A sewing machine’s job is to keep your machine protected from sun exposure and dust when it’s not in use… wait a minute… not in use… how could that be?!?! A cover can also keep away prying little fingers if you have curious toddlers about. We’ve done a number of sewing machine cover projects, all of which have been classic fitted designs. This option is more open, like a pinafore for your sewing machine. It drapes over your machine and sports handy pockets on both sides to keep a few tools, patterns, and notions at the ready.
Three vibrant ribbons (we used our favorite: Renaissance Ribbons) turn a plain burgundy canvas into a designer statement. Beautiful ribbon is an excellent way to add instant flair to projects, injecting both pattern and texture.
Our suggested ribbon yardage below includes enough to precisely fussy cut your design. If you choose ribbons of different widths, your final look may vary. You should measure each of your ribbons to insure the height and width.
Our friends at Renaissance Ribbons created their own version of this pretty project, increasing the amount of ribbon coverage. Our original “frame effect” on the pockets, achieved with a combination of horizontal and vertical ribbons, was changed to a bold horizontal-only design with all the ribbons stitched edge-to-edge. It’s always fun to see how our projects are re-imagined and we encourage experimentation with little changes to make a project your own.
We give you all the measuring formulas below to adjust the size of the cover to fit your machine. Our side handles are designed to be of equal length, which worked for our sample machine. However, many sewing machines are sider at the right (near the handwheel) then they are at the left (near the throat plate). Measure your machine to insure you get the best fit on both sides.
Because of the vibrant colors inherent in most ribbons, we prefer to stitch them in place with a clear monofilament thread in the top and bobbin for a nearly invisible finish. This is not mandatory, but it is a nicer look against the ribbon. For best results, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It’s also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. Finally, always sew in the same direction along both sides of the ribbon. This will help prevent shifting and puckering. If you’d prefer not to use invisible thread, choose colors that very closely match your ribbon, and take the time to re-thread as often as needed to maintain a perfect match.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Satin Stitch foot; optional – but helpful for ribbon stitching
- Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set; optional – another choice to keep your ribbon stitching precise
Fabric and Other Supplies
- We used THREE beautiful jacquard ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons
NOTE: Due to inventory fluctuations, the exact ribbon we chose may not be available. Our ribbon selections are listed below as a reference to the three widths we suggest.
2 yards of 1½” Pink Full Moon Owls
2½ yards of ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold
2 yards of ⅝” Pink Ladybugs
- ¾ yard of 54″+ wide medium to heavyweight cotton duck or canvas
- ⅛ yard or scraps of mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Décor-Bond® by Pellon
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- All purpose thread to match ribbons and/or clear monofilament thread
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
Measuring your machine
- Measurement A: Measure around the machine from the base of the front to the base of the back.
- Measurement B: Measure the widest part of the machine.
- Measurement C: Measure the depth of the machine.
- Our sample Janome machine measured as follows: A = 28½”, B = 16″, C= 7½”.
Figuring the cut size for the main fabric piece
- To determine the length of the cover, the formula is: A + 12″ for the finished depth of two 6″ pockets + 1″ for the pocket hems. In our sample, this was: 28½” + 12″ + 1″ = 41½”.
- To determine the width of the cover, the formula is: B + 1″ for the hems. In our sample, this was: 16″ + 1″ = 17″.
- We cut ONE 17″ x 41½” rectangle from our fabric.
Figuring the cut size for the side handles
- The width is 2½”, which is sized to fit the ⅞” Tula Pink ribbon we selected (⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold). To determine the length, the formula is: C + 1″ for the hems. In our sample, this was 7½” + 1″ = 8½”.
- We cut TWO 2½” x 8½” strips from our fabric.
Figuring the ribbon cuts
NOTE: Cuts are given below for the specific ribbons we chose and we will refer to them by name throughout the instructions. If you choose ribbons of different widths, your final look may vary. You would need to measure each of your ribbons to insure the height and width.
- Fussy cut your ribbons to make the best use of the motifs.
- For the wide horizontal ribbon: 1½” Pink Full Moon Owls, the formula is B + 1″ for the seam allowance. In our sample, this was 16″ + 1″ = 17″.
- We cut FOUR 17″ lengths of the 1½” Pink Full Moon Owls.
- For the narrow vertical side ribbons: ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold and ⅝” Pink Ladybugs, the formula is: A – 12″ for the finished depth of the two pockets + 1″ for an overlap (½” per end). In our sample, this was 28½” – 12″ + 1″ = 17½”.
- We cut TWO 17½” lengths of the ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold and TWO 17½” lengths of the ⅝” Pink Ladybugs.
- The vertical ribbons on either side of both pockets are all 6″ based on the finished depth of the pockets.
- We cut FOUR 6″ lengths of ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold and FOUR 6″ lengths of the ⅝” Pink Ladybugs.
- For the side handles, the cut length should be the same as the cut figured above for the side handle backing fabric. In our sample, this was 8½”.
- We cut TWO 8½” lengths of the ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold.
- From the interfacing, cut two strips equal in length to the side handle strips, but 1″ less in width. We cut TWO 1½” x 8½” strips.
- Okay… the math and the cutting is done. Let’s get sewing.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the two side handle fabric strips and the two side handle interfacing strips.
- Center one interfacing strip on the wrong side of each fabric strip. The ends are flush and there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on each side. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Press back each long side of each strip ½”, which means you are folding right along the edges of the interfacing strip.
- Find the two lengths of ribbon for the side handle. In our sample, this was the two 8½” lengths of ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold.
- Center one length of ribbon along each strip, bridging the gap between the raw, folded-back sides and covering the interfacing. Pin in place.
