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Ironing Board Thread Catcher & Tool Caddy

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During any given project, you're likely to log at least five miles running back and forth between the sewing machine and the ironing board. Crap... need another pin. Dang... where are my scissors? Shoot... forgot to grab the seam gauge again. Sound familiar? We decided your taken-for-granted ironing board was in desperate need of its very own notions caddy. Of course all this fabulous organization means you will now have to make up that five miles with extra laps on the treadmill.

If you find yourself traipsing back and forth to grab a pin or pressing cloth or seam gauge or, or, or... you'll love this handy caddy. After all, you spend almost as much time in front of your trusty ironing board as you do in front of your sewing machine! It would make a great gift for all your sewing friends.

One end of our clever caddy holds your most-used tools; the other end is a handy thread catcher with a cute button-on pincushion. 

Like each project, each fabric has its own personality; and just like mixing interesting guests at a dinner party gives you dozens of fascinating conversations, how you combine fabric in a project gives you an unlimited number of beautiful end results. We used two different combinations for the two samples pictured here. Any set of coordinating cottons would be great – with or without a sewing motif. 

The middle strip on the caddy is there to anchor the pocket panel and the thread catcher, but it is also clever in its own right. We added a layer of batting underneath the pretty fabric so you can stick pins into this center section as well as into the detachable pincushion.

On flip side of this center panel is a strip of gripper fabric sewn in place to keep the caddy from slipping and sliding. Our measurements below are perfect for most standard ironing boards. And, it also fit nicely on the side extension of my sewing table.

This caddy is designed to lay across the wide end of a standard 15" wide ironing board, which should be perfect for most standard ironing boards. It also can fit nicely on the side extension of a sewing table. Measure your ironing board prior to starting to see if you need to adjust the panel shorter or longer.  

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

  • ¼ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the center top of the caddy
  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the pocket and thread catcher
  • ¼ yard of 44"+ wide fabric for the center back of the caddy: we used a bright white cotton duck – a slightly heavier weight fabric is recommended but not critical
  • Gripper fabric: ⅛ yard or one piece 4½" x 14"
    NOTE: This is traction fabric, similar to what is used on the bottom of feetie pajamas. You can also use a shelf gripper sheet, which is easy to find in most kitchen supplies aisles.
  • ¼ yard of low loft cotton batting
  • ¼ yard heavyweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 71F single sided fusible extra-strong stabilizer; this product is 20" wide
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Two large safety pins
  • Straight pins

Additional for detachable pincushion:

  • Scrap of fabric 4" x 6½" for the pincushion
  • Scrap of fabric 3" x 3½" for the pincushion hanging tab
    NOTE: You can use the same fabric for the pincushion and hanging tab – as we did on the green combo, or use a solid fabric for the hanging tab that coordinates with the pincushion/caddy – as we did on the red combo.
  • Scrap of lightweight fusible interfacing 1½" x 3½"; we recommend Pellon Shir-Tailor
  • ONE decorative button, apx 1 to 1½"; we used a plain white 1" button
  • Handful of polyester fiberfil

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the center top of the caddy, cut ONE 7" high x 27½" wide rectangle.
  2. From the fabric for the center back of the caddy, cut ONE 7" high x 27½" wide rectangle.
  3. From the fabric for the pocket and thread catcher, fussy cut the following:
    TWO 7" x 7" squares for the pocket
    FOUR 7" high x 9" wide rectangles for the thread catcher.
    NOTE: If you are using a directional pattern as we did, make sure the motif is running horizontally across the 9" width.
  4. From the batting, cut ONE 7" x 27½" rectangle.
  5. From the heavy fusible stabilizer, cut the following:
    TWO 2" x 5" rectangles
    ONE 5" x 5" square
  6. From the gripper fabric, cut one 4½" x 14" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the 7" x 27½" batting piece flat on your work surface. Place the 7" x 27½" main fabric piece right side up on top of the batting. Pin together the layers around the perimeter.
  2. Starting 1¼" from the raw edge of the panel, draw in four horizontal lines, each 1½" apart, running the27½" length of the panel. This will leave a matching 1¼" from the last line to the opposite raw edge of the panel. 
    NOTE: Remember, anytime you are working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the hear of an iron. 
  3. Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lenghten the stitch.
  4. Stitch along each of the four guidelines through both layers, creating four lengthwise, parallel lines of quilting. We used a Walking foot
    Click to Enlarge

