handy coloring organizer paper pockets

Handy Coloring Organizer

Recently I became obsessed with the idea of designing and sewing a portable art case for kids, to hold paper, coloring books, pencils, markers, and crayons. After some sketching, I turned the idea into a pattern and made a muslin version of it.

And that’s the moment it was clear that my rudimentary sewing skills were holding me back.

The design worked pretty well, but finishing the curved outer edges with bias binding was…not pretty. I set the muslin art case aside and turned my attention instead to a simpler project that essentially filled the same purpose. When I bought Sewing to Sell by Virginia Lindsay, the Handy Organizer project intrigued me. It looked fairly straight-forward, and was a flexible pattern that could be adapted to different things, including a colored pencil holder.

I made some adjustments to the pattern to get closer to the vision in my head:

  • left off the outer pocket
  • replaced the ties with a button and loop
  • stitched channels in the left-side pockets to hold pencils and crayons
  • added a box pleat to the exterior, adding double fold bias tape that I made from the same fabric as the interior pocket (making this bias tape was so much fun! I want to turn all fabrics into bias tape now.)

I learned a few things during this project:

  1. Canvas doesn’t provide the same type of body and structure as a quilting cotton backed with mid-weight fusible interfacing. The piece was floppier than I’d have liked.
  2. It’s important to make sure all the bits and pieces are out of the way before stitching a seam. Originally there was a hair tie to close the case, but it was caught in my seam and when I ripped out the stitches to release it, the rubber inside was severed. A few years ago this would have crushed me, but the years have provided perspective and calm: it was salvageable with a fabric loop.
  3. Red tailor’s chalk doesn’t brush off of natural-colored canvas so well.

This project was a great learning experience, and I look forward to the day I can pick that original muslin back up and turn it into the real deal.