The Journey

Jan 10, 2012

Coloring Book and Crayon Tote

Time to make a four-year olds birthday present! She will be flying a L.O.N.G. way very soon, so I figured a coloring book tote could come in handy.
folded, it measures 12 wide x 9.5 tall
Let's get to it-
Find a cotton print that you love and a solid to match it. I went with the solid black because crayons tend to color, and the crayon rolls I have done in the past have gotten pretty colorful- pretty quickly. 
1 outside and 1 inside piece


Cut inside and outside pieces
*1 solid 13x20
*1 print 13x20

Cut crayon pocket(s)
*print 13x6 (you will fold this to a 13x3 pocket)- you can choose to make one or two pockets for the crayons

Cut book pockets
*1 solid 13x8
*1 print 13x6

Cut straps
*2 solid 13x3 pieces (you will fold these to make 13x1.5 straps)





These are your inside pieces- crayon pockets, book pockets, and straps


As you can see on the outside piece, I'm using a print that has obvious orientation to it. I went ahead and cut it in half. I flipped one piece around and sewed the bottoms together. Now when the tote is closed, the owls will face UP on both sides! You will not have to do this with 90% of the prints you'll find.

Let's prep the pockets and straps-
Fold the top of the coloring book pockets down 1/2 inch, iron, and topstitch.

Fold the crayon pockets in half with good sides facing, pin, and sew. (I didn't use pins because my fabric tends to stay together...if you're a beginner, pin everything!)
Fold the strap pieces in half with good sides facing, pin, and sew. **Tip: because they are so thin, leave LONG threads at one end to help turn them right side out- I'll show you how it works in a sec.


leave long threads at one end
 Iron the seams flat- it makes a HUGE difference once you turn them right side out and iron them flat!
Here's a great trick that took me a long time to learn- when you are trying to turn narrow strips of material right side out, make sure you leave long threads at one end. If you forgot, you can go back and stitch a few inches with long threads now. Take a paper clip and wrap the strings around it- a lot! Slip the paper clip through the "tunnel" of fabric and slowly pull the fabric through the tunnel. You can use scissors to help push it through, but be careful- push too hard and the scissors will make a nice hole in your fabric!
The crayon pockets should be wide enough to push through and turn right side out easily.
Now, iron everything. Pocket and strap prep is done!

Time to add velcro. I used 7inches. I attached the soft side to the top of the solid lining piece and the rough side to the owl pocket that will be on the bottom of the tote. They were centered and placed about one inch away from the edge.

Now it's time to attach the crayon pocket(s). I found the middle of the lining piece and pinned one of the pockets about 1/2 an inch above the middle line. For the slots, I marked (with pins) every 2 inches across the pocket. You can make your crayon slots 1, 1.5, or 2in wide. My past experience with crayon rolls has convinced me that bigger slots are better for younger users.
Stitch the bottom of the pocket about 1/8th of an inch from the bottom. Stitch vertical lines every 2 inches (where you've marked with pins) and don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of each little line.
I decided to put another pocket above the crayon pocket but simply stitch the bottom. It is a long, shallow pocket that can be used for anything...or nothing.

Attached crayon pockets- the top one is only stitched along the bottom.
The bottom one is stitched along the bottom AND has vertical lines every 2 inches.
We're on the home stretch!
Lay your handles facing toward the middle of the tote and pin them 3 inches from each side. You'll need to go ahead and stack the big book pockets at the bottom (they are not attached to the lining yet). Pin all the layers together! Make sure there is only one "twist" in the handles. I go ahead and stitch them to the lining...gives them more stability and doesn't allow for movement when you're stitching the whole thing together.

Ok, time to assemble all the pieces and stitch everything together. Keep everything like it is (pictured above)- simply lay the outer, printed piece on top of everything (face down). I like to pin all the corners first, then the middle of each side, and then fill in from there. It's a good idea to mark a 4 inch opening on one side with double pins. That way, you won't forget to leave an opening to turn the tote through!
If you have a tag, insert it now- facing in.

Stitch all the way around- backstitching at the beginning and ending of the opening you are leaving. (This gives stability to the stitches as you CAREFULLY pull the piece right side out.) Clip all the corners before turning right side out.

My fingers show the opening that I left on one side.


Carefully push each corner out, and iron the tote. One last topstitch ALL the way around (make sure to close your opening), and you're done! Stuff with crayon books, sticker sheets, and crayons. My 2 inch slots allowed for 3 crayons to sit together.

Find someone to give it to...and give it away!
One last word- the book side ended up being very sturdy and rigid because of the book. The crayon side was a little flimsy. Interfacing could be added to this side or a small piece of cardboard could be inserted before doing the final stitch. All in all, I love the way it turned out!

Happy Birthday, Esther!

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