Recently, I ended up with a new set of colored pencils. While I already have a surplus, I thought it would be nice to carry this set around with my daily sketchbook. However, the tin this set came in, while protecting it nicely, did not include a sharpener and tended to make small rattling noises which most people wouldn’t notice, but would irritate me. A zip pouch is the obvious answer, but when I selected an extra zip pouch from my stash, it wouldn’t do. It was your typical, unlined, flat zip pouch with no dimension, from the dollar bin.
For colored pencils, my first priority (after the basics like protection, silence, etc. are met) is access – visible and physical. I hate having to push through pencils to find the right color, then pull it out at an angle to escape the zip opening, hoping not to snag the teeth with the sharpened tip. Also, I don’t like to keep accessories like erasers and sharpeners in the same compartment with the pencils – I end up digging through all the pencils that way and they never seem to want to fit in compactly. With these things in mind, I drew up a zip pouch that would open up completely on the top for maximum reasonable visibility and ease of access. It would also have a side compartment for small accessories, be easy to open, and fit exactly the items it was meant for.
After my last zip pouch making play session back in June, I was confident I could execute my design needs and got to work immediately. I was prepared to make a number of these, since that is the best way to improve a design; make one, critique it, make another incorporating those improvements, and so on until you have the design closest to perfect that you can get. That is what I did.
The first zip pouch. This is actually pretty close to the final design.
* The biggest problem was that I made the bottom too big for the number of pencils it was meant for.
* Second, I put a tab on the zipper on one end for ease of opening, but not the other. Turns out it feels better with tabs on both ends.
* The lining fabric is directional, but I cut it in one piece meaning half of the cat characters on the lining were upside down when you look inside the pouch.
Other that that, there were a couple sewing mistakes or imperfections and I thought of a way to improve one construction method.
The first pouch, open. It may be too big for my desires, but I have LOTS of other art supplies that need homes and this is my new living room art-spot pouch. Those things fit well. The design works.
This is the second pouch. It is almost perfect. There are only two problems.
* The side zip pocket goes down too far. You can’t tell because it is all internal, but if you had something very small, like a dime, it could slide down to the bottom of the pocket which would put it below the pencil compartment. It would be slightly more difficult to retrieve.
* I wanted an attachment option on the first zip tab so I added a swivel clip. That didn’t work and I removed it later, but you can see the shiny edges of it in the photo. It was too heavy and not suited for this design. I didn’t need it anyway, but it would be a nice option to have.
The other side, where you can see the outside zip welt pocket for accessories. I love these skele-cats! And skele-mice, too, of course.
Side pocket open. I lined it with a vibrant blue for fun.
It opens up perfectly! It is the right size for the pencil set, I can see about half of them at a time, a small sharpener and eraser fit in the side pocket. After I removed the swivel clip, this was perfect for my needs and I could have quit at this point with the desired end product. I already had it in mind to make a few, so I kept on.
The third pouch. Having satisfied my original need, I made a different size. Again, this one was almost perfect. The only flaw is minor, and shown below. Oh, this Halloween paisley!! I have such good fabric.
The other side, showing the outside zip welt pocket.
This opens up, wide and boxy. While this design is ideal for some things, it is not the answer to every zip pouch need I’ll have.
The attachement thing I talked about on the second pouch – while I didn’t need it for this design goal, I wanted to have it sorted for the day I do need it. I figured my press eyelets would be both tough and light enough to offer the best option. I made the first zip tab twice as big as needed to accommodate it, as well as to provide an instant tactile indication of which side of the zipper you were on. You know, in case you are getting into your colored pencil set in the dark. (!!!)
Here is the imperfection – in the eyelet I installed on the start zip tab – I put it in upside down. The fat, tube part of the eyelet ends up the prettiest, but that part is on the bottom of the press dies. I forgot this when I pressed it in, but did leave myself a note for the next time I use the eyelet press. Really, you probably couldn’t tell. I showed it to Slick, who thought it was fine. Then I pointed out the pretty side and the slightly less pretty side of the eyelet so he could see what I was talking about. He grudgingly agreed that one side was slightly less pretty than the other.
And this side pocket got lined with a striking red. Love that pop of color.
I did make one more zip pouch, a custom design for Slick. I’m not showing pictures of it because it was structurally perfect and there were zero design improvements. Also, I found his fabric choices dead boring, so just imagine a happy Slick, with his precisely designed and created zip pouch, and feel warm and fuzzy about it. He does, so it was a success.
There were two things I splurged on which made my project easier. First, a roll of zipper tape, 30 yards, in black, size 3, which is most accessory zippers, or pants zippers. Now I can simply cut off as much zipper as I need with nary a care. No more hunting through the stash for the size closest to my needs or making a trip to the store. I measure, cut, and pop a zip head on it. Truthfully though, I don’t even measure! I lay the zipper from the roll atop the thing I’m installing it in and that’s it. Buying zipper in bulk is WAY cheaper, too, especially since I got my roll on sale. Given how cheap and easy it is, I think this goes on my list of things I should have bought many years ago. It is a short list.
Second, a bolt of fusible interfacing. As a general sewist, I don’t use interfacing often. Usually, I would purchase a piece to fit my needs, plus the common extra to account for my human mistakes. This meant if I wanted to make a spur of the moment idea-something late at night and it needed interfacing, I was at the mercy of whatever offcuts and scraps I had from my last project. Not good. When I was in the store to buy interfacing for this very project, I saw a brand new bolt sitting there in plastic wrap and realized I could use my coupon on the whole thing. Sure, it was expensive, but it is now very possible I won’t need to buy interfacing again in my life. Plus, when I come up with some idea-something that needs interfacing and the stores are closed – IT WON’T FUCKING MATTER because I have an entire bolt of it! This won’t go on my “should have done this years ago” list, but it is a luxury worth mentioning to my past self.
On that note, when I talk about the short list of things I wish I’d known or done years ago and that I’m going to tell my past self, I am (of course) not being serious, nor am I regretful of my past. I put it this way to indicate the level of usefulness this new knowledge holds so that it can be appropriately gauged. It is easy to dismiss the impact of better tools or advancements when you’ve already enjoyed those benefits for so long that they are common, or when you don’t have them at all and therefore have no scale to consider them by.
I will probably make one more zip pouch in this style, now that a couple weeks have passed, to be sure I have my methods ingrained. I don’t need a pouch like this for anything offhand – maybe I’ll go looking around the workshop for things that need to be contained and then measure them.