Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crayon Rolls - a tutorial

There are millions of crayon roll tutorials on the Internet (well, maybe only half a million).  I’ve read several of them and come up with my own version that combined features I liked.  I seem to make them just infrequently enough that I have don’t have the measurements and assembly order always at the front of my brain, so I figured I should write it down somewhere.    I like to use a ½” seam allowance, I feel it is a little sturdier and more forgiving than the ¼” I see on several tutorials.


fabric for the outside: ½ yard if the print runs along the length of the fabric (cut edge to cut edge).  If it is a non-directional or goes the width of the fabric (selvage to selvage), 1/3 of a yard is plenty, or even ¼ yard.  If you pre-wash your fabrics, you may want to get a little extra, to account for shrinking and fraying.  I sometimes pre-wash, just depends on if I have time to wait for that or not.  (need enough fabric to cut 2 pieces of 6"x17")

Lining fabric: solid color, ¼ yard (1/3 if pre-washing - to cover any fraying)

Fusible interfacing – medium weight gives it a little structure while allowing it to roll nicely.  Woven interfacing (Pellon SF 101) gives it a little added strength without as much stiffness.  1/3 yard will be fine, as long as the width of the interfacing is at least 17”. (you’ll need to have a solid piece that is 17”x6”)

Short piece of elastic –I like to use some pretty elastic I bought off a ‘deal a day’ website that was for making headbands.  Mine is between 1/3-3/4” wide. 

Chalk or disappearing fabric marker (test to make sure it actually goes away!), thread to match or contrast, pins/clips, iron and ironing board, sewing machine

Cut :      

fabric – patterned fabric cut two -  17”x6”

Liner fabric - cut one 17”x 6”

Fusible interfacing– cut one at 17”x6”

Elastic –5 1/2” of at least ½” wide.  (if your elastic is super stretchy, you may want a little less, but if you get too much you'll end up looping it around several times to try to get it tightly closed, or too little and you end up sewing on a button.  Ask me how I know...)
Three pieces 17"x6"
Fuse interfacing to the back of the solid liner fabric following interfacing directions.  Fold one of the patterned pieces in half, right sides out (will form the pocket) and iron.  If you want, you can top stitch 1/8” from folded edge, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.

(Interfacing on back of the lining piece - my fabric stretched a little as I ironed it, so I re-cut it to the correct size after the interfacing was on)

(folded in half - slightly upside down picture)

Place the liner right side up on your work surface (it helps to line it up on a cutting mat, will be easier to trace lines), place the folded piece on the bottom half of the fabric, line up the open side of the folded piece with the liner and pin in place.  Using a ruler, measure in 8.5” (center of fabric).  Line up the ruler and draw a line with the chalk on the pocket, going slightly onto the liner.  If you are using a quilting ruler, you can draw a line on the other side of the ruler also (mine is 6” wide).  Move over 1” and repeat until you have 15 lines drawn.  The 2 end lines will be 1 ½” inches from the edge.  If they aren’t exact, that is fine, but you don't want to go smaller than 1 1/2".

(My chalk didn't show up very well here, but there are lines!)

(Chalk lines, had to make it huge to show up, sorry!)

Sew each line, backstitching to secure at the tops of the pocket. (I start at the top of one, backstitch, sew all the way down to the very bottom of the fabric and sew across to the next line, then sew up that line and backstitch at the top.  Usually I cut the thread, and then move on to the next line.  I haven't tried just pulling and sliding it over, I'm not sure if the fabric might bunch a little from the tension.)

Trim the front strings first and then pull on the back strings to pull any tiny ends through.  I don’t trim the back ones  as close, and I fray check them to add a little security to the sewing.  Don’t go overboard with the fray check, it will soak through to the front and could leave a slightly darker spot, depending on the fabric.  You probably could also tie them on the back, like quilters do, but I’m not that talented.
(Back side with strings that have the Fray Check on them)

Let that dry for a few minutes.  Take the elastic, fold it in half and place it just above the pocket on the lining piece.  I line mine up with the pocket.  (sorry, no pic)  With a ¼” seam, zig-zag it in place.  Place the top of the roll, right sides together and pin in place.  Make sure if your fabric has an ‘up’ that it is facing the right way now.  Starting at the top near the middle, sew using a ½” seam allowance all the way around, leaving a 3” gap open at the top.  Trim the corners, being careful not to clip into the seams (this gives nice points!) and turn right side out.  Use a turning or poking tool to really push the corners out, but don’t go overboard or you’ll make a hole and be kicking yourself.  Iron when it is all done, tucking under the opening to make a nice straight top.  Ironing really makes it look nicer and gets rid of all those crinkles from pulling it through the hole. (I was in a groove and forgot to take pics of this step, but if anyone needs to see them, I can add them in the next one I make)
(Topstitched, ready for crayons and rolling!)

Topstitch 1/8” from edge, all the way around.  Make sure you catch both sides of the fabric on your opening, otherwise they will end up with an unexpected pocket.  You may want to sew back and forth over the elastic, if you are giving this to an enthusiastic child, just for added security.  Trim the threads, fray check where you ended/started (if you want), and sit back to enjoy your handiwork!  Then fill with crayons, roll up and give to a child.  Or keep it for yourself and unleash your inner child.  I love coloring with a fresh box of crayons, something so fun about it and the smell of new crayons always makes me smile.

If you don't have the time to make one for yourself, please check out the Etsy shop!  I would love to work with you on designing the 'perfect' one for your child's interests, I've done everything from superheroes to castles to sparkly penguins!  JustPlainSweet on Etsy


  1. Thanks for sharing...not that I'll ever actually try to MAKE one!

    1. Maybe some day you'll be bored and have crayons that need rolled! ;)


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