NOTE: If you’d rather not use pins to hold your ribbons in place, you can keep them from shifting by applying a little basting glue or strips of lightweight fusible web to the wrong side of the ribbon lengths.
- Thread the machine with clear monofilament thread in the top and bobbin or carefully select all-purpose thread to match each ribbon, re-threading as necessary as you move from ribbon to ribbon.
- Edgestitch in place along both sides of the ribbon. Repeat for the second side handle.
- Set aside the finished side handles.
Cover preparation and attaching side handles
- Mark the pocket fold. To do this, along the top and bottom (the 17″ sides in our sample), measure 6½” up and draw a horizontal line parallel to the 17″ raw edge of the fabric. Do this at both the top and the bottom on the RIGHT side of the fabric and the WRONG side of the fabric.
NOTE: Because you are working on the right side of the fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Place the fabric panel right side up on your work surface. Along both long sides (the 42½” sides in our sample), fold in ½” and press well. This reduces the panel width to its finished width of 16″.
- From the bottom raw edge, measure up 12½”. Place a pin in each folded edge on both sides at this point. Repeat at the top raw edge, measuring down 12½” and placing pins on both sides. These are markings for the side handle placement.
- Find the side handles. Place one raw end at each pin point. The outside edge of the side handle should be aligned with each marked point. The raw end of the side handle should be flush with the raw edge of the folded-in side hem. The side handle is facing right side up. Pin in place.
- You’ll need to fold the main panel slightly to pin each handle loop in place. This is correct; the handles are short in order to hold front to back when the cover is draped in place. Make sure the handle is always facing right side up and that the loop is not twisted. Rather than just pinning, you can hand or machine baste the handle ends in place for additional security against shifting while finishing the panel preparation.
- Find the long side ribbons. In our sample, this was the TWO 17½” lengths of the ⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold and the TWO 17½” lengths of the ⅝” Pink Ladybugs.
- The narrower of the two ribbons (⅝” Pink Ladybugs in our sample) goes on the outside. Place one ribbon right along the folded edge at the center of each side. Each end of the ribbon should extend beyond the side handle by about ½”. The edge of the ribbon should be flush with the folded edge of the fabric panel. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch in place along the outside edge of the ribbon.
- This secures the handle in place.
- Edgestitch along the inner edge of the ribbon. Repeat to attach the narrow ribbon along the opposite side.
- Butt the wider ribbon (⅞” Birds & Bees on Gold in our sample) next to the stitched ribbon. Pin in place.
NOTE: Take the time to carefully place your ribbons. It is very important that the ribbons butt together so there is no fabric showing between the ribbons. Yet, you don’t want the ribbons to overlap.
- Edgestitch in place along the both sides of the ribbon. Repeat to attach the wider ribbon along the opposite side.
- Press well.
Creating the pockets
- Flip the cover over so the ribbons you just stitched in place are now facing down with the plain side facing up.
- Find all the 6″ lengths of ribbon.
- Press up the top and bottom raw edges (the 16″ edges) of the fabric panel ½”. Press well to set a crease, then unfold so the crease line is visible.
- Place one length of the narrower ribbon along the folded side edge. As above, the edge of the ribbon should be flush with the folded edge of the fabric panel. The bottom end of the ribbon should be flush with the crease line. The top end is flush with the 6½” horizontal drawn line, which you did at the very start. Pin the ribbon in place.
- Edgestitch the ribbon in place along both sides.
- Butt a wider ribbon length next to the stitched ribbon. Pin in place. Edgestitch in place along the both sides of the ribbon.
- Repeat to attach the two matching ribbons along the opposite side. Then spin the cover and repeat to attach the remaining four matching ribbons along the opposite 16″ end of the cover.
- Fold up the bottom ½” hems into place again along the original crease line. Press to re-set.
- Find the four wide 17″ horizontal ribbons (1½” Pink Full Moon Owls in our sample).
- Place one length of ribbon along the folded edge top and bottom. The outer edge of the ribbon should be flush with the folded edge of the panel and the ends of the ribbon should extend beyond the fabric by ½” at each side. This ribbon crosses over the top of the vertical ribbons. If you are using a directional ribbon as we were, the motif should be facing DOWN. Pin in place.
- Place another length of ribbon along the drawn 6½” line. As with the first ribbon, the ends of this ribbon should extend beyond the fabric by ½” at each side. This ribbon also crosses over the top of the vertical ribbons and the motif should be facing DOWN.
- Pin in place.
- Edgestitch in place along both sides of both ribbons.
- Tuck the ends of ribbon to the back and pin or fuse in place.
- Flip over the cover to the front and fold up the pockets into position. The vertical side ribbons of the pocket should align with the side ribbons on the main panel. The top edge of the pocket should sit just below the side handle. Pin both sides of both pockets in place.
- Edgestitch both sides of the pocket in place. To do this, first stitch along each outer edge of the pocket, running the seam right on top of the outermost vertical stitching of the ribbon.
- To further secure the pocket, run a second line of vertical stitching. This one should be in line with the innermost seam of the second (wider) ribbon. You are stitching from the bottom up to the top of the pocket.
- Repeat to create the pocket on the opposite end of the cover.
- We left one pocket completely open for wider items, such as patterns. The other pocket we divided into three smaller pockets for notions and tools. We measured 4¼” in from the innermost side of the second (wider) ribbon. We did this on both sides. You can draw a vertical line at this point or mark with pins.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Stitch along the two marked lines to create the three pockets.
NOTE: These are our suggested pocket divisions. You can certainly adjust the divisions of the pockets to best fit what you’d like to hold.
NOTE: If possible, use a lock stitch to secure your seam lines at the start and finish. This is a neater look than backstitching. If you do not have this function, you can leave the thread tails long, pull them through to the back, and hand knot to secure.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild