Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Better Marker Pouch

I made more marker pouches this past fortnight.

First, a peek into our handmade past.
This is Jenna's old marker receptacle

It was well-loved and much-used, but it was never any good, to be honest. Very hard to keep markers from falling out in transit, and spreads over too much space when open to access those markers. I know that this is practically craft blasphemy, given how utterly adored these pencil/crayon/marker/knitting-needle/crochet-hook/paintbrush/cosmetic implement rolls are in the DIY world, and I apologize in advance if I am offending any Devotees Of The Roll, but they don't work for me. Now, just like everyone else on that particular handmade bandwagon, I've made Rolls, and had my girls use them but . . .  do you know what they almost always pick to use instead, given the choice? 

Zip-top bags. 
Yes, those quart-size cheap sliding-zipper bags from the supermarket.

I will not be shown up by a plastic bag!
The children WILL have a handmade marker receptacle!

So last year, I made the prototype. Remember that? 

Just to remind everyone, I did not invent this amazing concept of the fold-down marker cup pouch thingy. I saw it on pinterest first. I simply designed a bigger, fatter version to contain the vast quantities of my children's favorite markers.

And not just regular markers -

also the whiteboards and highlighters and Mr Scents,

which, to this day, we still call "Jenna markers", in honor of that first set that spearheaded her marker devotion.

Also colored pencils.

We put in the whole box of 48 and there was still plenty of room.

Back in October when I made the first marker pouch, I didn't think I'd make more. That prototype was slightly fiddly, if I remember. But summer is here, with all its promises of road trips and children lounging around the house, drawing and making art. And that lone pouch has been shared three ways for so long (sometimes with disagreements) that I thought I really should make the girls one each. Which meant mass-producing. Which I like. And which, because of all that repetitive assembling, is the best way to iron out the kinks in a fiddly construction sequence. 

So I took the girls down to the sewing room, showed them the home-dec stack and let them pick their fabrics. Then I decided that three pouches was wimpy mass-producing, and cut out three more. 

And finally got to work. 

Then I remembered that people asked if I might consider a tutorial, and went and found the camera and took some in-progress shots. 

Here is one of those pouches -

I took photos of the innards of this one because of all that high-visibility color-blocking. Notice the lining is ripstop nylon that is orange on top and black below.

Here it is, folded down. The orange portion is soft, for folding. The black portion is stiff, to support the shape of the cup that holds the markers.

The front wall of the cup is soft ripstop nylon again. I reinforced it with a short pocket (orange rectangle) just to give it structure and design. Totally not mandatory.

This is the inside of the cup to show the base, which is bound around its edges first and then attached to rest of the pouch (will be clear later). Now, I really don't care much about the designer fabric and whatnot, but I do care that when I make a bag of any kind, there are no exposed seam allowances on the inside. I don't use the serger when I make bags - only when I make clothes. It's very crude otherwise. 

That said, I am sure that there are countless other sequences in which to make this pouch, but I experimented to find a way that hid all the exposed edges and SA. You don't have to do be like me, if you can tolerate exposed SA (serged or otherwise). 

Here's the construction sequence.

Step 1 - Make the reinforced lining.
Cut the main body (make it whatever size fits the quantity of your markers, etc.) with SA out of 
  • lining (I used ripstop nylon)
  • batting (I used hi-loft)
Baste these two layers together. 
  • Cut template plastic (buy from any quilting or fabric shop) into the shape shown below, without SA.
  • Cut another piece of lining fabric to match the template plastic piece, with SA.

Sew the two sides and bottom edge of that smaller piece of lining to the bottom half of the batting-lining sandwich. It will be a pocket for the template plastic. Slide the template plastic into the pocket,

fold down that top edge of the pocket and tuck it behind the top edge of the template plastic. Edge-stitch to close the pocket, completely enclosing the template plastic. I sewed through the template plastic as well. It won't be the first time you might do it in this project. Just remember to change your needle when you're ready for your next project, especially if it's a chiffon skirt or something important.

This is the finished lining. The side that has the pocket is the RS. The side that has the batting is the WS.

Step 2 - Choose the nice fancy outer fabric.
Please choose home-dec weight or canvas or something of that robustness. If you insist on quilting cotton, please reinforce it with an identical piece of canvas. NOT sew-in interfacing, because it will crumple with all that unzipping-and-folding-down-to-access-the-markers. And especially NOT fusible interfacing (unless you fuse it to the batting) because it doubly will crumple with all that unzipping-and-folding-down-to-access-the-markers.
Okay, so... summary:
Cut outer fabric to same size as lining, with SA.

You can also go ahead and trim the surplus batting now.

