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I've got a whole load of pens and pencils that need better organising. Pencil rolls are great for this, but I didn't have any on hand, and I didn't want to wait for delivery. They're pretty simple as a concept, so I wondered if I could make some quick and easy ones with materials I had on hand. I've got plenty of gaffer tape lying around and a cheap shower curtain I picked up for only £2 for using as protective floor cover for crafting, and went from there.

It took me about an hour to make this one, which included some pondering time as I worked out what I wanted to do with it. I'd estimate that you could easily make one of these in under 30 minutes.

Step 1: You Will Need:

  • Shower curtain or plastic table cloth (or similar)
  • Gaffer tape (aka duct tape)
  • Piece of string or ribbon
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Permanent pen (Sharpie or CD marker)
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting board (or surface you don't mind wrecking)

Step 2: Cutting Your Basic Roll

Cut your plastic to size. The height needs to fit your pen, with some space at either end. I went with 20cm as a) it's the right size, and b) my shower curtain has stripes on it, and one of them conveniently hit the 20cm mark for easy cutting. If you don't have a convenient stripe, then you can use your pen and ruler to draw a line to cut along. The length is however long you want it to be. Mine is 70cm, which fits 24 pens, and has a bit extra at the end as a flap.

Step 3: Adding the Holder Strip

Let's face it, the shower curtain is a bit flimsy, so it's going to need a bit of extra support. Do this by adding a strip of gaffer tape lengthwise along the middle (you could do another strip on the other side if you wanted to make it even more secure). Once you've done this, you're ready to mark out where the pen slots will be. This will be roughly halfway down the plastic, with two rows of slits to make the slots. Allow a gap of at least 2cm from the edge of your plastic, and then mark out the slits at 2cm each with a 0.5cm gap between them. You should end up with around 10cm at the far end between the final slit and the edge of the plastic in order to make a flap for adding the tie. Do the same to make the second row, about 2cm beneath the first, making sure that the slits line up.

Step 4: Cutting Your Slots

Using your craft knife on your cutting board, carefully cut along the markings to open up your slots. If you cut a bit too far, don't worry, just reinforce it with a strip of gaffer tape. You can also just reinforce the area in this way if you're a bit paranoid like I am.

If you're confident enough with a craft knife, you can skip marking out the slots in pen, and go with cutting them as you go with the ruler, which makes the process faster and means you don't have pen marks on the gaffer tape (though I personally am not bothered by this as it's a pen roll made from a shower curtain and gaffer tape).

If you're not at all confident with a craft knife, can't use one for whatever reason, or simply don't have one, you can make the slits with scissors. Gently fold the area of the slit in half so that the line you marked out has 1cm on either side. Then snip down the line over the fold with your scissors, and when you unfold, you'll have your slit.

Step 5: Neaten and Secure Your Edges

Depending on the strength of your plastic, you could probably skip some or all of this step, perhaps just doing the ends for easier rolling. However, I did a layer of gaffer tape around all the edges, just to give it some extra rigidity and protection for if it drops and lands on one of the ends. The process is simple, just stick the tape on one side with half of the sticky stuff exposed at the top so you can fold it over and stick that to the other side. For the sake of your sanity, you'll want to do the length-wise edges in shorter strips so it's easy to control the tape.

Step 6: Add Your String to Tie It Shut

You'll need to add a way to keep your roll securely closed. Flip it over to the outer side, and on the end that has the 70cm flap, use some gaffer tape to stick a bit of string or ribbon on there. It needs to be long enough to wrap around a couple of times and tie a bow. I cut a metre, which was more than enough. If in doubt, load the roll up in pens, wrap it up, and then wrap some string around to see how much you actually need.

Alternatively, you could also secure this with a couple of elastic bands at either end.

Step 7: Load It Up and Roll It Shut!

You're now ready to load it up with all your spare pens and pencils! Pull the slots up from the strip on the inside side (the side without the string on it - you'll run into problems tying it closed that way around) sliding your pens into place. Then start rolling from the end with the shorter flap over the pens, wrap your string around it a couple of times, and tie it in a bow to keep it closed.

Hey presto, pens neatly stored!

<p>What a cool idea! I'm always looking for something to repurpose. </p>
Thanks! :) It's always satisfying to use junk you have lying around.

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Bio: Crafting as a means to distract myself from the horror show that is 2016. If I'm making things or plotting to make things, it ... More »
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