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Sewing Machine Organizer Apron: Fabric Depot

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Your sewing machine is probably the largest item in your sewing space. But it likes to surround itself with lots of little things. When you're sewing, you need easy access to these smaller tools and notions so you're not wasting time jumping up and down every few minutes to find what's needed. Our sewing machine organizer apron is a perfect option with six pockets for plenty of handy storage and a waste catcher to keep things tidy. We worked with our friends at Fabric Depot to pick a base fabric that could blend well with any décor. The solution: ticking. It's a classic fabric with a crisp, clean simplicity. We then accented the perimeter and the pockets with a colorful calico binding.

The apron is deep enough so it extends well back onto the table, providing a cushioned surface on which to set your machine. We used fusible foam for the upper portion of the apron to give it extra softness. This also helps reduce vibration and noise. The bottom pockets use more standard interfacing. 

Fabric Depot offers ticking in both a 54" wide home décor width (our choice) as well as a standard 45" width. This means you can adjust your cut sizes to fit even today's ultra-large sewing and embroidery models and still make just one uninterrupted cut. 

Ticking also comes in many more colors these days than its original "mattress cover blue." Fabric Depot offers five colors in the home décor width and five colors in the standard width.

Since ticking is a vintage fabric, we wanted a similar feel for our cotton border but not another neutral. The accent fabric needed to be bright and fun in a delicate print that would show up within the slim ¾" reveal of the binding. We chose a traditional calico from the brand new Little House on the Prairie collection by Andover Fabrics. Fabric Depot has the full selection online in all the colorways.

Our layered pockets have a unique curved top, and we offer two downloaded patterns to create this pretty scalloped effect. By cutting the pocket binding on the bias, the top pocket border is smooth and beautiful. We also love those little accent bows.

The center thread catcher is formed with a gathered section along the bottom of the front pocket. We show you how to gather, secure, and baste into place. The binding finishes the raw edges all around. When complete, the pocket is flexible enough to sit partially open or be gently pulled wider to more easily drop in threads. Either way it's never in the way as you sew.

Our thanks to Fabric Depot for sponsoring this great organizational project. If you haven't checked out the Fabric Depot website, we encourage you to give it a whirl. It's very easy to get around within all the departments. They also have a fun "Goes Perfect With..." feature that gives you several coordinated options for each fabric you select. With such a huge inventory, this is a very helpful way to get a bit of mixing and matching advice. 

Below are a couple additional ticking and cotton combos to check out. Petal Pink Ticking with Morning Glory in Black, Slate Ticking with Spring Flowers in Red, Driftwood Ticking with Wildflower in Brown.

Our machine organizer apron finishes at 24" wide x 23½" high with a 17" deep mat and a 6½" organizer drop. This was a perfect size for the Janome Skyline S7 pictured in the photographs above. The Skyline is 19" wide x 12½" high x 9¼" deep. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out the six-page Pocket Pattern (three pages for Pocket A and three for Pocket B): Pocket A-Part 1, Pocket A-Part 2, Pocket A-Part 3, Pocket B-Part 1, Pocket B-Part 2, Pocket B-Part 3.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern page is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printouts are to scale.
  2. Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line. 
  3. Match up each set of three pattern pieces, using the printed arrows as your guide, to create the two full pocket patterns. Butt together and tape; do not overlap.
  4. From the main fabric (the Ticking in our sample), cut the following:
    Using the Pocket A pattern, cut ONE
    Using the Pocket B pattern, cut ONE

    ONE 23½" high x 24" wide rectangle for the front base panel
    ONE 17½" high x 24" wide rectangle for upper back panel
  5. From the fabric for the binding and back panel (the Calico in our sample), cut the following:
    Using the Pocket A pattern, cut ONE
    Using the Pocket B pattern, cut ONE
    ONE 7" high x 24" wide rectangle for the back accent panel
    Enough 2½" strips, on the bias, to equal TWO 36" finished lengths
    NOTE: The longer the strips the better – to reduce the number of seams on the bound edges of the pockets.
    THREE 2½" x WOF (width of fabric) straight-cut strips 
    TWO ⅞" x 12" strips for the pocket bows
  6. From the fusible foam, cut ONE 16½" x 24" rectangle.
  7. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 6½" x 24" rectangle
    Using the Pocket A pattern, cut ONE
    Using the Pocket B pattern, cut ONE
  8. From the gripper fabric, cut ONE 10" x 20" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Bind and mark the pockets

