Pencil CaseTutorial

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Originally this “pencil case” was a back to school project.  Once completed I immediately filled it with sewing tools.  It was in that moment I decided it would probably never make it to school.  Instead it will likely find it’s way into my sewing room for storing marking pens and pencils, a seam gauge, chopstick, That Purple Thang tool etc.  Of course you can make it a carrying case for just about anything simply by changing the size of your rectangles.  Perhaps a cosmetic bag, travel pouch, or anything and everything you can think of.  Let’s get started.


  • two rectangles measuring 5×11 inches for the exterior fabric
  • two rectangles measuring 5×11 inches for the lining fabric
  • two rectangles measuring 4 3/4×10 3/4 inches lightweight fusible interfacing
  • one rectangle measuring 3×5 inches for the end tab
  • one 35cm (14″) zipper or longer
  • coordinating thread

STEP 1:  Select your fabric and cut it to size (tab piece not showing in this picture)

1 cutoutsSTEP 2:  Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the lining following manufacturer’s instructions.

fusible interfacing

STEP 3:  Lay your lining fabric on the table right side up.  Place your zipper on top of the lining right side up and then the main fabric on top of the zipper right side down.  Line up all the edges and pin.  Let the ends of the zipper extend past the ends of the fabric.  The excess will be cut off later.

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STEP 4:  Make sure you have the zipper foot attached to your machine and stitch the zipper in place.sewing zipper side 1

STEP 5:  Remove from the machine…

ZIPPER 1 side sewn

…and fold both the main and lining fabric back exposing the zipper.  Give it a light press.

zipper 1 sewn and folded into place

STEP 6:  Next you need to layer the fabrics for the other half of the case.  Place the main fabric right side up on the table, place the sewn half of the bag on top ZIPPER FACING DOWN.  Then place the lining right side down on top of the zipper.  Pin, stitch and fold the fabric away from the zipper teeth and press as you did in steps 4 and 5.

zipper side 2 placement azipper side 2 placement b

zipper side 2 sewn in

STEP 7:  Topstitch next to the zipper teeth and give it a test zip to make sure it works smoothly.

zipper topstitched

zipper test

STEP 8:  Pin the two main fabric pieces to each other and the two lining pieces to each other. Stitch the long side of the main fabric and on the long side of the lining leave a 3 inch opening for turning.

stitsh long sides

STEP 9:  Next you will need to cut out a 3 inch x 5 inch rectangle of fabric for the tab.

3 x 5

STEP 10:  Fold in half right sides together and stitch the long side with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

making the tabSTEP 11:  Turn right side out, center the seam and press.

tab turned and pressed

STEP 12:  This next step is tricky to explain so I am depending on the photo to help with this part.   Open your zipper an inch or two.  Position the main fabric so the seam is centered over the top of the zipper teeth and the lining seam is centered over the bottom of the zipper. Pin in place at the closed end of the zipper.

funny fold

STEP 13:  Now fold your tab in half bringing the raw edges together and sandwich it between the main fabric layers at the open end of the  zipper.  Line up all the raw edges keeping the loop inside the bag and centered over the zipper.  **AGAIN MAKE SURE YOUR ZIPPER PULL IS OPEN PART WAY so you don’t sew it outside of the bag.

stitching tab end

STEP 14:  Stitch both ends closed backstitching over the zipper to reinforce it.  Trim off the excess zipper.

stitch ends closed

STEP 15:  Turn the case right side out through the opening you left in the lining and push the corners out with a chopstick or That Purple Thang tool and hand stitch the opening closed.

hand stitch opening closed Or if you prefer go ahead and machine stitch the opening closed like I did in the picture below.
machine stitch opening closed

STEP 16:  Now you need to stitch the corners to give the case it’s box shape.  Take one corner and pinch it into a triangle.  Position the seam so that it is centered straight down from the point of the triangle.

pinch corners

STEP 17:  Pin the corner approximately an inch or so down form the point of the triangle to hold the shape and repeat with the other four corners.

pinned cornerspinch and pin all corners

pin corners

STEP 18:  Lay a ruler on one triangle (remove any pins that are in the way) measuring in 1″ from the point and two inches across and mark with a marking pen or pencil and pin in place.  Repeat with the remaining corners.mark the corners

STEP 19:  Stitch on the line of each of the four corners.

corners stitched

STEP 20:  If you would like you can trim and serge, pink or overlock the raw edges. Turn right side out and you will have completed your very own handmade sewing tool bag…er…uhm….I mean pencil case!