Back to School Pencil Case

on August 11 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 91 Comments

LiEr and her ikat bag are constantly full of fun, new, kid-related ideas and sewing projects. Today she shares this Back to School Pencil Case, perfect for kindergarten through college! The added piping lends a special touch to this project. Learn more about LiEr in her introduction, and visit the ikat bag blog for more (check out the “Most Visited” section in her left sidebar, and her patterns too).

From LiEr: I used home decor weight fabric and/or duckcloth/canvas for my pencil cases– They make a sturdy product. However, it can be tricky to manipulate in many layers and around small circumferences if you are not used to working with these. You might also use thinner fabrics with appropriate interfacing (if preferred).

What you need (1/2″ seam allowance included in all pieces):

For the Outer Layer:

  • One rectangle 9.5″ x 10.5″ in outer fabric
  • One rectangle 9.5″ x 10.5″ in heavy sew-in interfacing
  • Two circles 4″ diameter in outer fabric
  • Two circles 4″ diameter in heavy sew-in interfacing
  • One 7″ zipper
  • 19″ (approximately) of 1/4″ piping cord, cut into two equal pieces
  • Two rectangles 10.5″ x 1.5″ piping fabric

For the Lining Layer:

  • One rectangle 9.5″ x 10.5″ in lining fabric
  • Two circles 4″ diameter in lining fabric

Also needed:

    a sewing machine with a regular presser foot, a zipper foot, coordinating sewing thread, a needle for hand-basting and a seam ripper.

Step 1

Fold the lining rectangle in half, right sides together, so the shorter side is along the fold. You will get a folded rectangle of dimensions 9.5″ x 5.25″. In the photo, the fold is at the bottom.

Sew, with backstitching, a line 1″ from each short side and 1/2″ from the top of the rectangle as shown. You have made a stout tube, attached only at the ends, with a (approximately) 6.75″ opening for the 7″ zipper. The zipper is shown for reference.

Step 2

Press open the seam allowance of this zipper opening.

Step 3

Make 1/4″ – 3/8″ snips/cuts along the seam allowance of both ends. Notches are shown purely for visibility in the photo. Do not cut all the way to the stitching line (shown in purple ink dashes).

Step 4

Pin one lining circle to one open end of the tube, so the right side of the circle faces the right side (inner surface) of the tube.

Step 5

With the circle below and the tube on top as shown, sew all around, using 1/2″ seam allowance, to attach the circle to the end of the tube. Spread the snipped seam allowance of the tube smoothly around the circumference of the circle as you sew.

Repeat for the other end and the other circle.

Step 6

This is the view of the circular end of the tube. It doesn’t matter if the stitching line is a little crooked/wavy. Trim this seam allowance now to 1/4″ to reduce bulk.

This is the completed lining of the pencil case. Set it aside.

Step 7

Sew the pieces of interfacing to the wrong sides of the corresponding pieces of outer fabric as shown. Sew close to the edge (about 1/4″ or less) so that this stitching line remains hidden within the seam allowances when the pieces are later assembled into the pencil case.

Step 8

Repeat Step 1 with the outer fabric rectangle to make a stout tube with an opening for the zipper (shown again for reference).

Step 9

Remove the regular presser foot and replace it with the zipper foot. Move the needle to the outermost position.

Fold one piece of piping fabric over one piece of piping cord and line up the long edges of the fabric. Using a long stitch length (you will be unpicking a few stitches later), hug the piping cord with the edge of the zipper foot as shown, and sew close to the cord to enclose it within the fabric. Sew all the way to the end of the fabric and do not backstitch.

Step 10

Line up the seam allowance of one open end of the tube with the seam allowance of the piping and pin in place all around the circumference.

Step 11

Using a regular stitch length and beginning about 1″ from the end (hereafter referred to as the “head end”) of the piping, sew close to the piping cord to attach piping to the circumference of the open end of the tube.

About 1.5″ from the other end (hereafter referred to as the “tail end”) of the piping, stop with the needle in the down position.

Step 12

Using the seam ripper, unpick the long stitches (that you sewed in Step 9) in this remaining 1.5″ of the piping, to expose the cord. Trim away enough cord so that it (the cord) just meets the head end of the piping (shown pulled away) and does not overlap. Do not trim the piping fabric – this WILL be overlapped and needs to remain uncut.

Step 13

Fold in about 1/2″ of the piping fabric as shown.

Step 14

Release the head of the piping and tuck it into the tail end as shown. The ends of the cord itself should meet and not overlap.

Step 15

Fold the piping fabric of the tail end over the head end, and continue sewing to finish attaching the piping to the open end of the tube.

Step 17

Snip the seam allowance in the same way as in Step 3.

Step 18

Pin one of the outer circles to the open end of the tube, right sides facing, and sew to attach in the same way as in Steps 4 and 5. The zipper foot will enable you to sew very close to the piping cord . You can use the visible stitches from Steps 11-16 as a guide – just sew directly on top of them.

