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How to sew a pencil case for your binder (tutorial)

27 August 2006 42,446 views 29 Comments

When all the ads on TV start playing the back to school tune, I can’t help but remember the thrill of getting new school supplies. Mmmm, fresh Laurentien pencil crayons and brand new ultra fine point pens. This weekend I was motivated to put together a new sewing tutorial and what better project than a swank pencil case! This one will go perfectly in my quilting designs binder. (As always, click the photos to embiggen. For more detailed photos check my flickr set)

pencil case tutorial part 1

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • piece of vinyl cut to 10″ x 10″
  • scraps of vinyl for your motif of choice and for your sewing tension swatch
  • 8″ zipper
  • exacto knife
  • rotary cutter
  • zipper foot
  • 3/8″ grommets
  • painter’s tape

1. With a pencil, mark off the zipper placement on the backside of the vinyl by drawing a line at 4″ in from the edge and another line at 4 and 1/3.” Mark the top and bottom cut lines 1″ from the top edge.

pencil case tutorial part 2

2. Using the exacto knife cut the short end lines as well as a little ways into the long line. This will give you a precise cut when you go in with your rotary cutter to trim out the rest.

pencil case tutorial part 3

pencil case tutorial part 4

3. Center the zipper in the cut out area and tape it down with the painter’s tape. When you’re sewing with vinyl you can’t use pins because they leave permanent holes. That’s why removable tape is your new best friend.

pencil case tutorial part 5

4. Before you sew the zipper in, test out your thread tension on a piece of scrap vinyl. When I’m top stitching on vinyl I like to double the thread for that extra pop of colour (and I’m too cheap to spring for thicker thread.) You might have to futz around with the tension for this to be perfect too.

pencil case tutorial part 7

pencil case tutorial part 6

5. With your zipper foot on, sew around the zipper opening. This will be your easiest  zipper install ever. It stays flat the whole time. Bliss! I avoid sewing over the tape, it’s better to peel it up and stick it back down after.

pencil case tutorial part 8

pencil case tutorial part 9

6. Now that the zipper is in, put whatever embellishment or motif you want on the bigger side of the vinyl. You could sew buttons on, a silhouette of some random woodland creature (like all the kids are doing!) or be like me; argyle! Be sure to leave an inch free of embellishment at the bottom; that’s where the grommets will be.

pencil case tutorial part 10

7. Fold the pencil case in half so that the zipper is at the back. Tape the whole thing together with that magic painter’s tape. I even put some inside in the middle to keep the whole thing stable. (I told you it would become your best friend)

8. Sew up the sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance and the bottom with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I like to keep the top stitching on the zipper side for added interest, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. At the bottom, add 1 more line of stitching 1/2″ inch in from the previous one. This will create the bottom of the pouch and add stability.

pencil case tutorial part 11

9. Measure and mark for your grommets. A standard 3 hole binder’s rings are 4.25″ apart. Mark for the first hole in the center of the first line of stitching at the bottom and measure out from there.

pencil case tutorial part 12

10. Cut away the vinyl with the exacto. Put the grommets through and hammer ’em in according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

pencil case tutorial part 13

pencil case tutorial part 14

11. Square up your edges with the rotary cutter and you’re finished! I got a cool pinking blade for my rotary cutter, but plain edges work just as well. Put it in your binder and you’re set!

Binder Pencil Case Tutorial

pencil case binder back


  • nicole said:

    AAah how excellent!!

  • Susan said:

    What a wonderful tutorial! Thanks!

  • MissMeshell said:

    Ooh, thanks for a brilliant tutorial. I can’t get enough of argyle =) I absolutely love your banner by the way, so cute! xox

  • maryse said:

    your work is always so clever. you clever girl you. 😉

  • Kirsten said:

    Wow! Impressive! Thanks for the tutorial.

  • heather said:

    Awesome! I just bought one – I would have rather made one! :)

  • Karen said:

    That is pretty darn cool. You are so talented.

  • Miranda said:

    You should post that on craftster.org! I love the color choices. Great job!

  • Erin said:


  • Emily said:

    This is awesome! Thanks for a great tutorial. You’re a genius.

  • Miriam said:

    Hey, are you going to post any pencil cases to your etsy shop? I, sadly, do not have time right now to make one (maybe in a month or two though), but if you’re willing to make and sell some, I’d buy one :)

  • jennifer w. said:

    This is one of those projects that makes me want to drop everything else and start right away! Thank you for sharing the very well-written and photographed tutorial.

  • Elizabeth K said:

    first of all, I love the word “embiggen”
    secondly, do you think oil cloth would work for a zippered case?

  • katrin said:

    very stylish – and so practical!
    thanks for the tute!

  • FinnyKnits said:

    Talk about your swanky back-to-school supplies! I love it!

  • Elizabeth said:

    Wow. that is so cool! thanks for the awesome tute.

  • Kim said:

    Thank you so much! This is *awesome*. And I love the argyle!

  • kathi said:

    you are the bomb…diggity! thanks for the tutorial!

  • Amie said:

    I could see these being sold in stores. Really. BRAVO!

  • Jessica Hood said:

    Just found your blog through WhipUp today & I love it. I am just learning to sew, so this tutorial will come in very handy :)

  • kristin said:

    i love the argyle-ness!

  • stephanie s said:

    so nifty!!!!

  • Teri P said:

    Brilliant! This would also be perfect as a case for double-points. I need to get stitching.

  • Erin said:

    How cute is that argyle number!

  • Amy said:

    Too cool for school!

  • Ana Campos said:

    I love that!!I cant wait to make it…

  • jenny said:

    i think this pencil case is really really cool that i seen in this world~~~
    i want to know more easy way to make a pencil box

  • jenny said:

    i think this penclicase is nice and really really cool
    but i want to know more easy way to make pencilbox!!!
    this pencilbox is cool and good to bring to school

  • Suzanne said:

    I popped over to your blog because Susan B Anderson linked to your bead bind off but wandered around a wee bit on your other tutorials. Great stuff here. I love this pencil bag. It reminds me of back to school too when my mom made pouches for us. Now that I’m on my own, the tips to sew with vinyl are really helpful. Thank you!

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