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Colorful, Zippered Pencil Cases: Weekend Wonders Returns with Fabric.com

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It's the Return of Weekend Wonders with Fabric.com. Our first WW series was over a year ago, but it has remained as one of the favorite sources of inspiration sponsored by our friends at Fabric.com. These are great projects you can whip out in a weekend, and this time around, they're also great projects to use on your weekend. Like today's zippered pouches. We call them pencil cases, but they're really anything-little-thing-you-can-fit-inside-them cases. The zipper opens up wide through the middle to corral all sorts of items. Use one as the perfect little makeup bag, an on-the-go toddler kit with snacks and wipes, an essentials pouch to toss in your gym bag, and of course they make a super awesome pencil case. 

This is a wonderful project to play with a bold print. We used two graphic options from the Simply Style collection by Moda Fabrics from Fabric.com. One of the touches that gives the pouch such a finished and professional look is the accent band on the back. While all the other pieces are cut on the horizontal, this piece is cut on the vertical. 

Big I-Love-The-Weekend hugs to Fabric.com for sponsoring our week of Wonders. Their huge selection gives you endless combinations. A great way to see how everything looks together is to use the Fabric.com Design Wall function. It's easy to add and delete swatches. You'll see an "Add To Design Wall" button accompanying each product description. The first time you click on it, you create your Design Wall; additional items are then added from there.

Click here to download our monogram alphabet and brackets. This free download is sponsored by Fabric.com and is available in all major embroidery formats.

Our pouches finish at approximately 9" wide x 5" high with a 6" strap.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

The photo above shows the supplies for our GREEN pouch. The swatches below show you both pretty fabrics we chose for our main print. They are from the Simply Style collection by Moda Fabrics from Fabric.com.

       

Ogee in Lime Green                                    Frames in Graphite Grey

NOTE: Inventory shifts constantly, and some prints may not be in-stock when you first visit. However, there are other color options as well as re-stock dates listed for each fabric.

Supplies and instructions are for ONE zippered pouch and the yardage shown is enough to allow for fussy cutting

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main exterior (Ogee in Lime Green and Frames in Graphite Grey in our samples), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 6" high x 9" wide rectangles, cut so the print matches on both pieces.
    ONE 6" high x 3" wide, but CUT ON THE VERTICAL so it is opposite to the horizontal rectangles above.
    ONE 2" high x 13" wide strip for the strap
  2. From the fabric for the lining (Micro French Twill in our samples), cut TWO 6" x 10" rectangles.
  3. From the fabric for the accent band (Eco Twill in Natural in our samples):
    If monogramming, cut ONE panel big enough to hoop
    If not monogramming, cut ONE 6" x 3" rectangle
  4. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 6" x 9" rectangles
    ONE 6" x 3" rectangle
  5. The ribbon should be 12" in length (⅓ yard). If not, cut to 12".

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Fusing

  1. Match up each exterior fabric piece with its corresponding interfacing piece. Following manufacturer's directions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric piece. 

Optional embroidery

  1. Download the free font collection in the proper format for your machine.
  2. Hoop the twill fabric and stabilizer, and monogram the letter of your choice surrounded by the brackets.
  3. Trim the finished fabric to 6" high x 3" wide, positioning the embroidery so it is centered side to side within the 3" width. The bottom-most curve of the brackets should be approximately 1¾" up from the bottom raw edge.

Front panel

  1. Find one of the two 6" x 9" exterior panels. Cut this panel in half so each piece is now 6" x 4½". 
  2. Place the center accent band right side up on your work surface. Place one 6" x 4½" exterior half-panel right side down along each 6" raw edge of the accent band. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the panels to either side of the accent band.
  4. Grade both seam allowances, trimming the twill back to approximately ⅛".
  5. Press both seam allowances toward the accent band. 
  6. Your machine should be threaded with thread to match the fabric in both the top and bobbin (lime green and grey in our samples).
  7. We switched to our Quarter Inch Seam foot for the edgestitching, although our stitching was actually tighter than ¼", more like ⅛", the foot still helped maintain a straight seam. 
  8. Edgestitch along both seams within the twill panel. For the best look, run your stitching as close to the seam as possible. 
  9. Slice the front panel into two pieces. Measure 1¾" down from the top raw edge and use your ruler and rotary cutter to make a clean slice. If you don't have a rotary cutter (you should get one), measure and draw a horizontal line 1¾" from the top, then cut along the drawn line. 