Step 19
Trim the seam allowance to about 1/4″ to reduce bulk and turn right side out to check that the piping is sewn correctly.

Step 20
Repeat Steps 10-19 for the other outer circle and the other open end of the tube.

The outer layer of the pencil case is completed!

Step 21

Insert the lining from Step 6 (wrong side out) into the outer layer from Step 20 (right side out) and line up the ends of the zipper opening.

Step 22

Open the zipper and insert one side (right side up) between the two layers as shown. The zipper coils should be flush with the folded edges of both layers.

Hand baste the zipper in place all around the zipper opening.

Step 23

Turn the entire pencil case inside out and leave the zipper completely open. Change the position of the needle and alignment of the zipper foot accordingly and, beginning in the middle of the pencil case (not the ends) sew about 1/4″ from the coils of the zipper to attach all around the zipper opening. Take your time to do this, particularly if you are using thick fabrics, stopping to turn the fabric often, and always with the needle in the down position.

Step 24

When the zipper is completely attached, remove the basting stitches and turn right side out.

The pencil case is completed!

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91 Responses to Back to School Pencil Case

  1. Tjo, die Sachverhalte können so simpel erscheinen. Herzlichen Dank für eure Erklärungen 🙂

  2. LiEr says:

    Andy, I just read your comment here – you’d sew the interfacing to the rectangle outer fabric all around their perimeters and as close to the edge as possible. I used about a 1/8″ to 1/4″ seam allowance. See the polka-dotted fabric in the photo of Step 7.

  3. Andy says:

    I love this pencil case!!! I just am wondering where do you attach the rectangle interfacing to the rectangle outer fabric??

  4. Terri says:

    One of the clearest tutorials I have ever seen. Thank you so much!!!
    : ) Great job!!!

  5. Lindy says:

    This is marvelous! Thank you very very much!!!! =)

  6. lucy says:

    omg this is soo cute ! Thank you soo much for the tut

  7. kimbowest says:

    featured this on my blog today!

  8. Charo says:

    Thank you very much from Spain for this tutorial, it’s so clear! I’m going to make two of them for my children just now.

  9. Rachel says:

    That is so cute! I might just have to make one of those!!!

  10. ayumills says:

    oh my! this is such a cute pencil case!!!

  11. Jess says:

    I feel like I really need to make one of these for myself! Who says teachers can’t have cool supplies too?? This might even be a great project to get me over my fear of zippers… 😉

  12. Corky says:

    Love it! Thanks for the great tute. I will take a ‘kit’ to my next retreat with your instructions and make one, two, who knows how many??

  13. Paula says:

    So cute, can’t wait to try them!

  14. carmel says:

    lier- i love everything you make you are a genius!
    thanks for another great tutorial

  15. Tabitha says:

    I really like the circular shape. Great instructions!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Oh I just got the fabric for these, I am so excited to get started on it! I usually buy those plastic cases and it always ends up snapping. Hopefully this will stop the problem.

  17. Beth Lasley says:

    These are really cute. I have never put in a zipper, but I may try to make one of these anyway. Adorable.

  18. ang says:

    crochet hooks,,,what a neat idea..

  19. ang says:

    thanks for sharing this is great guys!

  20. Colleen says:

    How adorable – The piping is so cute. I have to make some!

  21. Debbie says:

    I think these are great for sketching pencils or colored pencils, not just for school children.

  22. tanja says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    These pencil cases are sooo sweet! And the pipings are great.

    Need to make one for each of my girls. And maybe a third one for my crochet hooks.

  23. Marissa says:

    Love this! I’ve never made piping before! I think I might try it! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  24. gigi says:

    this is so fantastic! thanks for the tutorial!
    my soon to be 4th grader will love this!

  25. Oh! the possibilities! Thanks for this tutorial.

  26. Christine says:

    How cute. Love the different colors.

  27. Ana says:

    This is such a cool tutorial!

  28. Celeste Spaans says:

    I used one of these in college! Truly an ageless bag!

  29. jes says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’ll be saving it for when my daughters old enough to need one. I may make one for myself first hehehe

  30. Sarah E. says:

    this is so cute and such a great idea!

  31. Jeannie says:

    These are wonderful. I think piping always gives a handmade project such a professional look. Great job and thanks for posting!

  32. Jessica says:

    Cute! Love the circle ends!

  33. RedHen says:

    Love this project! Will be making more than one with my ds. Thanks for the tutorial! 🙂

  34. Jennie says:

    as a teacher this would really save me ink on my bags. 🙂

  35. Southern Gal says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. Why didn’t they have these when I was in school.

  36. Tong says:

    Love these adorable pencil cases!!

  37. jessica says:

    yeah for school

  38. cris says:

    really cute … i’ll try to make them!

  39. Leah says:

    Yeah! I’ve imagined making one of these for a while now, but just haven’t taken the time to design it. Now I don’t have to. I’ll just use this tut. Thank you so very much.

