pencil roll tutorial!

Oct 28, 2009 by

Drumroll please


(doesn’t that look like a drumroll?)

Here are the long-awaited directions for the pencil roll!

Go to Kat’s website and you will find step-by-step instructions for our 500 Pencil Roll Project for Katie’s children. After hours of brainstorming, reading other people’s tutorials, and basically making myself crazy, we created this easy, step-by-step guide that anyone (even me!) can follow. I am telling you, if I can sew these, truly, anyone can!

We are not doing them with the different colored pockets for each pencil – they are WAY cute, but also time consuming, and we are trying to make these as quick as possible. These ones are made with one piece of cotton fabric for the outside, a different piece for the inside, and flannel hidden on the inside to give it some strength, or you can use interfacing if you have that.

Each person can sew from cotton fabric they have on hand or if you are willing to purchase some that is great as well. If you are willing to donate money to the cause for others to buy fabric they don’t have, that is wonderful as well…or donate fabric!

I have about 20 yards of fabric I bought at Home Fabrics $1/yard sale, so if you need some, let me know.

If you want to do them with wool felt or a wool felt blend of 35% wool/65% rayon or 20% wool/80% rayon, you can and I will give you those directions below. DO NOT USE craft felt found in stores!!! It is garbage and will not hold up to even a week of handling. You can buy the wool felt at and get a 20% off coupon by entering here. The discount button is over on the right hand side of the page about 1/2 way down. You can also get it at and use a 50% off coupon or 40% off coupon. The 20/80 blend is $7.99 and the 35/65 blend is $9.99, so with the coupons, it would be a great price! It is not available here in our local stores, but may be in the larger stores, just call and ask if you are interested. Caution though, if you do not know much about wool felt, call me before you purchase it so I can help you know if it is acrylic/polyester/eco-felt garbage or if it is the good stuff.

Now, you may be wondering why using wool felt is easier than using your leftover cotton scraps. If so, let me explain. Wool does not fray and does not need to be sewn right sides together/wrong sides out and then turned. You just sew right on to your piece of felt!

Wool felt tutorial:

Your finished product will be 10.5″ wide x 8″ tall.

Cut a piece of wool felt 11″ x 17″ and position it so the 11″ side is running side to side and the 17″ side is running top to bottom.

At the top, measure in 1.25″ and 5″ down the side and cut.

Fold up the bottom 4″ and pin in place.

Lay a thin no-damage ponytail holder on your table and hold it flat. Wrap a thread around it 1/2″ from its end.

Insert the 1/2″ side of the ponytail holder at the almost 4″ mark of your felt (where you folded up the bottom) and pin in place just below the top of that pocket. The big loop of ponytail holder should be hanging out of the fabric.

Top stitch at 1/4″ all the way around the wool felt, making sure to back stitch over the ponytail holder.

Measure and mark 7/8″ pockets on the part you folded up.

Sew pockets going a titch past the top of them so the stress point isn’t right at the top of the pocket and back stitch at both ends.

At the spot where the flap starts, fold it down and top stitch at 1/8″.

Put some tester pencils in and roll it up so you can figure out button placement for where the ponytail holder will attach. Mark where a button should go. Unroll, take your tester pencils out. and sew a big button in place.

If you want to make it super-cute, use pinking shears to cut the edges, making sure to not cut through the elastic.

Voila! You are done…now isn’t that easy peasy!

You may choose to use two piece of wool felt to make it more colorful and add to its strength. If so, just do everything identical, except insert the ponytail holder in between the two pieces of felt.

These are some pictorial instructions, but they don’t have the “cut the flap at an angle” step, and they use a ribbon instead of the ponytail holder/button attachment. The ribbon attachment is easy for adults, but not so easy for little children to wrap it around and tie, so we are using the button method. It also doesn’t have the top stitching, so make sure you do that. As soon as I make one out of felt I will post pictures, but it will probably take me a day or two to get to that.tracy

Now you have everything you need to get to work. Thank you so much for your willingness to help and please, please, spread the word and enlist the women in your life to sew with you! Right now, we are at 21 women, so that means we each need to do 24 rolls to make it to 500. As word spreads, the per person roll can decrease…so step out on a limb and encourage others to sew with you.

Also, there has been some confusion about the pencils. Amazima has a lot of colored pencils and we do not need to provide those. We are doing the sewing and they are gathering the pencils.

If you have any questions, let me know at

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call to arms…er, i mean machines!

Oct 26, 2009 by

Remember my post back in September about Amazima? Several of you said you were willing to help and now is the time!

I feel called to make colored pencil rolls for these children. I cannot get it out of my mind. I know this is what I am supposed to do, but I cannot do it alone. I need your help and I need it now.

