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ScrapBusters: Key Fobs

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This ScrapBusters project is not only really fun to make, it is an awesome low-cost gift idea. We found the key fob hardware at Ribbon Retreat, one of our Shopping Directory vendors, for just 50 cents each... 40 cents if you buy a bunch. If you have fabric and trim scraps on hand (and who doesn't???), you can make a super cool little gift for under $1.00! We made a version for Mom and one for Dad as well as a trendy Teen version and one as the perfect Teacher gift. Fast, fun and inexpensive... it's a triple treat.

Even if you end up buying a package of piping or a few yards of rick rack, you are still going to have trouble spending even $5.00 - and you should have enough supplies for several key fobs. Check out the cool two-piece fobs from Ribbon Retreat - heavy duty!

My fabric scraps were:

Dad's - Lily & Will by Bunny Hill Designs for Moda Fabrics in Brown Plaid and Brown Tiny Dot

Mom's - Simply Sweet by Barbara Jones for Henry Glass & Co. Fabric in Jumbo Pink Dot on Yellow and Floral Diamonds

Teen's - Loulouthi by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit Fabrics in Hugs & Kisses Ocean and Hugs & Kisses Candy

Teacher's - Alphabeto Italiano Collezione by Michael Miller Fabrics in Black Numeri Piccolo and... I actually have no idea where I got that red dot fabric for the inside; I've had it for too long!

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Scraps of various cotton fabrics or ¼ yard cuts - each fob requires two coordinating strips approximately 2" x 15"
  • Scraps or purchased maxi piping - each fob you wish to trim with piping requires approximately ⅔ yard or two 12-13" lengths
  • Scraps of purchased ½" wide rick rack - each fob you wish to trim with rick rack requires approximately ⅔ yard or two 12-13" lengths
  • Key fob hardware; we found ours at Ribbon Retreat
  • All purpose thread to match both coordinating fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Straight pins
  • Fray check or similar seam sealant
  • Soft hammer and a tea towel or scrap of fabric - to cover the key fob, then whack it to close the hinge

Getting Started

NOTE: My ingredients shot above also shows strips of lightweight fusible interfacing, which I originally thought I'd need, but decided in the end to leave out. If you feel your fabrics are particularly lightweight or see-though, you may want to interface one strip. With the sides folded in and then either rick rick or piping in between, you actually have five layers, which created quite a bit of stability. Your choice.

  1. For each key fob:
    Cut TWO 2" x 15" strips; one each from two coordinating fabrics. Since this is a small project, your best choices are fabrics with a small design motif.
    Cut either TWO lengths of rick rack or TWO lengths of piping 12-13".

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Fold in both long raw edges of both fabric strips ½" and press into place.
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  2. I "cheated" and used my spiffy Simplicity Automatic Bias Tape Maker. It comes with a 1" bias tip, which takes a 2" strip and neatly, sweetly folds both sides into a perfect 1" width.
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  3. If you are using PIPING, the lengths of piping should be about the same as the fabric lengths; you'll trim the whole piece flush when sewn. Press all your pieces nice and flat.
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  4. If you are using RICK RACK, the lengths of rick rack should be ½" shorter on each end or 1" shorter over all.
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  5. Pin the piping or rick rack to the wrong side of the strip that will be the back or inside piece. Pin one side, stitch it and then pin and stitch the second side.
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  6. If using PIPING, attach a zipper foot and stitch the piping in place with the right side up.
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  7. If using RICK RACK, use a regular foot and stitch the rick rack in place with the wrong side up.
  8. Also if using rick rack, it is very important that the "waves" of the rick rack exactly match one another along each side and the trim is set and centered so only the top of waves show beyond the folded edges.
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  9. Place the front or outside piece wrong sides together with the back/trimmed piece.
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  10. Pin in place
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  11. Topstitch the two layers together, staying as close to the edge as you can. I used a zipper foot or both the piping and rick rack versions for this step. Here's how it looked stitching the Teacher version in place.
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  12. And, here's a close up of the Teen version going together.
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    NOTE: A thought about thread color. When stitching the trim to the back piece, use thread to match the fabric in both the top and bobbin. When topstitching the two layers together, I switched to a thread in the top that matched the front or outside fabric and kept the thread that matched the back or inside in the bobbin. This kept the look of my seam pretty on both sides.
  13. Trim the ends of your finished strip. Coat the raw edges with Fray Check or a similar seam sealant.
  14. If you are using PIPING, the fabric and the piping are flush.
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  15. If you are using RICK RACK, the first wave of the rack rack should be ½" from the end. Trim the ends of the fabric flush, but don't trim all the way back to the rick rack. You can also test the depth with your actual fob; you may need to trim off a bit more in order to make sure the top edge of the fob hardware hits just under the wave of the rick rack.
  16. Fold the strip in half, right side out, and make sure the two ends are flush with one another.
  17. Slip the fob onto the end of the folded strip.
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  18. Center the strip side to side within the hardware.
  19. Cover the hardware with a tea towel or a piece of fabric.
  20. Gently whack it once with a soft hammer.
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  21. Lift up the towel/fabric and check that the strip is still centered in the fob hardware. Adjust if necessary. Re-cover the hardware and whack a few more times to completely seal.
    NOTE: Don't whack TOO hard. I got a little carried away with the first one and made a little dent. Don't know my own strength!!

