Sewing Blog

Make a Sweet, Simple & Scrap-Friendly Pencil Case in Just 5 Steps

Everyone can use a pencil case! If not for pencils or office supplies, a simple zippered pouch can be use for an electronic device, a small change of clothes or an on-the-go snack. Learn how to make a pencil case with this tutorial — you can de-stash small cuts of fabric while sewing one!

How to Sew a Pencil Case - A Sweet & Simple Tutorial on Craftsy

This case is a generously sized zippered pouch measuring 7″ x 10½”. It is fully lined and boasts easy-to-sew professional French seams to finish the sides. The addition of zipper tabs give you something to hold onto while you are using the zipper.

Scared of zippers? Be afraid no more! This pencil case doesn’t need a fancy zipper foot, and I’ll explain every step of the process with detailed photos.

Don’t Fear Zippers!

zippering techniques

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Follow these simple steps to and learn how to make a pencil case with a handy zipper closure.

Learn how to sew this handy zippered pouch to hold pencils, office supplies or whatever you need!

What you’ll need:

  • Outer fabric: one 12″ x 14″ rectangle
  • Lining fabric: one 12″ x 14″ rectangle
  • Zipper tab fabric: two 1″ x 3″ rectangles
  • Medium-weight interfacing or fusible fleece: one 12″ x 14″ rectangle (optional)
  • 12″ (or longer) zipper
  • Water-soluble glue or pins
  • Matching thread
  • Iron and pressing surface
  • Sewing machine and other regular sewing supplies
All you need to make a pencil case is a few pieces of scrap fabric and a zipper.

Step 1: Add the interfacing or fusible fleece

If you plan to use interfacing or fusible fleece, start by fusing it to the wrong side of the outer fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will give your pencil case more body and durability.

Add Fusible Fleece to Fabric

Step 2: Prepare the zipper

Fold the zipper tabs in half lengthwise, matching the short ends. Press well to mark the center line.

Pressing Zipper Tab Fabric

Unzip the zipper halfway. Open up the zipper tabs you just pressed and place them on top of the zipper, right sides together, next to the metal ends. Glue or pin the bottom half of the zipper tab (the half touching the metal ends) to the zipper.

Zipper With Fabric Tabs in PlaceZipper Tab Fabric Glued onto Zipper

With the zipper tab open, stitch along the pressed center line. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to secure it. Sew slowly and carefully over the zipper teeth, using the hand wheel if necessary, to make sure your needle doesn’t break.

Sewing Tab Fabric to the ZipperZipper Tab Fabric Sewn to the Zipper

Finally, press the top of the zipper tab, wrong sides together with itself. Baste or use glue to hold it in place. Cut off the metal ends and any zipper tape that extends past the tabs. Be careful not to cut into the metal with your sewing scissors!

Zipper With Folded Over Tab FabricTrimmed Zipper Tape

Step 3: Sew the pouch pieces together

Match the lining and outer fabrics with right sides together. Place on your workspace with the outer fabric on top.

Aligning Printed Outer Fabric With Solid Lining Fabric

Place the zipper in between the outer and lining layers with the right side up. The zipper pull should be on the left. Line up the top of the zipper with the top of each fabric. Glue or pin it in place.

Align the Outer Fabric, Lining Fabric and Zipper

Move your sewing machine needle position to the left as far as it will go. Line up the fabric in your sewing machine so the needle is ¼” over from the raw edge. The presser foot should be able to slide freely beside the zipper teeth. Stitch the seam, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the thread.

Sewing Fabric with a Quarter Inch Seam Allowancestitched-top-seam

Tip: To easily sew past the zipper pull, stop just before it with your needle in the down position. Lift the presser foot and reach under the fabric to slide the zipper pull out of the way. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing.

Then, open the lining and outer fabric so they are wrong sides together. Press the fabric away from the zipper tape on both sides.

Pressing Fabric Away from a Zipper

For a professional finish, topstitch the edge in matching or contrasting thread.