  1. Find your lengths of bias binding. 
    NOTE: As mentioned above, your individual lengths should have been cut, on the bias, as long as possible from the available fabric to minimize seams. You are most likely to have no more than two strips to complete each 36" length needed to bind each pocket.
  2. Place the ends of two strips right sides together, criss-crossing the angled ends. Little "points" will extend slightly beyond each long straight edge. This is correct. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ¼" seam, stitch the ends together.
  4. Press the seam allowance open and flat. 
  5. Repeat as necessary to complete your two approximate 36" lengths.
  6. Press the finished length in half, wrong sides together, to set a center crease. 
  7. Unfold wrong side up so the center crease line is visible and fold in each long raw edge so they meet in the center at the crease line. Press well, then fold again along the original crease line to form your finished binding.
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, you may find it helpful to review one of both of our step-by-step binding tutorials: A Complete Step-by-Step For Binding Quilts & Throws and Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching. 
  8. Find the pocket fronts, the pocket interfacing pieces, and the pocket linings. 
  9. Place the interfacing against the wrong side of each pocket front, aligning the raw edges of the two layers on all sides and along all curves. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. 
  10. Place a pocket lining against each pocket front, wrong sides together. Again, the raw edges of the two layers should be aligned on all sides and along all curves. Pin the layers together. 
  11. Slip a length of binding over each pocket top, pulling the binding slightly taut to keep it nice and flat as you pin it in place along the hills....
  12. ... and the valleys of the pretty curves.
  13. Thread the machine with thread to best matching the binding in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly. 
  14. Topstitch the binding in place. Go slowly to insure you are catching both sides of the binding in this one seam.
  15. Find the paper pattern pieces. Transfer the dot markings to the finished pockets. There are guide dots for each pocket division along the top of each pattern...
  16. .... and matching guide dots along the bottom of each pattern. Place a pin onto the pocket at each dot.
  17. Along the bottom of Pocket B there are also two dots with dashed lines between them. These dots indicate where the gathering will go. Mark each of these dots with a pin.
  18. With all the dot marks transferred, you're ready to place the pockets.

Place the pockets

  1. Find the 23½" high x 24" wide front panel and the 6½" x 24" interfacing piece.
  2. Flip the main panel to the wrong side and set the interfacing in place along the bottom edge. The sides and bottom of the interfacing should be flush with the sides and bottom of the fabric panel. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. 
  3. Flip the panel back over so it is right side up. 
  4. Place Pocket A in position. This pocket should lay flat against the main panel with the bottom edges flush. 
  5. The side edges of the pocket should also be flush with the main panel. Pin the pocket in place along the sides and across the bottom.
  6. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the main fabric (the Ticking in our sample) in the top and bobbin. Keep the same, slightly lengthened stitch as used for the binding topstitching. 
  7. Stitch the center pocket division only from the top finished edge of the binding to the bottom raw edges (top pin marking point to bottom pin marking point). The ticking has a nice stripe to follow to keep the stitching line straight. If you choose not to use ticking, you may want to draw in a vertical guide line to follow.
  8. Lengthen the stitch all the way to basting length. Machine baste along each side and across the bottom
  9. Find Pocket B. Run one or two lines of gathering stitches between the bottom marked dots. We opted for just one line of stitching at a ½" seam allowance. 
  10. Place Pocket B on top of Pocket A. Align the side edges first and pin in place. Remember the center of Pocket B won't fit flat against the main panel/Pocket A at this point because we haven't yet adjusted the gathering stitches. 
  11. Machine baste the side edges of Pocket B in place. 
  12. Pivot and baste along the bottom edge through all the layers, stopping at the either side of the gathers, which is also the bottom marked dot of each outer pocket division.
  13. Stitch the two outer pocket divisions from the bottom raw edges up to the top finished edge of the binding (bottom pin marking point to top pin marking point). If possible, use a locking stitch to secure the beginning and end of your seam for the neatest look. If you don't have this feature on your machine, keep the thread tails long and hand knot to secure. 
  14. Pull the gathering stitches to adjust the center portion of Pocket B until it sits flat along the bottom edge of the mail panel/Pocket A. 
  15. Machine baste across the gathers to secure them, then press in place to further flatten them. You want the bottom edge of the gathers as flat as possible to make the binding easy.
  16. Measure 7" up from the bottom edge of the assembled front panel and draw a horizontal line across the entire panel. This means the line will be ½" above the center curve of the pockets and 1" above the two outer curves of the pockets.

    NOTE:
    You are marking on the right side on the fabric throughout this project, make sure you are using a fabric pen or pencil that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or heat. 
  17. Set aside the front panel. 

Create the back panel

  1. Find the 17½" high x 24" wide upper back panel (the Ticking panel in our sample), the 7" high x 24" wide lower back accent panel (the Calico in our sample), and the 10" x 20" rectangle of gripper fabric
  2. Center the gripper fabric rectangle on the upper back panel. It should sit 3½" from the top and bottom raw edges of the fabric and 2" in from each raw side edge. Pin in place.
  3. Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the gripper fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. 
  4. Edgestitch the gripper fabric in place around all four sides, pivoting at each corner. 
  5. Place the lower accent panel right sides together with the upper back panel, aligning the bottom 24" edge of the upper panel and the top 24" edge of the accent panel. Pin in place.
  6. Stitch together the layers, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seam allowance together and down towards the accent panel. 

Layer the panels and bind

  1. Find the front panel. Flip it so it is wrong side up. Find the fusible foam. Place the foam against the wrong side of the front panel. The top and side edges of the foam should be flush with the raw top and sides edges of the fabric panel. The bottom of the foam should sit just above the drawn horizontal line on the right side of the front panel. Place a few pins through the layers; just enough to hold the foam in place as you transport it to your ironing board,
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the foam in place, applying heat from the right side of the fabric panel.
  3. With the foam securely fused in place, the next step is to stitch the horizontal pocket-drop seam.
  4. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the main fabric (the Ticking in our sample) in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch. 
  5. For the remaining steps, we recommend a Walking or Even Feed foot. We used the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7.
  6. Using the previously drawn line as your guide, topstitch across the front panel. 
  7. Place the completed front and back panels wrong sides together. All edges should be flush. Pin in place.
  8. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding fabric (the Calico in our sample) in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  9. Find the three WOF straight-cut binding strips. 
  10. Place the ends of two strips together at a 90˚ angle. 
  11. Draw a diagonal line corner to corner across the overlapped ends. Pin along the drawn diagonal line. 
  12. Stitch along the drawn line. 
  13. Trim the seam allowance to ¼".
  14. Press open the seam allowance.
  15. Repeat to add the third strip to create one continuous length. 
  16. Fold the completed strip in half wrong sides together and press well to set a center crease.
  17. Un-fold wrong side up. Fold back one long raw edge ½" and press well the length of the binding. 
  18. Place the layered and pinned apron panels right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  19. Starting at what will be the center of the bottom edge of the machine apron and leaving about 4" loose at the head, pin the binding to the panel, aligning the raw edge (the non-folded edge) of the binding with the raw edges of the layered main panel. 
  20. Continue pinning to the first corner, stopping ½" before you reach the exact corner point. 
  21. Carefully take the panel to your machine. 
  22. Sew the binding to the panel, using a ½" seam allowance. Remember to lock your stitch at the beginning and to leave that 4" extra length unsewn at the head. Stitch up toward the first corner. 
  23. Stop the seam where your pins stop: ½" before the exact corner point. Lock the seam and carefully remove the panel from under the presser foot. 
  24. To create the miter at the corner, bring the binding up, making a diagonal fold at the corner. Keeping that diagonal fold in place, bring the binding straight down, so there is a straight fold even with the top raw edge and the raw edge of the binding is even with the raw edge on the next side of the panel. Pin in place.
  25. Replace the project under the needle and continue sewing, starting ½" from that top folded edge.
  26. Repeat at each corner. 
  27. Finish the ends of the binding with your favorite method. We chose a standard angled seam. 
  28. To do this, stop sewing about 5-6" from the where you started at the bottom of the panel. Pull the ends of the binding away from the edge of the project and place the ends right sides together at a 90˚ angle. Mark the angle from the upper corner to the bottom corner, similarly to how you did the original joining of the strips. Stitch along the drawn line. Trim away the excess.
  29. Set the binding back into place. It should lay flat and smooth against the edge of the panel. Pin in place and finish your seam, matching the previous stitching line and making sure the raw edges of the fabric are flush. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
  30. Wrap the binding around to the back, folding in the miter at each corner, and press flat all around. The folded edge of the binding should cover the previous stitching line.
  31. Thread a hand sewing needle and slip stitch the binding in place against the back of the panel. 

