Knowing your way around a sewing machine opens the door to endless creative opportunities to make handy gadgets, meaningful gifts, and unique fashion and decorative items. In as little as ten minutes, sewing projects can transform a pile of extra fabric into an inventive kitchen or organization hack, a thoughtful, sentimental present, or a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing. We’ve compiled twenty unique and versatile sewing projects that can be made by amateurs and professionals alike.
Replace “utensil” with whatever tools you or a loved one might need organizing, and you have a pattern that can be customized to create a wide array of organizers and caddies. Keep the individual pockets large for kitchen utensils or sew them narrow for paintbrushes, make-up brushes, pencils, or pens. Shrink the dimensions of your pattern slightly to create a small drill-bit holder, cosmetics organizer, or essential oils caddy. Skip the multiple pockets and make a rectangular cutlery holder for your favorite host/hostess with the most/mostess.
For your favorite traveler, bookworm, bed-bug, or that best friend who’s somehow a mix of all three: the reading pillow. A soft, travel-size pillow is a good enough sewing project as is -- add a book, notebook, or magazine-sized pocket on one side, and the pillow transforms into an on-the-road essential. Keep the pockets narrow for secure magazine storage, or allow for a little extra space for your Tolstoy-loving relative. If the pillow is storing notebooks or sketchbooks, add a narrow row of pockets for pens and pencils. If the reading pillow is definitely going to be taken on the road, consider adding a zipper to prevent any unwanted book spills.
This one’s fairly self-explanatory, but deceivingly versatile. Keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot with a custom-made koozie. These drink insulators can be used for coffee mugs (big and small), cold cans and bottles, or glasses from the cupboard. Scouring the internet for a sports team, band, animal, quote, or otherwise specific koozie can quickly turn into an hours-long event. Ditch the scrolling and make your own one-of-a-kind koozie!
Eye masks can be as restorative as they are practical. Keep the pattern simple and free of bells and whistles for the traveler or ultra-light sleeper in your life. Add dried herbs, rice, beans, or essential oils to transform this gift into a relaxing spa treatment. For the friend who’s obsessed with Audrey Hepburn (it’s okay if you’re that friend -- we’re right there with you), try recreating her iconic mask from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (jewelry earplugs optional).
Chapstick and lipstick seem to be the most elusive items in an oversized purse. This easy-to-reach and easy-to-make chapstick holder is the gadget you didn’t even know you needed. Customize this chapstick caddy to fit a specific brand’s tube shape and size, or make it a bit bigger to fit a keychain-sized can of pepper spray (self-defense can still be cute, ya know?).
Right behind chapstick in the list of things-we’re-always-losing are earbuds and AirPods (I haven’t even dared to buy AirPods because I know they’ll vanish into the ether in approximately two seconds after unboxing them). These headphone pouches can be a great way to store wireless earbuds or to keep regular earbuds from becoming a tangled mess -- a win-win either way.
Cord wraps are a unique, fun way to preserve the longevity of any and all electrical cords. Untangle your jumbled cord collection with these easy-to-make, custom designable cord keepers. Patterns can be modified to fit all sizes of wires, from an aux or charger cable to a thick extension or power cord. Personalize a musician’s gear bag with custom-made ¼” and XLR cable keepers, or keep your favorite handyman’s tools organized and accessible.
Bowl covers are an easy, useful project that can be used year-round for celebrations, holidays, or large dinners. Bowl covers are the perfect kitchen staple for picnic-lovers looking to protect their food from the elements. Design the bowl covers for a specific holiday or match the fabric to the giftee’s kitchen’s color scheme. Team-specific bowl covers are a great addition to any game day spread. Preserve a significant time in a loved one’s life with commemorative bowl covers celebrating a new marriage, house, or baby. No matter the design, these bowl covers are handy and an ecologically sustainable alternative to saran wrap or aluminum foil.
More and more people have started making their own bread products over the course of this pandemic, including loaves, flatbreads, and tortillas. This fabric tortilla warmer keeps your creations warm in-between batches, allowing each tortilla or piece of pita or naan to be perfectly warm, malleable, and ready to be devoured. Another handy gadget you never really know you need until you have it, this tortilla warmer is versatile, practical, and unique.
Cooking with a cast-iron skillet is an age-old technique that’s recently gained a new wave of popularity in modern kitchens. Cast-iron’s ability to retain its heat makes it great for cooking, but the heat-holding handles can be a shocking surprise for someone used to grabbing a steel skillet’s insulated handle. Avoid any hot-handed blunders with these simple skillet handle covers. Just like the bowl covers or tortilla warmers, this handy kitchen gadget is bound to be used long after its creation and can be customized to fit holidays, themes, or color schemes.
Potholders are basically larger, flatter versions of the skillet handle covers above. Similar batting should be used to ensure proper heat insulation to keep countertops and tablecloths safe. Potholders are incredibly versatile, with virtually endless possibilities of design, shape, and size. Custom-make a collection of potholders big enough to fit a loved one’s (or your) favorite Pyrex collection, large casserole dishes, or other uniquely shaped or sized pots and pans. Having a set of uniform, appropriately-sized pot holders is an invaluable addition to any kitchen. Alternatively, these potholders make great insulated pads for hair styling tools like curling irons, flatirons, or crimpers.
Easy to make and customize, fabric trays are a fun and useful sewing project that can be finished in an afternoon and gifted year-round. Make a stackable set of 4 or 5 or one statement piece. These versatile trays are great for jewelry, knick-knacks, beads, potpourri, desk organization, sewing supplies, and more.
Drapes and curtains provide privacy, shade, and the finishing touches of a room’s overall aesthetic. With so many patterns available, drapes and curtains are a versatile project for home redecorating or great gift-giving.
A project for the cat-lover and their beloved felines, cat toys are a simple and quick sewing project you can complete in an afternoon. Experiment with fun designs and colors -- the recipients won’t be picky. Add catnip as a bonus treat!
Environmentally friendly and gentle on the skin, reusable make-up remover wipes are a quick and simple way to reduce waste and save a few pennies in the process. Make a set of seven or more to ensure a fresh cotton round every day of the week. These make great bridesmaid gifts, stocking stuffers, or Secret Santa gifts.
Bunting flag banners can be used to show off school or team spirit, holiday and celebratory messages, religious or spiritual symbols, or simply as decoration for any living space. Bunting flags are a great beginner’s sewing project with lots of possibilities for design variations.
Pockets can make almost any article of clothing just a little bit better, and belts are no exception. This bohemian belt is the perfect mix of ‘60s flower child fashion and medieval construction, and the added secret pocket makes it the ideal addition to anyone’s wardrobe. This project is simple to make, so be prepared to make one for you and every other bohemia-loving person in your life.
Between four years of college, musicals, marching band, and concerts, I have a ridiculously large t-shirt collection. If I wanted to, I could rock a different shirt with no repeats for at least a few months, but I typically only wear the same four or five. This easy sewing project lets you revamp those old t-shirts getting wrinkly in the drawer into a cute and handy tote bag.
With a vast variety of pattern variations and the endless potential for personalization, aprons are a great beginner’s sewing project for bakers, grillers, and artists, to name a few. Experiment with different fabrics, screenprinting or embroidery options, and structural styles. The simplicity of these patterns allows for more freedom to branch out into funkier design choices.
Like many other trends of the 1960s and ‘70s, ponchos are slowly but surely making a comeback. These simple garments can be as lightweight or heavy as desired, making them a wonderful project to start at any time of year. The free-flowing, one-size-fits-all structure of a fashion poncho makes it an excellent gift for all body shapes.