Step 3 -Attach the zipper to the lining
This part is easier than it looks, okay? My best tip to make it as easy as possible is to use a separating zipper. But if you can't find one, just use a zipper that's long- at least 3" longer than the zippered opening itself.

Follow the photo annotations and zipper orientation below. Leave a central 1" (ish) section at the top of the lining without any zipper tape. Also don't sew on the actual stitching line, because you are going to do that in the next step. Just baste within the SA so these stitches can be hidden later.

Zip up the pouch to check that the zipper is correctly installed. By "correctly", I mean that when zipped up, the batting side should face out, as shown. This is the surface that will be covered by the fancy outer fabric. You want the lining fabric to be inside the pouch.

Also check that the tail end of the zipper freely extends out of the pouch and towards the back. In other words, the pouch should look just like the finished version, except it now has just the batting instead of the actual outer fabric.

Step 4 - Add the outer fabric.
Here's a zoomed-in photo of that 1" section. Separate the zipper and cross the ends. Pin them in place. This will greatly reduce the Fiddly Zipper Factor in the next step.

Now add the outer fabric to the lining, with their RS touching and the zipper sandwiched between them. Sew all around on the actual stitching line (hiding the earlier basting stitches, remember?), except for MOST of the bottom edge, which should be left open for turning out. 

Turn the whole thing RS out, clip/notch/grade/press whatever you need to (yes, you can press ripstop nylon on the appropriate iron setting), tuck the SA of that big opening in, and edge-stitch all around the entire pouch to reinforce and flatten the seam, closing the big hole in the process.

Step 5- Sew the base and front wall
This is made entirely out of lining fabric which, in this case, is again ripstop nylon. Cut it in this tongue shape. Bind the entire perimeter. I used the thick grosgrain trim I use for my wallets. You can use bias tape or fully line the entire base/wall so it's a double-layered shape with all the SA tucked inside. 

Step 6 - Attach base/wall to pouch.
Up till this point, the pouch is still completely flat, like a padded placemat. Just attach the base/wall to the bottom half of the pouch and it will become a 3D thing. It's not a difficult step, sewing-wise, especially if you are used to sewing 3D structures. Some tips:
  1. Sew with the base/wall on top and the pouch below, under your presser foot, not the other way around. In other words, the spool thread goes on the base/wall and the bobbin thread goes on the outside of the pouch. If you're leery of ugly stitches, use invisible thread in the bobbin.
  2. Mark mid-points and check centralizing while sewing. Don't pin if you can help it. Sometimes you need the fabrics to flow as you ease the layers together, and pinning introduces premature rigidity in the alignment of those fabrics. Which results in puckers or crooked stitching.

It was hard to get a good shot of how that base/wall piece joined to the zippered sides and turned the bottom corners of the pouch. Here's a frontal shot.

And here's a high-contrast shot with the yellow zipper and that corner.

Here's the finished pouch, zipped up to show how that base folds in on itself.

Step 7 - Finish the tail of the zipper.
Self-explanatory: use whatever method and material you are used to, to finish that tail. I used a folded vinyl sandwich because it was fast and easy.

Here are the three pouches the girls picked:

And here are the three that are going to new owners as gifts. 

Goodbye, marker roll. 
Out with the old;

in with the new!

Updated April 2016:
Good news: I finally got my act together and uploaded the templates here. I'd suggest using the revised instructions in that post, too, which include practical tips.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Images of the Interim

Small projects simultaneously going on while we wait for summer and school to be out:

1 Teacher Appreciation Gifts the girls and I have been working on. 

3 Marker pouches I am sewing (arguably) too many of.

There are other projects on a never-ending list, 
but these are the ones that got bumped up to the top. 

Happy Memorial Day weekend, all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

We Envision A Warren

It's birthday party season again.

Kate said, "I want a bunny birthday party".
(To absolutely nobody's surprise.)

So the prep work has begun.

I like the definitions on -

Especially the second one, which perfectly describes our house when a birthday party is on.

Off to buy fat yarn and posterboard and white cottontails and black beads now.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We Have Sewing Book Winners!

Our two winners of Cinnamon Miles' "Idiot's Guide: Sewing" book are:

who commented:


who commented:

Congratulations, girls! I've sent you each an email to supply me with your postal address, which I'll forward to Cinnamon, and she'll be sending her book your way. Please let me know in the next couple of days, failing which I will have to pick a new winner. 

Thank you, everyone, for participating in my giveaway and for sharing your sewing goals for the year. I've so enjoyed reading them and feeling subsequently inspired by what you hope to make for your loved ones and yourselves. Go, you!