Back-to-school time is here again, and your local Salvation Army thrift store is ideal for organizing your pens and pencils in a thrifty, nifty jiffy!

Supplies Needed: Thrifted sweater, scarf or scrap fabric, scissors, ruler, chalk, two buttons, needle, thread, Mason jar lid.

Step 1 Source a second-hand treasure at your local Salvation Army thrift store. This can be a wool sweater, wool scarf, denim or anything else made from thick, durable material.

Wash your second-hand find. If it’s wool, you’ll want to felt it by washing it in hot water.

Step 2 Now, flatten your material, and use chalk to draw a pattern onto the material. I placed my pens and pencils on the wool scarf to gauge the dimensions I needed for my DIY pencil case.

You’ll want to add 3 centimetres to the top and bottom. Make sure you have enough width to accommodate a three-fold for the case.

Step 3 Once you have the rectangular shape drawn out, add a circular shape to the top and bottom. These circles will be the flaps at the bottom and the top of your case.

(Note: I made the top slightly longer than the bottom to make it clear what was the main opening for my case.)

Step 4 Cut out your case. Now you can pin the case together. Fold the sides—the left side over the middle, then the right side over the middle. Fold the flaps over and pin them.

This is now how your pencil case will look.

Step 5 Next, use the chalk to mark where the button opening will be. Cut the holes on the top and bottom flaps.

Then, use the chalk to mark where the holes will be on the top side piece, and cut the holes.

Step 6 Sew buttons onto the lower side piece that has no buttonhole. There will be a button at the top and bottom.

Once you’ve stitched the buttons, then you can pull the buttons through the holes in the top side piece. Pull the button through the bottom flap.

Now, all you need is to add your pens and pencils to your case, and close the top flap. That’s it!

Denise Corcoran (aka Thrifty By Design) is an author, upcycler, community builder and workshop facilitator based in North Vancouver. She shares her enthusiasm for crafting and upcycling by facilitating “Crafternoons” throughout Vancouver. She is also a creative expert for The Salvation Army’s thrift stores. Find a thrift store near you at

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