DIY & Tutorials

Sewing Projects: How to Make a Pencil Case Step By Step

how to make a pencil case

How to Make a Pencil Case at Home

If you’re just starting out in arts & crafts or simply want a fun activity for the weekend, then this sewing tutorial is for you. Dust off the old sewing machine, or beg your neighbour to borrow theirs, and learn how to make a pencil case. This simple and easy-to-follow tutorial is perfect if you’re looking for a cool and unique way to tidy your stationery. But this isn’t just for pens. Makeup brushes, toiletries and random odds and ends can all be stored neatly in their very own case.

To make a DIY pencil case sewing even more special, you can design your own custom fabric here. Print your child’s name and their favourite cartoon character or family photos for a fun school accessory. You could even use vintage inspired patterns or your favourite artwork – it’s entirely up to you! I recommend using fabrics that have flexibility, so you’re not limited with your contents. In our example, we’ve used Scuba, a heavyweight stretchy Lycra that is thick, strong and supportive. This results in a contemporary DIY pencil case sewing project, however, you could use organic cotton canvas for something a little more traditional.

Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Pencil Case

You will need:

  • A 28cm zipper
  • 2x 30cm rectangles of printed outer fabric (we’ve used Scuba)
  • 2x 30cm rectangles of lining fabric
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Stretch needle
  • A Sewing machine with a zipper foot (comes included in most models)

Step 1

first part of how to make a pencil case is measure your zip
lay out lining fabric face up and outer fabric face down

Lay out your first piece of lining fabric FACE UP. Place your zipper on top, with the zip on the LEFT hand side. Align it with the top edge of your fabric. Place your outer fabric FACE DOWN on top to create a sandwich.

Step 2

pin the fabric together safely
replace the standard foot with a zipper foot
undo the zip before you start sewing

Place pins along the top edge to hold your sandwich in place. Now install your zipper foot. To do this, lift the foot of your sewing machine and remove the standard foot. Replace with the zipper foot. This will make it easier to sew a nice, straight line close to your zipper.

Step 3

start sewing along the zipper to make a pencil case
move zipper back to the top once you've passed it and continue sewing
open out the sandwich and fold so outer fabric is face up and zipper is on top

Undo the zip before you start sewing and pull the zip down a few cm. This will make it easier to sew around it, as you will see! Start sewing along the line of the zipper. Once you’ve sewed down to where the zip pull is, stop but keep your needle in the fabric. Move the zip back to the top as though you’re closing it and continue sewing unimpeded!

Sew down to the end of the zip – go slowly and neatly! Close your threads, trim and open out your sandwich. Fold so that the zipper is on top and the printed side of your outer fabric is facing up.

Step 4

create the second sandwich place lining fabric face up
pin together lining fabric and first sandwich
sew along the zipper as before

Now create your second sandwich. Place your lining fabric FACE UP and place your first sandwich with the printed outer fabric facing up too. Make sure that the zipper is ON TOP and on the RIGHT hand side. Place your second outer fabric rectangle FACE DOWN on top. Align along the top edge as before and pin in place. Sew along the edge of the zipper, the same as previously. Repeat the technique of moving the zipper down to sew around it and sew to the end.

Step 5

open out and lay out flat so outer fabric faces upwards

Open out your installed zipper! You now should have a pretty good idea of how your finished DIY pencil case sewing will look. Lay it all out flat so the printed faces of both lining and outer fabric show OUTWARDS and your zip is ON TOP. Then, press flat with an iron. However always remember to test a sample of your fabric before ironing, and follow care instructions!

Step 6

sew a top stitch along the sides of the zip 1cm away

Pull outwards away from the zip to the edges of your fabric, maintaining tension. Now sew a top stitch along the edges of your zip, as well as a line of stitching 1cm away from the zip, along both sides. You can vary your stitch style, or use a coloured thread for a more decorative approach.

Step 7

important to open the zip before next stage
place outer fabrics so they face each other and do same with lining fabrics

Right, this is very Important! Open your zip – if you don’t you’ll find it hard to reverse your fabric in the next section! Place your outer fabrics together, so that they face each other. Do the same for your lining, and lie flat with the zipper hidden inside. Point the fabric ends of the zip towards the lining side, as this will hide the edges at the final stage of making your case, giving you a nice, clean finish. Pin in place on both ends.

Step 8

pin around the edges leaving a gap wide enough to fit a hand through
sew together starting from lining side
go slower on these sections to avoid mistakes

Now pin around the rest of your edges. With an 8mm seam allowance, sew around the edge of your fabric pencil case, starting from your lining side. When you get to a corner, insert your needle, lift the foot, and pivot the fabric. Take care to avoid sewing over the metal edges of your zip. It might help to go slow over these sections.

Step 9

cut the corners and trim the edges to remove excess material

Continue sewing the edges of your pencil case, remembering to leave a gap in the bottom edge of your lining, wide enough to get your hand in. When you’re done sewing, clip the corners to trim down bulk.

Step 10

turn the pencil case out by pulling the outer fabric through the gap
use a pencil to poke the corners out to define them
top stitch the remaining open part of the lining fabrics

Now invert your pencil case. To do this, reach through the gap in your lining and grasp the interior of the printed Outer Fabric, as though you’re changing a duvet cover. Pull through firmly. Using a pencil or chopstick, push out your corners to create sharp, defined corners. Fold the opening in your lining flat and close with a top stitch.

Your home-made pencil case is finished!

push the lining back into the pencil case
close the zip and admire your finished fabric pencil case
end of how to make a pencil case tutorial showing different prints and designs

Finally, push your lining back into your outer layer, close your zip and admire your completed fabric pencil case!

Et voila! How easy was that? Once you know how to make a pencil case, you can give your children, friends and family a unique gift for them to keep all their bits and bobs tidy. Click the banner below to design your own custom fabric and make your sewing projects totally unique. 

design custom fabric for unique sewing projects

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