I really am a creature of habit, and sometimes I just have to work through new things in my mind before I tackle them, and that was certainly the case with this project. I knew that I wanted to do some improv appliqué, which would require the use of some interfacing (scary, right?). When I finally got down to it, it turns out that it was easier than I thought it would be, and I'm thrilled to share the tutorial with you!
I decided to use this ahhh...mazing Pencil Me In bundle from Fort Worth Fabric Studio for the main body of my cover, and pair them with some of my favorite scrappy bits. You can find this gorgeous bundle right HERE! Since this project is smaller, I pulled some of the smallest pieces out of my scrap jars. This is really the kind of project that you can customize and have fun with, though. Make it your own! By the way, if you love improv, but aren't sure how to do it, check out my full tutorial for improv piecing HERE.
The first thing you need to do is measure, measure, and then measure some more. The cover is constructed with three parts- one main panel that "lays over" the front, top, and back of the machine, and two side panels. You don't really want to have to fuss when you're pulling your cover down over your machine. I think easy on, easy off is best, so you want to measure generously. First measure the height of your machine and multiply by two (for front and back). Then measure the depth of your machine from front to back. Finally, measure the width from side to side. Be sure you account for any parts that stick out from the main body of the machine, and add seam allowance !
My machine sits down in a cabinet and is used as a flatbed, so it only sits about 8.5" tall, and it is about 7.5" deep across the top. Rounding up the height to 9" and rounding the depth to 8," my cover needed to be 26" long, and 18" wide. Theoretically, you should be able to use the same height and depth measurements to determine the size for your side panels, but I would measure them, just to be sure! I determined that my side panels should each measure 9"x 8."
Now for the fun part! Make your top and side panels however you choose. Think of them as tiny quilts and get creative! I decided to piece a strip of each of the prints in the bundle, and add a little improv strip along the edge. This strip will be the bottom on the back of the cover. This takes a little bit of planning if you are using directional fabrics, like some of these text prints. Keep in mind that the piece lays over the machine from front to back, so that means that the text has to be placed properly so that it is legible on each side of the machine. If you orient the text all in one direction, it will be upside down on one side. Press your main panel, and trim it to size if necessary.
Creating the appliqué for the front was probably the part that caused me the most angst (besides the measuring), but it really was a breeze once I got into it. First, find a free clip art picture that you like, or draw something yourself if you're talented like that. I found a cool sewing machine silhouette for mine. Just make sure that you size the clip art so that it will fit properly on the front of your cover.
There were a couple of things I didn't like about the silhouette I found; namely, I thought the base was too narrow, and there were some rounded parts that I wanted to square off. You can see where I used a black marker to fill in the base, the hand wheel, on the spool of thread, and on the little part at the top where the needle is threaded. Once you have your shape exactly the way you want it, glue it to a piece of cardboard, let it dry, and cut it out to make a template. You can see that I cut off the narrow parts, like the needle and the crank on the hand wheel.
Time for improv! I pieced some scraps into a panel that was just slightly bigger than my template. Of course, you can choose to do any appliqué shape you want (or none at all). You can choose to use a solid fabric for this step, too!
Once you have your improv panel, apply interfacing to the back, ironing the "bumpy" side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. Interfacing gives the fabric some stiffness to make it easier to work with, and will keep the edges from raveling, since I decided to leave the raw-edges. I turned my fabric template over and traced around it lightly with a pencil on the interfacing. (clearly, my template is a piece of a Christmas box- that's Santa, lol!)
Just cut around your shape and place it onto your main panel, wherever you want it! I use basting spray to keep it in place while I stitched around it, but you can use pins instead if you'd rather. I stitched right around the outside of the shape, and went around it twice to give it a sketchy
Then piece and trim your side panels to size. I decided to add lots of color on mine, and made my panels completely from improv bits.
The next step is to decide on your lining fabric. I used a giant black and white polka dot, and cut pieces in exactly the same size as my three panels. I cut some scrap batting to size as well, and basted my three little mini quilts! I hate basting spray, so I always baste my quilts with safety pins, but I keep a can of spray just for little things like this, where I'm not worried about the fabric shifting.
Time to quilt these however you like. I did a pretty tight stipple all over on all three panels, and quilted right through my sewing machine appliqué as well.
To assemble your panels, lay your main panel over your machine from front to back, and stand one side panel up in place.
With your walking foot, you'll be sewing the edges together, all the way around the side panel. Flip the side panel, so that right sides are together, and carefully sew down the first side. When you get almost to the edge of the first side, stop and align the top edges together. Repeat this until you have the edges all sewn together.
When you get almost to the edge, stop and align the top edges. Repeat this until you have the edges all sewn together. It can get a little bit thick, but it isn't difficult. Just take your time, and when you're finished, it will have a nice, boxy shape. Then just sew the other side panel the exact same way!
To finish those inside edges, I made a binding strip measuring only 2 inches, and sewed it exactly as I would bind a quilt (tutorial HERE). I cut my binding strips on the bias of the fabric to make it easier to ease around those corners, and though it definitely isn't perfect, it works. Those corners get tight, but I didn't stress too much over it, because it is on the inside of the cover, after all. Finishing the edges on the inside helps the cover keep its crisp boxy shape, and adds such a cute little detail.
The very last step is to sew a binding around the bottom edge of the cover, and I chose to go with the black word search fabric. For this binding strip, I used a standard 2.5 inch strip, and I think it adds the perfect finishing touch! Again, when you're sewing over that inner binding, it can get a little bit thick, but just take your time.
And voila! All finished! Just looking at all of my fun, scrappy bits of fabric against those grays and blacks puts a smile on my face every single time I walk into my sewing space!
I am absolutely in love with this little cover, and I can't believe I didn't make one sooner. It is a perfect blend of form and function. I hope you'll try it out!