Hoo's Busy Portable Portfolio

Posted by administrator on Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Hiya!  I'm Kristi McDonough, pattern designer for Shari Butler of Doohikey Designs.  I am also a wife, mother to the world's sweetest three year old girl ever, fabric enthusiast, quilting novice, felt toy maker and all around lover of all things crafty. I run a teeny tiny blog and a teeny tiny etsy shop . I'm pretty sure my daughter inherited the same genes, she already has her own sewing machine and knows how to operate it! 

We like to keep ourselves busy whether we're home or away.  Today's project is the perfect thing to keep in your car for any time you need a good distraction: restaurants, doctor's offices, the in-laws etc.  Plus, it is about a million times better than the old restaurant stand by of three crayons and a paper placemat.  You and your child will be so happy to have a Busy Portfolio. 

Hoo's Busy Portable Portfolio

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Course Instructor: Kristi McDonough

art, crayon, crayon roll, crayon wallet, portfolio, folder, markers, coloring book

This is the perfect project to make in an afternoon, and would make a great gift.  It doesn't take a lot of fabric so it could be just the thing to make a few of to have on hand the next time your child gets an invitation to a birthday party. Shall we get started?

Here's what you need:

2/3 yard laminated cotton

2/3 yard quilters cotton

1 yard fusible, heavyweight interfacing

12" 1/4" elastic

one 3/4" shank button -or- 3/4" button-to-cover

Walking foot

Tailor's wax, disappearing ink marker and/or chalk marker 

Paints, markers, colored pencils, crayons, coloring book, stickers, book etc

***This project uses a 1/2" seam allowance***

coloring book, marker, paint, stickers, crayons, art, portfolio

When planning to cut your pattern pieces, be sure to keep the design in mind.  (Does it have a one way design?)  Start by cutting the following:

Main Outer/Lining Piece 13"x22", cut one laminate, one cotton, one interfacing

Coloring Book Pocket 13"x9", cut one laminate, one cotton, one interfacing

Book/Picture Pocket 13"x9", cut one laminate, one cotton, one interfacing

Marker/Pencil Pocket 13"x7", cut two cotton, one interfacing

Crayon Box Pocket 6"x6", cut one laminate

Handles 4"x8", cut two laminate

interfacing, cotton lining, laminate, Hoo's In The Forest Trees

Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse interfacing to laminate pieces, and to one marker pocket piece.  I know this sounds crazy, but you can iron laminate.  You can iron it laminate side down without a press cloth or laminate side up with one. 

laminate, interfacing, iron    iron, interfacing, laminate, press cloth

With right sides together and sewing along the 13" length, stitch the LEFT side of Coloring Book Pocket laminate to cotton lining; stitch RIGHT side of Book/Picture Pocket; stitch RIGHT side of Marker/Pencil pocket.

Stitch opposite sides of pocket

Press seams towards opposite edge of pocket, turn lining to inside and press. Topstitch along seam 1/2". Repeat for remaining pockets.

press seams towards unsewn long edge  

On the right side of the marker pocket, measure 1 1/2" up from bottom edge and draw a line.  Continue every 1", leaving 1/2" for seam allowance at the top.

Tailor's wax, marker   tailor's wax, marker

Lay the marker pocket on top of the Book/Picture pocket, having raw edges even. Baste sides and bottom.

marker pocket, picture pocket

Carefully sew along marker pocket lines, making sure to backstitch for extra strength at opening.  This is where the markers will be inserted, so you may want to backstitch it a few times for extra durability. Set aside.

sew, stitch

On right side of Coloring Book Pocket, measure 3" up from bottom edge and 1 1/2" in from raw edge.  Mark this spot and another at 4" from raw edge.  These are your elastic placement guides for the bottom of the watercolor paints.

watercolor paint, elastic

For the elastic placement for the top of the paints, measure 3 3/4" down from top edge, and 1 1/2" over from raw edge.  Mark this spot and another at 4" from raw edge. 

