Back to School ~ Binder Pouch Tutorial

on August 16 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 51 Comments

Anna from Noodlehead did a pattern review for us earlier in the year (here’s her introduction). We are so excited to have her back here today, sharing her Binder Pouch Tutorial for our month of Back to School fun! Anna has lots of great tutorials on her blog so be sure to visit and enjoy (we love the Bicycle Bucket!).

From Anna: I had this project saved on my to-do list for a looong time… I’m so glad Sew,Mama,Sew! is doing a Back to School month! I love this project because of course I love zippers, but I think this will be a great project to send to school with your kiddos. You can even make it super-personalized by having your kids pick out the fabrics, or adding an initial, or you could even embroider a favorite animal— Go crazy! Extra bonus: when you make it yourself you know it’ll hold up to a lot of wear and tear.


  • Scraps of fabric (or 1/4 yard or even a fat quarter of the main print will work)
  • 10″ Zipper or larger (you can shorten any regular zipper, just follow the directions on the package)
  • Scrap of see-through vinyl, available at your local sewing store
  • 3 (3/8″) Grommets
  • Scrap of interfacing
  • Optional: Bias tape to cover the seams (store bought or make your own)
  • Sewing machine, thread, etc.
    {All seam allowances 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.}

Cut Fabrics:

  • From one scrap cut a piece 6.5″ tall by 4″ wide, from another scrap cut two pieces: one 6.5″ tall by 6″ wide and the other piece will be the back, so cut it 6.5″ tall by 11″ wide.
  • From the vinyl cut one piece 6.5″ tall by 3″ wide.
  • For the grommet tab cut a piece of fabric 3.5″ tall by 11″ wide and fuse your scrap of interfacing to the wrong side.
    {This is just a cautionary statement, sewing through the vinyl isn’t easy breezy so if you don’t feel up to it, skip the vinyl, and just make that piece fabric. It’ll still turn out super cool.}

Make Front Exterior of Pouch:

First, grab your small fabric piece and vinyl piece and line up the 6.5″ sides wrong sides facing. Sew together.

Take the larger fabric piece, wrong sides together aligning the 6.5″ side. Sew together, press both seam toward fabric.

Topstitch on either side of the vinyl patch (on the fabric).

Assemble the Three Ring Binder Grommet Tab:

Fold the grommet tab in half the long way, wrong sides facing.

Sew using a 5/8″ seam allowance on both of the short edges. Clip corners. Turn right side out.

Topstitch along both short edges and the sewn long edge (the open edge will be enclosed once you go to sew the pouch together).

Assemble Pouch:

Fold both the front and the back pieces down by 1/2″ toward the wrong side and press. The vinyl won’t fold as well, but just try and make it do the best you can. Place your zipper right side up (with teeth and pull tab facing you).

Pin the back of the pouch in place along the zipper teeth. Topstitch in place close to the zipper teeth.

This next step is where a Teflon foot (although I’m not sure they make a zipper Teflon foot?) would come in handy, otherwise you can make do with a piece of scotch tape placed on the bottom side of your sewing machine’s foot. The tape will help the zipper foot slide across the vinyl.

Next, take the front of the pouch, pin it in place along the zipper teeth and topstitch in place close to the zipper teeth.

Now take the pouch and fold it so the RIGHT sides are together. Along the bottom edge of the pouch (opposite site to the zipper), slip the grommet tab into place along the edge aligning the raw edges of the grommet tab with the raw edges of the pouch.

Pin along all edges. Make sure zipper is open about half way. Sew along all three sides, making sure not the sew through the grommet tab. I found it easier to sew with the vinyl window section facing up (although my picture shows me doing it differently), also using the scotch tape trick at this point.

Finishing Seams:

You could just leave the pouch as is at this point, zig-zag, or serge the edges. As another option, you could use binding to cover up the raw edges as well.

I serged my seams and then clipped the corners with my pinking shears.

Flip right side out and press!
Insert Grommets:

Using a water soluble pen (or regular pen for that matter), make a dot on the grommet tab in the center of the tab at the 0″, 4.25″, and 8.5″ marks. Now here’s where you may want to just grab the binder you’ll be using with the pouch and make sure everything aligns right before you install the grommets. It’ll be much easier to make slight adjustments now rather than have a non-functioning pencil pouch just because the grommets don’t align with the binder rings. Install the grommets using the directions on the packaging.

Fill with some pencils and pens or markers, snap it into your binder and you’re all set!

Win a free pattern. Every day this month you have a chance to win our Back to School Featured Pattern!

WIN A SERGER! Enter our contest for your chance to win a Husqvarna Viking s21 Serger (retail value $1199)!

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51 Responses to Back to School ~ Binder Pouch Tutorial

  1. nicole says:

    That looks great! I do love sewing with that vinyl stuff. You can sew fun stitches right onto it- fun!

