Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flat Pencil Case Tutorial

I wanted to try another flat pencil case with the zipper higher up rather than centered.  Here it is.  (In the photo, the case looks a little wider at the bottom than at the top, but that is an illusion created by the camera angle.  The actual shape is perfectly rectangular.)

Here it is with the zipper open:

Finished Size: 8 1/2" by 5"


  • Front upper fabric: 2" by 9 1/2"
  • Front bottom fabric: 5" by 9 1/2"
  • Back fabric: 6" by 9 1/2"
  • Lining fabric: same as for the outer fabrics
  • Interfacing:
    • 1 1/2" by 8 1/2"
    • 4 1/2" by 8 1/2"
    • 5" by 8 1/2"
  • Zipper: for ease of assembly, 12" or longer
  • Steam-A-Seam 2 quarter-inch fusible tape

(Ahem.  You may notice in the photo above a little red rectangle not listed in the materials list.  That was for the side tabs that I intended to add and then forgot about until after I had sewn the side seams.  Not to worry, this pencil case doesn’t really need those side tabs anyway.  I have a quilting buddy who says that she very, very rarely undoes something.  She just looks at it and says, “Well, that’s how God intended it.”  So, when the master of the universe decides this case doesn’t need side tabs, who am I to argue?)


1.  Iron the interfacing on the wrong side of the outer fabric.  Notice that on the back piece, the interfacing is centered with a 1/2" seam allowance on all four sides.  With the front pieces, the interfacing lines up with the bottom and has the half-inch seam allowance at the sides and top.

2.  Iron the quarter inch fusible tape onto the top and bottom of the zipper on both the front and back.  The red arrow points to where I started the tape:  it is easiest to attach the zipper when the zipper pull is off to the side (which is also why we start with a bigger zipper than we need).

3.  Place the upper front lining fabric right side up.  Remove the paper from the top of the back side of the zipper.  Line up the top edge of the zipper and the fabric -- with the zipper right side up and the pull off the edge of the fabric.  Fuse in place.

4.  Remove the paper from the top of the zipper.  Place the upper front fabric on top of the zipper (so that the lining and outer fabrics are right sides together) and fuse in place.  (Notice that the top edge of the fabric does not have interfacing.)

5.  Using a zipper foot, sew along the edge of the zipper.

6.  Fold both the lining and the front fabric back away from the zipper and press to get a good clean fold.  Top stitch along the edge.

Tip: I use an Edge Stitch foot (a number 10 for my 1530 Bernina) to get a nice clean topstitch.  The front bar tucks right against the fold and keeps everything lined up perfectly.

7.  Repeat to attach the bottom of the front piece.  When you are done, it will look like this.

8.  You can now trim off the extra zipper length.  Be sure to open the zipper so that you do not cut off the zipper pull!

9.  To hold together the open side of the zipper (which will make succeeding steps a little easier), line up the teeth and stitch back and forth a few times along the edge  to hold in place.

10.  Your top piece will be just a hair longer than the remaining lining piece and the backing.  Stack the three on top of each other (with the front piece on the bottom) and cut off the extra bit of fabric so that the size is the same for all three pieces.  (Sorry, I forgot a photo of this step).

11.  Stack the three units beginning with the lining right side up, the front piece outer side up, and the backing right side down.  (The offset in the photo below is for demonstration purposes only.  Your pieces should stack exactly on top of each other).

12.  Sew along the top with a 1/2" seam allowance.

When you are done, it will look like this when you open up the lining:

And like this, when you open up the outer fabrics:

Now is a good time to make sure that your zipper is half way open.

13.  Flip your fabrics so that the outer fabrics are on one side of the zipper and the lining fabrics are on the other. 

14.  Sew along the bottom of the lining fabrics using a half-inch seam allowance.  Leave a 3" gap for turning. 

15.  Now sew along the bottom of the outer fabrics using a half-inch seam allowance.

16.  You now have a unit where the top of the case is sewn together through all the layers but at the bottom, the lining and the outer fabrics are sewn separately.

17.  Pin the side seams together.  To make the corners behave a little better when they are turned inside out, fold down the seam allowances with the lining fabrics folding to the lining side and the outer fabrics folding to the outer.  (I know that sounds a little confusing.  Not to worry, if you just sew straight top to bottom it will also work).

18.  After the side seams are sewn, trim the corners to reduce bulk.

19.  Turn the case inside out through the opening in the lining.  Use the opening in the lining to give you access to push the corners of the case out.  After you are satisfied that the corners are in good shape, sew the gap in the lining closed. 

20.  Now turn the bag inside out through the zipper opening.  Press and you’re done! 

NOTE:  it would be easy enough to turn this into a wristlet.  Simply add a strap to the top of the front piece right after step 8 or 9.  If I were going to make up a wristlet (could happen), I’d also add in some fusible fleece for a little bit of quilting texture as well.

Since I am into school accessories at the moment, I’ll admit that I’ve drafted some rough ideas for how to create another folder to hold papers.  It remains to be seen if my idea will work or not.   Wish me luck. 


  1. Lovin' all these zipper pouches. I've been itchin' to make some. Thanks for all the tutorials!

  2. It's a lovely tutorial. Thanks so much!

  3. Fabulous! Terri!!
    Thank you!!

  4. I am loving the fabric pattern. Plus that seems to be an easy work. I'd try that later and maybe hit something really pretty for my kids. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What an amazingly easy tutorial, thanks so much for this! Made a few mistakes because I skim read the instructions, such as not leaving an opening to turn the thing inside out -___- but I recovered! Looks so cute :) thanks again!

  6. Thank you so much ! xx

  7. Love this pattern. I made one for my 8 y/o grandson last night and he loves it!