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My mother was the ultimate note taker. She recorded everything from gifts she’d received (in order to write a thank you note later) to the gas mileage on car trips (to make sure we were getting the most for our money). In today’s plugged-in-turned-on digital world, writing something down may seem old school, but jotting a note by hand is often still the fastest, easiest way to capture a thought or remember an important to-do. Plus, if you have a beautiful handmade fabric folder to keep your pad, pen, and a few extras; low-tech becomes a very lovely option. 

We originally combined a pretty twill by Premier Prints, in an appropriate letter writing motif, with a classic stripe in quilting cotton, which we felt was reminiscent of classic high-end stationery. As always, you get to choose the fabric that tickles your fancy. A search under “Vintage” or “Retro” or even “Handwriting” will often yield a number of lovely options at online fabric retailers.

A horizontal band of orange twill tape adds a final pop of color on the front. With a loop and button closure, it all folds to a handy 4½” x 7″ size to easily slip inside a handbag or tote. Although it’s certainly pretty enough to carry out on its own.

This project can be personalized with fabric in the gift recipient’s favorite colors or to highlight a hobby.

Our Notepad Folder To Go finishes at approximately 9″ x 7″ flat and 4½” x 7″ when folded.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Fabric cuts shown below allow enough for fussy cutting.

  • ¾ yard of 44″+ wide cotton fabric for the exterior and interior pockets; we originally used a twill
  • ½ yard of of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the interior and binding; we originally used standard quilting cotton
  • 1 yard of 20″+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
  • ½ yard of wide coordinating 1½” ribbon or tape; we used 1½” Chevron Twill Tape in Orange
  • One 1″ – 1¼” shank style button; we used a cool 1″ metal button from our stash
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Straight pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

NOTE: Our pockets are sized for standard credit/gift cards, a classic 3″ x 5″ small spiral notepad, and a medium width pen/pencil. You can always adjust the cuts and/or the dividing stitch lines slightly larger or smaller to fit your specific contents.

  1. From the fabric for the exterior and the interior pockets, fussy cut the following:
    TWO 8″ high x 4½” wide rectangles
    ONE 7½” high x 8″ wide rectangle for the credit card triple pocket
    ONE 11″ high x 5″ wide rectangle for the pad/pen pocket
    NOTE: For the exterior pieces and the pocket pieces, it is especially important to get a lovely fussy cut that best features the most interesting motifs in your chosen fabric, as we did with the great postal motifs of our fabric.
  2. From the fabric for the interior and binding inset, fussy cut the following:
    ONE 8″ high x 10″ wide rectangle (we cut for horizontal stripes)
    ONE 8″ high x 3″ wide strip for the binding inset
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 8″ x 10″ rectangle
    ONE 8″ x 3″ strip
    TWO 8″ x 4½” rectangles
  4. From the twill tape, cut TWO 4½” lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse an interfacing piece to the wrong side of each fabric piece. You should have interfacing to match the exterior panels, the binding inset, and the interior base piece, but not the pocket pieces.

Exterior construction

  1. Fold each exterior panel in half (so it is now 4″ x 4½”). Mark the fold with a pin. This is the center line.
  2. Find the two lengths of twill tape. Place the tape across the center line of each exterior panel. Pin in place.
  3. Edgestitch the tape in place along each long side.
  4. Flip over each panel and press back one long raw edge of each panel ½”. Pin in place. If you have a directional motif, this edge should be what will align with the binding inset.
  5. With both exterior panels still wrong side up, set them side by side, making sure your directional motif (if any) is running the same way on both pieces.
  6. Find the binding inset piece.
  7. Place the binding piece right sides together with the two exterior panel pieces, aligning the raw edge of the binding with the folded-back “hem” of the panel pieces.
  8. Pin in place from the right side through all the layers.
  9. Edgestitch in place within the exterior panels, staying as close to the folded edge as possible. Remove the pins as you go.

