While I futz around with about a hundred swatches in ten different yarns and three needle sizes for a sock design that I will probably abandon, I’ll share with you a recently finished sewing project.
My friend, Christina, is a great artist. I’ve loved her work since we were in high school and were President and VP of the German Club together. Or maybe I was Treasurer. I can’t remember exactly, but I know she was President. Good times. She asked if someone could make a cover for her sketchbook with pockets and a pen holder and I volunteered, since I am pretty good at sewing square-shaped objects. (And if you don’t want the dirty details of how this was made, Christina, turn away now!)
This is the finished sketchbook.
The main material is cotton canvas. We bought the Japanese printed canvas on Etsy. There’s some beautiful printed canvas on Etsy! My fabric stash was dangerously near to exponential expansion while I worked on this. I figured that I could buy the black canvas at the local Joann’s. What were the chances that the Joann’s and the local fabric chain were both sold out of black canvas? Isn’t black canvas the “white bread” of fabric? Shouldn’t there be piles of bolts laying around in the back, so many bolts that the true number of them is unknown?
Well, in any case, I had to search far and wide for some black canvas and I was not happy about it. Seemed unfair. It wasn’t like I was looking for green elastic. Oh wait, I was! …But that I found easily on Etsy. I love Etsy so much. Next time, I buy the “easy to find locally” fabric on there too.
Enough about the supplies. Here’s a tour through the finished project.
Inside, front cover. Two small business card pockets and one 3×5 pocket. And the large black pocket, as well as anything you can shove in between the cover and the… cover. The card slots were a big problem for me and took me a lot of time. I made many, many test pockets. The room is still littered with test pockets. I wanted to keep the bulk of the pockets down as much as possible so that the book could close flat or close to, so they’re not lined. Essentially, they are zipper pockets without the zippers or lining. I’m not entirely happy with the way they came out and I’d probably do them differently if I made another cover, but I do like the final layout of the slots which was only possible with this method. They also, despite meticulous measuring, did not come out straight. I blame the black canvas; it distorted easily.
Inside, back cover. Basically, the same deal as above, but only one 4×6 pocket. Much simpler, but no more straight than the front.
I sewed everything together into one long rectangle, then folded the left and right over to make the insides. I had sandwiched the elastic in with the other fabrics but, stupidly, I measured it’s placement 2” in from the right of the rectangle- which of course was not 2” in from the right edge of the book cover as intended, but instead 2” in from the left edge of the inside back cover. Er- the left edge of the picture above, is what I mean. This put the elastic right in the middle of the book when closed, which was unattractive and pretty useless in terms of keeping the book closed. To save time and sanity, I cut the elastic carefully so that it receded back into the cover. Then I carefully triple-, quadruple-, quintuple-checked the measurements and sandwiched the elastic in when I folded over the sides, which put the elastic in mostly the right place.
On the cover, there’s a large black pocket on the front and back. The spine has two grommets (my first grommets, so much fun!) which house a green ribbon bookmark. You can see the tails peeking out of the bottom of the book. There’s also a line of topstitching running down the middle of the spine.
And, finally, there’s the pen holder. This was also a challenge, because I was under a “no velcro” restriction. Snaps were the obvious choice, but short of installing the snaps into the elastic (not a very elegant solution), I couldn’t think of a way to keep the pen holder from sliding around when the book was in motion. I finally thought about mitten clips, like these. Install one in the back and use snaps for added security and aesthetics. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have any mitten clips, but they did have “fashion fit clips” that women use to pull in dresses that are too big in the waist. Which, honestly, are the same as the mitten clips with slightly different styling. I wanted the flatter mitten clips, but by this point in the project I was unwilling to wait for an online order; I wanted it to be done. (This was also about the time that I realized the Knitty deadline was so close.) So, I settled for the rounder fashion clips, snipped off the extra material with heavy-duty cutters from my chainmaille days, and set to work attaching it to the pen holder.
Since I don’t have any pictures of that process, let’s say it went smoothly and easily. You can’t prove otherwise- there’s no evidence. It was nothing a butt-ton of glue couldn’t fix, anyway. This was also my first time using prong snaps, the kind you install with a hammer. Very fun! I need to find more projects that use snaps and grommets. Or maybe I just need to wield a hammer more often. Sadly, since the clip made the holder not-so-flat, I had to do the top stitching by hand. I hate hand sewing with a passion usually reserved for cleaning grout. So I don’t do it very often and I just want to get it over with when I do. The front looks fine, but the back leaves a little to be desired. I thought about top stitching the straps too, but… refer back to my original statement.
Oddly enough, this hatred of hand sewing does not apply to sewing knitted garments. I thought it would, which is why I avoided sweaters for so long, but I actually kind of enjoyed sewing up the CPH. I know, it’s weird.
Overall, I’m very pleased with how the sketchbook cover turned out. If only I carried around a book like this, I’d make one for myself!