Fun with Upholstery Remnants: Brush and Pencil Case

Part 3 of a sewing experiment–this series starts here.

Rather than leaving my detail brushes, pencils, and the like rattling around loose in my sketchbox or writing slope, I decided to make a case for them from part of the large scrap piece left after making my cushion. That ought at least to keep them all in one place!

... and interior
… and interior

The finished product
One case for brushes, pencils, etc., with two additional wide interior pockets, approx. 5″ x 10″ closed and empty (plus tie); holds 14 brushes/pencils

What you need
Large upholstery scrap, cut to 12″ x 12″
Long, narrow upholstery scrap (for making the tie)
Lining fabric of your choice
Fusible interfacing
Sturdy thread
Optional: Wide ribbon or leather would be good alternatives for the tie. If you prefer not to use a tie at all, a toggle would also work; you can find toggles at fabric stores that sell handbag hardware, or make your own with a loop of fabric or ribbon and a nice big button. I also used a disappearing ink pen for marking and basting spray to adhere the interior to the exterior before stitching.

The Tie
The tie was kind of a gimme, since I already had a scrap from the bonus strip that hadn’t been wide enough for making piping. I trimmed it to a uniform width (1″) and cut off the little bit that was too narrow, which left it 21.5″ long.

So far, so good.
So far, so good.

First I tried folding it in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and stitching the long edges together on an 1/8″ seam allowance. But when I tried to turn it right-side out… well, without getting too technical…


… it didn’t work. (Yours might if the fabric doesn’t have loose threads on the back like mine did!) So instead, I decided to just fold the edges toward the center and top-stitch. That worked nicely, but it was too stiff to fold again to hide the raw edges. Since the piping adventure made me hesitant to trust that the interfacing would fuse to the upholstery fabric, the best solution I could think of was to cut a 1/2″ x 20″ strip of lining fabric, fold it like bias tape, and use that to cover the back.

Attaching the backing.
Attaching the backing.

I top-stitched that into place, then zigzagged the raw ends of the upholstery fabric, turned them back 3/4″ each, and stitched them down–trying to fold the ends under again would have been far too thick for my machine. Not the most elegant solution, maybe, but it worked! Finally, I centered the finished tie on the right side of the square of upholstery fabric and pinned it in place.

Like so.
Like so.

(If your scrap isn’t long enough for this method, you can always cut it in half and attach each half to the outside at a point that leaves you enough free length past the edge of the case to tie easily. I find that 4-5″ is enough to tie a good square knot, at least.)

The Interior
Here’s what you’ll need to cut:
1x 10″ x 10″ interfacing
1x 10″ x 10″ lining
1x 13″ x 10″ lining
1x 8″ x 14″ (or 4″ x 28″) lining

I already had some period-enough quilting cotton left from the lining of a quilted art tote I’d made to carry my largest calligraphy pieces, so I used that fabric for this project.

(Note: If you’re using heavier, sturdier fabric for your lining, like denim or duck or canvas, you can skip these doubling steps. Cut the pocket pieces 7″ x 10″ and 5″ x 14″, fold the top of each under 1/2″ twice, and top stitch. You can also make the brush pockets bigger if you need to, though that may require making the brush pocket piece wider than 14″.)

One of the scraps, after I’d cut the backing for the tie from it, was 4″ x 70″, so I squared it, then folded it in half, right sides together, and stitched the top edges together on a 1/2″ seam allowance. After turning it right side out and pressing it, I top-stitched twice for added sturdiness, at 1/8″ and 1/4″. This piece became the brush pockets.

Reasons to hang onto your scraps....
Reasons to hang onto your scraps….

Next, I folded the 13″ x 10″ piece in half and zigzagged its long edges together. I also top-stitched at 1/4″. This piece became wide pockets for rulers and other flat items.

Like so.
Like so.

Then I marked the center line of the wide pocket piece.

And the disappearing ink disappears on camera....
And the disappearing ink disappears on camera….

After pinning the fold of the brush pocket piece to the left edge of the wide pocket piece such that the bottom edges were aligned and placing another pin 1/2″ in, I used colored pencils as spacers to help me pin the brush pockets at the proper points. To allow room for folding, I made sure to leave at least one pencil-width on either side of the center line. The last pocket ended 1/2″ from the right edge. I also used a line of disappearing ink to mark each seam.

The spacing's not completely even, but every pocket will at least hold a pencil.
The spacing’s not completely even, but every pocket will at least hold a pencil.

Once those were all marked, I took out the pins and trimmed the brush pocket piece to length, then repinned and stitched the brush pockets into place, making sure to tack the top end of each seam well. I also pulled the thread ends through to the wrong side of the wide pockets and tied them off securely.


With the pockets assembled, I ironed the interfacing to the back piece of lining, marked its center line, and pinned the pockets to it, with the wrong side of the pockets facing the right side of the back and the bottom edges aligned.

Onward and upward!

Final Assembly
I sprayed the wrong side of the upholstery fabric with basting spray and centered the interior on it, using a few pins for added security.

Like so.

Then I stitched down the center of the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle.

That attaches the tie and divides the wide pockets, as well as giving an easier center point for folding.
That attaches the tie and divides the wide pockets, as well as giving an easier center point for folding.

Finally, after pinning the tie out of the way, I turned under the edges of the upholstery fabric–1/2″ twice–as a self-binding and secured it with two rows of top-stitching.


You can’t find a case as snazzy-looking as that in stores, that’s for sure!

One thought on “Fun with Upholstery Remnants: Brush and Pencil Case

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