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Over the years, the constant on my desk has been the pencil cup my oldest daughter made for me in preschool from a soup can and construction paper. I’ll never get rid of it, or the My Little Pony® pencil that came with it. Over the years, I have added some more elegant versions by its side, like this banded trio of pencil cups in three sizes. We selected the vintage designs of the Eclectic Elements fabric collection by Tim Holtz – a good choice since pencils and pens themselves seem to have become part of the vintage world in today’s device-driven environment.

We still love our pencils and pens, and as long as we have soup cans and cool fabric, we have new ways to keep them on display.

This banded set would also make a great gift, and could be your own little statement for maintaining a presence in the digital world for the classic pencil and pen.

Or, as shown below, use the set to corral cutlery in the kitchen. They’d also be handy for makeup sticks and brushes in the bath, or any other tall, thin tools you need to keep organized.

Measuring instructions are shown below to fit to your selection of three cans. And, we’ve included a link at the end of the instructions to make the optional fabric flower.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: For the very best look, all your pieces should be fussy cut. The yardage shown allows extra for this purpose. Amounts listed below are to create a trio of cups.

  • ¼ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton for EACH cup in the trio; we originally used ¼ yard of the following fabrics from the Eclectic Elements Collection by Tim Holtz – this is a collection that FreeSpirit often reprints. Check your favorite in-store or online retailer for our choices or, of course, substitute your own fabric options. 
    LARGE: Travel Labels in Neutral
    MEDIUM: Measurements in Neutral
    SMALL: Subway Signs in Neutral 
  • ⅛ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton for the optional fabric flower embellishment; we used French Script in Neutral also from the Eclectic Elements Collection
  • ½ yard of 45″+ wide fusible fleece; we used 45″ Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece
  • 1 yard of 1″ cotton webbing; we used natural
  • All-purpose thread to match fabrics
  • All-purpose thread in a contrasting color for fabric flower; we used red
  • Hot glue and glue gun for optional fabric flower embellishment
  • Three clean tin cans of varying sizes with labels removed
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Measure the circumference and height of each can.
  2. Write down the measurements on a notepad so you can do all your cut calculations
  3. Add 1″ to the measurement for the circumference of the can. Add 1¼” to the measurement for the height of the can.
  4. Use these measurements to cut TWO pieces from the fabric for that can; these pieces will become the exterior and the sleeve. Cut a matching piece of fusible fleece. For example, our small can measured 9⅜” in circumference. To that we added 1″ for a width measurement of 10⅜”. The height of the small can measured 3¼”. To that we added 1¼” for a height measurement of 4½”. We cut two fabric pieces and one fleece panel at 10⅜” x 4½”.
  5. For the third fabric piece of each cut, which will become the lining, add 1″ to the circumference, then calculate the height using this formula: 2 x height + 1″. Using the same example as above, we added 1″ to our 9⅜” circumferences for a total width of 10⅜”. The height calculation was 2 x 3¼” = 6½” + 1 = 7½”. The lining piece for this can was cut at 10⅜” x 7½”.
  6. Repeat the process for your other two cans so you have three sets of fabric and fleece that look similar to the photo below.
  7. From the fabric for the optional flower embellishment (French Script in our sample), cut ONE 3½” x 36″ strip.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

The instructions below are for one can; the process is the same for the other sizes.

  1. Find the fusible fleece rectangle and one matching fabric rectangle. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the fabric.
  2. If possible, insert a quilting bar attachment to your standard presser foot and adjust the position to fall 1″ from the needle drop.
  3. Start your first line of stitching ½” in from the raw side edge. You are running vertical lines of stitching across the panel from short side to short side, not horizontal lines of stitching.

    NOTE: If you do not have a quilting bar attachment, use your fabric pen or pencil to draw 1″ parallel vertical lines, starting ½” in from the side. Since you are working on the right side of the fabric, make sure your fabric pen or pencil will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
  4. Quilt across the entire panel.
  5. Fold the quilted exterior in half, matching the raw sides. Pin in place.
  6. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together to form a tube. Press the seam allowance open. Turn the exterior tube right sides out.
  7. Find the remaining two fabric panels. Fold each in half, right sides together. Pin along the side.
  8. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both side seams to create two tubes. Press the seam allowances open.
  9. Leave the smaller tube (the sleeve) wrong side out.
  10. Fold the larger tube (the lining) in half, wrong sides together – so it is now right sides out, aligning the raw edges and creating a folded edge opposite. Pin the raw edges together but don’t pin the top of the tube closed.
  11. Slip this folded lining tube over the quilted exterior tube.
  12. Align the upper raw edges of all the layers of both tubes. Also match up the side seams of the tubes. Pin in place around the top through all the layers.
  13. Slip this “double tube” inside the remaining smaller sleeve tube, which should still be wrong side out.
  14. Align the upper raw edge of this single layer tube with the double tube and re-pin around the top through all the layers. The side seem of the sleeve tube should also be aligned with the other side seams.
  15. Working in a circle from the inside and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the top through all the layers.
  16. Pull apart the unit so the lining is pulled out through the top on one side and the quilted exterior and sleeve are on the opposite side.
  17. Fold under the bottom raw edge of both the exterior tube and the sleeve ½” to create a clean folded edge on both.
  18. Match up the sleeve to the exterior. The two pieces should be wrong sides together and the bottom folded edges should be flush. Adjust the ½” folds if needed to insure the bottom edge is perfectly flush and the cover will sit flat. Pin in place all around the bottom.
  19. Edgestitch in place around the entire bottom through all the layers. The lining should still be pulled out in the opposite direction so it will not get caught in this seam.
  20. The unit should now look like a tube with two sections: quilted exterior and sleeve on one side, folded lining on the other.
  21. Slip the quilted exterior/sleeve portion of the tube over the can. Then, push the lining down into place inside the can. Your cup is now fully finished inside and out!

Band and flower embellishment

  1. When all three cans are covered, arrange them into a group on a flat surface.
  2. Find the length of webbing. Wrap the webbing around the group of cans, overlapping the ends of the webbing 1″. Mark the overlap with a pin.
  3. Unwrap the webbing from the trio and trim the excess webbing at the pin mark. Overlap the raw ends again by 1″ and stitch together with an 1″ X Box. If you are brand new to this X Box technique, check out our full step-by-step tutorial.
  4. Complete using the Fabric Flower tutorial featured as a Guest Tutorial by Paula Cheney, originally of Tim Holtz’s creative team. We made just two changes from the original steps: 1) we reduced the starting size from 5″ x 44″ to the 3½” x 36″ size specified above so our petals would be just 2″ in width, and 2) we eliminated the dowel as a “stem.” Instead, we simply rolled the flower on itself rather than around the dowel. We used the contrasting red thread as our accent topstitching.
  5. The flower is glued in place over the joint of the band.
  6. When complete, slip the flower-accented band over your trio of beautiful fabric-covered cans.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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5 years ago

Great, classy idea.  Whoever

Great, classy idea.  Whoever thought of the grouping with a simple band & flower is just very creative.  I’m going to use this for silverware in camper.    The pattern will also work well for various sizes of water bottles (as non-foldable type of cozies/koozies).

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