This is what all my other nieces and nephews will get for Christmas this year, and I’m proud to say I made it up myself. I think you can tell, too, but I’m hoping their parents are too polite to say so! I took photos of the process in case anyone else is interested in making one. They’re quick to make, and can be adjusted to any size you like.
I won’t try to talk you through each stage as it will probably be more confusing than looking at the pictures (though please excuse the poor lighting). Essentially all you need is a cardboard template of your desired size, which will also be the stiffener so your recipients can lean on the case to draw, two pieces of fabric or oilcloth the size of your template plus an extra 1.5 cm all around, and the pockets (desired size plus seam allowance all around).
Mark lines for pens – mine were 2.5 cm apart and I sewed down the lines to make the marks clear on the other side. You could just draw them onto the right side of the fabric piece but I was worried about the marks not coming off the oilcloth.
Assemble pockets right side up on right side of one piece of backing (excuse the creases – oilcloth is basically impossible to iron without melting it!). Sew in place – here, the left edge of the pad pocket and along the divider lines you marked for the pencils on the other.
Layer the back and front together. Here I have made a sandwich with the right sides facing each other. I’ve used clips as pins will mark oilcloth. But before you sew around the edge…
…make the closure tab. Mine is made from a scrap of denim sewn into a tube so the raw edges are hidden on the long sides. The short ends will be sewn inside the case ‘sandwich’ so they don’t need to be neat. Although you could make a bit more of an effort than I did to match the thread colour to the fabric!
Fold the tab in half and tuck it inside the sandwich. You want the raw edges to lie along the raw edges of the sandwich. Now you can sew around three sides of the case, leaving one of the long sides open.
Turn it right sides out. The raw edges of the pockets should now be caught inside the seam you just sewed and the closure tab should be sticking out nicely at the side (mine is just out of shot on the right). Now insert your cardboard. Yes, mine is a graze box with the tabs cut off. I did have to bend it quite a bit to get it in (and some of my earlier efforts were a bit of a snug fit!)
Tuck in the raw edges on the open side, and top stitch them shut. Here I’ve clipped again in preparation.
Fix some Velcro onto the tab and the corresponding place on the outside of the case. I used Velcro with its own adhesive; if you’re not then you’ll need to sew them on before finishing the tab/sewing round the edge of the case.
Ta da! I hope you liked the tutorial. Some other tips to bear in mind: if you’re using oilcloth then it’s a good idea to put some tissue paper under the presser foot or it will stick something chronic. And I’d advise using a heavy-duty needle especially since you may be sewing through a bit of the cardboard on that top edge. And finally, try laying your pocket pieces onto the main front piece before sewing it and closing the case to check that the pens will fit in. If not you can shorten that pocket to fit. Plus you can check if your pens are too short and will disappear into their slots – mine would have so I sewed a line of stitching perpendicular to the pencil slots to stop them from going too far in.