Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pencil Case Tutorial

Well, I thought about doing up a little pencil case a year ago and never got around to it, but once again, though it is still only July, I can see the new school year on the horizon.  Time to get going on this year’s round of new school supplies.  So, how about a   lined pencil case?  Like this:

Easy peasy.  I used a different method for inserting the zipper but I got the method for the bag assembly from this excellent tutorial by Annie Get Your Glue Gun!


  • Outer fabric: two  rectangles cut 5" by 11"
  • Lining fabric: two  rectangles cut 5" by 11"
  • Tabs: one rectangle cut 3" by 6"
  • Interfacing: two  rectangles cut 4 1/2" by 11"
  • 12" zipper
  • Steam-A-Seam 2 quarter-inch fusible tape

Making the Tabs

1.  Fold the tab in half lengthwise, right sides together.  Sew a 1/4" seam along the long edge.

2.  Center the seam and press open.

3.  Turn right side out.  Top stitch both long sides and then cut into two pieces, 3" in length each.

Iron on interfacing to outer fabric.  (NOTE: there will be a half inch strip at the top that is not interfaced.  This is to help avoid bulk when attaching the zipper).

Attach Zipper

1.  Iron on strips of the fusible tape onto the top and bottom halves of the zipper on both front and  back.

2.  Lay one of the lining pieces on your work surface right side up.

3.  Peel the paper off the fusible on the top half of the back side of the zipper.  Lay the zipper on top of the lining fabric.  Fuse in place.  (The zipper pull should be up and facing you.)

4.  Remove the paper from the top half of the right side of the zipper and lay the outer fabric over it, right side down.  Fuse in place

5.  Using a zipper foot, stitch right along side the zipper edge.  After sewing, iron both the lining and outer fabric away from the zipper.  Topstitch along the edge.

TIP: I like to use an Edge Stitch foot (a number 10 for my Bernina) for topstitching.  It allows me to get a nice clean line without any effort at all.  It’s hard to tell from the photo but the bar in front allows me to either follow a straight line or, even better, tuck up against a folded edge.

6.  Add the other lining and outer fabric using the same technique: once again lay the lining fabric right side up, remove the paper from the back of the zipper and fuse in place. 

Finish adding the top piece, sew, and topstitch.  You can now trim off the ends of the zipper, but be sure to open the zipper first so that you do NOT cut off the zipper pull.  Your case will now look like this.

7.  Open up the fabrics so that on one side of the zipper the outer fabrics are facing each other right sides together and on the other, the lining fabrics  are facing each other right sides together.  Be sure that the zipper is open approximately half way.

8.  Pin and sew the fabrics together along each long side using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Leave a four inch opening in the middle of the lining side for turning the back right side out in just a little bit.   (And, oops, I missed a photo of sewing the seams but I’m sure you get the idea).

9.  Press the seams open.

10.  With the seams and zipper in the middle (and lining these up neatly on top of each other), place the outer fabric on the bottom, now insert a tab (folded in half with the seam to the inside and raw edges to the outside), line up the zipper, and the lining fabric.  Pin in place and sew with a half inch seam.

Here’s what it looks like from the other side with both seams sewn.

11.  Turn right side out through the opening in the lining fabric.  Slip stitch the opening closed.  Turn right outside again through the open zipper.  You now have a case that looks like this.  If you don’t want your pencil case boxed, you could stop right here.

12.  To box your pencil case, once again turn the case inside out.

13.  Take a corner and roll it so that you have a triangle.  If you place a ruler so that the 45 degree angle runs along the seam, you can tell when you have created a nice square box.

14.  Draw a line 1" up from the point.

15.  Sew across the drawn line.  Repeat for all four corners.

16.  Turn your case inside out and you’re done.  So-o-o-o cute!


  1. Very nice! I used that dandelion fabric for a Buttercup bag a few months back. I absolutely LOVE that fabric!

  2. Awesome! I going to try making this for my sister for when she moves out this September for school! Thank you for the tutorial ;)

  3. Fab tutorial - I can't wait to make up some of these.

  4. I've worked with your tutorial and it was really easy... big thank you! :)

  5. Thanks so much! I made the pencil case, and I absolutely love the "boxy" look...=)

  6. Love this. Just made it for my daughter for kindergarten. Was one of the easiest and clearest tutorials I have found online!

  7. Thanks! Great tutorial. Love the boxed corners!

  8. Thanks for this tutorial. Here's mine:

  9. we made one! using vintage fabric. it's adorable

  10. What are the dimensions of the pencil case please?

  11. Just finished making one of these and I love it! I used a heavy weight duck cloth for the exterior and a quilt weight cotton for the lining plus interfacing on the lining. I'm excited to find something to sew for my 18 year old that he can actually use!

  12. Hi Terry,
    thank you very much for this tutorial. I was doing for a friend a pencil case like yours and you can see the photos in my spanish blog:

  13. Very nice tutorial thanks for sharing