How to make a “Thread Catcher” or scraps bin.

I got the idea of this tutorial from one for a snack bag. I can’t remember how it said to make the pattern, but I wanted to make one myself in a way that didn’t rely on a lot of measurements and calculations. Instead it relies on your ability to put a crease in a sheet of paper, and pretty much everyone can manage that. Don’t be daunted – it’s all done in really easy steps, just follow the pictures one “crease” at a time.

I’ve done this in a way that you can (hopefully) follow either just the writing, or just the pictures, or both, depending on how you best figure things out. (The number of each picture has a corresponding numbered line of text.)

1. All you need is a sheet of paper, and a ruler or something with a 1cm marking on it. This is just to mark a couple of lines of seam allowance where it’s easier to draw than fold. I’m using a sheet of A4 printer paper. You could reuse an old letter if you don’t have any plain, just turn it over to use the blank side.
2. Fold one corner down to the side, making sure you have a crisp sharp point to your left. Then use a straight edge and pencil to mark down the edge – where the pencil is pointing.
3. Unfold and cut down this line to create a square.
4. Fold the other diagonal now, and flatten the crease. Unfold.

5. Take the bottom left corner up to the cross in the centre.
6. Do the same on the bottom right corner. You now have a crease intersection in the centre bottom which lines up with the one in the middle of the sheet.
7. Using those two points now take the left hand side of the paper, and line it up so that you are folding a quarter of the sheet to the centre.
8. Now do the same thing with the right hand side, and then the bottom edge, bringing it up to the centre line.

9. Now take your ruler or set square, and from the corner creases, mark 1cm in, making a square inside the square creases.
10. Cut these out on the pencil lines.
11. You will be using this pattern to cut out two different types of fabric, two different sizes. This is to allow the inner one to fold over on the outside, creating a contrasting band around the top. So now fold the top edge down to the centre, just as you did with the other sides. This will be UNfolded for your INNER fabric, but folded down (making the pattern smaller) for your outer fabric.
12. Place your UNfolded pattern on your INNER fabric (I’m using leatherette). It’s easier to handle if you roughly cut it out just a little bit larger than the pattern, rather than wrangling a large piece of fabric.

13. Draw around your pattern. As this is leatherette and all the seams will be hidden, I’ve used a regular soft pencil. It’s a lot easier than pinning it and cutting around the pattern. I’m a firm believer in making life as easy as possible where you can.
14. You can see that there’s a little bit of a flaw in my piece here. It’s an imperfection in the knit of the fabric backing, but it doesn’t matter, you won’t even see it when it’s made, because it’s on the inside. This is a good way of using up your imperfect scraps rather than throwing them away!
15. Now folding down the top edge of your pattern, place it on your outer fabric and draw around it. You may want to pin the two layers together before you cut it out, just so they don’t slip about. I’m using a piece that has a fold at the bottom edge, just because it’ll make life a bit easier later on, but if you have two pieces, even non matching pieces, it doesn’t matter. You will be sewing that edge later anyway.
16. Now place the top edges “right side” together. If you struggle to remember this, just think of the fabric as having a front and a back. The front is the “nice” looking side – it doesn’t have to be the “official” front, it can be whichever side you like best and want to put on show – the two fronts are facing each other, much as two people might stand face to face. Sew down this side, just a straight line, remembering to press the “backwards” button on your machine once or twice to “lock” the stitches and stop it from coming undone.

17. This is how things ought to look when you unfold it.
18. Sew the other side in the same way to the other end (or other piece if you didn’t have a fold) of the outer fabric.
19. This is the shape it should be when you have all the right sides together. A big rectangle with a different fabric on each end, with the corners missing.
20. The right sides are together, and the thicker fabric naturally sits flatter. If yours doesn’t, just pick a direction for your seam allowance to go, and sew the next bit so that the seam goes under the foot with the raw edges facing you. Think of it in “cross section” a bit like this: —–<=== so you want the left side to go first, so that the seam allowance goes under the foot easily. If you try it the other way, you’re in for a bit of a fight.

21. You can see here that you need to sew all the long edges. When you do the long sides, flip it over and start with the INside fabric, so that your seam allowance is sewn in the same direction. It’s neater, but more than that, it’s a lot easier (see 20.)
22. Now pinch the un-sewn corners so that you’re putting the seam allowances together. It should flatten into a straight line
23. Do the same on the other corner of the outer fabric.
24. Now do the same on one corner of the inner fabric – don’t do both though!

25. Turn the whole thing inside out through the remaining corner hole. Be gentle though, and take your time if you need to, you don’t want to rip it.
26. It ought to look a bit like this.
27. At this point pinch the hole the same way you did with the other three, and sew it closed just as before.
28. Now trim back the seam allowance to neaten it up.
If you’ve used fabric for the inside instead of leatherette, you can turn this in and do a ladder stitch, or turn it in and sew on top a couple of mm from the edge, so that it looks a bit like 28 but with the raw edges turned in. It will stop your edges from fraying a lot. Or you could put some fray check or glue on the raw edge to stop any threads coming off.

29. Now wriggle the inner fabric into the outer fabric, it will look a bit like this.
30. Pin the side seams of inner and outer fabrics together down the side, just to hold them in place for the top stitching. This is a LOT easier if you take off the removable bit of your sewing machine so you can stitch from the top and rotate it round, but don’t worry if you can’t do that, just take your time, or even turn it inside out and sew into the new inside so you rotate the piece above the foot instead. It’ll be a little tricker, but as long as you’ve pinned the sides, it shouldn’t be too bad.
Sew first around on top of the outer fabric, just a couple of mm from the seam with the inner fabric. Then go to the top edge and sew using the marks on your footplate as a guide, then twice more – I lined up the previous seam with the edge of the foot to keep them parallel.
31. This is how it should look.
32. You can leave it up, or fold the top edge down. Whichever you prefer. Here it now is with the scraps from making it! If you’re canny with your cutting you can make really efficient use of your fabric.

So there you have it. I do hope you can follow my tutorial. Do let me know in the comments if you find it useful.