Introduction: A-Mazing Mat

About: Someday, I would like to create something that is so commonly used, it's not even considered genius.

Click your brain back on! Ever have that brain fart of, "What was I doing again?" With a bunch of parts spread all over your work space, and now you're zoned out into this 1000 yard stare?

With this A-Mazing mat, your brain will reboot and recycle to get you back on track. The psychology of the brain is a maze in its own right, but seeing patterns, shapes, and a solution, fires up the creative thoughts to finish your task. It's hard to look at a maze and not want to find the solution.

The Mat serves a great double purpose, by keeping your small items from rolling off your desk, screws, ball bearings, batteries, and pencils to name a few.

Follow this quick sewing tutorial and make your own design using this couching technique with some twine and a sewing machine.

If you want, fire off a vote to the rope and string speed challenge contest at the bottom of this instructable.


- Sewing Machine

- Sewing needle 100/16 jean or leather type/ fabric type dependant

- 1/4" rolled hem presser foot for sewing machine

- Thread/ Polyester type

- Scissors

- Fabric (500D Nylon pack cloth used in this project)

- Soapstone/ Pencil for marking

- 1/8" Jute Twine

Step 1: Prepare the Fabric

Using scissors, I cut my fabric to 16" x 19" to cover an area on my desk that was 16" x 18", I used a 1/2" fold for a finished top and bottom edge, I did not finish the sides since this fabric does not tend to fray easily.

Create a 1/2" inch seam allowance by folding in the edge, I used an iron (optional) to press in a crease, this keeps a consistent sewing edge for ease of sewing when folded over. I use a heat press teflon sheet to avoid melting or scorching this type of fabric.

I decided on a 1/4" seam. Once I started sewing it was easier to line up with the edge of the presser foot for a straight line, the extra 1/4" on the back side is fine for this project.

Step 2: Draw and Design With Soap Stone

Using the soapstone, make the design of your choice. I am using Oregon because this is my home. Soapstone is great for fabric marking because it is easy to remove and leaves no permanent residue.

I used a series of "T's" and "L's" to create the random maze that interconnects from start to finish.

As shown, a simple wipe with a cloth or paper towel will remove any markings and create entries and exits.

These marking lines will be used to keep on track for sewing the design, it just makes it easy if free hand sewing is not your thing.

Step 3: Load in the Jute Twine

If you look through the front of a rolled hem presser foot, you will see what appears to be a cresting wave, rip curl look or even a corkscrew. SEE PHOTOS

NOTE: This design will fold over light duty fabrics for creating a rolled hem, great for tent materials like 30D and 70D nylons, in this project it is a great feeder guide for twine, yarn, or strings.

Next grab some jute twine and load it through the 1/4" rolled hem presser foot as shown. The best way is to grab the twine holding it in front of the foot and at the back like you are flossing your teeth then floss it in the groove, leave about 2-3 inches in the back for a good start.

Next with the jute twine you will see on the presser foot that there is a small groove on the left front. Pull the twine slightly to the left as seen in photo with the red arrow, this will give a consistent feed. As I sew, I just drape the twine roll over my left leg and onto the floor, this gives it a perfect feed angle.

Step 4: Couching/ Stitch in the Jute Twine

Couching is used in embroidery work where a string or yard is laid down and fastened with a stitch over the top, often used in contrasting colors for great visual effects.

Couching with a sewing machine takes away the real skill and art of its hand embroidery roots, but they adapt and overcome to get the job done for a speed challenge.

First step was completed by loading the jute twine into the rolled hem foot and choosing your thread color.

Next set the machine for a zig-zag stitch at about 7-8 stitches per inch.

Test a strip of fabric adjusting for tension and stitch length as seen in photo. REMEMBER TO BACK STITCH at beginning and end of lines to keep thread locked in.

Following the pattern lines with the inside of the presser foot (inner right edge) and observe your stitch over the twine as seen in two photos. If you have the option to drop your feed dogs it makes it easier for free motion.

Bury your needle on the corners, remember to keep the needle in the fabric raise your presser foot to make the 90 degree turns.

Snip off treads at top and bottom after each section of couching to avoid any imperial entanglements. ;)

Step 5: Stitch and Fix

Avoid small errors like the one in the photo. I stitched over the exit, but this is a simple fix with a seam ripper and a couple passes over the edges.

TIP: Small 4-5 inch scraps of twine can be loaded in the presser foot for the short turns and runs.

Finish up with some entry exit points, I used the buttonhole stitch setting for the arrow tips.

Lay out your mat at your workstation to keep things in place or display on your breakfast table for the morning brainstorm. Thank you for learning a new skill!

Rope & String Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Rope & String Speed Challenge