  2. LaJuana says:

    LOVE this pencil case, especially the clear plastic window! What I’d love even more would be for you to make me love zippers like you do. Well, make me love putting them in! New to your site…I’ll keep looking! 🙂

  3. Gina.S says:

    Great tutorial!

  4. I love that blog layout ! How did you make it? It’s really good!

  5. Kimberly says:

    I love this case and the fabric is awesome!

  6. alycia says:

    this is THE cutest pencil case i’ve ever seen! such a great tutorial thank you!
    –alycia <3

  7. Karen says:

    Thank you, Anna, for a great tutorial. I made one for my son and you made it easy with your clear instructions.

  8. bec says:

    how fun! i think i might make one for me.

  9. Papgena says:

    I have to try it but, first I have to overcome my fear of zippers!!

  10. carmel says:


  11. jenni s-g says:

    Super photo tutorial! Love it. Because I couldn’t find a Teflon foot for my machine (and didn’t want to wait for delivery from an online store), I just put a piece of tissue paper over the vinyl and sewed as usual. Tore the tissue off when I was done (easy perforations) and it worked great.

  12. Michele J. says:

    A great project to help me practice with zippers!

  13. delia says:

    Bang up job Anna as always! You always do impeccable work. I love the fabric choice and the large grommets. Very nice!

  14. Cricket says:

    I think I love every single one of your projects. I don’t know whether to love you or hate you.

  15. Leah says:

    This is perfect. I have an old plastic one that is falling apart and have been thinking it’s time for a new one. Now I can make one I like even better!

  16. Mary Margaret says:

    Perfect timing…my daughter asked me just this morning if I could make a pencil pouch for her binder. I said yes, but now I don’t have to figure out the best way to get the job done! Thank you, again, SMS!! Y’all are the best!

  17. Krystina says:

    This is so cool! Thanks for the tutorial.

  18. Kari says:

    Love it! So cute.

  19. Andrea says:

    I like the idea about using tape for the foot to slide on the vinyl. You may also want to have a piece of material under the vinyl so it doesnt stick to your machine, especially if you are sewing with alot of vinyl. I had to do that when making a placemat organizer, sewing my zipper onto the vinyl. My vinyl would stick to the machine and was difficult, so I put terry cloth material under the vinyl and then didnt have any problems.

  20. jes says:

    Thank you. This is super cute!

  21. Super tutorial! I can make several of these and put them together to hold groups of craft items. I like to take classes, so I’ll put together one with basic sewing supplies, scrapbooking/paper craft.

  22. gina snyder says:

    Lovely tutorial!

  23. Sarah Barnette says:

    Soooo cool!

  24. katie says:

    I love this! I am going to use mine for my embroidery needles and sewing notions. Thanks for the amazing tutorial.

  25. Sarah Barnette says:

    That is so cool, I am looking for some fun back to school things for the grandkids, that would be great.

  26. Tong says:

    This is so cute, I almost wish I was still in school just so I can make myself one of these!

  27. Ginger says:

    what a neat idea.

  28. Liz says:

    this is really cute! thank you!

  29. Great tutorial Anna! Thank you!

  30. Chris says:

    I’m a huge fan of Anna’s style. Thank you for sharing yet another great tutorial.

  31. Colleen says:

    Thank you for the great tutorial! Very useful and cute!

  32. Shelly says:

    Terrific Tutorial!!

  33. Care says:

    I love this!! You and your zippers, Anna! 🙂 Fantastic!

  34. Melissa B says:

    What a super tutorial! The end result is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Rebecca says:

    Very fun! Your pictures were very thorough and easy to follow.

  36. Sara says:

    Great tute! Fabric IS AWESOME.

  37. Angela says:

    Awesome tutorial! Thanks!

  38. That is an awesome tutorial. Thanks!

  39. Tabitha says:

    Noodlehead’s tutorials have finally got me sewing zippers! They aren’t that hard–Thanks!

  40. Denise says:

    Oh darn! Wish I’d gotten this one yesterday. I just bought some today. Hmmm, I could make them more personal though!

  41. jana says:

    I love this! I wonder if the plastic zipper bags you can purchase linens could be repurposed?

  42. desiree says:

    so, so, so cute!

  43. Gray says:

    Oh wow!! That looks great!! I love the fabric!

  44. Tabitha says:

    This is just a little bit cute! Now I have to make this…I don’t even really use binder pouches, but I have bought tons because I just can’t resist them. I’m sure I can find something for a cute handmade one though!

  45. claire says:

    I made something similar for my back to school last year! It is on instructables….Look for back to school by write+craft!


  46. What a smart idea!

  47. Kathleen says:

    This is awesome! I need to make these for my girls, and maybe even our scout troop. Thank you for sharing!

  48. Alyssa says:

    I might have to get this made for my niece here before she starts school next week!

  49. Amy says:

    That’s a great idea Anna! I am sure that would hold up better than the plastic things you get at the store and it is so much cuter!

  50. Kati says:

    I hate zippers….maybe because I’m not any good at them. I should learn! 🙂

  51. Genius!!! So clever.

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