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Every organized sewer needs an organizer. Sort out all that sewing equipment, organize it and save time for more sewing projects!

This is a demonstration project that uses a number of different techniques to organize sewing equipment and supplies. It demonstrates several different ways of making pockets and hanging slots. A clip-on pincushion and needle-case are also included.

Rather than give exact dimensions for every pocket and piece of elastic, tape or ribbon used this instructable shows you how to design the elements of the organizer to suit your sewing equipment.

As far as possible use is made of materials to hand including pattern paper from a sewing magazine, plastic bags and clips and webbing from an old rucksack.

The one shown in this project was designed around a piece of furniture from IKEA that already had 2 hooks suitable for an organizer.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials.

For this project you will need;-

Material to make the backing. The quantity depends on the chosen size of your organizer.
The organizer made in this project is 37 cm wide x 56 cm high (inches). Decide the size of your organizer and then add 5 cm (2 inches) to both the height and width. This extra amount is for the edges that will be turned to the back.

Firm iron-on interfacing. The organizer has to support heavy tools such as scissors so we stiffen it with the interfacing. The quantity needed is the exact size of the chosen size of your organizer.

Iron-on hem tape. This is double-sided interfacing that normally comes in a 2cm (3/4 inch) width on a roll. It is used to finish edges and hems neatly without having to sew.

Double-sided iron-on interfacing. This is similar to the iron-on hem tape but comes in a sheet and usually has a protective paper on one side so that the interfacing is fixed on one side first, then the other. This is great for sticking 2 fabrics or a fabric and a paper together.

Clear plastic bags, preferably ones that would have been thrown away, not new ones. These are used to make the plastic pockets. I wanted pockets that were see-through so that you can
see the contents. However my local fabric store did not sell clear vinyl. Hence I have recycled plastic bags and fused them to make a plastic that is transparent enough for our purposes.

Elastic. Use various widths, colors and lengths to suit the thread and tools that you need to organize.

Eyelets. I used two for hanging my organizer as I already had a piece of furniture that had 2 hooks suitable for an organizer. If you don't want to use eyelets to hang yours you could add a series of loops across the top through which you could thread a piece of doweling or a clothes hanger.

Paper and stick-back plastic. For this organizer I used an old paper pattern to make pockets and for the cover of the needle-case. The paper pattern fits very well with the theme and, when coated both sides with the plastic, makes a sturdy 'fabric' that can be sewn and doesn't tear or fray.

Hook and look fastening tape. I used the stick-on type to create a pocket fastening.

Ribbon. Various colors, widths and lengths were used for hanging items and for edging pockets.

Felt. Small pieces were used for making the pincushion and needle-case. All were oddments from other projects and created by fulling wool sweaters.

Two snap carabiner hooks. These were a luxury treat and were the only items bought specifically for this project. They are used for the pincushion and needle-case.

Webbing and 2 plastic D-loops. These were 'rescued' from an old rucksack that had passed away. They provide great anchors for the 2 clip-on items.

Cuttings from sewing/knitting magazines. I used these for both decoration and as reminders of useful information. The organizer in this project includes information about laundry symbols. Yours could include a crochet needle conversion chart or information about clothing sizes.

Step 2: Creae the Background

This step explains how to create the fabric background o which all the other parts of our hanging organizer are attached. For the demonstration item this made from dark blue cotton material.

Take the iron-on interfacing and cut a piece the chosen size of your organizer.


Now take the fabric that you will use for the background and cut a piece 5cm (2 inches) bigger than the piece of interfacing.

Following the instructions for the iron-on interfacing iron the interfacing to one side of the fabric leaving an even amount of fabric spare around the outside. The interface side will be the 'wrong' side of the hanging organizer. The 'wrong' side will not look particularly pretty but we won't see it so it doesn't matter.

At the corners trim the spare fabric away diagonally - see the first picture.

Now fold this spare fabric over the edge of the interface and using the iron-on hem tape iron the spare fabric to the 'wrong' side of the organizer. I found that my hem tape was too wide for this purpose so cut it along its length to fit.

Do this folding and ironing around the whole of the background.. From the right side there should be no raw edges visible. See the pictures in this step for more detail.

Now to fix the eyelets that will enable us to hang our organizer .

Using a measure and chalk mark the desired positions of the eyelets. For our item the positions were dictated by the piece of furniture that the organizer was being made for.

Following the instructions given with the eyelets punch holes and secure the eyelets in the chosen position.

Step 3: Create Clip-on Pincushion

Cut two squares of felt approximately 7.5 cm ( 3inches) square.

Cut a length of narrow ribbon approximately 7.5 cm ( 3inches) long. Fold the ribbon in half and baste the cut ends together.

Place the two felt squares together with the ribbon loop positioned between the squares so that it sticks out one side - see picture 2

Machine stitch around the outside of the square leaving a 2.5 cm (1 inch) gap. Stuff the pincushion firmly with felt scraps or fiber filling. Machine stitch the gap closed. trim the outside of the squares to neaten them.

