Bath And Body Works Pocketbac Holder Tutorial

My kids recently started up their in-person hybrid schooling (first time in a school building in ten months!). One of the things on their recommended school supply list was personal hand sanitizer. Well, the last thing I want to do is leave hand sanitizer in their backpacks to be squished all over everything, but hey, I know how to sew, so I dutifully went online, looked up some tutorials on how to make a hanging hand sanitizer holder, and then went off to the store to buy some hand sanitizer.

Do you see my mistake there? I looked up tutorials before I bought the hand sanitizer. All the tutorials I glanced at were for hand sanitizers that look like this:

Which meant that all those tutorials were designed with a hole to fit the cap, wrapping the fabric around the bottle itself. The width of the bottle compared to the narrowness of the cap means that it could hang neatly upside down from whatever it's clipped to (like a backpack), allowing for easy access to the sanitizer. Perfect, right?

Well, I ended up at Bath and Body Works for hand sanitizer.

I haven't been there in...a long time (at least ten months, by my count).

All Bath and Body Works had were bottles that look like this:

That was...not going to work with the hand sanitizer holder tutorials I found.

Well, it's a good thing I'm a designer. I thought about it, I measured it, I thought some more, measured it again, then one more time for good "measure" (see what I did there?) and thought some more.

I really wanted the kids to be able to hang it from their backpacks and access it without out having to unclip it, or take it out of anything, or whatever. So, I needed it open at the top, but able to hang without worrying about it falling out.

So I measured it one more time. And I decided that what I need to do was wrap fabric around it...and add some elastic so that it could hold the bottle right at that tiny lip under the cap.

Good thing elastic is so plentiful these days, huh?

Actually, I have quite a bit left from making masks, so I put that to use. I also gathered a few other supplies, determining that a charm square (a 5x5 inch quilting cotton square) cut in half would be the perfect size to wrap around the bottle (with a half inch seam allowance included, of course).

I grabbed a second charm square to make the clip handle. I started with that, cutting the length of the charm square by 2 inches (I probably could have cut a 2x2 inch square, but I wasn't sure exactly how much length I would need). Then I folded it like bias tape (fold in half, press, open up and then bring the two cut edges into the middle fold, fold together with the cut edges inside, press again) and the topstitched an inch from both edges all the way down. I folded it around the clip and then stitched as close to the clip as I could to hold it in place.

I even used my zipper foot so I could get a little closer.

Once that was done, I grabbed my other charm square and cut it in half, so I ended up with two rectangles 5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. I lay my clip on one and trimmed the excess fabric from it.

I put the clip in the middle-ish, but decided it didn't really matter. This was mostly so I didn't have worry about it getting caught in the side seam allowances.

My original plan had been to sew around three edges, add the elastic to one side, turn it right side out, press the open edges down and then top stitch.

It was too small to topstitch in a circle.

I literally could not make it work. I tried embarrassing long time before I gave up and made a new plan.

I layered the fabric together again, with the clip sandwiched in the middle. Then I sewed along both long edges. When that was done, I attached the elastic to the edge that did not have a clip.

I determined that the hand sanitizer bottle was about 4 inches around, so I cut the elastic at about 3.5 inches. Enough that it would be tight enough to hold the bottle in place, not so tight that it would take super human effort to get the bottle in and out.

I stretched the elastic as I went and used a long, narrow zig zag stitch. The length was about 3.5, the width about 0.5.

I turned it right side out, pressed it, and studied it for awhile, thinking about the conundrum of how to get the side seams together.

I could just sewing them together. But that would leave me with an ugly visible seam inside, which I was trying to avoid.

I finally came to conclusion that the only thing to do was a French seam.

If you've never done a French seam before, it's basically where you lay two pieces of fabric WRONG sides together and then sew your seam at half the seam allowance (so if your seam allowance is half an inch, which is what I tend to use when I'm winging things like I was doing here, you would sew at a quarter inch). Then you trim the seam allowance to half that (to avoid ugly poking out threads), flip your fabric so it is right sides together, and sew at half the seam allowance again.

I did not want to mess with trimming because I am lazy, so I sewed at 1/8 inch the first time around, and then at 1/4 inch (I had been using a half inch seam allowance, but the French seam was likely to add some bulk I hadn't anticipated). And then, ta da!

Ready for clipping onto backpacks!

Have you had to make hand sanitizer holders? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!