23 Feb 2012

The Go-Anywhere Case

13 Comments In the Craft Room, Inspiration, Tutorials

Sorry, friends, for the long delay in posting this week. It is true that I’ve fallen a little behind and I have no excuse for it!  But don’t you worry, I do have a few more wool-inspired posts to come for our Winter Wolle blog series, starting with today’s project, the “Go-Anywhere Case.”

This project started off simply enough:  a certain business partner and friend (who shall remain nameless for this post, lest she figure the suprise out) has taken an interest in embroidery.  I love embroidery–in part because it can make a nice portable project, unlike machine sewing.  So I thought I would make her an embroidery case out of felt to hold needles, scissors and a bit of embroidery floss.

First came the color inspiration.  I wanted something modern and fresh, not at all dowdy.  I kept coming back to this print, with its fun mix of grays, pinks, coral, and chartreuse-lemon, by Alyssa Nassner of SmallTalkStudio.

I sent off the picture to Janet of Felt on the Fly (remember her from last week?), who sprung into action building a color story to go with the print.  I was amazed by what she came up and she, in turn, was inspired to make her own embroidery kit from the same colorway! Her kit is up on her blog today, so be sure to visit her take on the same idea with the same colorboard!  Funny how things work out like that sometimes.

The colors decided upon, I turned to the internets for design inspiration.  For once, it yielded nothing.  Most embroidery cases I found were essentially a booklet of felt pages intended to hold a gazillion needles, which seemed less than ideal.  So, back to the drawing board.  Luckily, inspiration did strike when I was picking up around the house one day.  I came upon a tri-fold crayon roll, complete with a tiny pad of paper, which Nora had received from her dear aunt recently. A vision popped into my head and I knew this was the direction I should be heading.


The final case includes a small pocket to hold embroidery scissors, an envelope to hold floss and a single flap (attached only at the top) to hold needles–mind you, it won’t hold a gazillion needles, but I estimate you could easily fit 20 on there.

The last piece of the puzzle was how to embellish the overall design of the case.  Yes, I suppose the obvious choice would have been to hand embroider a design (duh, right?), but frankly I was running out of time. So not without a little irony, I turned to my sewing machine, complete with 300 embroidery designs, only 1 of which I have used in the 3 years I’ve owned my machine.  I spent a lot of  time playing around with the stitches (what fun!), and while the finished project is still a little rough around the edges, I pulled off my overall design, so I am pretty excited about that.

Here are the construction basics–


I used Janet’s 100% felt in 6 colors.  You will need at least 2 sheets of felt that can yield pieces that are 6.5″x12″”.  Here are the dimensions for my finished case, identified by color so you can visualize each piece better:

- Grays for inside and outside covers: 6.25″x 11.75″ (I shaved a 1/4″ off the length and width of the lighter, inside gray so it would not show past the darker gray on the oustide)

- Chartreuse yellow for envelope body: 5.75″ x 7.5″

- Darker green for the envelope flap: 5.75″x 4″

- Light pink for needle flap: 3″x 6.75″

- Light pink for scissors pocket: 3″x 6″ (this will get folded in half, then trimmed to the triangle shape)

- Light pink, coral and chartreuse strips for the scallops on the front of the case: 6″x 2″ (as explained below I left these pieces wider than 6″ and trimmed them down once it was sewn to the dark gray)

You will also need about 24″ of ribbon and matching (or contrasting) thread. 

The pieces on the inside of the case are sewn to the lighter gray, and the scallop pieces + ribbon are attached to the darker gray.  Once everything is sewn on the individual gray layers, you will sew them together around the perimeter with wrong sides facing.  This double layer nicely hides all of the behind-the-scenes stitching and provides extra sturdiness to the finished case.

Outside Layer

For the color strips on the outside of the case. I first overlapped the three colors with about an 1″ of each color showing:

Sew each strip to the layer below it using a matching or contrasting thread, to suit your taste.  For the third layer (the coral in my example), stitch it to directly to the dark gray outer layer. You can use a simple straight stitch or get crazy with your machine’s decorative stitching.  I found this blanket stitching in a scalloped shape that I really liked and decided to trim away the extra felt once the scallops were sewn using my embroidery scissors.  The scallops were kind of a pain to get lined up correctly on all three layers and you’ll see that mine are far from perfect.  There’s always next time!  PS I also used a slightly lighter tension on my machine and a walking foot to help manage the bulk of multiple layers of felt.

When you sew the third layer (the coral) to the dark gray, be sure to sandwich a 15″ length of ribbon between the coral and gray, centered on the width of the gray fabric (I tucked in about 1″ of the ribbon between the two layers).  When you sew the coral edge down, you will sew the ribbon in place at the same time.  [Note this picture was taken before I trimmed the excess pink and coral fabric around each scallop.)

Finally, with the fabric strips sewn to the gray fabric, now’s a good time to trim away any excess colored fabric strips so that they are the same dimensions as your gray fabric.

Inside Layer

Turning to the inside layer, it is a good idea to first mock up the inside of the case, thusly:

Note the needle flap has about 1.5″ folded under at the top. Sew the flap to the underlayer using 3 stitch lines in two different decorative patterns on top of this folded under part (this requires sewing through 3 layers of felt).  

For the envelop, first add the scallops to the darker green along one of the longer edges using the same method as described above for the front cover stripes.  Lap the chartreuse over the darker green by about 1″.  Use a close zig zag to “marry” the point at which the chartreuse overlaps the green.  

Fold the chartreuse up not quite in half (so it is about .75″ shy of the zigzagging). Place the envelope on the lighter gray fabric and sew up both open sides of the chartreuse piece in order to attach the envelope to the underlayer.  There should be about 1/4″ of gray showing on either side of the envelope.  Fold the green flap down and stitch along the folded edge about 1/8″ from the edge.  This will keep the flap down and hide the zig zag sitches underneath.  This also adheres the green flap to the underlayer.

For the scissors, I folded the pink strip in half and estimated the length based on my scissors (these are 3.25″ Ginghers).  

I freehanded the cut you see in the final case and used another decorative stitch pattern in a contrasting thread to sew it to the underlayer.  Though not in my original plan, I decided it would be safer to make the pocket big enough to accommodate the leather case that was provided with the scissors:

Final Assembly

Once you have the outside and insider layers finished, place them together with wrong sides together.  Cut a second piece of ribbon about 9″ in length and sandwich it between the first colored strip (the chartreuse) and the dark gray (again, I tucked in about 1″ between the two layers).  Sew around the entire perimater of the case, about 1/4″ fromt the edge.  Be sure to sew the shorter ribbon in place as you do so.  And that’s it!

I call this the Go-Anywhere Case because I think the basic concept of it could be adapted for any use. I already mentioned the crayon roll, but I think it could just as readily be made into a jewelry case, a camera case, and who knows what else?

Happy Crafting!