Make a Sewing Machine Mat from a Tea Towel


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March 21st, 2017     

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This simple mat does more than protect your worktable.

This simple mat does more than protect your worktable.

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.


  • 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


  • 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.


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.
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