December 13, 2010

Handmade Sketchbook Organizer

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to contribute a project for Ella's 12 Days of Christmas giveaways.  On behalf of Ella, I was sent a set of monogram labels from a company called Sweetwater.  The labels are iron-ons and are printed on a linen-like fabric; the color of which is not too white or too cream, just right in my opinion.  They feature several ideas for using their labels on their blog.  Many of the ideas are accessible and easy-to-do for those who do not know how to sew since you can always just iron the label onto a premade item.  Here is a close-up of one of labels I was sent:

When I first received the labels I thought they were quite lovely, but I didn't know what I wanted to do with them.  So I went searching.  I wanted to find something that was relatively easy to make and also practical.  I am sometimes excessively practical.  What I found was this tutorial from Martha Stewart's website for an artist's organizer.  It is a fabric notebook cover that holds a paper pad and the art supplies of your choice.

The organizer on Martha's website is made using oilcloth which I didn't want to use.  I have never sewn oilcloth and I don't need any frustrations at the moment; I know from listening to my mother that oilcloth can be difficult to work with. I went with simple lightweight cotton fabrics instead. I made some minor changes to the construction of the organizer and so I wanted to share what I did with you here.

In addition to a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies, here are the additional tools and materials you will need:
Lightweight cotton fabric and felt (the measurements will depend on the size of notebook you choose; see the directions below for how to measure)
Two pieces of ribbon measuring 18 inch long
Medium weight fusible interfacing

You will also need to choose a notebook and your artist supplies before you begin; you need these to measure your fabric and pocket sizes.

Instructions for sewing your organizer:

1.  Begin by measuring the sketchbook. The height of the foundation felt piece will be this measurement plus 1 1/2 inches. The width of the felt will be double the width of the sketchbook and I recommend adding 3 1/2 inches for the fold.

2.  Cut your felt piece according to these measurements.

3.  To create the pockets you will add one inch to the width of the sketchbook, and subtract 1 1/2 inches from the height; this is your book pocket. The tool pocket is the same width as the book pocket; the height of the pocket will vary. For a sketchbook of size 6" x 8" I found that 4 1/2 inches worked just fine. However, I made a smaller sketchbook using a notebook that was only 4" x 6" and the height of that pocket was only 3 inches. I think it is best to measure your tools first to determine the appropriate height of the tool pocket; I recommend for the pocket height to be a little over half the height of the tools.

4.  Cut both pockets according to your measurements out of the same felt material as your foundation piece.

5.  The measurement of your outer fabric piece - the cover - will be the same as the foundation piece with one inch added to both the width and the height. You will also need to cut a piece of interfacing the same size as the foundation felt piece.

6.  To begin sewing, first decide which side you want your tools on and which side you want the notebook. To sew the pockets onto the foundation piece place the corresponding pockets 1/2 inch in from one side and 1/2 inch from the bottom and pin. Repeat this with the other pocket. Sew the pockets to the foundation felt piece, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance around 3 sides. I recommend reinforcing the edges on the top of the pockets.

7.  Decide where and how many tools you want in your tool pocket. From experience I can tell you that the felt will buckle quite a bit if you try to put too many tools in the pocket and so you will need to be selective here. Also, I found that tailor chalk or washable sewing pencils did not mark on the felt. I used pins as a marker to show the placement of my desired lines and I used the edge of the already sewn pocket seam as my guide. I was able to sew a straight stitch this way fairly easily and if you keep a steady hand I think it is probably pretty simple to do on felt (versus a more slippery fabric). {Maybe someone else has a suggestion for the best product to use for marking felt?}

8.  To begin sewing the cover you will first need to fuse the interfacing to your fabric. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the cotton fabric and following the directions for your particular brand and apply it to the cover piece. Then iron down the edges of your cover fabric by 1/2 inch. Place the wrong side of the fabric to the back of the foundational felt piece and pin. Insert a 1/2 inch of the ribbon between the fabric and the felt in the middle of each short side and pin.

9.  Sew the fabric cover and felt pieces together using a simple straight stitch with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Be sure to reinforce the ribbon seam by going backwards over the ribbon and then forwards again.

10.  The last step is to insert your notebook and tools into the pockets and enjoy!

Gabriel's organizer holds a medium-sized notebook and colored pencils:

Nathan's organizer holds crayons:

A few comments - Gabe's organizer has the pencils on the left-hand side because he is left-handed. This means that the organizer, when closed, is a bit lumpy on the top. This doesn't bother me, but it might be something to consider if you think it might bother you. =) Also, I found that I needed to adjust the thread tension when sewing the felt alone vs. sewing the cotton fabric to the felt. You might want to practice first on some scrap pieces to see what settings work best on your machine. You might find that there is no need to adjust the tension at all. I think it may have been pickiness on my part, but I think the stitching looked better when I decreased the tension when sewing the felt pieces.