Create and attach the caddy pocket

  1. Find the two 7" x 7" pocket squares.
  2. Place the squares right sides together. Pin along the top only.
  3. Stitch across the top, using ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open and turn right side out so the two squares are now wrong sides together. Press flat.
  4. Place the pocket on one end of the quilted center piece. Perfectly align the raw side and bottom edges of the pocket with the raw edges of the quilted center piece. The seamed end is the top of the pocket. Pin in place along the sides and across the bottom.
  5. Using your fabric pen and see-through ruler, measure and mark pocket dividing lines to best match the tools you want to insert.
  6. Lengthen the stitch to match the quilting you did on the main panel. Using either a matching or a contrasting thread (we used white thread against the red fabric on one sample and matching thread on the other sample), stitch along each drawn line from the bottom raw edges to the top seamed edge of the pocket.
    NOTE: You can use a Walking foot with a quilting bar to keep your lines straight or engage your machine's built-in fabric feed system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. For our sample, we measured 2" in from each of the raw side edges. On our finished piece, this gave us two 1½" narrow outside pockets and one 3" center pocket. Use a lock stitch or pull the thread tails through to the back and hand knot to keep the seam's finish to keep the top of the pockets neat. You can certainly calculate your pocket divisions to exactly line up with the previously stitched quilting lines of the main panel. This is a nice look, but is not critical. It is more important that you end up with pockets of a useful size for your tools. 
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Find the 4½" x 14" piece of gripper fabric and the 7" x 27½" piece for the back of the center panel. Lay the gripper fabric on the right side of the back fabric, centering it top-to-bottom and side-to-side. Pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the back fabric in the top and bobbin. Set up for a zig zag stitch. Stitch around all four sides of the gripper fabric.
    NOTE: If you have trouble with your presser foot moving across the gripper fabric, try using a Teflon® type foot, such as the Janome Ultra Glide foot or insert a piece of wax paper between the fabric and the foot.
    Click to Enlarge
  10. Place the back/gripper piece right sides together with the main center piece to which you already stitched the pocket, sandwiching the gripper and the pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the pocket end. On the opposite end, leave an approximate 3" opening for turning. You will stitch around both corners of this end; only the center part of the end will be left open. Re-set for a standard straight stitch. Stitch the layers together as described, using a ½" seam allowance.
    Diagram
  11. Press the seams open, cut corners at a diagonal, being careful to not cut into the seam, and turn right side out through the open end.
  12. Press flat and gently push out the corners with a long blunt-end tool, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Turn in the raw edges of the open end ½" so they are flush with the sewn seam and press. Pin together to hold the opening closed (this opening will be secured when we attach the pouch later in the instructions). 
  13. Set aside the main panel.

