Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidery Thread Trails?


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Do you leave embroidery thread trails all around your house? I do! I usually sit on the sofa in the living room for “casual” embroidery projects, and when I snip threads, those orts (the thread scraps) end up on the arm of the sofa. I bet you know what I’m talking about!

Building into a good-sized, loose ball by the end of an evening, my embroidery thread left-overs will inevitably cling to the arms of my clothes. From there, they trickle off onto the floor… the living room floor, the kitchen floor, the bathroom floor. I’m forever leaving little trails.

When I think about it, I put a zip-lock bag in my sewing basket, but it’s too much bother to dig for it when I’m engrossed in stitchery! Besides, once it’s full, I toss it – and then I forget to add another to the basket… until I’ve got another thread ball building on the sofa.

Well, I finally decided it was time to do something about this! And so this is what I did:

About a month ago, I mentioned that I bought a couple placemats on clearance. I had this particular project in mind at the time, but just now had the chance to see my plan fulfilled:

A Couch Caddy!!!

I’m so excited about it. It isn’t pristinely done, but I like it! I’m the first to admit I’m not an expert on the sewing machine! Patterns just aren’t my thing, so this project was really perfect. It took me a whole 30 minutes. I had no plan – I just cut some rectangles from one placemat and its liner, and I sewed the stuff together.

Here ’tis:

Couch Caddy for Loose Embroidery Threads!

[Oh dear. Pictures never lie.]

The first thing I did was take one placemat (less than $2 at Target on clearance) and separate the top fabric from the liner using a seam ripper.

Then, with the top fabric on the table just like you’d place a placemat, I cut it in half straight up from bottom to top. I took one half, folded from bottom to top, right sides together, and sewed up the sides. Then I measured 1.5 inches from the corner at the fold, and sewed a little triangle, so that the bag rounded out a bit, instead of laying flat like an envelope. Then I did the same thing with the liner, only backwards, and stuck the liner inside, and top stitched around the edge.

Couch Caddy for Loose Embroidery Threads!

I still had half a placemat, so I cut out another rectangle and made a longer, narrower tube to put scissors and pencils in.

Couch Caddy for Loose Embroidery Threads!

I still had a quarter of the placemat left, so I cut out tabs to attach the two pockets to the base, which was an in-tact placemat.

I didn’t line the narrower tube, except by leaving the interfacing that was inside the placemat. In fact, that one came out rather sloppy – functional, but sloppy!

Couch Caddy for Loose Embroidery Threads!

I made sure I sewed the tabs well into the outside half of the base so that I would have plenty of placemat on the inside arm of the couch to weight the thing properly and keep it from sliding.

I still have a little bit of the placemat left – I’m thinking about looking for a heavy-duty magnet I can cover with fabric and put on the top for needles and my embroidery scissors.

The whole thing worked rather well, took me about 30 minutes, cost me less than $4.00, and now I have somewhere to put those stray threads!


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(12) Comments

  1. what a great idea for those placemats – I wondered wha you were going to do with them. I do a lot of stitching in the afteroon (during nap time) so i find myself walking to school brushing bits of thread of me… i have been madly unpicking 2 projects (dont ask!) and bits of thread have been flying – the dog was asleep at my feet and he was covered in them!

  2. Great idea , Mary. My husband is always complaining about my embroidery stuff lying around on the couch and making a bigger mess in our already messy home.

  3. You mean those bits of thread have a name ?!!
    There was one in my bed yesterday

    Using a magnet for needles is a great idea – I’ve glued a couple of flat fridge magnets backwards onto my lap table.

  4. I bought one on etsy.com that I just LOVE. The ort pocket has a thin wire sewn into the top [I think it might actually be a twist tie] to hold it open and the ort pocket is attached to the base by velcro so it’s easy to empty. Mine also has a pincushion on the top – where you are thinking about putting your magnet. Since I ALWAYS end up with my needle in the arm of my chair, this was a big improvement.

    And this is a good place to tell you how much I enjoy your posts — thanks!


  5. Well know what I do with my little ends that are left over. I take a clear glass jar (with a lid) and I keep it with me when I am stitching and put the little extra can’t do anything with pieces in the jar. And guess what I have so many jars filled up in have them in my sewing and craft studio in the windows.So many colors and they look great. Why throw away those little pieces when you can make more art with them. Doing two projects at once.

  6. I had a good laugh at this article. well, more so at myself than the article. what a great idea…. much prettier than my solution, which was to take the plastic bag (from walmart, not target) and tie it around the arm of my embroidery lamp and put all those little thread ends into it. You have inspired me to take down the awful plastic bag by my chair and make something nicer and more functional. I also never knew that those thread ends had a name and now I do. thank-you for writing such fun and helpful articles.

  7. My project box has little compartments and one of them is the wastebasket. Incidentally, I got the box at a hardware store for practically nothing….it’s meant for screws and washers and such so there are lots of little removable dividers and I’ve arranged it just the way I want it.

  8. Very snazzy indeed. I use one of the compartments in my famous box as a wastebasket, could send a photo if wanted

  9. I love orts! Save those thread ends for me! I can include them in “reconstructed ” fabric projects. I would gladly pay postage if you would be willing and able to send them…

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