Art Folder (Beta Version)

Let me just give you a quick update on what’s been going on in our family lately.  Ben (2) learned how to crawl out of his crib and onto the top of my minivan, all in the same month.  Jeff and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and Jeff’s 36th birthday.  The garden is going crazy.  And, Elliot started homeschooling (level K in some subjects and grade 1 in others, like science and math, no surprise there).  Anyway, it’s been a bit busy, but we’re getting into a good routine for which everyone is thankful.

In any case, today, I’m going to take you through a tutorial on making an art folder for your, or your children’s, drawing pleasure.  These art folders are particularly nice for travel since everything gets stored efficiently and folded up compactly!  On a recent family trip, I think I drew as much (or more!) than the kids and I’m not joking!

I’ve been putting off posting this tutorial for a few weeks because I still have some ideas for improving it.  However, I decide to go ahead and post what I’ll call the beta version.  And, then in a few weeks, after I try out some of the improvements I have in mind, I’ll post the alpha version.  🙂


*All seams are 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.*

For the Outside:

2 – 4.5 x 13″ fabric pieces (the red Curious George print in this tutorial)

1 – 13 x 14″ fabric piece (the yellow solid in this tutorial)

2 – 10-12″ handles (the blue solid in this tutorial)

For the core:

1 – 1″ 3 ring binder

masking or packaging tape

For the inside:

1 – 13 x 21″ fabric piece (the cream muslin in this tutorial)

1 – 9 x 13″ fabric piece (also cream muslin in this tutorial)

1  – 6 x 13″ fabric piece (and, again, cream muslin in this tutorial)

2  – 1.5 x 13″ fabric strips for binding (the yellow solid shown here)

colored pencils or crayons

coloring book or drawing pad


Start by removing the rings from the 3 ring binder.  I did this by bracing the white part of the binder with one hand and very firmly pulling on the rings with the other hand.  If you don’t brace the white part of the binder, it will crease and bend when you pull on the rings.  So, be sure to brace it as best as you can.  A little bending and creasing is fine, but you may not like the results if there’s too much.  I would also like to note that I chose a white binder because then if my fabric is light colored or thin, I won’t notice any color coming from the binder beneath it.

Next, covers the holes you made by pulling out the binder rings with either clear packaging tape or beige masking tape.  DO NOT use duct tape.  I did that the first time around and could see it through my fabric.

Measure and cut all of your fabric pieces as described above in the materials section.

Take the 6 x 13″ piece of fabric and iron the bottom 1/2″.

Next, take the 2 – 1.5 x 13″ strips of fabric and make 3/8″ binding with them.  Iron the strips in half lengthwise to make the folded strips measure 3/4 x 13″. Then, iron the strips lengthwise again, folding the edge 3/8″ (half of 3/4″ = 6/8″) to the interior of the first crease to make a binding strip 3/8″ x 13″.  Does that make sense?  I’ll try to remember to take more pictures of the process next time, until then please feel free to ask if it doesn’t make sense!

Sew the binding strips onto the long edges of the 9 x 13″ piece of fabric and the 6 x 13″ piece of fabric that you ironed above.

Baste the 9 x 13″ piece of fabric to the right side of the 13 x 21″ piece of fabric as shown below.  Baste the 6 x 13″ piece of fabric 4″ from the left side of the 13 x 21″ piece of fabric as shown below. Then make seams in the middle of this/these piece/s.  I’ve made 3 seams in this example.  However, I will make more in the future because 3 seams didn’t hold the colored pencils in as tightly as I would have liked.  The more seams you make, the more tightly the pencils will be secured; however, be sure to make the pockets wide enough to hold at least 1 colored pencil/crayon.  Otherwise, the pocket will be useless.  Alternatively, you could add slightly gathered elastic along the underside of the yellow binding on these pieces.

Center and pin the straps to the interior of the binder as shown.  Spacing is personal preference.  It looks like I had about 3″ on either side of each strap.

Next, sew one of the 4.5 x 13″ pieces of fabric (red Curious George) to the left side of the 13 x 14″ (yellow) piece of fabric.  And, sew the other 4.5 x 13″ piece of fabric (red Curious George) to the left side of the 13 x 14″ (yellow) piece of fabric, so that it looks like this when you’re done.

Place this red/yellow piece FACE DOWN, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER with the cream colored interior of the binder two pictures ago (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step!).  Pin all the pieces in the sandwich together and sew a seam along three of the edges (leave the bottom open).  Invert to reveal an inside that looks like this:

…and an outside that looks like this:

Insert the prepared (de-ringed and taped) binder into your art folder.

Pin the bottom shut, folding the raw edges toward the interior as shown here:

Top stitch the bottom edge and remove the pins to reveal:

…a completed ART BINDER!  Now, go draw in it…or just bask in its beauty for a few more moments!


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