Does you desk eat your mail? Does it disappear into oblivion? The solution is simple. This trendy In/Out mail organizer will keep your mail handy until you’re ready to open it… or mail it out. Dress it up with your favorite fabric, add a touch of embroidery and you have a creative answer to everyday clutter
- Sewing machine
- Embroidery machine (optional)
- Overlocker/serger (optional)
- Assorted pieces of upholstery fabric (see cutting instructions below)
- Lightweight stabilizer or non-fusible interfacing
- 11″ x 14″ stretch art canvas on a wood base
- Coordinating sewing thread
- Coordinating embroidery thread
- Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (optional, but very helpful)
- Chalk marker
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks or heavy-duty stapler and staples
Step 1) Cut the fabric.
Cut the following pieces (using a rotary cutter makes this easier):
- One 16″ x 20″ rectangle of base fabric (stripe)
- Two 7-1/2″ x 12-1/2″ pieces for the pocket (one yellow, one tan)
- One 3-1/2″ x 7″ piece for the pocket divider (yellow)
- One 2-1/4″ x 29-1/2″ strip for the outer pocket edge (tan)
- Two 2-3/4″ x 3-3/4″ labels (embroider these before cutting the rectangles)
Step 2) Embroider (or applique) the labels.
For the labels you can either applique the letters or embroider them as shown here. Cut to size when lettering is complete.
Tip: Using an embroidery machine, such as the BERNINA 580 E, makes it a lot faster and gives your labels a clean and professional finish.
Step 3) Construct the pockets.
Place the two mail pocket pieces right sides together; stitch along one of the 12-1/2″-long edges using a 1/4″-wide seam allowance.
Turn the pocket right side out and press the seam flat.
Topstitch close to the pocket edge.
Fold the pocket divider piece in half lengthwise.
Sew along both ends using a 1/2″-wide seam allowance, leaving the long edge open.
Turn the pocket divider right side out and press the seam flat.
Sew the open side closed.
Overlock/serge or sewing machine overcast the raw edges.
Place the main pocket piece on a flat surface with the front of the pocket face down. Mark a vertical line through the center of the pocket.
Place the pocket divider on this line, matching the seam with the chalk line. Sew the divider to the main pocket piece, stitching on top of the divider piece seam.
Step 4) Attach the labels to the pockets.
Cut rectangles of lightweight interfacing (non-fusible) or stabilizer the same size as the labels.
Stitch the interfacing or stabilizer to the front of each label using a 1/4″-wide seam allowance.
Trim each corner and make a slit in the center of the interfacing only. Don’t cut through your label!
Turn right side out, poke out the corners, and press.
Tip: Don’t have any interfacing or stabilizer? Just turn each edge under 1/4″ and press. It’s not as easy or accurate as the “stitch ‘n turn” technique, but your results will be similar.
Pin the labels to the front of the main pocket piece, centering them on each half. (Remember to allow 1/4″ on the sides and lower edge for seam allowances when measuring and marking.)
Topstitch close to the outer edges of the labels, taking care not to catch the divider flap (hidden under the pocket) in the stitching.
Step 5) Attach the side strips to the pockets.
Overlock/serge or overcast one long edge and both short edges of the outer edge strip.
Fold the strip in half and finger press the fold to mark the center of the strip.
Place the raw edge of the strip right sides together with the lower edge of the pocket, matching the centers.
Stitch with a 1/4″-wide seam allowance, stopping 1/4″ from the first corner.
Leave the needle down in the fabric and lift the presser foot.
Rotate the pocket a quarter turn so you can start sewing up the side. Adjust the strip and align the raw edge of the side strips with the side of the pocket.
Continue stitching, stopping a few inches before reaching the top of the pocket.
Fold the end of the side strip down so it’s even with the top edge of the main pocket piece. Stitch the rest of this side, backstitching at the top edge.
Repeat with the other half of the outer edge strip, starting at the center of the lower edge of the pocket again.
Your finished pocket with the outer edge attached should look like the one in the photo below.
Fold the outer edge strip to the back and iron it flat.
Topstitch close to the outer pocket edge, keeping the edge strip folded out of the way.
When sewing around the corners, stop as you reach the end of the side. Leave the needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot, and rotate the fabric. Move the outer edge of the strip toward the back, out of the way, and continue stitching.
Step 6) Attach the pockets to the base panel.
Center the pocket on the front of the main base piece.
Fold over one half of the pocket so you can see your divider piece.
Stitch the divider piece to the main base piece, using a 1/4″-wide seam allowance, making sure you’re sewing right along the very center of the main base piece.
Fold the pocket back over and realign it over the center of the base piece.
Fold the outer edges under 1/4″ as you pin them to the main base piece. You’ll need to fold the outer edge piece accordion-style to get it to lay under the pocket piece nicely.
Be sure to pin the outer edge piece directly underneath the main pocket piece, so it will be hidden beneath the pocket.
Don’t worry about the corners. They’ll be folded over and pressed in a later step, so just keep them out of the way for now.
Place the entire pocket/base piece on the sewing machine and stitch the pocket to the base piece.
Make sure the corners are folded inward, toward the center of the pocket.
Step 7) Complete the organizer construction.
Center your finished pocket/base piece on top of the art canvas, then move it down a bit to make room for envelopes to poke out of the top of the pocket.
Wrap the base piece edges to the back and staple or hot-glue them in place.