Saturday, May 12, 2012

Paintbrush Carrying Case: A DIY Tutorial

So I was planning to post this MONTHS ago, but I kind of forgot about it. Like forgot about it in a bad way. Or got distracted. Probably both.

Over the Christmas holidays some OCAD friends and I participated in an artsy version of Secret Santa. The whole thing was very laid back and lots of fun. I prefer making gifts to buying them, so for my contribution to the gift stash I made a paintbrush carrying case out of recycled materials I found around the house.

Really easy to make, durable, and extremely convenient. I'm sure there are plenty of different methods for constructing one, but I've posted instructions on how I made the case below.

What you'll need:
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • Bias tape
  • Cotton broadcloth
  • Pre-made Dishrags or Tea Towels, preferably out of canvas or something heavier (you can buy them in packs of two or three at most dollar stores)
  • Sewing machine

Step 1: Assembling Supplies

Pretty self explanatory. You'll need your basic sewing supplies (listed above), dishrags/tea towels, as well as some sort of broadcloth or canvas. When buying tea towels make sure they're made out of something heavier, as it needs to be durable enough to transport supplies. For my project I used what I had around the house - red bias tape, brightly colored towels, and decorative paper (to wrap the gift).

Step 2: Setting Things Up

Before you start cutting and pinning your fabric, you need to pre-wash both your broadcloth and your tea towel to shrink them. If your material is synthetic it won't shrink that much, but cotton will definitely warp so make sure to check the specs of the fabric's weave. After you wash your fabric, iron it flat and lay out your broadcloth with your tea towel on top, making sure to match up the grain. Pin your tea towel to the broadcloth to firmly hold it in place. 

Step 3: Cutting things to Size

Next, take your scissors and cut your broadcloth around your tea towel, leaving a 1" - 1.5" border. Don't worry if you have a few uneven edges, as it will be hidden in the final project. Do not remove the pins until after you're done cutting.

Step 4: Folding the Edge

After your done cutting your broadcloth, plug in your iron to warm it up. Remove the pins from your fabric, and - carefully following the border - fold your broadcloth over so that it is approximately .5" smaller than your tea towel on all sides. Press these folds flat, then place the broadcloth back against the inside of the tea towel to line up the edges. 

Step 5: Pinning the Edge

Next, pin your broadcloth and tea towel together with the inside facing in. You won't be turning your carrying case inside out to hide the seams (I'll get to that in a moment, so don't worry). Make sure that both pieces of fabric are lying flat against one another to avoid stretching the grain when pinning.

Step 6: Sewing the Edge

After you're done pinning, take a thread the same color as your broadcloth and do a double threaded slip stitch all the way around your piece of fabric to hide the raw edges of your lining. Learning slip stitch is a lesson in of itself so I won't go into details here, but once you're done, you should have a (relatively) neat edge securely sewn that hides the loose threads beneath. 

Step 7: Mapping out Basic Measurements

Once that's done, iron out your piece of fabric to make sure there are no bumps between your lining and your exterior canvas. Next, fold your piece of fabric 1/3 of it's length (this measurement varies on how large your piece of fabric is and how tall your paintbrushes are, so feel free to vary it).

Step 8: Securing the Fold

Once you've decided on your fold, pin the fabric on either side. Stitch the fold along the edge at a .5" seam. Do not turn the pocket inside out - the stitching is meant to show on the outside. 

Step 9: Mapping out your Pockets

After the sides of the fold have been secured, pull out your paintbrushes (and sketchbook, if you want to create a pocket for that as well). Place them side by side within the fold to figure out how much room you need for each pocket, pinning along the sides. After you're done pinning, find something to mark your lines to help you sew relatively straight. In my case I used the vertical patterning on the fabric, but in lieu of that a couple marks with a fabric pencil or marker (available at most sewing stores) will do.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

Once you've sewn your pockets, there's really only one step left. Take your bias tape and cut off the length needed to securely hold your carrying case together. When determining the length of the bias tape it's best to place your paintbrushes inside the case and fold it in three, as the pockets will expand depending on the contents you're carrying. Once you have your length of bias tape, fold it in half and secure it to the outside of the case with a simple row of stitching (either by hand or by machine). Double check the length to make sure it's accurate, then seal the ends of the bias tape using clear nail polish or some sort of anti-fray serum. And you're done!

As a side note: my packaging for the gift, complete with hoodie drawing and horribly articulated Christmas card. I don't think I've sounded that tongue tied in awhile.

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