Pin 3" lengths of 1/4" elastic on top of dots and satin stitch in place.

elastic   sew, stitch, elastic

For Pen Elastic, Measure down 3 1/2" from top and 1" from finished edge of pocket.  Mark this spot and again at 2" from finished edge.  Pin a 1" length of elastic on these marks and satin stitch in place.

With wrong side of pockets to right side of Main Cotton Lining, lay the Marker/Picture Pocket on LEFT side, and Coloring Book Pocket to RIGHT side, matching raw edges; baste. 


To create the handles, fold each handle piece in half, lengthwise with wrong sides together and press, using a press cloth.

handles, press cloth

Open handle up and fold edge to center; press.

handles, press cloth

Open again and turn remaining edge to center; press. Repeat for the other handle.


Starting with the open edge of the handle pieces, topstitch 1/8" along both long edges.  I always start with the open edge to prevent any weird pulling or puckering that may happen by sewing the folded side first. Set handles aside.

folded edge, handle   handles

To create the hem on the Crayon Box Pocket, measure 1" down from top of pocket and mark all the way across. 


Fold edge to this line, creating a 1/2" casing for the elastic; press.


With wrong side up, zig-zag stitch along the raw edge, placing the center of your presser foot along the raw edge of the hem.

zig zag, pocket

Mark the center of the bottom of the pocket and also at 1" on both sides.  Make a box pleat by bringing the left and right marks to the center and pressing pleat flat; pin in place.

box pleat marking   box pleat

box pleat

Sew 1/2" seam allowance on sides and bottom of pocket.  This will used as your folding guide.

sew, seam allowance  

With wrong side up, fold corners to inside and press.

pocket, corner

Fold sides and bottom along seam line and press.  Insert a 6" length of 1/4" elastic into casing.  Secure both sides by sewing over once or twice.

pocket, seams   pocket, seam

Mark the center of the elastic edge of Crayon Box Pocket.

With right side up, mark the center of the side of the Main Laminate piece.  Measure 2 1/2" away from side edge; pin pocket in place, making sure centers match and having elastic opening along side edge; edgestitch in place using a zig-zag stitch.  Center the edge of the pocket with the middle line of your presser foot.

pocket   box pleat pocket

(Side note, you may have noticed that the pocket in the picture is not placed like I have explained in these instructions.  I decided after completing my portfolio that it would make more sense if the opening of the crayon pocket was under the handle so when the child is carrying the portfolio, there's less of a chance that the crayons won't fall out.)

Find the center of the Main Laminate piece and make a mark 1" away on both sides.  Align edge of handles on each side; there should be a 2" space between each end.  Pin in place; baste.  Repeat for second handle.  Fold a 3 1/2" piece of elastic in half and place on center mark on Crayon Pocket Side; baste.

han dles   handles

With right sides together, lay Main Cotton Lining piece on top of Main Laminate piece.  Pin all the way around, leaving a 4" gap for turning at the bottom.  If you are using a directional fabric, be sure that your main pieces are facing the correct way.  You don't want to turn your project out only to discover that your outside is upside down!

lining, laminate

Clip corners; turn and press.

corners   press

Pin the opening closed and edgestitch the portfolio all the way around.


Mark the center line and stitch.


Now all you have to do is sew the button on the outside of the portfolio and you're finished! 

finished Markers, book   finished


I am happy to answer any questions that you may have.  Feel free to contact me !  I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. 


Category: Accessories


  1. Nicely done. I love the idea of laminate for the outside. Plan to try this tutorial. Thanks for sharing!
    by Joyce
    July 30th, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.
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    by Maddalena
    April 03rd, 2014 at 4:47 a.m.
  3. I plan to make these for Christmas gifts. Our family is scattered and the families all travel with children when we come together for the holidays. This is a perfect busy tote. They can even put their IPad in the pocket. I plan to monogram each one. What fun.
    by OMG2Cute Boutique-Nana Pam
    November 18th, 2014 at 8:27 a.m.

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