Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Travel Coloring Wallet Tutorial

I'm not going to go on and on about how behind I am on blogging.  I'm not.

So ANYWAY, here's something I made to bring on our vacation this summer.  I also made one as a birthday gift.  I was inspired by the one I saw in this blog post (via pinterest).  I will be making more of them, because they were a huge hit with the kids and they are also awesome just for tucking in my purse when we are going out to dinner or whatever.  Here it is:

I used some of my old jeans with holes in the knees for the exterior, to make them sort of sturdy.  That makes them probably the most expensive fabric scraps in my collection.

I started by cutting out my fabrics--one exterior, one interior.  You need to have your materials that you will be putting inside in order to figure out how big to cut your fabric--namely, the notepad and the coloring implements.  I chose crayons because I didn't want to deal with dropped marker caps in the car, or things that would dry out or need to be sharpened, but you could definitely use markers or colored pencils in here.

I got a little notepad from Dollar Tree that was bound at the top (NOT spiral) and had lots of pages--I think 100.  I will probably get a few extra so I know I have backup that will fit in here, now that I know how successful it is.  I also got a bunch of stickers (also Dollar Tree), and at the last minute I found sheets of stencils at Dollar Tree too that I could cut up so that they fit in the pocket with the stickers.  The stencils have gotten more use than I expected, even with my two-year-old, who can't really use them properly.

So I laid out my materials in order to figure out how big to cut my fabric.  As you can see in the first picture at the top of the page, the pocket for the crayons goes the other direction from the pocket for the notebook and stickers, so my fabric needed to be cut in this weird shape.  You'll also probably notice that it's not exactly right angles--that's because I was following the seams in the denim, which is not cut in straight lines, so I was fudging it a little.  You can make it nice and square if you're not using old jeans for the exterior.

So here's the basic idea to figure out your measurements.  You can cut it a little differently depending on how tall you want your pockets to be, how much of your crayon you want sticking out of the pocket, etc, but this was pretty much how I figured it.

With the right sides together, sew around the outside.  Leave a section open for turning inside out:  I would leave the hole about 1/3 of the way down on the left side pictured below, so that you have a nice place to hide your velcro tab raw edges later.

Which brings us to the velcro tab:

I cut a little strip of the lining fabric, about 1.5 inches by 3 inches, and sewed a little piece of velcro to one end.

Then I folded it in half, right sides together, and sewed around three sides, leaving the bottom open.  I guess you could just sew the two sides together, since the end is a fold.  Up to you!

Turn it inside out (and poke the corners out, unlike in my picture below!)

Now turn the main body of the wallet right side out, and press flat.

Fold up the section that will create the pockets for the notebook and the stickers.  Tuck your velcro tab inside the hole you used to turn the body right side out, then pin the pocket and tab in place and sew the outer edges of the pocket down. 

Place your notebook all the way to the right in the pocket you've created, then pin it SNUGLY in place on the other edge.  You want it to be in there tight--even a tiny bit TOO small is good because you can wiggle/wedge it in, and it won't slip out while it's in use.  I sewed just a tidbit to the right of where I had pinned to make sure it was snug.

Now somehow, I managed to miss taking pictures of the crayon portion of this program.  It's very simple--you just fold that long piece that's sticking out on the left over as far as you want (a little more than half the length of the crayon worked well for me), sew the edges down, then make little channels for the crayons.  But that is a little tricky--make sure your openings are big enough for your crayons!  They had to be bigger than I expected for the kids to be able to get them in and out easily.  I sewed lines 3/4 inch apart to fit regular crayons, and 1 and 1/8 inches for the thick toddler crayons when I made another one of these for my daughter.  I actually didn't measure these until after the fact (just now, as a matter of fact)--I just eyeballed it, but the first time I made them too narrow and had to rip them out and do it again.  So I hope the measurements are helpful!

Finally, figure out the exterior velcro placement.  I put all of the stuff in mine first--the notepad, crayons, etc, to see how big it would be when it was full.  Then I pinned my velcro on (it should fall inbetween the notepad pocket and the crayon pockets) and sewed it down (taking all of the stuff out first, of course).

Ta Da!  

The Boy wasted no time getting started with his crayon wallet--he pulled it out within the first 5 minutes of our 5 hour car ride for this summer's family vacation!

And here is Little Sister's coloring wallet, still in action on the last leg of our journey--the 45-minute ride straight uphill on a school bus (well, not STRAIGHT uphill, there were a bunch of switchbacks!).  Her favorite part was definitely the stickers, but as you can see the crayons got some action as well.

This is so compact, which makes it great for stuffing in your purse, but also it doesn't take up much room when it's in use, so it works at a restaurant table, on an airplane, in a car...you get the idea.  I was really happy with the way they turned out and definitely excited to see that the kids liked them as much as I did--and that they are totally functional.  Go me!

Also--I was kind of winging it here (as usual), so if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!  Your measurements will mostly depend on what kind of notebook you buy.


  1. I was lucky enough to see the birthday gift one in real life and was going to inspect it to make one for Eloise. Thanks for the tutorial. You saved me the awkward moment of prying it out of a childs hands and snapping pics of various parts with my phone. (this happens more than I like to admit in children clothing/home/toy stores.)

    1. Glad this helps! And I actually made the birthday gift one first, so I learned on that one and these went a lot more smoothly--which is why I usually make the "template" version first for my own kids, but I just ran out of time before the birthday party!

  2. Eleven Switchbacks up to Holden

  3. Its important to note that the pad should be at least as wide at the crayons you will use. I tried using a 3x5 pad and it left a crayon overhang that would have snapped the tips off all the crayons at the first toss into a bag. To remedy this I stuck in some elastic and a stack of popsicle sticks. Added an extra toy and the width I needed to save the crayons: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=596705397031390&l=7eb9baa597

    So then I switched to a 4x6 pad and tried again with MUCH better results. I'm making several to give as gifts and now people want too buy them from me! Oh yea, I also added batting to the body (not the pouches) to make it a bit more sturdy and changed the clasp.

    Outside: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=597519103616686&l=03a380aec6

    Inside: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=597520170283246&l=b95c97a8ff

    1. Good point, Joanie! I didn't even think about that since the pads I picked up didn't have that problem. I've been using heavier material for the outside, but if you're using quilting cotton adding the batting is a great solution. Good luck with selling them--I just did my first craft fair and they were a big hit!


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