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two sides of a pencil case with hearts and leopard embroideries

This post is also available in: French

In this article, I explain you how to sew a very simple pencil case. This project is a good opportunity for a beginner to sew a zipper. If you have never done it, you will see that it is not so difficult.

Maybe you are like me and you love to collect pens, pencils and brushes. If so, then you never have enough pencil cases!

To make your pencil case you will only need a piece of fabric measuring 9 ½ x 8 ½ in (24 x 22 cm) and a zipper 7 ⅞ in (20 cm) long. Of course you can use fabric leftovers from another sewing project. It is also possible to reuse fabric from an old garment or accessory.

Moreover it’s a good occasion to use a reclaimed zipper from an old item.

When I was a child, the pencil case was one of the very first items I sewed. At that time I used to sew by hand. In fact, there was no sewing machine at home.

Of course, my first pencil case was not perfect. However, it made me want to persevere. And soon, I also wanted to use a sewing machine!

Over the years I made several pencil cases for my family and friends.

So, when my daughter started primary school I was very happy to sew her a customized pencil case. She chose two illustrations that she liked : a cloud of hearts and a leopard. Then, I transformed the drawings into digital embroidery designs. Finally, I stitched the embroideries on fabric leftovers before sewing the pencil case.

The pencil case sewn and embroidered for my daughter

So, if you want to make a pencil case to accompany you or one of your loved ones, follow the tutorial below! Note that you can easily change the size of this pouch. You can find many uses for this kind of case : make-up pouch, coin pouch, book pouch for instance.

Fabric and notions

For a finished pencil case of 4 x 7 ⅞ in (10 x 20 cm), you need :

  • 9 ½ x 8 ½ in (24 x 22 cm) fabric, a medium to thick fabric is recommended
  • a zipper 7 ⅞ in (20 cm) long
  • matching thread

Time needed: 20 minutes

Note that the seam allowance of ⅜ in (1 cm) is included in these measures.

  1. Trace and cut the pieces

    First of all, iron the fabric, especially if it is crumpled. This will allow precise drawing and cutting.
    On the wrong side of the fabric, draw 2 rectangles of 8 ½ x 4 ¾ in (22 x 12 cm) .

    Pieces of case traced on fabric

  2. Cut the rectangles

    Carefully cut out each rectangle.
    When the fabric is cut out correctly it is easier to align the different parts edge to edge. Therefore the sewing will be more accurate.

  3. Serge the edges of the fabric

    To neaten the edges you can use an overlocker if you have one.
    It is also possible to use the zigzag stitch of your sewing machine.
    If your fabric don’t fray, as faux leather for example, you don’t even have to neaten it.

    Rectangles of fabric and zipper

  4. Decorate the case

    If you want to personalize the pouch, you can do it at this step. Hand embroidery, machine embroidery, textile painting, rubber stamp, beads… The possibilities are endless and the result will be more unique!

  5. Place the zipper

    Position the zipper on the long edge of one piece. The right side of the zipper is on the right side of the fabric. The zip head is placed at ⅜ in (1 cm) from the edge.
    Pin the zipper in place.

    Pinned zipper on fabric

  6. Stitch the zipper

    Place a zipper foot on your sewing machine.
    The zipper foot allows you to sew close to the zipper teeth. You place it on the foot holder, either on the left side or on the right side of the needle. And then you can sew.
    If you want to read more about the zipper foot, have a look at this article.

    Zipper sewn by sewing machine

  7. Stitch the first side of the zipper

    Sew the zipper at ³⁄₁₆ in (0.5 cm) from the edge.
    At the beginning the zipper is open, the slider is in the middle of the tape. When the needle arrives near the slider it will make the sewing difficult.
    At this point, stop stitching. Leave the needle down in the fabric and raise the presser foot.
    Then, move the slider along the zipper to the start of the sewing line.
    Lower the presser foot and resume stitching.

  8. Prepare the topstitch

    Turn the zipper and the fabric on the right side.
    Then, press the fabric folded along the previous stitch line.

    Zipper sew on one side

  9. Topstitch

    Sew a topstitch line close to the fold line, at around ¹⁄₁₆ in (0.2 cm).

    Topstitched zipper on one side

  10. Sew the second side of the zipper

    Repeat the previous steps on the second side of the pouch.
    Place the right side of the second piece of fabric to the right side of the zipper.
    Like for the first side, sew at ³⁄₁₆ in (0.5 cm).
    Then topstitch on the right side at about ¹⁄₁₆ in (0.2 cm) from the fold.

    Zipper sewn on both side

  11. Pin the sides

    Place the case right sides together.
    Pin all around the three edges. Begin pinning at each side of the zipper.

    Pinned pieces of pencil case

  12. Sew the case together

    Sew the three sides of the pouch.
    The stitch line is at ⅜ in (1 cm) from the edge.
    Begin at one end of the zipper.
    When your needle is at a corner, stop sewing.
    Leave the needle down in the fabric and raise the presser foot.
    Then, turn the fabric, lower back the foot and stitch the next line.

  13. Clip the corners

    Cut the corners diagonally at ¹⁄₁₆ in (0.2 cm) from the stitch.
    Do not cut closer to the stitches or it will weaken them.
    Removing this extra fabric will help making the corners sharp when the case is right side out.

    Fabric corners cut on pencil case

  14. Cut the zipper tape ends

    Sometimes the closing of the pouch is difficult because of the zipper tape.
    If so, you can shorten the tape ends by cutting them. You can also fold the tape and sew it in the seam allowance of the pouch.

  15. Turn the pouch right side out

    Turn the pencil case the right side out.
    Press the seams to give your accessory a neat finish.

    Pencil case finished

Congrats! You now have your homemade unique pencil case. I’m sure you will have many ideas of other zipper cases to make for you, your friends and family.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any question or remark, let me know in the comments.

If you still have fabric to upcycle, your might also like to sew a gift envelope .

Show me your pencil case and tag me on Instagram with @filafaire !


I'm the creator of Filafaire. I conceive machine embroidery designs and sewing patterns for nature lovers and upcyclers.

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