Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pencil keeper tutorial

I got some new pencils for myself after Christmas and I wanted something safe and portable to keep them in. The tin that they came in is nice but I am way too accident prone to risk dropping and spilling these nice (expensive) pencils all over the floor.

I looked around for something nice to carry them in and found a few that were really amazing, They were also, unfortunately, amazingly expensive. A couple of them were also more expensive than the pencils.

So I decided to do what I always end up doing when I need something and I haven't got anymore money to spend.

I make my own.

First I found my hubby's old Franklin planner that he doesn't use anymore. It has a zipper that closes all the way around and is a ring binder style. I made it clear to hubs that I am borrowing this planner binder in order to create my prototype pencil keeper. If this works out then I will find a zippered binder of my own for a permanent home for my pencils. He's happy that I'm not going to paint it purple or something. It took him a long time way back in the day to find a plain black planner.

This project is basically a set of pages that are made from canvas, painted wildly, with elastic attached and then sewn together to make a double sided page that holds the pencils.

I kind of made this up as I went along, like most things I do.

It looks fabulous and after the test drive over the next two weeks I will refine the design and see what improvements I can make to the pages.

One change that I already know to make is that I will paint the canvas before cutting the pieces down to size. This time I got lucky since I already had to cut the pages down to make them easier to fit inside the zippered binder. I had cut out the fabric first and then gessoed and painted the pages....and then they shrunk. This time it didn't matter but next time I will do the painting first. ;)

I didn't want to pre-wash the canvas because I didn't want the fabric soft. I wanted the pages to remain stiff.

Here are the steps:

The first thing I did was find a page that fit inside the binder the way I wanted my pages to fit. I traced the shape onto my canvas fabric. I didn't have enough in the remnant that I bought ages ago so I grabbed some cotton duck that I had to trace the remaining pages that I needed.

They shrunk at different rates so I do recommend using all of the same fabric. As I said, this is a prototype and considering that my usual style of artwork is kind of messy  the weird shrinkage didn't really bother me much at all.

Once all of the painting was done and dried I got some black 1 inch wide non roll elastic.  I attached a strip at one side and then stitched it down at 3/4" intervals all the way across to the other side.

 You can adjust the stitching intervals based on what size you need for your pencils, pens, markers, knitting needles, whatever.

I did a test strip with some scrap elastic and a scrap of the canvas that was left over from the pieces that I cut out for my pages.  I just sewed the elastic down at random intervals and then measured the space that worked best for the pencils that I use.

Stitch, stitch, stitch. This part was a little tedious. My old workhorse machine has to go in for repairs so I'm using my new machine. It has a button for reverse stitching that goes at a really s...l...o...w....speed.  So this took a long time to do. I stitched forward through the elastic, then went in reverse then lifted up the foot, slid the page over to the next stitching mark and repeated the process. I haven't counted how many times I did this. My neck and shoulders are sore so I guess it was a lot.

Then I pulled all of the loose ends of the thread back to the wrong side of the page and put a dot of white glue at each spot and let it dry.

Then I sewed two pages together.

Trimmed around the edges. I might need a new pair of pinking shears after this job. We'll see how they do on regular fabric after this.

Marked where the holes for the rings in the binder go.

Then I punched the holes one at a time. Again....I'm not going to count how many times I did this. I'm just going to go for an ice pack.  

 I just love my crop-o-dile. It really does punch cleanly through just about anything.

 And here are the pages all finished.  I'm headed on a trip and this little keeper is going to get quite a workout for about 10 days.  I may need to trim the pages down a little bit more but this looks to be a good solution. I may make a few different sizes.  I have a much smaller planner that I've been wanting to use for carrying my artwork around for when I'm waiting somewhere for Tigger Jr to get done with class.

Not to mention that there are a lot of other artists in the family who could use something like this.  I might be really busy for the next few months making these but it was a lot more fun than I was expecting it to be.

I hope this is a reasonably useful tutorial for you. I looked all over the internet for a few days trying to find a tutorial for something like this and found absolutely nothing.  I decided to design my own and write it up. I figured that I couldn't be the only person who would find something like this useful. And you can make more as you need them and add them into your binder.

If you have any questions at all just ask me in comments and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I may not have internet access for a few days but I will help out as much as I can.  It's currently past my bedtime and I have re-read this whole post several times to make sure it is clear enough. But I am starting to get really tired so if there is a step that needs to be clarified don't be afraid to ask. 

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