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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