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!