Cut-bind-stitch. Three steps and you have a wonderful accessory for yourself, a gift for a friend, or a dandy little craft fair/boutique item to sell. I'm a big fan of the eyeglass case because it's the best way I've found to keep track of my eyeglasses or sunglasses. Plus, it protects them when I need to toss a pair of into my bag. We added a cute dangling fob made of leather and beads. This tutorial is also a great way to practice your bias binding technique. We use packaged binding, and have lots of photos to show you how to go smoothly around the curved bottom and make pretty mitered corners.
Our case is made from a wonderful scrap of Pendleton's Spirit of the Peoples wool jacquard we originally used for our Messenger Bag tutorial. You could use any thick, soft fabric. It needs to be thick enough to hold its shape and soft enough so there's no chance of scratching your lenses.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome 3160QDC)
- Statin Stitch foot (optional but helpful)
- Ditch Quilting foot (optional but helpful as well)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Scrap of soft wool or a heavy felt - you need about an 8" x 8" square: we used a scrap of Pendleton's Spirit of the Peoples wool jacquard
- 1 package of extra wide, double fold bias tape: we used Wrights Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape in Mocha
- 10-12" of soft cord or leather thong
- Three colorful beads (to match your fabric) with a wide enough center hole to string onto the cord/thong: we used Native American trade beads in blue and red
- All purpose thread to match fabrics: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP in Brown Chestnut
- All purpose thread to contrast with binding for the decorative stitching accent: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP in Red
- See-through ruler
- Seam gauge
- 8½" x 11" sheet of semi-transparent paper (optional, you can print on regular paper)
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Download and print the Eyeglasses Case Template on a piece of semi-transparent or regular paper.
IMPORTANT: The template consists of ONE 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print this PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the template along the solid line.
- Test the template on your glasses or sunglasses before you cut your fabric. Our case fits standard contemporary frames like the ones shown in our photos. To confirm the fit for your particular glasses, wrap the template around the glasses, noting that about 3/8" will be lost in the binding seam.
- If the case is too small, cut along the center line of the template and shift the two pieces apart to accommodate your glasses. Tape the pieces to another sheet of paper to provide the extra width for the template.
- If you have tiny readers and the case it too big, cut the template down the centerline and overlap as needed. You want the case to fit close so the glasses done easily fall out, but not tight.
- When you've insured the template will fit your glasses, place it on your fabric and fussy cut to center an interesting part of the design. This is why we suggested semi-transparent paper; it's the easiest way to determine a fussy cut.
NOTE: If you don't have access to any paper you can see through, regular paper is okay. You'll simply fold the template in half along the Centering Line. Adjust the half pattern on your fabric until you have your design centered then return the template to its flat position and pin in place.
- With your template pinned in place, cut out your fabric piece.
- To determine the amount of bias tape binding you'll need, measure all the way around your cut fabric piece, then add about 4" for an over lap. We cut a 30" length for our sample.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- We are attaching our bias tape binding using the traditional method. I've summarized my steps, but if you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial: Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It.
- Lay out the fabric right side up. You'll notice the bias tape's folded edges are slightly different in width. Unfold the NARROWER edge and position it right side down along the edge of the fabric, lining up the raw edges.
- Start pinning at the bottom (the curved side). Leave about 2" loose and start your pinning to the left of the actual bottom center point. This is because you will be folding the piece exactly in half and so don't want the bulk of your bias tape overlap right on that fold.
- Pin along the bottom edge, around the corner and up the side. Stop pinning about ¼" for the first top corner.
- Stitch the bias tape to the fabric, following the fold. You are stitching right along the fold line, which makes it pretty easy to follow and keep your stitching straight. However, I like to use my Janome Satin Stitch foot with it's handy red arrow as an extra guide to keeping my stitching true.
- Remove the project from your machine, miter the corner then pin in place across the top, stopping again about ¼" from the next corner.
- Stitch the binding in place. Again, remove the project from the machine, miter the corner, then pin in place down the side and around the corner, stopping about 2-3" from your starting point and leaving a 2" tail.
NOTE: If you've never mitered bias binding, here's another reminder to check out our tutorial.
- Stitch this last part of the binding in place along the fold line.
- When you are approaching where you started, as I mentioned, stop about 2-3" short of your starting point and back tack. This will allow you space to join your binding end-to-end, and then attach it to the fabric for a clean finish.
- With the 2" tail you left at the beginning, and the tail you have at the end, unfold the binding strip and place the two binding tails right sides together.
- Determine the point where you can sew a straight seam that will allow your binding to lay flat against fabric. Pin the ends together at this point.
- Pull the binding away from the fabric so you can place it under the foot of your sewing machine.
- Sew a seam where you pinned the binding. Trim the tails to a ¼" seam allowance.
- The binding should now be a perfect fit against the fabric. Fold this loose section of the binding back into its original shape and pin in place.
- Finish sewing the binding in place, joining your starting and ending points and matching the seam lines.
- Press the binding up and away from the fabric and fold it around to the back. It should align just beyond your previous stitching line. Make sure your fold is even all around the edge. The corners should automatically form a nice miter on the front. You may need to futz with them a little bit on the back to get the pleats just right. Pin well. Here's what mine looked like from the front (left) and the back (right).
- Edgestitch your binding in place, stitching on the RIGHT side of the fabric. I used my Janome Ditch Quilting foot to allow me to stay very straight and as close to the edge as possible.
- Press flat.
- Cut your cording or leather thong into two pieces. They should be slightly different lengths. I cut one at 4" and one at 6".
- Thread two beads onto the longer strip, knotting on either side of each bead to hold it in place. Thread one bead onto the shorter strip.
- Flip the project over so it is wrong side up and tack the two strips in place at the bottom center point.
- Fold the project in half wrong sides together, aligning the bound edges.
- Pin in place, placing your pins into the fabric not the binding.
- Choose a decorative stitch.
- Re-thread your machine with the contrasting thread in the top and the bobbin.
- Test your decorative stitch on a scrap of bias binding tape to make sure the width and length of the stitch fit within the binding correctly.
- Switch to a Satin Stitch foot or whichever foot your machine manual recommends for decorative stitching.
- Stitch the bound edge together from the top, down the side and around the curve.
NOTE: I stitched from the top down and around the curve. I had a tiny bit of a challenge starting, because my needle was going through all that thickness at the doubled corners. However, as I've mentioned many times before, I love my Janome machines because they have great power and are so good at starting right on the edge. If you are worried about your machine, you could start at the bottom and stitch up. Then you could stitch right off the bound edge at the top, leave your thread tails long, and hand tie them to secure your stitching.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Melody.