Back to school! Those words are music to your ears if you have school-going children. A pencil case is a very important piece of equipment in every school bag. Added to that, one of the most important skills you can teach your child for success at school is personal organization. This tutorial will show you 3 DIY pencil case styles so you can go back to school in style.
- DIY Pencil Case Tutorial
- Style 1 - DIY Pencil Case with Lining
- Style 2 - DIY Pencil Case Without Lining
- Style 3 - Boxy DIY Pencil Case
- DIY Pencil Case - In Conclusion
- More Clutches
DIY Pencil Case Tutorial
A DIY pencil case, full of all the right pens, is a perfect gift. A personalized pencil case is fun to make and will make your little ones smile. There are three simple styles set out in this tutorial.
- Lined DIY Pencil Case
- Unlined DIY Pencil Case
- Boxy DIY Pencil Case
- FABRIC - Something strong and sturdy. Medium-weight cotton or faux leather would be a good choice. Use a fabric with substance or line the fabric and use fusible interfacing for stiffening.
- RIBBON - 2.5" (4cm) of ribbon or tape for the pull on the side. The width should be around 1" wide (2.5cm).
- THREAD - A cotton thread in a matching or contrasting color.
- ZIPPER - The zipper tape should be the same length as your fabric rectangles (8" (20.3cm) for the lined and unlined style and 10" (25cm) for the boxy style.)
- FEET - Zipper foot and an all-purpose presser foot. The zipper foot allows the machine to sew right next to the desired seam allowance. An all-purpose presser foot helps maintain stability on the layers of fabric.
- SEWING BASICS - Sewing machine, scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat, iron and ironing board, tape measure, pins, or clips.
Style 1 - DIY Pencil Case with Lining
Let's start off with a simple lined zipper pouch. When you are all organized with your fabrics and basic sewing tools, you are ready to start.
Step 1 - Cut the Fabric
- Cut 4 pieces of fabric 8 x 5 inches (20.5x13cm) - 2 for the outside and 2 for the lining. You will need a 7 inch zipper with an 8 inch zipper tape.
If you plan on making a longer pouch, just make sure that the fabric is 1 inch (2.5cm) longer than the teeth (not the tape) of the zipper. The zipper tape will be the same length as the fabric. You can easily adjust the height of the fabric.
Step 2 - Sew the Zipper
- Place the zipper with the right side facing one of the outside pieces. The head of the zipper should be down and on the left side.
- Then add the lining piece to the zipper and lay it down right side touching the zipper.
- Stitch along the edge of the zipper using a zipper foot to get as close to the zipper as possible.
Here’s a little tip: If the zipper head is too bulky, sew at a point 2 inches (5cm) past the head while the zipper is closed. Then go back and open the zipper and sew the top part.
- Press the fabric away from the zipper. This will enclose the zipper on both sides. Watch out for plastic zippers that may melt under a hot iron.
- Once the fabric has been pressed top stitch across the seam including all layers of fabric and the zip.
Step 3 - Sew Zipper to Other Side
You are ready to attach the zipper to the other side of the DIY pencil case.
- Place the lining right sides up under the zipper and the top fabric right sides together with the lining.
- Sandwich the zipper between the lining and the top piece.
- Stitch as close to the zipper as possible.
- Topstitch along the edge of the zipper.
Step 4 - Sew the Seams
- Start by undoing the zipper about ¾ of the way across. This is important otherwise it will be very difficult to turn the DIY pencil case the right way out.
- Put the lining and the outside pieces right sides together.
- At the point where the outside and the lining meet put the side of the zipper towards the lining and the seam towards the main outside fabric.
- Fold the ribbon in half and insert it into the side seam of the outside.
- Stitch all the way around the edge with a ⅜” seam, or 1cm seam.
- Leave a gap in the bottom lining and backstitch your seam at the beginning and the end.
- Hand turn your machine wheel over the zipper ends if the bulk of the fabric may break the needle. The raw edges of the seam do not need neatening because they are enclosed in the lining of the pouch.
Step 5 - Turn Right Way Out
- Clip the corners.
- Turn the pouch the right way out.
- Stitch the opening at the bottom by hand to close the gap.
Step 6 - Finishing
Finish off by pushing the lining back into the pouch and giving it a good press. Now you have made a basic DIY pencil case. At this point, you may like to decorate the pouch.
