DIY Pencil case tutorial

School supplies are part of the annual rites of late summer.  Hopefully you are getting your children’s supplies at the great sale prices and stocking up for the year. I know I am and not only do I not have any children left at home, I am retired from teaching. But did you see the fabulous price on markers?  Your kids, and me, need a place to put those supplies and I know your darlings want the trendy cases in plastic for storage, I get it. But when those plastic cases have cracked and broken, you might want to return to this blog post.  Because here and now is the ultimate DIY pencil case tutorial.

First of all you have to select what fabric you are going to use.  I suggest a good quality cotton.  I have challenged myself to use all 24 fat quarters from a Riley Blake (love those fabrics) chevron pack that I got.  Here is what I have left. pc1re 2 yellow, 2 brown, 2 red and a black. Seven fat quarters plus I scrounged up 3 14 inch zippers.  I ought to be able to get 3 pencil cases from that, don’t you pc3rethink? To make a pencil case you need at least two fat quarters, a 14 inch zipper, some left over batting and thread. You are on your own for the pencils! These bags self line as you make them.

The first one I will make the biggest and most complicated, then I will decrease the size and the steps. I kept one red for one of the back pieces, cut another red for the top part of the front and the black for the bottom half.  I trimmed those two and kept all the scraps to make the other back.

Decide where you want your zipper.  If you look at the picture you can see where I placed mine. Press the top piece and the bottom piece folded in half.

pc4reThe zipper will be placed inside that fold. First you will sew it on the wrong side and then  flip it open for both pieces.  I sewed it down using my zipper foot.pc5re

This creates the front of the pencil case and it is lined.

For the back I then pieced all those strips together.  Usually you will just cut out a back in the same dimensions as the front you have just created.  I also cut a piece of batting and to slip it in-between the two back pieces but if you want a floppier case you would not have to do that.


You will place the front with the back, right sides together. But remember the back has the batting, make sure that is encased between both wrong sides of the backs. Watch how the zipper is positioned, it should be a tiny bit open with the front of the zipper on the inside of this stack.

Stitch all four sides twice to make it stronger.  Leave the zipper one a bit before you start stitching so you can turn it inside out using that hole.Pc10re Careful when you stitch over the zipper, you don’t want to break a needle.  As long as your case is smaller than the zipper, you are great.

Before I turn it inside out, I trim the seams a bit and the corners.

After I turn it inside out, I press it for the first and only time.

Remember these cases are washable and pretty darn sturdy!

Pc11reYou can see the red inside.  That is one huge case for that child who wants every color of marker known to man. The back side is funkier, it is all the little strips sewn Pc12retogether so I could make it super big.  I could have put that as the lining but I used it for the back.  Fun!

But you can make them any size you want, just figure out what finished size you want and cut fabric about 1.5 inches bigger.pc13re

You know where this is going, correct?  I started off this post with 7 fat quarters and I’ve only used up 3.  Let’s use the remaining and make smaller cases.

I took the two yellow fat quarters, evened them up but didn’t save the scraps. I only have two fat quarters so one of them has to provide both the back and the back lining. The other both parts of the front.  Plan according but don’t worry, it’s more than enough fabric.

Pc14reI took the other fat quarter, decided on the dimensions and went through all the steps I did above, I just didn’t strip piece the scraps.  I am also using the same fabric for both of the front pieces. Strip piecing the back probably added on 10 minutes to the project.  Otherwise you can make one of these in 30 minutes or less.

Where do you need to be careful?  Making sure the batting is in-between the two back pieces and that your zipper is facing the correct way.  I mention both of these errors because I may or may not have made both of them myself.Pc15re

Here is the completed smaller yellow school supply case. Two more fat quarters to go and we want to make it smaller.  Again, I trimmed the fat quarters and then looked at the top parts.

Pc16reSee the area inbetween the folded ends of the fabric?  I won’t be using that part as I am trying to get this case to be even smaller.  Before you decide on the size of your case, look at how much fabric you have and what you want to put inside.

Once you have cut your fronts and sewn them onto the zipper, cut your backs to match and add the batting.  Sewn all the pieces together, turn inside out and you are done.  It really is that easy!

Which size do you like better?pc17re

Maybe if I stack them you can judge the difference in sizes Pc18ebetter. Black and red is 13″ by 13″.  The yellow is 12″ by 8″ and the brown is 10″ by 6.5″.

There are a lot of pictures here.  I did this tutorial as a long blog post, others I have done as a photo gallery.  Which type of tutorial do you prefer?  Here’s a link to one and two different photo gallery tutorials, let me know which is easier to use.

Sew happy!

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If you liked this tutorial you may enjoy this one as well. If you would like to read a guest post I wrote of back to school advice, click here.

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    Kathy Mathews

    My passions are quilting and sewing. Add to that French, Spanish, books, swimming, travels, new restaurants, yoga and chocolate and you have me. All of these are best shared with family and friends. Except for chocolate, don't touch my chocolate. You can email me at

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