    NOTE: As mentioned above, if you are new to this technique, you may find it helpful to review one of both of our step-by-step binding tutorials: A Complete Step-by-Step For Binding Quilts & Throws and Bias Binding: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, Attaching. 

Optional bow ties

  1. Find the two ⅞" x 12" strips. 
  2. Press each strip in half, wrong sides together, to set a center crease. 
  3. Unfold wrong side up so the center crease line is visible and fold in each long raw edge so they meet in the center at the crease line. Press well.
  4. Fold again along the original crease line to form your finished tie. 
  5. Edgestitch each tie to secure. The tiny ends remain raw.
  6. Handstitch a tie at the each outer pocket division on the binding itself. 
  7. Tie into a neat bow. Trim the ends as needed and place a dot of seam sealant on each end to prevent fraying. 

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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Comments (8)

ukwren said:
ukwren's picture

I have friends that come around weekly with their machines for some sewing, chatting & a cuppa (one of them had never changed a bobbin before coming over, and has now graduated to a fairly complex tote and cushion covers -- yay!).  I think I'll be suggesting this -- but will throw out the idea of changing the size and adding side ties to make it both a cover for a machine and the storage solution.  Thanks for the project!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ ukwren - Thanks so much! Sounds like a great project for your group. Enjoy - and let us know how they all turn out. 

Mihaela said:
Mihaela's picture

Thank you so much Liz for your detailed photos and explanations!

Your beautiful project will be a perfect Valentine gift to my beloved sewing machine ...

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Mihaela - Your machine will love you for it.... and I'm sure it will also get you a present 

Kris Valle said:
Kris Valle's picture

Hi, I have a lot of trouble edge stitching ties like in this project. I usually put part of the tie under one of the feeddogs and move the needle position to get to the edge. It works okay. Also when you secure the tip of the tie it is usually looks less than desirable. Would you have any further tips or tricks for these skinny ties? Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Kris - Skinny ties can indeed be a challenge, but it is usually the machine that is struggling not the sewer. You do need a machine with a great feed system. We're always pleased with how well our Janome machines perform on skinny ties, starting at the edge of fabric, etc. You could make your ties a bit wider or you could stitch on top of a piece of lightweight tearaway stabilizer. The stabilizer will live up to its name and help hold the skinny tie stable - just carefully tear it away from the seam when done. At the ends, you could leave your thread tails long and hand knot rather that trying to machine lock your stitch. Below is a link to our handy tutorial on turning tiny tubes: 

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/tiny-tube-turn...

Terri Cady said:
Terri Cady's picture

Great pattern and tutorial, but the button for the pdf seems that's usually at the top of the page seems to be missing. Oh well, there's always printing the old-fashioned way. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Terri - this project has a lot of images; sometimes the loading can mess up the icons. Try re-freshing and see if they appear again for you. 

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