    NOTE: Yes, you just cut through your edgestitching. Not to worry, the seams will be re-secured when you attach the panels to the zipper.

Back panel

  1. Find the remaining 6" x 9" panel and the 6" x 3" opposite-cut panel. Both of these pieces should already have the interfacing fused in place. If not, fuse now. 
  2. Following the same steps as above for the front panel, cut the 6" x 9" panel in half and pin one half to either side of the center accent panel. 
  3. Stitch, using a ½" seam allowance, press the seam allowances towards the center accent panel
  4. Edgestitch along the seams within the accent panel. 
  5. Set the back panel aside.

Front zipper

  1. Find the two halves of the front panel and the zipper.
  2. Place the bottom half of the front panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  3. Close the zipper and place it right side down (teeth side down) along the top edge of the fabric panel. The raw edge of the fabric should be flush with the zipper tape. Pin in place.
  4. We used our Quarter Inch Seam foot for the zipper seams. You could also use a Zipper foot
  5. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch across the zipper. 

    NOTE: Stop with your needle in the down position and open the zipper to maneuver the pull out of the way, then finish your seam.
  6. Fold the seam allowance down towards bottom panel so the zipper teeth stand up straight from the seam. Press. 
  7. Open the zipper and edgestitch along the seam.

    NOTE: Before edgestitching along the zipper, you may want to clip out a tiny rectangle from both panel seam allowances. The twill is heavy and removing a bit of the fabric will make it easier for you to run a nice, tight line of edgestitching. 
  8. Repeat these steps to attach the top half of the front panel to the remaining raw edge of the zipper. 

Front lining

  1. Find one of the 6" x 10" lining pieces. Cut it to match the front panel, measuring 1¾" from the top raw edge and slicing off this strip to create two sections. 

    NOTE: The lining application described below is a bit different than you've seen before here for similar projects. Since this is a "Weekend Wonders" project, we've gone with a faster option. If you'd like to see a more traditional option for lining, check out our original Wristlet tutorial as well as our recent Jumbo Christmas in July version.
  2. Find the completed front panel. Open the zipper.
  3. Pin the small lining strip to the top half of the exterior panel. Alining the edge of the lining with the zipper/panel seam allowance. Pin in place.
  4. Stitch the lining to the seam allowance, following along in the original seam. We are still using our Quarter Inch Seam foot
  5. Repeat to attach the larger lining piece to the seam allowance of the bottom exterior panel. Press both lining sections away from the back of the zipper so the finished panel lays flat.

Strap

  1. Find the 2" x 13" strap piece. 
  2. Fold in both 13" raw edges of the fabric strip ¼". Press well.
  3. Fold the strip in half so the long folded edges are aligned the length of the strip. Press again.
  4. Edgestitch along the folded edges to secure (Hey, look... there's that Quarter Inch Seam foot again).

Layering to finish

  1. Find the front panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Un-zip the zipper about half way.
  2. Find the strap. Fold the strap in half, aligning the raw ends. Place the strap on the left side of the front panel, ¾" down from the top raw edge. The edgestitching on the strap should be facing down so it is aligned with the edgestitching along the top of the zipper. The raw ends of the strap should be flush with the left raw edge of the exterior panel. Pin the strap in place.
  3. Place the back panel right side down on top of the front panel, sandwiching the strap between the layers. 
  4. Place the remaining 6" x 10" lining panel on top right side up. 
  5. Pin in place around all four sides. 
  6. We stitched back our Quarter Inch Seam foot back to our regular presser foot for the remaining steps. 
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, pivoting at all the corners. Go slowly and carefully as you are stitching through a lot of layers. 
  8. Clip the corners when you're finished.
  9. Turn the bag right side out through the zipper opening. 
  10. Your strap should pop out from the seam. Use a blunt edged tool, like a large knitting needle or chopstick, to poke out the corners so they are nice and sharp. You can also carefully pull out the corners from the outside with a straight pin. Press well.
  11. Slip the length of ribbon through the end of the zipper pull and secure with a simple knot. Then make a tiny knot in each ribbon tail and trim the excess close to these knots. You can use a dab of seam sealant, such as Fray Checkon the ribbon ends if you'd like.

     

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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Comments (3)

Dustyroads said:
Dustyroads's picture

Love them!  I can see making these for the teens I know.  Always looking for things out of fabric that I can make them!  Thanks =^..^=

Janet G. said:
Janet G.'s picture

I can't wait to make a few of these for gifts -- and one for me, too!

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