Sewing Mat Organizer Pattern -taking the guess work out of sewing

Sewing mat organizer

“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.

sewing mat organizerThe 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.sewing mat organizer

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.sewing mat organizer

So let's get started!

Materials:

  • 3/4 yards of quilted cotton fabric
  • 1/2″ yard of clear vinyl
  • Thread to match the fabric
  • Bias Tape

Tools:

Fabric Recommendations


Pattern Layout

Pattern Download

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Sewing Mat Organizer from our account at Craftsy.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

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 who 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 on 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.

If you are adventurous, there are many other ways you can print the chart and ruler on the fabric  Here are 4 methods of printing fabric at home that we wrote about before that will also work.

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 this 125 pincushions 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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15 Responses to Sewing Mat Organizer Pattern -taking the guess work out of sewing

  1. Barbara Falkner says:

    My machine came with an akward freearm attachment and I couldn’t store tools in it. I’ve used fabric for the pockets, and put a zip right across the top. I take this machine ‘out’ once a week, and it’s great. The pocket is large enough for the cord as well, and I’ve made a separate thread catcher, where the foot resides when travelling. I thought about sewing a measuring tape across the top, but wondered if that would stretch the tape.

  2. Louisa Halmi says:

    thanks, Just what I needed. Nice pattern.

  3. Diandra says:

    I love this pattern and will definitely make one someday. However, I would like add a little magnetic part where I can store my pins AND make the matt so that it can fold around my sewing machine. That way, I’ll never have to worry where to stock the matt.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Great ideas, the pincushion I am working on has magnets. I will share that with you but definitely would love to see your version.

  4. Julia says:

    Thank you for the pattern. I know I am being particularly dim this morning. (It’s Monday: that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) I don’t quite get the needle storage/sorting area. I can see that the grid helps to identify which needle one has, although I wouldn’t know how to recognise the different types. I presume one pins the needle into the corresponding grid square to achieve the “sorting”. For the “storage” aspect, does one simply leave them there? Would they not snag on a larger piece one was working on, or scratch one’s arm if leaned on while working? Sorry if I’m asking the totally obvious.

    I like to place my machine on a non-slip mat so it can’t slide on the desk – I do the same with my chopping board in the kitchen – so I think your mat might be a little more secure with a non-slip mat under it. From your photo your machine appears to have little rubber feet which would grip the desk, but by placing them on a quilt don’t you risk your machine skating across the desk just when you need to be accurate? (Not a criticism, I promise, simply an observation from a very nervous novice sewing person.)

    Keep up the good work!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI, Julia, the rubber feet you see on my machine is from the table attached to the sewing machine. Most machines are heavy enough that there wouldn’t be any skipping around. The point of the mat is to have all the handy tools within reach so you can finish a project quicker. The needle area is when you are changing fabric types and the need to change the needle, not just pin it in a pin cushion and forget what the needle is for. With time you will learn, that a wrong needle will ruin your project and sometimes the needle is still good to be able to use it in another project. It is not meant to be left on the mat forever, but like I said I never bother to place the needle back in the container because it is used. But, then again that is just me. I sew every day and use different types of needles five to six needles a week, sometimes more.

  5. Paula Houwen says:

    The needle chart is backwards.

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Paula, thanks for reminding me. I meant to put that in the instructions. It’s designed for being used with transfer printing so it has to be backwards so it comes out forwards when transferred on to the mat.

  6. Rusty Smith says:

    I am 81 so I did not grow up with computers and my skills are minimal. I don’t know how long it would take, but why do you not have a printable option? One perhaps that drops all those pictures. If I don’t print it out I am in danger of forgetting it or having (as my last computer did) a computer just up and die and everything stored in it was lost.

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Rusty, thanks for your comments and feedback. If you go to the sharing buttons on the left side of the screen, you will see a bottom button with three little dots. When you click that, it will give you a whole bunch of sharing options. Choose “printerfriendly”. This will let you easily remove anything you want from the page and download a very printable .pdf file. Please give that a try. Hope that helps, kind regards, and happy sewing!

  7. Karen Zalenski says:

    This is a really good idea with the clear vinyl on the pre-quilted fabric. I’m going to make one!
    However, I had a hard time seeing what was going on with the vinyl pockets because of the print on the vinyl against the white fabric and the white thread, and your hand behind the vinyl, in that one picture, mixed in.

    I’m sure it’s my brain being unable to comprehend the mix. (I can’t get a book at the library, either. LOL) I love using the vinyl. Once, I got a new makeup bag at the Goodwill and used a piece of vinyl to completely line it. I save the vinyl bags that sheets come in (Costco). It’s
    “heavy duty”. I cut them apart at the seams keeping the piece as large as possible. I plan to make something similar to a hanging shoe pocket thingy for my rolls of embroidery stabilizer so they will be horizontal and not scattered and rolling off the table.

    Thanks for your tutorial. It’s really helpful and I’m excited to make my sewing mat organizer !

    Karen

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for your comments and feedback. It would be great if you can share a picture of your creation when you’re done! Kind regards and happy sewing!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Sorry, Karen that is as good as I can get it. Otherwise, you will have to wait for the video. The original mat is with completely transparent vinyl, that did not even showed up in the pictures. IF you download the pattern you will be able to understand the pieces better. Let me know if you still need further help.

  8. Nancy Skipper says:

    Thank you for the free pattern and instructions. I might make some modifications for my personal use, but this will be my guide. I’m taking up sewing again after a 25 year break due to not having a working machine… Thank you for inspiration!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Absolutely, Nancy, that is what I am most interested, to see your take on the mat and you adapt it to your needs. Do share a photo would love to see your creation 🙂

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