tutorial to get a better sense of the concept.
We will start by squaring the corners laying the scrap catcher piece print side up on the cutting mat.
Join the corner print sides together.
Use your clips to keep the corners together.
Sew at 1/4″.
Do not tack the seam back and forth but rather make a knot.
Turn the corners right side out. From the point that forms at each 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 make sure the crap catcher/pocket will have a squared shape and it will hang with the pocket open.
Place the pocket on the right side of the quilted mat and leave a 1/2 inch margin from the biased edge on the right side and 3/8″ at the bottom. The distance at the bottom changes because as you sew the pocket down the corners get rounded up.
How far to the left? Make sure the topstitched edge folds right on top of the edge where you are going to sew the pocket down to the mat.
Sew at 1/8″.
As you go around the corner, flatten the vinyl so you are able to move the mat around. As you sew the corner, open the seam allowance. This is the trickiest part of the whole project so take your time.
Step Three: Sewing the storage pocket
This second pocket will hold the things you use the most while sewing –a pair of scissors, a tape measure, and a seam reaper to name a few practical things but the choice is yours.
The pattern will give you an indication of how to fold the pleats on the sides, so follow it closely. Make the pleats and hold them together with the clips.
Align the pocket with the right pocket and start sewing on the right-hand side. Make sure you are happy where the pocket is going since there is no chance to change your mind once you have sewn the pocket down.
Sew the pocket down at 1/8″.
Finally, sew a stitch line in the middle.
Step Four: Transfering the ruler and the needle organizer
I have printed the ruler and the needle organizer chart which is included in the pattern on T-shirt Transfer paper. You're going to use this to mark the image of the needle organizer and the ruler onto the sewing mat where you'll always be able to find it.
According to the instructions on the paper, I am supposed to iron the transfer paper with a very hot iron.
Experience with burning cloth tells me I have to protect the fabric around the transfer.
Followed the instructions on the product and despite taking care with the transfer I have to say I am a little disappointed with the result. The chart has a yellowish tint to it, and not as attractive as I would have liked but it will be very useful.
And you're done. Now neither you nor I have any excuse about why we can't find the exact needle we want or any of the other commonly misplaced tools.
Join me next time when I will share with you the pincushion that goes with this mat but if you cannot wait have a look at these 125 pincushion patterns we have collected for you.
Until next time! And don't forget to leave comments and questions with photos in the comments section below.
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