Create and attach the thread catcher

  1. Find the FOUR 9" wide x 7" high thread catcher rectangles and all the pieces of fusible stabilizer.
  2. Place a 5" x 5" stabilizer square on the wrong side of one 9" x 7" thread catcher piece. Center the stabilizer so it is ½" from the top, 1½" from the bottom, and 2" in from each side.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. For best results, use a pressing cloth or simply on of the other fabric rectangles, which is what we did. This is important because this heavy stabilizer requires extra heat and pressure to fully adhere.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Place this fused 9" x 7" rectangle right sides together with a plain 9" x 7" rectangle. Pin together along both 7" sides.
  5. Re-thread your machine with thread to match the thread catcher fabric in the top and bobbin. 
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both 7" sides. Press the seam allowances open, turn right side out, and press flat.
  7. If you are familiar with boxed corners, this is the next step to form the bottom of the thread catcher. Use a ruler to measure and mark a 1" x 1" square in both bottom corners.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Cut out the squares along the drawn lines.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Turn the thread catcher inside out again (right sides together), and pin across the remaining bottom edge – cut out to cut out.
  10. Stitch across the bottom, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.
  11. At each corner, pull the outside edges of the cut-out square to flatten it, and match up the seam lines on either side. Pin together.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across each corner. Turn right side out and push out your pretty boxed corners.
    NOTE: If you are new to boxed corners, we have a great tutorial showing two options.
  13. Find the two 2" x 5" pieces of heavy stabilizer.
  14. Draw a line lengthwise down the center of each piece.
  15. Using this drawn line as a guide, slide one piece of stabilizer inside the sewn thread catcher. The drawn line should match-up with the sewn side seam.
    Click to Enlarge
  16. The end of the stabilizer should go all the way in so it sits against the bottom of the thread catcher.
    Click to Enlarge
  17. Using the same method as before, fuse the stabilizer in place, remembering to use a pressing cloth or another piece of fabric against the iron's surface. It's a little tricky, but you can maneuver your iron to get in there - we promise.
    Click to Enlarge
  18. Repeat to fuse the remaining 2" x 5" stabilizer piece into place across the opposite side seam.
  19. Then, repeat all the steps with the remaining two 7" x 9" rectangles except you won't add stabilizer to this box. This second box will become the outside of the thread catcher.
  20. With the inside of the thread catcher (the stabilized box) wrong side out and the outside of the thread catcher (the plain box) right side out, slide the outside into the inside so they are now right sides together.
    Click to Enlarge
  21. Pin around the top. Leave a 3-4" opening for turning along either the front or back of the box (the wider sides).
  22. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the top, remembering to leave that 3-4" opening. Lock your stitch on either side of the opening.
  23. Turn the thread catcher right side out through the opening, being careful as you bend the stabilizer to snake it through. It will be a little tricky to maneuver, but if you fused it well, it will bend just fine.
  24. Press well, folding in the raw edges of the top opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  25. Edgestitch around the top to flatten the seam and close the opening.
  26. Place the top edge of the un-stabilized back of the thread catcher on top of the end of the main center piece without the pocket. The top of the caddy should sit ½" in from the sewn edge of the center panel. The stabilized side of the thread catcher is the front; the front and the sides hold the box shape, the back is soft.
  27. Re-thread your machine again to make sure the bobbin thread matches the lining and the top thread matches the thread catcher.
  28. Edgestitch the thread catcher onto the center piece with one line of stitching from side-to-side, corner to corner.
    Click to Enlarge
  29. Here is what it looks like from the top:
    Click to Enlarge
  30. From the side:
    Click to Enlarge
  31. From the back:
    Click to Enlarge

Optional button-on pincushion

  1. Hand sew the button to the top center front of the thread catcher.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Fold the 3" x 3½" tab fabric in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 1½" x 3½". Press lightly to form a crease.
  3. Open up the tab, wrong side up, so the center crease is visible.
  4. Place the 1½" x 3½" strip of interfacing on the wrong side of the tab, aligning it with the center crease. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
  5. Re-fold the tab right sides together and pin in place. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across one end and down the side, pivoting at the corner. The opposite end remains open for turning.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Clip the corner, trim the seam allowance back to ¼", and turn right side out through the open end. Press flat.
  7. Following your machine's manual, make a vertical buttonhole at the bottom the tab (the finished end) to match the size of the button on the thread catcher. Place the buttonhole ¼-½" up from the finished end and center it side to side.
  8. Place the 4" x 6½" piece right side up on your work surface.
  9. Place the finished tab on top of this piece, aligning the raw edge of the tab with the top (the 4") raw edge of the fabric piece. The tab should be in the exact center of this 4" edge. Pin in place.
  10. Fold up the fabric so it is now right sides together and 4" x 3¼". The tab is sandwiched between the layers. Pin across the top and along both sides, leaving a small opening on one side for turning and stuffing.
    Click to Enlarge
  11. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the three sides, pivoting at the corners. Stitch back and forth several times across the tab to reinforce it in the seam. Also, remember to leave that opening at the center of one side and to lock your stitch at either side of the opening.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. Clip the corners and turn right side out. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  13. Stuff with the polyester fiberfill to your desired plumpness.
  14. Hand stitch the side opening closed.
    Click to Enlarge
  15. Button in place on the thread catcher pouch.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (2)

bobsie311 said:
bobsie311's picture

I've tried to download the Ironing Board and Thread Caddy but all I get is the picture.  Can you help?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@bobsie311 - We use PDFs as our download option. There is a button at the top right of all our articles, directly across from the date. Click on this button to download the article. You can then either save the PDF or print it. We did double check the PDF download functionality for this feature and it's all working great. Have fun with the project.