Make a Sewing Machine Mat from a Tea Towel

comments (0) March 21st, 2017     

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MeganCooney Megan Cooney, Editorial Intern
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This simple mat does more than protect your worktable.
The padded and quilted towel also has tape measure edges for checking your hems and seams, plus secreted magnets to corral your sewing pins while you work.
Take a Tea Towel can be purchased in our online store.
This simple mat does more than protect your worktable.

This simple mat does more than protect your worktable.

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Renowned maker Jemima Schlee shares her project from Take a Tea Towel. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to stitch a sewing machine mat. 


Sewing machine mat

This simple mat does more than protect your worktable. The padded and quilted towel also has tape measure edges for checking your hems and seams, plus secreted magnets to corral your sewing pins while you work.


Supplies:

  • Tea towel, at least 20 inches by 30 inches (50 cm by 76 cm), or fabric of your choice cut to those measurements
  • 2 measuring tapes
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Cotton wadding (batting), 20 inches by 15 inches (50 cm by 38 cm)
  • White thread
  • Threads to match your measuring tapes and the stripe in your tea towel
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing needle and pins

Optional

  • Magnetic strip, 1⁄4 inch (5mm) wide, or small magnetic discs 1⁄4 inch (5mm) in diameter

If you are using a patterned or striped tea towel for your project it's worth spending a bit of time planning the placement of the woven or printed design when cutting your fabric. The stripe placement diagrams throughout the book show you how I positioned the stripes in my projects.


Tip

Feed a long strip of 1⁄4 inch (5mm) magnetic tape (or the magnetic discs) into the channel beneath the measuring tape so you can corral your pins while you work.

 

Step 1

Unpick all the hems around your tea towel and press the towel flat with a hot iron. With the wrong side up and a short end nearest you, fold the top edge of the tea towel to line up with the bottom edge and press with a hot iron to create a sharp crease. Open out and place your cotton wadding (batting) on the bottom half, centered across the width and abutting the fold crease.

make a sewing-machine mat   Trim the wadding to 3⁄8 inch (1 cm) narrower than the towel on both sides and along the raw edge at the bottom. Pin or tack and then machine-sew the batting to the towel 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) from all edges. Remove the pins or tacking and secure the thread ends.

Step 2

Turn the tea towel right side up. Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge, align all edges, and pin or tack. Stitch a 3⁄8 inch (1 cm) hem around the three open sides, leaving a 6-inch (15cm) turning opening along the bottom seam. Reverse-stitch at either side of the turning opening to strengthen it.

make a sewing-machine mat
Remove the pins or tacking and snip the bottom two corners at 90 degrees and the top two at 45 degrees, close to the stitching. Turn out through the turning opening.

 

Step 3

 

make a sewing-machine mat
Tease the corners until they are sharp, then press with a hot iron.

Step 4

Fold in the raw edges of the turning gap by 3⁄8 inch (1 cm), press with an iron, and pin together.

make a sewing-machine mat
Close by hand with small overstitches and white thread and remove the pins.

Step 5

Lay one measuring tape 1⁄4 inch (5 mm) from the bottom and 3⁄4 inch (2 cm) from the left edges. Cut the other end 3⁄4 inch (2 cm) from the right edge. With colored thread on the top of the machine and white thread in the bobbin, stitch the measuring tape in place 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) from the top and bottom edges of the tape all the way around (stopping short of the metal end, if the tape has one).

make a sewing-machine mat
Repeat with the other measuring tape along the opposite long edge.

Step 6

Thread the top of the sewing machine with colored thread to match the stripe on your tea towel. With white thread still in the bobbin, sew vertical lines using a small zigzag stitch 1-3⁄8 inches (3.5 cm) apart between the two measuring tapes. Test your stitch length on a fabric scrap until the zigzag measures 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) wide.

make a sewing-machine mat
Repeat with the other measuring tape along the opposite long edge.

Types of Stitches You'll Need

Topstitching (B)

A line of straight machine stitching worked on the right side of the fabric, parallel to seams and edges. It can be used as a decorative and a functional stitch, providing extra strength to a hem or seam.

Zigzag (C)

Used along raw edges to help reduce fraying. Zigzag stitches can also be used decoratively or to strengthen pressure or stress points. You can alter the length of the stitches and how close together they are. When changing from straight stitch to zigzag (or vice versa) without breaking your stitching, always adjust your stitch function with the foot down (to hold your fabric in position) and the needle up.

Click here to see our interview with Jemima Schlee.

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