Finally, I'm counting this towards my goal of sewing an apron.  Part of why I chose to make sewing an apron a goal this year was that I wanted to just start sewing again, period. I thought an apron would be an easy project to start with before moving onto more difficult ones, like say, sewing a quilt. I feel like this project gave me the push I've been looking for. And as for those goals, I'll have a post on that soon.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask in the comments!  Thanks.  =)

December 12, 2010


and a little bit tired.  So this post is kind of a collection of various not-necessarily-connected thoughts.  Tomorrow I will be 19 weeks along in this pregnancy.  For some reason, it seems to be going along so quickly.  The first three months for me were filled with the usual "morning" sickness; which for me and many other pregnant women is really all-day sickness.  But unlike my other two pregnancies so far, the sickness has now gone away and I've been feeling surprisingly very good (I'm used to having that nauseous feeling for almost the entire 9+ months).  In fact I'm having to fight the urge to overeat - I'm so hungry all the time.  In the past I always had such bad heartburn too and it served as a very strong deterrent from eating too much in one sitting.  It's just been a completely different experience for me this time around and it is making me wonder whether or not we're having a girl.  With Gabe and Nathan we didn't want to find out the sex of the baby; we wanted it to be a surprise.  But tomorrow I'm going in for my one and only ultrasound (God willing) and well, I'll let you know if I'm right. =) 

As for the tiredness, I had somewhat severe anemia with my previous pregnancies and this time around I started taking my iron supplement as soon as I found out I was pregnant.  That has definitely helped, but I find that I am still more tired than I'd like to be.  I think I have to accept that this will be a new normal for me.  I mean after the baby comes I will be even more tired, this I already know.  So I am trying to accept that things will be different around here for a while.  I'm trying not to go too easy on myself to the point of allowing myself to be lazy, but I'm trying to set more realistic expectations for myself to begin with.

Since it is Advent, and Christmas is approaching, there is a lot to do.  My husband and I like to keep Christmas simple, but even still there things that need to get done this time of year that don't have to be done any other time of year.  I am not complaining at all, just letting you know that I probably won't be blogging too much this month.  Not that I ever blog too much. =)  It is just likely that I'll be blogging a little less. 

I am going to try to take a photo of our Advent wreath tonight.  Gabe is excited about lighting the third candle this Sunday.  The scrapbooker in me wants to record this special tradition this year since it seems to be the first year that Gabe is really paying attention to what we've been doing.  Nathan too.  It's one of the few decorations we have out so far, but it's been enough.  Something about candlelight certainly is fascinating to children.  One of my favorite posts on Advent is one from Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter where she talks about the wonder of Advent and how to instill that sense of wonder in our children.  Although, unlike Leila we don't say "fie" to the Advent calendar with the chocolate behind the door. =)  I like this little tradition; 99 cents from Trader Joe's and my feelings are that the chocolates are so small that I don't find it to be too indulgent.  25 days is a long time for a small child.  I think it helps give them a better sense of what that amount of time feels like.  A way to measure it.  Plus, I think that as they get older we will replace this with a calendar that is more scripture or prayer oriented anyhow.  For now, I let them have their chocolates. =)

Until next time, God bless.

December 11, 2010

Christmas Giveaways from Ella Publishing Co.

I'm one day late in announcing this, but yesterday Ella kicked-off its

As the sub-title says, Ella will be sharing gift ideas, projects from the Ella friends and giveaways everyday for 12 days (Sundays excluded).  Today is day two and you can visit the blog and leave a comment for your chance to win $25 to

In conjunction with the 12 Days of  Christmas, Ella is offering a savings of $12 on Ella eBooks this holiday season! Here's how:  use coupon code 12DAYS to save $2 off of any single eBook. You may use this code six times (on six separate purchases) between now and December 23rd, for a total of $12 of holiday savings!  You can buy any of the eBooks in the store including two of my own personal favorites, Double-Page Design:

Of course, I might be just a liiiiittle bit biased.  I know I've been absent the past week, so just to get you talking, what is your favorite eBook?

December 1, 2010

and the winner is...

The winner of Ella's newest eBook, Double-Page Design, is...


Heather said...

Our Thanksgiving is pretty tradional fare...turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, cranberry frozen salad, scalloped oysters, and choice of pumpkin pie, cherry pie or cheesecake --- we had a lot of people and a lot of food!

Heather, you will find my contact information in my profile which you can access through the link on the left sidebar. Congratulations! And thank you all for your comments and participation.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...