There are over 400 children in the program. There are over 300 families. They said we could make one pencil roll holder for each family, but I want to make one for each child. My goal is 500 rolls. That way, every child can have their very own set of colored pencils that they can take care of and have a way to keep them safe…and they are cute! Any new children that are accepted into the program will be able to be given their own set of pencils.

The best part is, they have been overrun with donations of colored pencils. I have been wasting my time trying to figure out a way to get colored pencils in a huge lot for way cheap, when what I really needed to be doing was sewing!

So, we need 20 women to sew 25 rolls each…or 30 to sew 17…or 40 to sew 13…or 50 to sew 10…or 500 to sew one! Let’s do this! The sewing is easy…I know because I can’t sew hardly at all and I am taking this on! The difficult thing is time – but I know we can do this. A woman is going over in early December and she is going to take our rolls with her.

My goal is to have them shipped to her on December 1st, so they need to be to me no later than November 30. If we have 20 women sewing 25, that means we could sew 5 a week for the next 5 weeks and presto, they are done!!!!

I am still working out the details on the fabric, I have a lot of fabric I am donating to the cause and people are welcome to start with what I have. But donations of money to buy more fabric would be greatly appreciated. I am working on typing up step-by-step directions that anyone can understand. I am also considering switching plans to go with wool if I can get it for a great price, because those rolls would be MUCH quicker to sew. If anyone has any info for me on any of these fronts, please share!

So, what do YOU need to do? Write in the comments section that you are willing to sew and I will add you to the email list that will get updates as they are available. Enlist your mothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors in the project. You could collect them from everyone over Thanksgiving and then bring them to me on Monday the 30th. Spend the month of November sewing to bring JOY to some very destitute children in Uganda.

We can do this…I know it.

Here is some inspiration from April at By Small Means:

Pencil Roll Another Pencil Roll

or the wool one from Skip To My Lou:


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oompa loompa outfit

Sep 8, 2009 by

I really cannot sew. It hurts my brain. It tries my patience. It drives me batty. But for some ridiculous reason, I am drawn to sewing. I buy fabric. I buy patterns. I dream of creations. I long to be able to whip out something adorable for my children to wear. My dear friend, Kat, taught me how to make this outfit and then she insisted that I sew each and every stitch of it. She practically held my hand through the whole process and it took at least three times longer than she thought it would, but I did it! I think it is absolutely precious and I love, love, love it. It is super-wide, especially on Annesley who is the skinniest thing ever, and so we named it an Oompa-Loompa outfit.

Oompa-Loompa outfit

Isn’t it cute! Aren’t you so incredibly proud of me?!?

If you can’t tell from the picture, it is reversible and the bottom is supposed to be folded up so you can see the contrasting fabric, but, of course, I forgot to do that for the picture.

I have more fabric to whip up plod my way through some more, but I don’t know when I will get to it, as now I am thinking of making LOTS of colored pencil holders for the children in Uganda that attend Katie’s school. Anyone want to join me in making some of these?

Pencil Roll Another Pencil RollThese are the beautiful creations of the super-talented and creative April of By Small Means. Notice how each pencil has color-coordinating fabric? Notice the handy flap to keep all the pencils from falling out? Notice how bright and colorful and adorable they are? Don’t you want to help us make hundreds??? If so, or if you would like to donate fabric, buttons, flannel, or $$ to buy this stuff, please put it in the comments section and I will get in contact with you and work out a plan.

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servant-hood – a call to action

Sep 6, 2009 by

Last night I discovered a blog that touched me to my very core.

Before you read the rest of my thoughts, go and read (If you are like me and hate music blasting out of websites, turn your sound down before you you click on the link.) this blog post.


Do you see what I mean? Worms? 10 lbs.? Lifeless? Cardboard box-house? I knew this was out there, but now I KNOW. I know and now that I know, I cannot turn my back from them.

This girl is in Uganda trying to save lives AND save souls. She needs help. More help than we can imagine.

Go read this post of hers as well.

She is a normal American girl who has given her heart to Christ and to the children of Uganda.

Now go read her organization’s website.

Did you go to the “stories” link? If not, go back and read them. All of them.

I want to do something to help. I am pondering what it is that I am to do. What God wants me to do. I invite you to do the same and then let me know if you would like to be involved in a group effort.

I am a Christian woman. I want to serve my King. I want to serve His children. I want to be a force for good in this world. I want to bring all of these babies home with me, but since that is not possible, I need to figure out what I can do. What I must do to help my heart feel better about my service to my fellow-man.

Please post your thoughts and how you would like to help in the comments section. I will develop a plan of action and we will make a difference. I know it.

p.s. When I read the posts to Richard he asked if this meant I was going to Africa. He so knows my passions run overboard. So to those of you wondering this as well – no, I am not going to Africa. I am however going to figure out a way to help.

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