Fasten a snap carabiner to the ribbon loop.

Clip-on pincushion is ready!

Step 4: Create Clip-on Needle-case

First prepare the fabric for the cover of the needle-case.

Cut a piece of size 15 x 10 cm (6 x 4 inches) from each of the following;-

Fabric used to create the background of the hanging organizer
Double-sided iron-on interfacing
Pattern paper or paper from a sewing or fashion magazine.
Sticky-back plastic.

Following the instructions given with the iron-on interfacing use it to stick the fabric and paper together. Usually this means ironing the interfacing onto the fabric, making sure that the protective paper on the interfacing is facing the iron. Then peel off the protective paper, place the pattern paper on top and iron again.

Finally stick the sticky-back plastic onto the pattern paper to give a protective coating.

Fold the needle-case cover in half so that the case measures approximately 7.5 x 10 cm (3 x 4 inches). If you put the fabric on the outside then you can add an applique. If you have pinking shears use them to trim the edges, if not use plain scissors.

Using an eyelet tool fix an eyelet near the fold at the top of the needle-case cover. Your cover should now resemble the one in picture 1.

Cut a piece of felt that is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) smaller than the cover. Fold the cover and felt together so that they are like a book - see picture 2. Secure the fold with clip and, on the outside, sew about 2mm (approximately 1/8 inch) from the fold so that the stitching goes through both the cover and the felt.

To add an applique to the front of the needle-case, choose a paper cutting from a magazine. Protect the front of the paper with a small piece of stickback plastic.

Cut a small amount of double-sided iron-on interfacing and iron it to the back of the paper, making sure that the protective paper faces the iron.

Trim the excess paper from the edge. Peel away the protective paper and then iron gently to the front of the needle-case. Make sure you use only a cool iron setting and place wax paper over the paper as the paper has a plastic coating that could melt and ruin your iron.

Fasten a snap carabiner to the needle-case. It's now ready!

Step 5: Planning the Organizer

Layout the background fabric.

Now on the background layout all the items that you would like to organize. Decide how many and which items are the most important to include and choose the positions for them.

Heavy items such as scissors, pinking shears and tools for fixing poppers and eyelets should be balanced across the organizer, that is not all on one side so that the weight pulls the organizer out of shape.

Use chalk to mark the positions of items and pockets.

You do not have to rigidly stick to your plan as you sew but some planning at this stage is a good idea so that you know how many items or rows of pockets etc, you will have space for.

Note that I undertook this planning before I neatened the edges. This doesn't make much difference.

Also compare my planning stage to the finished item. The positions of some items has changed but most items are still in their original places.

This is your organizer for your sewing items so feel free to design it in a way that suits you!

Step 6: Creating Elastic 'slots'

The elastic slots are created from elastic and are used to hold tools like scissors which are narrow at the base but then much wide towards the top. The tool can be dropped into the 'slot' without it falling all the way through.

The use of elastic means that the slot will fit a variety of different tools if needed.

To create an elastic slot take a length of elastic. Fold the raw edge under and pin to the background at one side of the tool. Baste the elastic in place, remove the pin and then machine stitch in place.

To make the elastic especially secure I have stitched two lines of stitching close together. Normally I would have used matching thread to camouflage the stitches but for this demonstration project I have used contrasting red thread so that you can see where the stitches are.

Take out the baste stitches.

Put the scissors back in place. Cut the elastic so that it fits snugly over the scissors whilst leaving a small amount to be tucked under. Tuck in the raw edge, pin and baste and machine stitch as for the other end.

Remove the baste stitches. Elastic slot finished!

Make as many of these as you need.

Step 7: Create a Snap-on Strap for an Awkward Tool.

Occasionally there will be an awkward tool that is not wider at one end and hence the simple elastic slot in step 6 is not suitable.

The tool used for securing eyelets and pop-on studs is one example. To secure this to the organizer I used tape and pop-on studs.

Place the tool in the desired position on the organizer and mark a point between the handles where the tape will be fastened. Also mark two points on either side for the pop-on studs.

Take a length of firm tape approximately 20cm (8inches) long. Fold in half and baste to the chalk mark between the handles.

Fold in about 3 cm of one end of the tape. Check that the tape will reach the point where the pop-on stud will be placed , plus leave a short length for 'grabbing' to undo the stud. With chalk mark the place on the tape where the second part of the pop-on stud will be placed.

Now using the tools provided for the pop-on studs secure the two parts of two pop-on studs in place. This was straightforward for the part on the tape but the part on the background posed a problem.

Neither the cheap plastic tool that is included in the pop-on stud packet nor the fancy tool had long enough 'arms' to reach the point where we needed the stud.

The solution was to use two separate cheap plastic tools. This is shown in the diagrams for this step.

Finally machine stitch the tape to the background fabric.