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Hints and Tips

If you are much better than I am at keeping multiple layers from shifting, you can skip the steps to pre-attach the trim to the back piece. Instead layer everything and just make one seam along both sides. The good part is that you then only have one line of stitching on the inside instead of two. The bad part is that it's hard to keep the trim from shifting... at least it's hard for me. And, honestly, if you are careful with your thread color choices, you really don't notice the two seam lines on the inside. Again... your choice.


Project Concept: Alicia Thommas

Sample Creation: Liz Johnson


Comments (31)

Teacher Mom said:
Teacher Mom's picture

Fun to make and will be cute stocking stuffers or small gifts. I found that using the measurements given (2" by 15" strips) and adding piping made the fob about 1/4 inch wider than the hardware. So, the piping actually sticks out past the sides of the hardware. I'll make my next strips 1 1/2" wide if I'm adding piping. Now, I'm on the hunt for 1 1/4" wide fobs at a local store - don't want to order more in large quantity, since I already have 25 of the 1" size - so that I can replace the hardware on the three I've finished.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Teacher Mom - Glad to know you're enjoyin the project. As you can see in our photos, our piped samples did go all the way to the edge of the fob, but did not go over. But, yes, you could certainly adjust the width to fit exactly what you'd like to do. Thanks for letting us know your plans. 

cathydeecher said:
cathydeecher's picture

thank you so much for your response, i was unable to get on their web page earlier, thanks again


Rockin' Robin said:
Rockin' Robin's picture

I intend to make a few of these as Wrist Handles for Canes.  It is very frustrating when a handicapped person has to put their cane down in a store or such (when you're paying) and it doesn't rest on it's little handle on the counter.  Some canes come with just a braided piece of Cord (like a shoelace)..this would make it much more attractive, it would stay on your wrist, and I think, I could actually SELL Them!

Moozerella said:
Moozerella's picture

Made one for all my staff at work, I hope they like them, I think they turned out really cute.  Thank you for the tutorial, I am having a blast!

Martha at MadCow Creationz said:
Martha at MadCow Creationz's picture
I have made a ton of these to sell at craft shows. However I cover webbing to make them more durable. I also sew the ends together before putting on the hardware because it can come loose if you don't. Also I use pliers instead of a hammer. It's much easier to control.
sewingmommy said:
sewingmommy's picture
i just saw these in a store for 12.95 each and thought to myself I can make that!!

Amber Warsnak said:
Amber Warsnak's picture
I am going to make these necklace size for our work nametags.They can match my outfits! I might get around to make gifts for paraprofessonals and other teachers too. Thanks for the idea!
tpill02 said:
tpill02's picture
finally got around to making some of these.....they are terrific! and what a bargain with the great price on the hardware and of course all the fabric was free (from my mountain of scraps!). i made mine without piping or rick-rack, so i started with 2-1/2" strips so that the finished strap measures 1-1/4" in width and fits the hardware perfectly! thanks so much for the link to the the hardware-and as always, thanks for the projects!!
mommab said:
mommab's picture
OMGoodness, how fun, easy and inexpensive to make... great for little extras to have on hand, stocking stuffers and so on... Thanks..Nancy
Readerwoman said:
Readerwoman's picture
Thanks for a GREAT tutorial - detailed, love the pictures - can't wait to try it! smilies/smiley.gifsmilies/grin.gif
Stephanie Z. said:
Stephanie Z.'s picture
I make these types of keychains all the time (but with different closings), but i LOVE your little cheater tool!!! I must have!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
A fusible seam tape is certainly an option to hold the multiple layers together. I decided against it because the fob is quite narrow and I didn't want to risk any edges of the adhesive tape showing along the edge. But that's just me smilies/cheesy.gif. It's a dandy suggestion.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Stacy H - the piping and Rick rack are both just decorative
SaraD said:
SaraD's picture
If you cut one piece of fabric 2 inches and the other 1 1/2, it will frame the piece without having to mess with piping. I also use fusible hem tape to hold all layers together for stitching and it adds a little body. Love the ric rac idea.
KayCee Studios said:
KayCee Studios's picture
You could also use wide ribbon, some come in very cute or fancy prints, instead of fabric scraps smilies/smiley.gif
Boosmith said:
Boosmith's picture
What a great project to use some scraps up....and such a fun little gift!!
MJ Lemieux said:
MJ Lemieux's picture
You can use basting tape to hold both layers together and be able to sew once. smilies/grin.gif
Stacy H. said:
Stacy H.'s picture
I love this idea and think it would make a great stocking stuffer so I plan to make some. I am wondering, having never done one of these before or worked with piping, does pipping or rick rack have to be used? Does it serve an important purpose or is it just for looks? Is it a must or can I leave it out?

Thank you for posting such wonderful ideas along with very good tutorials and detailed instructions!!!

Thank you,
Stacy H.
Julie H said:
Julie H's picture
What a fun and easy project! I love ideas to use up my fabric scraps! Thank you!
blop said:
blop's picture
Too cute...ordered the fobs, too. Thought it might be cute w/elastic added to make it fit a bit tighter on wrist...just a thought!!
JennyLeigh said:
JennyLeigh's picture
Love this! Ordered some fob hardware. They should give you commission. smilies/smiley.gif
Wag Doll said:
Oh fab idea, it's inspired me to make my own lanyard ribbon for my keycard at work!