How to make your own pencil/or pen roll (finally) - makes a great birthday present (along with the pens &/or pencils and a nice pad of paper) for all those kids' parties...
* 2 pieces of fabric approximately 14x26" each (size is very adjustable - see no 1 below to determine precisely). The fabric chosen for the "inside" of the pencil roll will only show about 3-4" of fabric and will sit behind the tops of the pencils, so I like to use something quite plain so it's easy to see the colour of the pencils. I like to use a more dynamic feature fabric for the "outside" though I try to avoid directional prints as they will end up partly upside down.
* 1 length of ribbon, lace, etc approximately 30" long
* thread in a colour which matches (or not) your "outer" fabric
1. First, determine the size fabric you want for your pencil roll - I have given an approximate, but it's best to check your particular pens or pencils, in case they are unusually long (or short). To determine the height, lay a pencil on the fabric as shown in the photo, with the fabric folded up about 2/3 of the way along the height of the pencil. Leaving a gap of 1-2 inches at the top, measure the height of the fabric. As you can see in the photo, the pencil will require approx 8.5" height, plus about 5" for the folded part, so I decided to cut my fabric at 14" high. The width will depend on how many pens or pencils you want to include. Each pencil takes approximately 3/4" of fabric (though it's wise to check on a scrap first before you sew - more on that below), so you can base your calculations on that. If you want to use fat quarters of fabric, that's fine - you can count on getting enough space for about two dozen pens or pencils from a fat quarter's width, though of course it depends on the FQ. In this instance, I had a dozen each pencils and pens, plus a few extras and I like to make a larger space at the end for a small ruler or a pencil sharpener, so I cut my fabric about 26" long.
2. Lay the rectangle of inside fabric face up and the outside fabric face down on top of it (landscape orientation) on the table and pin a gap of 3-4 inches at the top left edge, 2-3 inches down from the top of the fabric (left above). Starting at one pin, stitch the two pieces of fabric together all the way around like a pillowcase or envelope, finishing at the other pin (right above). Backstitch a few stitches at both start and finish to secure the threads. The gap will serve to turn the envelope, and also as a place to put fasten the tying ribbon. Turn the fabric right sides out through the opening.
3. Once you have your fabric right side out, give it a good press, especially along the edges, to flatten the seams (left above).
4. Now lay the envelope with the outside fabric face down on the table, and fold the bottom up to form the pocket - use the tallest pen or pencil to gauge the required height (right above). I have found that plain pencils are taller than coloured pencils so if you plan to use both be sure to check heights so they don't stick out the top! Make sure that the gap you used to turn the envelope is at the top left.
5. Fold the ribbon, lace etc in half and insert the folded centre into the gap as shown; pin the left edge together and top stitch to close the gap and secure the ribbon. Fold, pin and topstitch the right edge as well. This gives you a single, very long and not very useful pocket. Don't forget that at this stage and later, when stitching the individual slots, the bobbin thread will show as well as the top thread, so pick something you like. Now all that remains is to make the individual pencil compartments.
6. Along the bottom edge of the pouch, mark intervals of approximately 3/4" (you may wish to make a test pocket on scrap fabric to ensure that your chosen pens or pencils fit in a 3/4" slot - if you are making a roll to hold artist's pencils or something, they may be thicker or wider...). I do this with pins; you could mark with a marking pen or pencil, etc. I tend to do about half a dozen or so at a time, but you can mark them all at once, if you like (left below).
7. Beginning at the top right as shown (which is actually the bottom left of the finished pencil roll), stitch a series of parallel lines spaced apart the width of your markers. Backstitch a few stitches at the start of your line, and sew up to just beyond where the top of the folded pocket is - and backstitch a few more times for security at that point. I then simply lift the needle and presser foot and move to the starting point of the next line; you could trim the loose threads at the end of each line if you like, but I have found it simpler to do this at the end of entire process. Once you have stitched all your lines and trimmed your threads, that's it - you are finished - ta da!
As you can see from the photo above, I like to put a few larger pockets at one end of the roll, for a small ruler or pencil sharpener, erasers and so on. Add pens, pencils, etc and roll up - and that's really all there is to it.