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Pencil Case Fish Extender

If you're unfamiliar with the Fish Extender (FE) phenomenon on Disney Cruises, a simple Google search will quickly get you up to speed, but Dis gives an excellent description and this is one of my favorite blog posts about it.

For the past 8 months, we've been a part of an active Facebook group consisting of about 350 of our cruise mates.  It's fun getting to know a bit about our fellow-travelers.  If you are going on a cruise, I highly recommend you join DisBoards or Cruise Critic so you can connect with others.  Our travel group has created tee shirts, booked mixology classes, teamed up for excursions, shared stateroom door decor designs, and of course, organized a fish extender exchange...and a Halloween candy exchange....and an ornament exchange. (Don't let all this fun overwhelm you. We chose to participate in the FE gift exchange only, so you aren't required to do it all! It's meant to be fun, not stressful.)  We are looking forward to meeting up, though, for a group photo in the atrium.  It's been a very cool way to meet people we never would have otherwise.

Another positive of the FE is that it forces me out of my self-focus.  It's easy with trip planning to become absorbed with OUR fun. OUR plan. OUR budget.  The FE gave me time to focus outward and create something fun for people I've never met.

Check out her stuff! She's amazing!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/Gradysmommy
If money wasn't a consideration or if I had mad sewing skills, I would have made or purchased an FE like this one. I love this design! In fact, back when we had booked a cruise in 2009, I bought Disney fabric to start creating something like that. The trip was cancelled and I've grown wiser and more realistic about my lack of skills, so no attempt was made to sew one stitch.

While I can't yet share what we put together for our FE gifts (it would ruin the surprise!), I can share with you how I made our extenders.

As usual, I scoured Google images and Pinterest for ideas. These pencil case FEs sparked my interest, but had no instructions. I decided it was worth a try anyway.

Pencil cases at H-E-B were $2 each. I'm sure they can be found for less, but I was ready to get started and these were heavy-duty with a clear front, which was needed.   Initially, I planned to use hot glue to secure the ribbon, but while at Hobby Lobby, I saw the grommets and figured they would look nicer. I had no experience applying grommets to fabric, but this was a let's-see-as-we-go project.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take step-by-step photos, but it was as basic as this:
  1. use the grommet and a pen to trace the hole size
  2. cut the hole with scissors (I'm sure a fabric hole punch would be better, but I don't have one)
  3. fit the grommet and use the tool to secure it (here's how)
  4. thread the ribbon through each grommet, starting at the bottom
  5. tie a knot under each grommet as you go so the pouch can hold some weight without slipping
The most fun was creating the designs for each pocket. We used Keynote (think Powerpoint...you could also use Photoshop or something like it) to bring in elements of each of our favorite things and characters, then had them printed on card stock at Office Depot.

I used the paper cutter at Office Depot to cut the signs to size, then slid them into the pocket so it would show through the window.

red ribbon - $1.50 on sale at Hobby Lobby
grommets - $3.00 at Hobby Lobby
grommet tool - $3.50 on sale at Hobby Lobby
burlap ribbon - $1 at Dollar Tree
pencil cases - $12 for 6 at H-E-B
color prints on card stock - $3
__________________________
$26, including tax, for two FEs!

Grommets and grommet tool
Dollar Tree and half-price Hobby Lobby ribbon


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