If you’ve ever struggled with storage solutions for your markers or colored pencils then this is the post for you! I’m going to show you how to make your own custom elastic holders to fit all your supplies no matter their diameter.
I love this type of pencil storage case. In fact, I own a number of them where I’ve divided up some supplies by type (ie: water-soluble pencils, kid-friendly sets I’ll let my children use, etc).
What the pre-made cases offer in convenience is offset by the limitations of the number of slots and the spacing they provide. Some supplies (like the mechanical pencil and Prismacolor colorless blender) are too thick for the majority of slots and could only fit in one of the few wider spaces inside the front cover…or you want to have room for other supplies like perhaps a ruler or notepad.
Sometimes your supplies all fit but you want to be able to remove the pages to either take only what you need or to be able to see more of the colors at once. They do offer these elastic pencil holders as 3-ring binder options:
but I found they didn’t come with enough room for my purposes and were prohibitively expensive.
The solution? Make your own!
This DIY can be customized for any size binder. I was trying to store over 160 colored pencils plus all the sketch pencils, fineliners, highlight options and blending supplies all together so I went out searching for the largest binder I could find and wound up with this big boy: The Case-It The Dual 2-in-1 zipper binder.
Having found the perfect case it was time to tackle the main issue – the pencil holders. Elastic was an obvious requirement, and thread to sew it down. It was the backing that stumped me for a bit…it had to be easy enough to sew through without heavy duty equipment but stiff enough to support the supplies it was holding. It also needed to be durable so repeated handling wouldn’t wear it down or tear through the binder holes.
Finally it came to me in the form of one of my favorite supplies: plastic canvas!
For my proof of concept sample I didn’t cut the elastic as I wasn’t sure how much I’d need to fill the plastic canvas “page” with slots. Knowing I intended these sheets to go into a binder I left a margin at the left edge. After tacking down the elastic at one end, about centered in the remaining space, I set about figuring how much elastic to use for each loop and many holes-worth of space to leave between them.
Leaving one unused hole between folds works perfectly for most colored pencil and thin marker brands. It also works with gel pens though you will want to position them with the caps on alternate ends.
Tip: Carry your thread up the back to each new stitching location and knot it in place before and after completing each loop. This way if you pull too hard on a loop and accidentally tear the stitching the rest of your loops aren’t at risk.
Once you figure out the spacing that works for you mark off the elastic at regular intervals of your custom measurement and then sew the elastic down through the holes in the plastic canvas.
These sheets are going in a binder, of course, so I marked off where the 3 rings would go and removed the plastic inside a grouping of 4 squares to create a hole. I made sure to inset these holes by at least 2 full rows for structure and stability.
The final step is the tuck under the elastic’s loose end and sew that down, for a neatly finished look as you see in one of the finished sheets above. Because the materials are so inexpensive you can make as many as you’d like and can space out the elastic to fully customize it to your exact needs. This was a super-quick project that took only one evening to make a dozen sheets.
And they’re super secure!