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Get Sew Organised with Rebecca Coles

This sewing machine organiser is a great way to make the most of the scraps of fabric that you have laying around, while producing something that not only looks super cute, but is also really practical! No more will you have to fumble around finding your pins, tape measure, or scissors when you are working at your machine. It is all on hand! In addition, this fab organiser means that tidying away your machine is both quick and easy, and it doubles up as a protective cover, shielding your machine from bumps and dust. As you follow these instructions you will see that there are both steps for beginners and also the opportunity to upgrade your skill set and make some intermediate skill additions. Your tidy will be yours to create exactly as you wish!

You will need:

For the organiser:

  • Various small pieces of fabric
  • Various pieces of ribbon and trimmings of your choice
  • Lightweight wadding 50cm square
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing scissors
  • Complimentary sewing thread
  • Bias binding (any width)
  • Bias Binding (2.5cm wide)
  • Straight pins
  • Felt
  • Sewing needle
  • Tape measure
  • Four 21cm lengths of 7mm wide ribbon
  • Pinking Shears (optional)
  • Walking foot (optional)

Intermediate:

  • Button
  • 35cm Plastic Boning
  • 14cm elastic
  • Bias tape maker (optional)
  • Pattern Master (optional)

Seam allowances are always 1cm unless otherwise stated.

Instructions:

  1. Gather your materials together. Choosing patterns and colours that complement each other will give your finished organiser a beautiful look. I have gone for some lovely bright colours and chintzy patterns for mine but you can use whatever fabrics you have laying around.

  2. Cutting out your fabric pieces.
    Piece 1 – cut out 50x50cm top fabric + 50x50cm lining fabric + 50x50cm wadding
    Pocket 2 – cut out 50x18cm top fabric + 50x18cm lining fabric
    Pocket 3 – cut out 14x12cm top fabric + 14x12cm lining fabric (Beginner level)
    Pocket 3 – cut out 21x12cm top fabric + 21x12cm lining fabric (Intermediate level)
    Pocket 4 – cut out 17x12cm top fabric + 17x12cm lining fabric
    Pocket 5 – cut out 8x12cm top fabric + 8x12cm lining fabric

  3. Take your two Piece 1 fabric squares and make a sandwich with the wadding square as the filling. Make sure the top fabric and lining fabrics are showing their right sides. Pin the three layers together in the 4 corners. Stitch a line down the centre of the square from top to bottom. If your machine has a walking foot this will help here. Sew parallel lines of stitching at 5cm intervals from the centre out to one side and then from the centre out to the other side. Trim the edges to make them level and neat.

  4. Taking your two Pocket 2 fabric pieces, put them with their wrong sides together. Along the top edge use your bias binding to neaten the edges. Open one side and stitch along all the way across. When you complete this line of stitching, turn Pocket 2 over, fold over the binding, and top stitch down. Position Pocket 2 over Piece 1 in place. (There are more detailed instructions on how to apply bias binding at step 18).

  5. Intermediate:
    Taking Pocket 4, pin your piece of elastic across the centre of the fabric, horizontally. You will need to start with the ends first and pull the elastic taut as you pin. When you let go you will see the fabric piece crumple. This is fine. Stitch along the ends 0.5cm in from the edges. Then, pulling the elastic taut again, mark 4cm intervals from the stitch lines you have already done. Sew the elastic down at these points using your machine straight stitch and holding the elastic and fabric taut as you go.

  6. Lay out your top pieces for Pockets 3, 4 and 5 in a line. Stitch them together to create a long fabric strip made up of 3 fabrics. Repeat this process with the corresponding lining pieces. Using the point of your iron, press open the seams so that they lay flat. Lining up the corresponding seams, with fabric right sides together, sew along the top length of the two fabric strips. Press the seam allowance over to one side and then fold over the top layer and press to form a neat edge. Don’t worry if the elasticated piece (if you have done this process) is still puckered. If you are following Beginner level proceed to step 8. If you are following Intermediate Level proceed to step 7.

  7. Along the bottom edge of Pocket 3, place pins with their heads sticking out at the bottom at 3cm, 5cm, 16cm and 18cm. These are marking your fold points. Front fabrics together for the folds at 3cm and 18cm and lining fabrics together at 5cm and 16cm. Follow the photographs as a guide. Pin the folds together at the top and bottom.

  8. Line up the seams between Pockets 3, 4, and 5 with their corresponding lining seam and place a pin in each one holding the pieces in place. Pin Pockets 3, 4, and 5 onto Pocket 2. If you are following Beginner instructions, ‘stitch in the ditch’ along the seam between Pockets 4 and 5, attaching it to Pocket 2. If you are following Intermediate instructions, take a piece of ribbon or trim and, tucking the end under, lay it over the seam between Pockets 4 and 5. Stitch down both sides, attaching it all to Pocket 2.

  9. Pin all 4 corners of Pocket 2 (with Pockets 3, 4, & 5 attached) to Piece 1, pushing the pleats of Pocket 3 out of the way (if you have followed this step). Stitch 0.5cm in down both sides, attaching Piece 1, Pocket 2 and Pocket 3 on one side, and Piece 1 and Pocket 2 on the other.

  10. With the right hand side pleat of Pocket 3 (if relevant) folded out of the way, stitch in the ditch along the seam between Pockets 3 and 4, running all the way from the edge of Pocket 2 to the bottom of the organiser. Make sure you over-sew at the top of Pocket 2 a few times to give this point strength.