  40. Rebecca says:

    These are lovely and simple. Makes me want to get sewing right away!

  41. Liz says:

    I am certainly going to try and make one of these, they are adorable! Is there any reason why you couldn’t use fusible interfacing instead of sew-in?

  42. Kelli says:

    These are so super cute. I don’t think I have time before school starts as I still have lunch boxes and a few clothing items to finish, but I am keeping this one bookmarked…the piping and lining just adds such a professional touch!

  43. Catarina says:

    love them!!!!!!!!!!

  44. saffiertje says:

    GREAT TUTORIAL… Awesome to give them as a present!

  45. Rochelle says:

    If I’m going to spend the time making something, I want it to look professionally done and the lining in this pouch fits that bill! There aren’t many lined pouch tutorials out there so thank you, thank you!! Now I don’t have to figure it out myself 😉

  46. Rachel Locke says:

    Love these!!! So cute!!

  47. Stacy says:

    This is a wonderful bag. I think the piping makes it look professionally made.

  48. SofiAlgarvia says:

    Great step-by-step tutorial! And so much useful for my kids, their pencil cases keep getting dirty and I must have alternatives.

  49. upstatelisa says:

    cute! thanks for this tutorial!

  50. April Hurley says:

    Oh would love to make this for my daughter..she is too young for pencils, but great for her “make-up”, comb, mirror and ponytails!!! Thanks for sharing!

  51. Lisa says:

    These are so beautiful! I think my kids would love it if I made them each one.

  52. Stefania says:

    They look great! I would love to give it a try, but I have a question. What would be the difference if you attach the zipper before and not in the end?

  53. Alyssa says:

    Thank you!!! I can see myself making these as my little ones get a bit older.

  54. Michele says:

    Very cute! I’ve never sewn anything with piping…this looks like an excellent starter project for it.

  55. alisha says:

    These are so cute! I’ve never attached a zipper that way before, but would love to give it a try.

  56. Rachel says:

    I want to make a big one of those for a bolster pillow! Cute. Maybe I’ll make the little one for little boy for his first time at preschool.

  57. Thanks so much for the tut!! I love it!

  58. Way too complicated for me, but I love the step-by-step photographs!!

  59. Heidi says:

    I love these. They’d be great for so much more than pencils.

  60. Denise says:

    This is absolutely perfect! I was looking for something like this and you brought it out just in time! Thank you so much.

  61. Marcia W. says:

    cute bag

  62. Anne Marie says:

    Such a lovely bag.

  63. Mary Margaret says:

    Darling bag and fantastic tutorial! Thank you!

  64. teri pastorino says:

    forget pencils, i could use this for lots of things! very cute

  65. Wendi says:

    Love this little pencil bag

  66. Marcia W. says:

    love those polka dots

  67. Shannon H says:

    What an awesome tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  68. This is really cute and the directions are so well done I think I will try this sometime in the future for sure!

  69. Joanna says:

    That is so cute I wouldn’t limit it to pencils. I can see putting all kinds of things in it and using it as a small purse.

  70. Super fun! I would go and make one right now for my kindergardner but I cannot find any of my attachment foots…torture, pure torture!

  71. Natacha says:

    Well, I am intending to do a pencil case for my son. It will probably turn out to be a round one, thanks to this tutorial.

  72. Amy says:

    Those are nifty little pencil bags! Great tutorial!

  73. Robin E. says:

    Ooooo, I can see this used for a lot more than pencils too. I’m thinking a case for my daughter’s hair accessories… Thank you!

  74. Wendy says:

    This is awesome!

  75. Cricket says:

    Oh I just adore LiEr, and that pencil case is just the thing for me to whip out for a few little kids I know. Stash a couple goodies in there and good to go. Fun!

  76. katie says:

    Very cute! Love the piping and circular shape.

  77. Anna says:

    wow, this is incredible LiEr! Great thorough tute as usual! 🙂

  78. jana says:

    Cute, cute bag!

  79. Kadybug says:

    These pencil cases are awesome!! And just what I needed.

  80. Latrilla says:

    These would make wonderful back-to-school gifts and give-aways!

  81. Courtney says:

    These are so cute!

  82. Rashida says:

    And how darn cute is that? Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  83. Sara says:

    So much more special handmade:)

  84. Tammy says:! Adorable!!!

  85. Claire says:

    WOW! I don’t have any zippers so do you think I could make it with Velcro? I will try….Those are sooooooo cute!

  86. Cute! I’d love the alter the dimensions a tad and make these a little bigger for makeup, etc. Thanks!

  87. Jessica says:

    Great idea and tute. Would work well as a small makeup bag as well (eye liners, mascaras, etc.)

  88. Bekah says:

    How lovely! Thank you so very much for this tutorial, I will certainly make this one.

  89. Nandini says:

    It looks so beautiful!! But it is too complicated for me to make 🙁

  90. Kristin says:

    Oh these are super cute!!!

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