By Grow and Make Contributing Editor Kristina Strain

Once upon a time, I bought a set of curtains at a Big Box store which shall remain nameless. Each curtain came individually wrapped in its own clear vinyl case. The cases had sewn-in pockets, and snaps. Discerning potential, I saved the vinyl bags for several years. Yesterday, I turned one of them into a pencil case.

Materials:

1 vinyl bag like the kind often used to package sheets, blankets or curtains. If the bag has snaps, as mine did, you’re extra lucky.

Thread. I like to choose thread in bright colors, since it will be so visible on the finished project.

An alternative fastener, if your bag has no snaps. Try velcro, or insert your own snaps. Cutting buttonholes in vinyl is pretty easy, too, since the material won’t fray.

First, cut open your vinyl bag along the main seams. In my bag, there was just one, horseshoe-shaped seam attaching the back to the front and sides.

Trim the seamed edge off, and discard. You should now have two pieces of vinyl.

Bonus step: if your vinyl has a hole in it (as mine did, for hanging) patch the hole. I used a little scrap of fabric, zig-zagged on with my sewing machine.

Lay these one on top of each other, just like they were before you cut the seams open. Cut both pieces to the size you desire for your pencil case. I left my width the same, but trimmed several inches from the length, to get a long skinny case.

Thread your sewing machine, and set your stitch length to as large as it will go. Sew all the way around all four edges of the pencil case, as shown in the picture.

If desired, trim the vinyl along the stitches to make a narrower or neater edge. Load it up with your favorite pens and pencils, toss it in your bag, and go!

Vinyl packaging like this is pretty common, and often pretty durable. It’s a shame that the typical useful life of a vinyl bag like the one I used here is usually just couple of months: the time it’s hanging on the rack in the store, that’s it. Once it’s purchased and whatever item it held is removed, it’s garbage. Repurposing it can extend its useful life for years. And I can’t honestly think of an easier way to make a pencil case.

Think of other creative uses for vinyl bags, such as kids’ craft pouches, travel toiletry bags, or anything that’s going to be exposed to lots of dirt, sand, or water. The vinyl will hold up beautiful to all these abuses and more.

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