Here are some decorative suggestions:
Add a bow, fabric flower, monogram letters for initials, attach a wrist strap or add sequins and a tassel or two. Ric-rac is a great way to add color and texture to your pencil case. Try out Yo-yo flowers and even use up scraps to make a patchwork effect.
Style 2 - DIY Pencil Case Without Lining
Try a DIY pencil case without lining. Choose a firm weight of fabric for this project like denim or corduroy and even faux leather. Look for something that will not fray or a stronger fabric that you can zigzag around the edges.
Step 1 - Cut the Fabric
- Cut 1 rectangle measuring 8 by 10 inches (20.5x25cm).
Step 2 - Sew the Zipper
- Place the zipper along the top of the fabric (the 8inch edge) with the right sides together. Use clips or pins while you machine sew along the edge of the zipper with a zipper foot.
- Turn the zipper over and press the fabric.
- Turn the bottom of the fabric up to meet the edge of the zipper and put the right sides together. Stitch along the zipper on the other side.
Step 3 - Add the Pull Tab
- Undo the zipper halfway across.
- Fold the pull tab in half and slide it between the side of the fabric on the pencil case. Make sure the loop faces in towards the inside of the pencil case.
Step 4 - Fold and Stitch
- Fold the pencil case in half ready to sew the sides. The zipper must be on the top.
- Then stitch the sides making sure you backstitch well.
Step 5 - Turn
- Turn the pencil case right sides out through the opening you left in the zipper at the top.
And there you have it a very quick and easy DIY pencil case with a zipper and pull tab. You can adjust the width of the case by measuring the zipper and cutting the rectangle to fit.
Style 3 - Boxy DIY Pencil Case
Now you have mastered a simple straightforward DIY pencil case with a zipper and pull tab, how about trying the boxy style pencil case. It is a little more advanced but has the advantage of standing alone and giving more depth to the shape of the pencil case. This is still a simple project but the overall finish is more sophisticated and with a stretch of your imagination it could be more than just a pencil case. The box pouch or boxy pencil case could double as a travel bag, a make-up bag, or with plastic lining, a wash bag.
Here are the instructions for a boxy DIY pencil case:
Step 1 - Cut the Fabric
- Cut 4 rectangles of fabric - 2 for outside and 2 for lining 10x6 inches (25x15cm)
Step 2 - Sew the Zipper
- Lay the zipper right sides together on one of the main fabric pieces.
- Place the lining fabric right side down on top of the zipper.
- Stitch along the edge with a zipper foot.
- Open the seam and press.
- Repeat this sewing step on the other side of the zipper.
- Topstitch the seams with a zipper foot.
Step 3 - Sew the Sides
- Now lay out the fabric so the right sides of the main pieces are together and the right sides of the lining are together.
- Stitch along the raw edges at the top and bottom of the pencil case. Notice how the sides are left open.
- Turn the DIY pencil case through the side so that the lining is over the main fabric. See how the zipper is exposed in the center and the main fabric is right sides together inside.
Step 4 - Sew the Bottom
- Fold the DIY pencil case with the zipper in the center. Check that all the layers on the inside are smooth.
- Unzip the zipper to about halfway across.
- Fold the ribbon in half and insert it one end underneath the zipper.
- Now you will sew the two short sides. Go carefully because you will sew through the zipper edges too which can be quite thick.
- If your fabric frays a lot, you can zig-zag these ends or place bias tape over the raw edges. I left mine raw since they will be hidden inside the pencil case.
Step 5 - Box Corners
The box corners are sewn in at this stage.
- Take hold of one of the four corners and pinch it to form a triangle.
- The raw edges of the seam should run through the center of the triangle.
- Sew along the top of the triangle 1 inch (2.5cm) from the tip.
- Trim the pointed piece off.
- Repeat this process for each of the four corners.
Step 6 - Turn the Right Way
Pull the pencil case to the right side and push out the corners with a pointed object like a knitting needle. Your boxy DIY pencil case is now ready to use.
DIY Pencil Case - In Conclusion
Now when school goes back to face a new term, your child will be equipped with a special DIY pencil case to contain all practical pieces of stationery. This little case is such fun to make and uses very little fabric. You may enjoy making little DIY pencil cases for all sorts of sensible reasons. Practical, pencil cases are definitely top of the class at school.