Sunday, 4 August 2013

Tidying up my sewing table

For a very long time, my battered sewing table looked like this...

Everything I needed was close to hand, but in an awkward way.  The sewing machine was on a couple of chunky crochet mats, a pair of scissors and a seam ripper were normally hanging about nearby,  there was a tin of pins, a pincushion  and an old preserving jar in which to put all the cut threads.  Oh and my self-covered, Cath Kidston radio - don't forget the radio! (The hazardous making of which you can read about here and here.)

But everything was sort-of on the wrong side for me, a right-handed person, and also I kept scooting things off the table as the fabric passed through the sewing machine.  

It was time to create something to serve my purposes better!

First I created some random patchwork.    I made three strips, each of which measured 36" by 4", made up of  2" squares, 4" squares, 4 x 2" rectangles and 6 x 4" rectangles.  I was able to use up lots of scraps I had around the place - quite a lot was Tilda leftovers from another project, but I added in some other favourites, as it was going to be nice way to preserve them!

To make my runner, I cut 

24          2 1/2"    squares
18          4 1/2"    by   2 1/2" rectangles
6            4 1/2"    by   6 1/2" rectangles
3            4 1/2"    squares

I divided those up to make three strips which I arranged differently so each strip was unique, then sewed the strips together to make my 36" by 12" strip.

I found a suitable sized piece of backing fabric (part of a pretty, old, cotton duvet cover) and a remnant of batting.  I quilted the piece with horizontal and vertical lines in a sort-of random way, then bound it with a super long length of 2 1/2" strips which I had sewn together simply (not joined diagonally as you would normally do) and used folded in half.

Then I set about making some pockets to attach to the right hand end, that was going to dangle over the side of the table.

One was to be a thread bin (I hoped fabric would be better for this than the glass had been as threads 'stick' to my rough fingertips - I reckoned I could swipe the threads on the fabric).  This was a lined pocket with a channel sewn at the top and some 'boning' threaded through to keep it open.  Having no actual boning to hand, I used a section cut from the top of a family-size yogurt pot!  Worked a treat!

The other pocket was for small scissors and a seam-ripper.  

These were simply sewn onto the finished runner and embellished with buttons.

My final addition to the runner was a  built in pincushion.  I selected an area about four inch square in the central patchwork strip to the right of where the sewing machine would be.  I made sure this had been quilted all the way round, then cut a small slit in the backing and lightly stuffed the square.  I also squeezed in two small, super-strong magnets (salvaged from old computers) before whip-stitching the slit and placing a neat patch over it.  

This created an area where I can stab my pins, and two corners where I can place safety pins and needles and know they won't end up on the floor (and from thence into my foot!)

My desk looks much more swish now!


  1. that look fabulous. The runner is super looking and really great with the pockets. I'm impressed! xx

  2. I agree it does look swish, although I was quite taken with the white crochet. Hope you have put it to good use.

  3. It looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing your square pattern. I'm just beginning to think about trying to quilt and everything that I see is too hard and complicated. I can do your pattern and it is beautiful. I love how you included your organizing pockets, too.
    Perfect project :)
    Have fun sewing.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  4. Absolutely wonderful, so clever! I need one of these...


  5. What a good idea! Perhaps yo should patent it?

    Love Claire xx

  6. Que bonito! Gostei muito! Os trabalhos artesanais são sempre maravilhosos...

  7. Hello Alix I've just discovered your blog via Thriftwood. Once I'd read your post about your sewing runner I thought "right I'm following this lady and making one of these." Can't wait to discover more wonderful ideas on your blog.
    Ali x

  8. Great idea, I'm really into quilting and this would be a really useful thing to make to keep the mess together!

  9. Very nice. I love to see posts about "tidy up the sewing room". I'm ever wanting inspiration to tidy mine up. Thankyou for being today's inspiration!

  10. What a brilliant idea. Even I could do that. Love the pincushion bit too,

  11. That is so clever and so neat and tidy, brilliant! x

  12. Hi, I'm back. I just wanted to thank you for your sweet visit and to reply to your comment about applique: I think that the temporary bond spray makes all the difference. It holds your pieces exactly where you place them without sliding around. Much better than pinning or basting.
    I think that your idea for the built-in pin cushion is genius, the magnets is a fab touch, too. :)
    Have a marvelous week
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  13. Oh I just LOVE it! I need one of these on my sewing desk. The pincushion is a genius addition too. Humm.....I have the fabric stash so now to find the time and an Alix original... :-)

    Hugs from Holland ~