Gifts III: Quick Pencil Cases

These pencil cases are super easy and great for using up leftovers of favourite fabrics.  It’s also a good project for beginners wishing to practise sewing zips; however, do watch out for fabrics with a geometric pattern that has to match across the two sides of the zip (such as in the top example).  An irregular print will be easier.

Buy an ordinary zip, not concealed, and bear two things in mind.  Firstly, it has to be of a sufficient quality to put up with frequent use.  The other thing to remember is that the zip has to be the length of a new pencil, or slightly longer.  Mine are 24cm.

Step 1: Cutting the Pattern and Fabric

Make a paper pattern for a rectangle that’s the width of your zip plus 4cm and the height of at least 24cm.  Do make sure your angles are square!  Cut one rectangle of your fabric and one of your lining.  My lining is babycord which is velvety and soft yet with helpful parallel lines:

Next, trim just one zip side of the lining by 2mm:

Step 2: Sewing the Zip

Open zip.  Put the fabric and lining wrong sides together, raw edges even.  Using them as one, and with the fabric and zip right sides together, edges even, sew together.  Start with a back stitch.  On approaching the zip pull, leave the needle in, lift up zipper foot, pull the zip closed and sew to the end.  Backstitch.  Repeat on the other side.

Tip!  If you can’t get the zip pull past the zipper foot even when it’s raised, you could try doing as I do:  pop the foot off, close zip, replace foot.


Step 3: Making Pull Tabs

This step is optional – skip if you’re in a hurry!

Find or make a design for your pull tabs, adding a 2cm seam allowance.  Interface a scrap of fabric (this is where to use up those off-cuts of interfacing that normally get thrown away).  Draw your tabs x4, cut around them and sew.

Turn inside out (I use old tweezers) and press.

Pin tabs over zip ends, keeping raw edges together.


Step 4: Sewing Short Ends

With the pencil case inside out, sew the short ends using your 2cm seam allowance.  This should cut out the unsightly silvery stops at the ends of the of zip.

Two things to note: 1) keep the zip exactly in the middle.

And 2) Very important: remember to leave your zip partially open!  Otherwise you’ll sew the pencil case shut inside out….

Trim seam allowances.


Step 5: Making Corners

This is another optional step by which you convert from a flat to a boxy shape.  Still working on the wrong side, pinch each corner so that the seam is in the middle and the short end seam allowance is away from the zip.  Sew with either a 2cm seam allowance (for a boxy shape) or 1.5cm (for a flattened box shape as in my first image).  

Trim seam allowances, turn right side out and you’re done!

Let me know how it goes… and how long it takes!  I made four in an hour.  The first was to jog my memory and took up half the time.  The other three were a production line.  If you’re making several at once and in different fabrics, it helps save time if they all take the same thread.

6 thoughts on “Gifts III: Quick Pencil Cases

    • Thanks Pella. Yes, of course. And with a layer of wadding, they’d be a notch posher too!

      Probably after a certain age (e.g. past college), a woman is more likely to need a make-up case than one for pencils!

  1. Well done on making your own pattern! These are perfect presents for kids (just put in fabric suitable for kids e.g. Dogs, monkeys etc.) I love them and you’re right they’re extremely easy to make!

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