In yesterday’s post, I described the roll-up organizer I sewed in response to Blogging Business Artisan’s June challenge. That organizer was actually supposed to be a pencil roll-up, but I cut the fabric incorrectly, and ended up with too small of a roll. Still, I had leftover fabric, so I decided to try again because I still needed an organizer for my watercolor pencils.

Well, I have a funny story to tell. If you sew or work with wood, you’re told that before you cut anything, you should measure carefully. “Measure twice and cut once” is the frequently quoted adage. I did all of that, re-calculating exactly how tall and how wide my pencil organizer needed to be. And then I blithely cut my fabric, congratulating myself for figuring out a solution to the previous organizer’s problems.


My congratulations, however, were premature. Though I had measured more than twice before cutting my fabric, I failed to read my own notes correctly. Oops! I was left with fabric of the right height, but the wrong width—and not enough leftover fabric to re-do the project a third time. The width of my fabric was important because it affected the width of each pocket in the roll-up organizer. What I wanted was pockets that measured three-quarters of an inch wide; what I settled for was pockets that were a scant three-quarters of an inch instead. “Scant,” in sewing terms, means just short of a particular measurement, in my case 1/16th of an inch less that what was called for. There is no way I could draw the lines with pencil accurately on my project, so I came up with a make-do solution that I think I will use in the future because it worked so well.

What I did was to cut a strip of paper with my paper cutter that measured 11/16th of an inch, or 1/16th of an inch less than three-quarters of an inch. I placed it on my fabric and stitched alongside it, then picked it up and set it down next to the just-stitched line. And then I repeated the process over and over until all of my pockets were completed. This produced extremely precise results, and ended up being a time-saver because I didn’t have to take the time to mark my fabric. When I need parallel lines of stitching in the future that don’t follow standard measurements, I believe I will use this method again. As you can see from the strip of paper shown below, it lasted long enough for me to stitch 12 pockets.


The final roll-up organizer looks just like the previous one, but it accommodates my watercolor pencils nicely. I’m not sure if I will include rick rack trim in the future, though; it is a little fussy to sew and adds bulk to the seam line, even if you grade your seam (trim the seam allowance layers in different lengths).

Pencil rollup collage

Next on the agenda is a crochet hook organizer for John, who put in a special request.

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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4 thoughts on “Measure twice and cut once”

  1. I’ve made things the wrong size on more than one occasion! When it happens to me it’s usually because I was hasty/impatient and didn’t take the extra time to make sure things came out correctly.

  2. Love the rickrack on the edges but I agree it does add bulk! Your case looks good, I recently made a crayon roll-up for my grandson that I need to redo.

  3. Paige @ Little Nostalgia

    I cut fabric the wrong size pretty much every time I sew. I’ve learned to make it too big first, and then slowly trim it down. Glad you were able to make it work!

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