Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Scrappy organizer ~ a tutorial

As promised; little tutorial for all you wonderful people out there looking for fun handmade gifts to sew for Christmas {or any other time of year }.


 I decided to make the tutorial for an organizer with interior pockets for a passport or something of similar size - card pocket - pencil pocket and key fob. But the interior is easily adapted to fit your own needs, make it bigger to fit a checkbook and some pens. Smaller with felt pages stitched in the center for a needlebook. Or make narrow slip pockets for the sides to fit in a day planner or calendar. There are plenty of options!

organizer inside

This organizer is fairly quick to whip up and will allow you to use quite a few of those scraps I know you're hoarding.
organizer back

and most importantly it will make a lovely gift!


About this tutorial 

As with all tutorials and patterns please read all the way through first before you begin.
Press your fabrics along the way.
All seam allowances are 1/4" unless it's stated otherwise.
You are welcome to make as many scrappy organizer as you wish for yourself and to give away as presents but please do not sell anything made from one of my tutorials - thank you!

What you will need:

For the exterior
  • Scraps of different fabrics and prints.
  • 6"x 9" piece of batting {I cut mine larger than this and trim back later}
  • 1 button
  • 44" baker's twine or ribbon
  • one piece of double sided fusible interfacing for applique optional

For the interior
  • 6" x 9" lining fabric + interfacing
  • 6" x 8 1/2" for the large pocket + interfacing
  • 6" x 6 1/2" for the smaller pocket + interfacing
  • 3" x 9" for the pen pocket + interfacing
  • 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" for the keyfob.
  • 1 split ring or lobster clasp

Step 1
This block is improvisational pieced there are no cutting instructions. If you have never made a liberated or wonky log cabin block before don't worry it is easy - I promise!
You just add strips of fabrics to a center square going round clock wise or anti clockwise - the choice is up to you. It really is as simple as that!

to make the scrappy log cabin block:
Place two scraps of fabric right sides together on top of the batting, just eyeball the position you don't have to start in the precise center. Sew straight on top of the batting, fold open and press.

* Tip: I use a pressing cloth as the batting does not agree with my iron, you could also just finger press since these pieces are very small*
Place your next piece of fabric right sides together and sew -again straight through the batting - and press.

You get the idea right, it's just like any other liberated log cabin you would make the only difference is you're sewing directly onto the batting. This is exactly the same way I make my log cabin cushions and coasters - for those of you who have been asking ;-)

Since we're making a rectangular log cabin I try to add wider strips on the top and bottom and narrower ones for the sides. This way I can add more rounds to the log cabin which will make it nice and scrappy. I do not measure my strips beforehand, just pull my fabrics straight from my scrap bins, and trim them back a bit of necessary.

be careful not to cut straight through the batting!
Just keep adding rounds to your log cabin...

.. until your batting is completely covered.

Trim back to 6" x 9" and zig zag the edges.

Step 2
 I am going to add a bit of applique for fun!
Roughly cut out the piece of fabric you would like to use and apply double sided fusible interfacing. Trim back, peel off the backing paper and fuse to the top.

If you have a fancy stitch on your machine you never use this may be a good time to use it, or else just zig zag around the outer edge of the applique.

Secure the bakers twine in the center of the back with a couple of stitches.

I use a safety pin to keep the twine safely out of the way for when I'm ready to sew the organizer closed.

Step 3
Fuse interfacing to the lining and pocket fabrics.

to make the pockets:
Fold both fabrics in half and top stitch each one.

Place the smaller pocket on top of the larger pocket and sew to the right side of the lining fabric with a 1/8" seam allowance.

To make the keyfob:
 Fold in half lengthwise, press both edges towards the center and fold in half again.

Top stitch along both sides. Fold in half with the split ring or lobster clasp in the center and stitch closed. If you want to stitch right close up to the split ring you will need to use a zipperfoot, I'm lazy so I just switched the needle position way up to the left.

To make the pen pocket.
Fold in half right sides facing and sew right side closed. Clip corner and turn right side out.

Top stitch and pin onto the left side of the lining fabric.

Sew right side of the pen pocket, and top edge of the key fob to the lining fabric with a 1/8" seam allowance.

Measure 1 1/4" from the side of the pen pocket and mark for sewing, I run the back of my seam ripper along my ruler to create a line but you can use any type of non permanent fabric marker you like.

Sew to create the pen pocket.

Step 4
Pin lining and exterior together right sides facing and stitch all the way round leaving a 2"-3"opening for turning. Clip corners, turn right side out and press.

My keyfob is refusing to lay flat so I'm going to stitch it down, if you have read all the way through before starting you may want to stitch down the key fob before sewing the lining to the exterior.

We're just a few hand stitches away from being done now!
First slip stitch the opening closed.

Then attach a button to the front.

Wrap the twine around the organizer twice and twist around button and...
voila all done!


I hope that everything was clear, if you have any questions I'll do my best to answer them. 
Should you happen to make one of these scrappy organizers or anything else from one of my tutorials I'd love it if you added them to me brand spanking new Flickr group here
It's just me alone out there at the moment so please take pity and come join me ;-)

x Leila


  1. A great tutorial - such a good idea for Christmas presents! I will have to have a go this weekend!

    Pomona x

  2. Looking forward to trying this one! It looks so cute!

    P.s. The first 2 pictures have gone walkabouts lol

  3. Thanks Leila...I've pinned this and will be making this at least for myself as a passport/travel organizer. Hopefully, I will make a few for gifts, too!