Step 8: Create a Paper Pocket.

For my large gauge crochet hooks I needed a pocket that was big enough yet not too loose that the hooks fell out. This is solution.

Take a sheet of paper. I love this pattern paper and the design fits the them very well. Cover the paper in sticky-back plastic front and back.

Place the paper in the chosen position on the organizer background and stitch down one side close to the edge. As you are stitching through paper and plastic any mistakes will show up so take your time!.
Also use a long stitch length as lots of holes close together will be a weak point for the paper.

Now place one of the hooks in the pocket and using a zipper foot on the sewing machine stitch a vertical line on the pocket close to the hook - see picture 1.

Continue with all the crochet hooks. after the last hook, trim the excess paper.

To secure the pockets at the base fold the paper at each side so that the folds on each side are even. Machine stitch across. To neaten the base, stitch a short length of ribbon along the bottom, tucking in the raw edges at the end.


Step 9: Create a Plastic Pocket.

Originally I had intended to use clear vinyl so that I had see-through pockets. However I couldn't get hold of any and was then inspired by the Etsy tutorial on Fusing Plastic to try using old plastic bags.

The Etsy tutorial can be found at;-
http://etsylabs.blogspot.com/2007/05/long-overdue-fusing-plastic-bag.htmlhttp://etsylabs.blogspot.com/2007/05/long-overdue-fusing-plastic-bag.html

I used only thin clear bags for my pockets as I wanted to see at a glance what was in the pockets.
Even then, after fusing, the plastic is not as see-through as before due to the many air bubbles in the layers of plastic.

I followed the Etsy tutorial to fuse the bags but used only 4 layers as the pockets in the organizer would be very small and not need to take much weight. I put the plastic between two pieces of wax paper, set the iron to a cool setting and ironed until all the plastic layers had fused together.

The plastic material that was produced had to be trimmed to create a rectangle and to match the height that I needed for my pockets. The plastic was much wider than my organizer but I needed the extra width for one pocket to store bulky items.

Having got a piece of neatly trimmed plastic place it on the organizer background in the chosen location or your pocket. To make a neat finish place a length of ribbon on top of the edge, tucking the raw ribbon edge in and stitch down both sides of the ribbon. See picture 2.

Repeat this at the other end of the plastic. see picture 3.

To create a flat pocket lay the plastic on the fabric. Decide the width of pocket that you want. At the chosen width sew a length of ribbon vertically to create pocket side, tucking in the raw edge of the ribbon at the top. Picture 4 shows how 2 flat pockets have been created from the plastic material.

The rest of the length of plastic is used to create a 'standing out' pocket that will be able to store bulkier items.

Fold the plastic so that there are folds at both sides of the pocket. The folds should be equal. Secure the folds with clips - see picture 5.

Sew the bottom edge of all the plastic pockets in place by sewing a length of ribbon at the base of the pockets. Tuck in the raw edges in at the end and sew close to both sides of the ribbon.

To help close the 'bulky' pocket cut a length of hook and loop tape the width of the pocket (see picture 6). Stick the hook part to the organizer background near the top of the pocket. Stick the loop part on the inside of the pocket so that it meets the hook part.

Step 10: Create Elastic Loops for Thread Spools.

Thread spools come in many thicknesses. Using elastic for loops allows for flexibility in the thread spools that can be stored. They are also very easy to make.

Take a length of elastic. Don't cut it at this stage as we don't know how much we need yet. Howeverto avoid a join the length should be at least twice the width of our organizer.

Tuck in the raw edge and place it at the desired point on our organizer background. Pin, baste and machine stitch securely in place.

Use a thread spool to measure the length of our loop and pin the elastic to the background. The elastic should have some tension it it and not be slack at all. Baste and machine stitch at the point where it is pinned. Repeat this as many times as needed or until you have reached the other side of the organizer.
Make different sized loops by measuring around different spools. When finishing off at the other end tuck the raw edge in before pinning and sewing.

Step 11: Add Loops for Clip-on Cushion and Needlecase

To be able to clip on the pin-cushion and needle-case we need to sew on two loops.

The two loops and lengths of webbing have been rescued from an old rucksack.

Thread the webbing through the D-loop. Place the two ends of the webbing together so that one ed is proud of the other by about 2cm (3/4 inch). Baste the webbing together. Now fold the top of the taller end of webbing down so that it meets the shorter end. Baste together.

Place the webbing on the organizer so the the webbing ends are hidden. Machine stitch firmly.
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I like how this uses some of those extra sewing materials like the elastic to construct the organizer. I have two very old plastic sewing baskets, which areh't made any more, to hold my supplies, but they get all messed up during a project as I dig around. This is an easy way for me to have everything for a project in place, and not rolling onto the floor, pins piercing my bare feet, scissors hiding under fabric, etc. I will slip in the necessary threads, buttons, etc. at the start. This will relieve a lot of frustration!
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