Zipper With Tabs Sewn to Patterned Fabric

Step 4: Make the pouch shape

Fold the lining back so it is right sides together with itself.

Fold the Lining Up Above the ZIpper

Fold the outer fabric up as well, aligning the edge of the lining fabric with the top edge of the outer fabric.

Align Zipper, Outer Fabric and Lining Fabric Right Sides together

Open the zipper halfway and place it right side up between the outer and lining layers. Line up the top of the zipper with the top of both fabrics and glue or pin it in place. If the zipper is closed, the zipper pull will be on the right.

Line up the fabric in your sewing machine foot so the needle is ¼” over from the raw edge. Stitch the seam as before, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the thread.

Fabric Stitched Together at Top Seam

Turn the pencil case right-side out. The outer fabric should be on the outside and lining on the inside of the tube shape.

Turn a Half-Finished Pencil Case Right-Side OutUnfinished DIY Pencil Case Sewing Project

Press the lining and outer fabric away from the zipper tape. It helps to turn the pencil case inside out to properly press the lining.

Top stitch this edge if desired. Open the zipper all the way and arrange the opening around the needle before stitching. (See photo below)

Topstitch Around ZipperZipper Surrounded by Topstitching

Fold the tube so the zipper edge is 1″ down from the top. Press well to hold the shape in place.

Pressing Pencil Case Around the Zipper

Step 5: Finish with a French seam

Almost done! Now we can finish the pencil case with a French seam. Pin the sides and stitch each one with a ¼” seam. Be careful when stitching over the zipper teeth.

French Seam on the Side of a Pencil Case

Trim each side seam allowance to a generous 1/8″.

Trim Seam Allowance on Pencil Case

Turn the pencil case inside out. Push out the corners and seam evenly. Press well.

Inside-Out DIY Zippered Pouch

Stitch each end again with a generous ¼” seam, enclosing the previous seam and creating a clean edge.

Extra Seam Stitching on Pencil Case

Turn the pencil case right-side out again and give it a good press. Trim any threads as necessary and remove basting stitches, if used.

Final Press on Finished DIY Pencil CaseZippered Pencil Case Tutorial on Craftsy!

Save this tutorial on Pinterest for later!

How to Make a Simple Pencil Case — FREE Tutorial on Craftsy

 

11 Comments

floribunda

I don’t understand why we’re told to cut two (smaller) lining pieces instead of one piece the same size as the exterior — there doesn’t seem to be anything about joining the lining pieces. Am I missing something?

Reply
Sherri Sylvester

Hi Floribunda. You are right! The lining should be the same size as the exterior. Sorry for the confusion.

Reply
Monika

I think to that following this description the Lining and outer fabric must have the same size. There is no notice that the Lining pieces must be sewn together to a big lining piece, but is mentionet to fold the lining in half before sewing it to the second zipper tape. . .Normalle Lining has two pieces to have a hole to turn but in this case not necessary and not enclosed in the description.

Reply
Sherri Sylvester

Thanks Monika – you’re right. The lining should be cut to the same size as the outer fabric.

Reply
Leslea

I think that its an error in the description- they should be the same size if we are following the rest of the instructions.

Reply
Sherri Sylvester

Thank you Leslea! You’re right. They should both be cut to the same size.

Reply
Judy P

Then you should correct it instead of having to tell everyone.

Reply
Sherri Sylvester

Thanks Judy! The materials listing has been corrected, we just wanted to let the others know as well 🙂

Reply
Susan

Hello Sherri,

I really liked your article. One thing I enjoyed was that you made a step-by-step guide that is easy to follow by anyone.

Reply
Barbara Rosborg

I think maybe there’s a mistake in the measurements for the zipper tabs, too. It says 1″ x 3″ in the pattern but the photos make it look more like 1″ by 2″, which is nicer-looking.

Reply
Barbara Rosborg

Oh, I’m so sorry, I was wrong about the tabs. Please delete my comment!

Reply

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