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!
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.
Follow these simple steps to and learn how to make a pencil case with a handy zipper closure.
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
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.
Step 2: Prepare the zipper
Fold the zipper tabs in half lengthwise, matching the short ends. Press well to mark the center line.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
For a professional finish, topstitch the edge in matching or contrasting thread.
Step 4: Make the pouch shape
Fold the lining back so it is right sides together with itself.
Fold the outer fabric up as well, aligning the edge of the lining fabric with the top edge of the outer fabric.
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.
Turn the pencil case right-side out. The outer fabric should be on the outside and lining on the inside of the tube shape.
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)
Fold the tube so the zipper edge is 1″ down from the top. Press well to hold the shape in place.
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.
Trim each side seam allowance to a generous 1/8″.
Turn the pencil case inside out. Push out the corners and seam evenly. Press well.
Stitch each end again with a generous ¼” seam, enclosing the previous seam and creating a clean edge.
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.
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