  4. These are so cute! As always, you've put together the best fabric combos. I'll have to give one of these a try.

  5. This is so adorable, thank you!!

  6. So cute- definitely going to make one! Very useful

  7. Great tutorial and really cute organizer!

  8. Aha, not a notebook then as I thought.. very versatile and looks great! Thanks for the tute.

  9. Well written tutorial! Thank you - for sure will use it in the future. As always, I love your fabric choices:)

  10. One of the things on my Christmas 'to make' list is a little sewing kit for my sisters. This is the tutorial I am going to use! With a little bit of adjusting to the inside to make it work for me, it will be perfect. Now, let's see if I can actually finish it before Christmas! (I will totally add a pic to your flickr group whenever it happens to be made)

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I LOVE this!!! And I know how it feels to have a party of one in your flickr group, so if/when I get around to making one/some of your fabulous organizer I will definitely throw a photo your way! Thanks very much. Quilt as you go = brilliant.

  13. Fabulous tutorial- thank you! My 'to-do' list keeps growing but this is going to the top! Thank you again for sharing your talent and unique style!

  14. So cute! I am making one or three of these for sure! ;-)

  15. So cute! I am making one or three of these for sure! ;-)

  16. I knew it would be great :) Thank you for the tutorial.

  17. so great! thanks for the tutorial. i love your work!

  18. beautifully done tutorial and what a super lovely project. you are the coolest, of course you're already planning christmas gifts (me, I'll be waiting until christmas eve, ha!)

  19. Love this and so adaptable. Thanks.

  20. Thank you, this is so great!
    Love this and love your coasters, too.
    Can't wait to try it out.

  21. Oh Yeah, Christmas is coming...I'm getting fat and these will be great in the stockings!!!

  22. This is such a great tutorial! Perfect for handmade holiday gifts :) Thank you for sharing.

  23. ooh, I like this!! Thanks! I think this solves my Christmas present problems!

  24. you did an awesome job on your tutorial. i joined your flickr group right away. i hope to someday have fewer projects on my sewing table so i can start making your tutorials right away :)

  25. You are killing me with your cleverness!!!!

  26. Thanks so much for this great tutorial. I had now made 6! I had so much fun making the first one, I just kept going. I filled them with stationary and gave them to my daughters' teachers for an end of year thank you gift.
    Here's to Handmade Holidays!
    Thanks again.

  27. Fabulous! Just what I need - I have a notebook/diary/external brain in dire need of a funky and useful cover, this is the perfect jumping-off point for me! Thanks! (and thanks to Sew Together for sending me over!)

  28. Hi! Thank you for a great tutorial! I shall make this as soon as possible! You have wonderful blog and I love your works! You had exactly 500 followers - now there are 501!
    Merry Christmas! x Teje

  29. I love the way you've matched these fabrics together. All the prints together make it really eye-catching! x

  30. perfect! I will make some this weekend!

  31. Love, love, love the tutorial, and you also made a big light bulb go off in my mind: What a perfect way to make coasters! Don't know why it hadn't occurred to me. Once again, you've inspired me.

  32. love this tute. i think i will amend it to make a kindle cover. so so sweet
    thank you so much

  33. Thank your again for the tutorial - the organizer is a great idea, so pretty and just perfect for sewing supplies (and the pen for fabrics just overly big...).

  34. Adorable. Need I say more?


  35. I love your tutorial, thanks to share it!! I'll try to do this summer :)

  36. Thank you for the tutorial, this is a very cute organizer!

  37. absolutely adorable and functional too!!! found it on Sew Can She THANKS~~

  38. Love this, Leila, and have had it bookmarked for a long time but was so pleased to see it featured on the SewCanShe blog today! Your work is wonderful!

  39. Merci Beaucoup for your tuto!! I just love it.
    I know how long is to create such one...
    http://monaiguilleblogspot com

  40. Love this tutorial!! I will be making one very soon!
    I also wrote up about this and your blog a bit on my blog.
    Here's the url to it:

  41. Love this tutorial, and your blog!
    I wrote up about this on my blog, just so you know.
    Here's the link:

  42. Such adorable project with great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing. I will definitely make this!

  43. I love this pattern & will adjust the pockets to what I want & also make a zipper on the flap to make it a fold over, I hope. I just love how you did the qulting a rectangular log cabin style, I just love that! I will have to try this soon! Thanks so much for your pattern! I will try to send a pic when I get it done!

  44. I love this pattern & will adjust the pockets to what I want & also make a zipper on the flap to make it a fold over, I hope. I just love how you did the qulting a rectangular log cabin style, I just love that! I will have to try this soon! Thanks so much for your pattern! I will try to send a pic when I get it done!

  45. I love this pattern & will adjust the pockets to what I want & also make a zipper on the flap to make it a fold over, I hope. I just love how you did the qulting a rectangular log cabin style, I just love that! I will have to try this soon! Thanks so much for your pattern! I will try to send a pic when I get it done!

  46. Adorable! Love the combination of fabrics!


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