Interior construction

  1. Find the two pocket pieces. Fold the pen/pad pocket in half so it is now 5″ x 5½”. Pin in place along the three raw sides, leaving an opening along the bottom for turning.
  2. Fold the credit card pocket in half so it is now 7½” x 4″. Pin in place along the three raw sides, leaving an opening along the bottom for turning.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the pocket seams, remembering to pivot at all the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the openings left for turning.
  4. Press the seam allowances open and clip the corners.
  5. Turn each pocket right side out through the opening. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick, long knitting needle or point turner works well for this. Press flat, pressing in the seam allowance at each opening so it is flush with the sewn seam.
  6. Find the interfaced interior base panel. Place it right side up on your work surface.
  7. Position the credit card pocket ¾” from the three raw edges of the base panel. Pin in place.
  8. Edgestitch the pocket in place along the top, bottom and outer side, leaving the inner side open. This stitching closes the opening left for turning.
  9. From the top sewn edge measure 2½” down towards the middle and use your fabric pen or pencil to draw a horizontal line. Repeat, measuring 2½” up from the bottom sewn edge.
  10. Topstitch along each drawn line through all the layers to create the pocket divisions. Use a lock stitch function if possible at the beginning and end of your seam for the neatest look. If you don’t have this function, leave the thread tails long and knot them to secure or very carefully backstitch.
  11. Position the notepad/pen pocket ¾” in from the raw side edge and ¾” up from the bottom raw edge. The top folded edge of the pocket will be approximately 2¼” down from the top raw edge of the panel. Pin in place along the sides and bottom.
  12. Edgestitch the pocket in place along the sides and bottom, leaving the top open. This stitching closes the opening left for turning.
  13. From the left edge of the pocket measure ¾” in and draw a vertical line.
  14. Topstitch along the drawn line through all the layers to create the narrow pen pocket. As above, use a lock stitch function if possible at the beginning and end of your seam.
  15. Find the hair band and clip it open. Fold it to form a loop. You want the loop to extend approximately 1½” beyond the seam line. Trim the ends of the band if need be.
  16. On the notepad/pen pocket side, find the center point. Pin the hair band in place at this point. The raw edges of the band should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric with the loop facing in towards the middle of the panel.
  17. Machine or hand tack the hair band to secure.

Final assembly

  1. Place the exterior and interior panels right sides together, making sure your directional motifs are going the right way on both the front and the pockets. Pin around all the edges, leaving a 2″ – 3″ opening along the bottom for turning.
  2. Sew around all edges using a ½” seam allowance, remembering to pivot at all the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the opening.
  3. Press the seam allowances open, clip corners and turn right side out.
  4. As above, using a long tool with a blunt end, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, gently push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  5. Thread the hand sewing needle with thread to best match both the exterior and interior fabrics and slip stitch the opening closed.
  6. Press flat again.
  7. To best position the front panel’s button, insert the pen and notepad, and fold the finished holder closed. Bring the loop over so it has a slight stretch. You want it to be snug but not crush the edge.
  8. Mark the center point for the button. If you don’t yet have a notepad and pen, the center point will likely be approximately ¾” to 1″ in from the edge. In the photo below, you are looking at the holder closed, with the loop un-done and laying flat from underneath.
  9. Hand stitch the button in place, being very careful to only stitch through the top layer. You do not want your button stitching to show through on the interior of the folder.
  10. If you are new to sewing on buttons by hand, we have a tutorial showing a super fast, easy and secure method.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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1 year ago

Great idea! Any chance there is a pdf of just the pattern?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Lisa

Hi Lisa — All our articles have a PDF option. Look along the left edge of the article for our vertical SHARE bar – it scrolls as you scroll (it may display horizontally across the top on some smaller devices) – click the red PDF icon at the top of the bar. For more info about our PDFs and Patterns, here’s a great little tutorial: https://sew4home.com/how-use-sew4home-pdfs-articles-patterns/

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