  11. Taking a piece of ribbon or trim, fold over the top edge to neaten it and stitch it down one side from the top of piece 2 down to the bottom of the organiser, catching in the raw edge of Pocket 5. Stitch again down the opposite edge of the ribbon to secure.

  12. Sew 0.5cm in along the bottom edge of Piece 1, stitching through all Pockets and securing them in place. Make sure you catch in the pleats for Pocket 2.

  13. Using the four 21cm pieces of ribbon, pin each one at 13cm in from the top and bottom edges on both sides. If you are following Beginner instructions, proceed to step 14. If you are following Intermediate instructions, proceed to step 15.

  14. Using 2.5cm wide bias binding, stitch around the entire outside of Piece 1 enclosing all of the raw edges and seams that you have already sewn. Proceed to step 18 to see how to attach the binding.v

  15. Choosing a complimentary fabric, fold it diagonally, lining the selvedge edge up with the straight edge of the fabric to get an exact bias. Press this fold.

  16. Cut along this fold. Cut 5cm strips parallel to this diagonal line to produce a number of strips. You will need enough strips that, when they are stitched together, form a ribbon just over 2m long. Lay the strips right side together, lining up the straight edges, and stitch together as is shown in the photograph. Press open these seams with your iron point and trim off the excess to create a straight ribbon.

  17. Now we can make the ribbon into bias binding. This can be done by hand but it is much faster to do it with a bias binder maker. Thread the point at the end of the ribbon into the machine and pull it through. As it comes out the other end press it with the iron. It will be stiffer around the seams.

  18. Opening one side of the bias binding, line it up with the edge and stitch along the fold all the way around the outside of Piece 1. When you come to the corners, pivot the fabric by making sure the needle stays in the fabric, lifting the presser foot, and spinning the fabric around. You may find it easier to snip into the seam allowance of the bias binding at these points. Stop in the corner at the point where you started.

  19. When you are stitching the bias binding around the corner with the pleated Pocket 2 make sure you don’t catch the pleat into your seam.

  20. Turn Piece 1 over and trim the corners to remove bulk. Fold the bias binding over to this side and top stitch it down all the way around, trying to get the line of stitching over the one you have already done. Pivot in the corners as before. When you come to the end, fold under the end and stitch down.

  21. Needle holder.
    Cut out two rectangles from your felt pieces 15cm x 9cm. If you have some, use pinking shears to give the felt a decorative edge. Cut out 2 rectangles of fabric sized 13cm x 18cm. Putting the two fabric pieces together stitch all the way around leaving a gap around 5cm along one of the long edges. Snip off the corners and turn it through the right way. Pull the corners out using a pin to make them nice and square. Press the edges flat and using a small hand stitch sew up the gap in the side. Pint he two pieces of felt in the centre of this fabric piece and run a line of stitching straight down the centre, joining the felt pieces to the fabric pieces. You should have a small book with pages made of felt. Pop your needles in the felt pages and slip the needle holder into one of the pockets in your organiser.

  22. Thread Catcher Cut out 2 pieces of fabric 36cm x 22cm, one top fabric, one lining fabric. Fold each piece short edge to short edge and stitch. Press open the seam. Turn one of the ‘tubes’ the right way and insert it inside the other, lining up the top edge and the side seam you have just sewn. They should be right sides together. Stitch around the top edge, joining the two tubes together. Turn them through to the right side and press this edge flat.

  23. Using the sleeve arm on your machine, run a line of stitching through both the layers of fabric approx 1 cm down from the top edge. On the inside snip through the side seam of the lining in this seam you have just created to form an opening into the channel. Feed the plastic boning into the channel all the way around until it all disappears inside the channel.

  24. Take a small loop of ribbon and thread it into the opening and then run a line of machine stitching over the opening, closing the gap, catching the ribbon loop and boning inside. Pull up the lining and add any decoration to your catcher you wish. I have added some ribbon sewn with a decorative machine stitch, and a piece of left over homemade bias binding to match.

  25. Turn the outer tube the wrong way and stitch a line across the bottom, sealing up the tube. Turn it on its side and pull the corners out flat. Using your pattern master (or ruler) mark a line 3cm up from the point running perpendicular to the line of stitching. Stitch along these lines and cut off the triangles. Turn the tube the right way round, pushing out the corners in the bottom.

  26. Repeat the process with the lining. This time stitch 0.5cm up through the bottom seam on the right side. Trim away the seam allowance and turn it over twice to create a roll hem. Stitch this down. Follow the same process with the corners as with the top layer but don’t cut off the corners this time. Instead fold them into the middle and catch them down to the roll hem with a hand stitch. Push the lining inside the top fabric shape and push out the corners.

  27. Stitch a button to the centre of the top edge of Pocket 2, to the right of Pockets 3, 4, & 5. Hang the thread catcher onto the button using the ribbon loop.

  28. Place your organiser on your work table so that the half with the pockets are hanging over the edge. Place your sewing machine on top of the organiser to hold it in place. Fill the pockets with all of your sewing tools.
    Your organiser also doubles up as a cover for your machine. When you are finished working, remove the organiser from under your machine, place over the top and tie the ribbons at the side to hold it in place.