How to Make a Pencil Case

With the new school year nearly upon us in Australia, I am making up a few easy zippered patchwork pencil cases. This is a great scrap buster project. The little zippered pouches can be used for all manner of things. Mine was sized to fit approx 6 pens; or a small pack of tissues; or a small notebook and pen; or a few cosmetics.

How to Make a Pencil Case 

Project Difficulty:  Beginner/Intermediate
Time Required:  1 hour
Finished project measures: 3 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches (9 x 17 cm)

  • Linen measuring 7″ x 2 3/4″
  • Fabric 1 measuring 7″ x 1 3/4″
  • Fabric 2 measuring 7″ x 2″
  • Fabric 3 measuring 7″ x 2 1/4″
  • Fabric 4 measuring 7″ x 7 1/4 (lining)
  • Flannel measuring 7″ x 7 1/4″ (batting)
  • zipper measuring at least 7″
  • Ribbon/tape measuring 3″
Note:  Please read all instructions before commencing the project. Careful and accurate cutting and sewing are essential to ensure success with this project. A seam allowance of 1/4in is included throughout.

1. To assemble the exterior of the pencil case, stitch the linen strip, to Fabrics 1, 2 and 3 (as shown in photograph). Press the seams open. Topstitch 1/8 ” on both sides of each seam. 
2. Position the lining on top of the flannel rectangle. Pin the layers together, and quilt together through both layers in straight lines approx 1/2 ” apart. 

3. Position your lining facing up on your work surface. Position your zipper so that it is face up with the zipper pull on the right side and the edge of the zipper is aligned with the long edge of the lining. Position the patchwork rectangle so that the right side is facing down, and the linen strip is on the right hand side. Pin in place. Using your sewing machine and the zipper foot, stitch in place through all layers. Refer to photo.

4. Align the other long edge of the patchwork pencil case exterior, with the other side of the zipper and pin in place so that the right sides are facing. Take the other edge of the lining, fold under the zipper, and pin this to the other edge of the zipper. Refer to the photo for placement, and stitch in place. It will appear that you have two separate channels, but once it is sewn in place and turned out the right way it will look like a pencil case!

5. Open the zipper and turn the pencil case so that the lining is on the outside and it is tubular in shape. With a pin, mark the midpoint of each side. Position the zipper so that it is in the centre of each side, and pin in place. (Refer to photo).  Fold the piece of ribbon/tape in half, and position it in the middle of the pouch (linen end). Stitch along each side. Then zigzag or overlock/serge to secure. Trim ends of zipper, Turn right side out and press. 

There you have it, a useful little pencil case or pouch to pop in your handbag. 

Have you Subscribed to our newsletter?  First issue coming out in February.

Never miss a post.

Get fresh new ideas delivered right to your inbox!


  1. says

    I make these all the time but are always different sizes because I never write the measurements down ! Thanks for this, now I can make them all the same size and yours is beautiful as always ! 🙂

  2. says

    oh I like the idea of making them for tissues…would be a great idea for little gifts for the girls at work come Christmas time. Even with a cute little notebook and pen.

  3. bushes says

    oooooh, i just LOVE this! i have been wondering where i can get a gorgeous little pouch that isn’t expensive. and i have found it! i am delighted. thank you for this stunning tutorial :o)

  4. says

    Oh WOW – I like these! And once again you make them look so easy to do!!!!!
    Might have to just go to Spotlight today to buy some zippers to make a couple of these!
    Thanks for sharing this – and the step by step instructions too.

  5. says

    I am 12 years old and have a passion for sewing. I have been looking for a pencil case for a long time and now I have found the perfect one! It’s great in school and my friends are now asking me for ones as birthday presents! The tutorial was great thank you!

  6. says

    found your tutorial on Pinterest. Genius! I have to know though – WHERE did you get those polka dot PENS! OMG, I *NEED* some of those! Not ‘want’, but NEED! hehe 🙂

  7. Anonymous says

    i got to say, i have seen many instructions on how to make pencil cases. However, this one looks much more appealing as well as easy!

  8. Anonymous says

    I really adore this tutorial, but my problem is that I cannot get your steps from 3-5, I do not understand what you do and how you came to pickture 5.. 🙁 Please help me

  9. says

    Hi Lisa and Sarah, I have used your tutorial and made heaps of these cute pencil cases. Thank you so much for sharing! I have linked to your tutorial on my blog with pictures!

  10. lisa annette lee says

    This may be a stupid question: It looks like washi tape in the picture with the pencil pouch, but there is no mention of it in the directions. Did I miss something or is it just for the photos? Thanks and plan to make a couple of boy versions for my two grandsons!

    • A Spoonful of Sugar says

      Hi Lisa – the washi tape was just used as a styling prop for the photos. I have a growing collection and it is one of my favourite stationery products. I keep some in my pencil case but it was not used in its construction at all.

  11. steph says

    thanks. This is the best tutorial I’ve seen. I love how you show how to line the pouch with out having an ugly raw edge on the inside (using one piece rather than 2), with clean hidden zipper edges, and no hand sewing. It is not that complicated, but somehow I could not figure this out on my own… (Obviously I’m not the only one, because many of the other people making tutorials have not figured this out either) Looking forward to making a bunch of these…. maybe taking it one step further, making some a boxy shape. Wonderful blog. What a blessing to have as mother and daughter!

  12. Jamie says

    I just must be dense, but I don’t get the instructions very well. When you do the zipper the first go round, I get the sandwich between parts, but is the lining fabric felt up or fabric up? And then when you are sewing the 2nd zipper piece, the lining fabric is being sewn to the zipper, but on which side (the same side as the outside fabric?) I’m really confused! Tried it both ways, and still can’t get it to turn out correctly.

    • A Spoonful of Sugar says

      Hi Jamie – Sorry I am not exactly sure what you mean. When you sew the lining, it will be on the bottom side of the zipper (which is the opposite side of the zipper that the front of the pouch is sewn too). The photos in the tutorial show the assembly method. Good luck!

  13. liz says

    When i made this item i had an issue with my needle jamming on the zipper with i sewed the ends. Can guidance how i can prevent this?

    • A Spoonful of Sugar says

      Hi Liz – you just have to make sure you avoid sewing on the metal parts of the zipper as that will break your needle or cause your machine to jam. You just have to position the zipper so that this doesn’t occur. Alternatively use a slightly longer zipper and shorten it so that there are no metal components at the base of the zipper. (If you google “how to shorten a zipper” there are lots of excellent tutorials with photos to guide you through). Hope this helps.

  14. Shelley says

    Love the pencil case but had trouble with the instructions when it said to put the ribbon on the one area & sew along each side, when it should have said sew each end area. I know I am probably the only person out there who didn’t understand what was meant but clearer directions would be great. It’s a darling project though.!

    • A Spoonful of Sugar says

      Thanks for your feedback Shelley. I try and be clear in my free tutorials with lots of photos to highlight each step. I am sorry you had trouble following the instructions.

  15. Karen says

    No matter how I sew my little pouches, the little tabs at the end of the zippers always come out bulky and not so nice. Not sure why. I’ve tried pushing them toward the outer fabric, then towards the inner fabric. Either way, it looks pinched. I even trimmed the bulk of the zippers a little but that didn’t help either. Any ideas? Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *