The PenUltimate Pencil Case

So this pencil case idea is pretty cool. But there is always the possibility that there are better ones out there - so we have the PenUltimate Pencil Case!!!!!

Basically, it's your standard lined zipper pouch, with added elastic loop thingies to hold your special pencils in place for easy access.

The design was my son's idea.  Before we went on holidays I made both kids a new pencil case, and filled it with brand new pencils. An important piece of preparation when you're about to spend over 24 hrs each way on the plane, and countless hours driving all over the place (and thoroughly enjoying it too I might add). When we got home, he asked me to add some pieces of elastic to the inside, to keep his lead pencils nice and handy.

It was a pretty good idea, so I did. Of course, by that stage, the whole pencil case was already sewn up, so any stitching on the inside was visible on the outside (except if I had handsewed it, but I wanted that elastic to stay put, so that wasn't an option). And the ends of the elastic were rather visible too.  All up it was a little messy. But he was happy with it, and my daughter requested the same mods.

So when I offered a new pencil case as a birthday present for one of Miss 6's friends, I decided to add the elastic sections, but 'properly this time'.

I adapted Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch tutorial (medium size) to have the lining cut in 3 pieces. That way the ends of the elastic could be sandwiched neatly between the seam allowances, and no extra stitching would be visible on the outside of the pencil case.

It's a pretty neat hack, and if you read on, I'll walk you through it.

What you need:

  • material for outer and liner
  • standard dress zip (longer than the pouch you're making)
  • rulers (I use my quilting ruler & a metal ruler)
  • marker (washaway or similar)
  • needles, thread, pins, scissors
  • hair elastic (like the ones below - they are cheap, have good elasticity and are flat & wide making them good to secure in place)

First off is a little bit of maths. I have found elastic secured 1.5" at each end, with stitching in the middle is a good size for a standard pencil. The elastics are positioned 1.5" from the top of the case (where the zipper is).

The measurements below are for a starting rectangle size of 9"x 12" (the middle size Open Wide Zippered Pouch), but you can adapt them for whatever size you want.

Here is a diagram of how it should look when it's all together. (the thick black lines are the elastic)

But we need to add seam allowance (1/2") for the middle section. So for a piece 12" wide, we need to cut the following:

  • 6.5" x 12" (bottom section)
  • 2.5" x 12" (middle section)
  • 2" x 12" (top section)
You can cut the other side the same (for two sets of loops), or as a straight 9"x 12"piece. And don't forget to cut two pieces for the outside of your pouch.

Fold the middle section in half, then press with an iron, then in half the other way, and press. This will give you a centre point, and straight centre lines to work from.

Use a removable marking implement  (I will use chalk, washaway marker, washaway pencil or heat disappearing pens depending on on what I'm marking) to indicate where your elastic will sit. I marked two lines 2" away from the centre line (orange lines), and then marked 1/2" in along each end of those lines, as well as the centre line, (pink lines)

Pin your elastic in place along the orange lines (and centre line if you want a bit more stability). Stitch the elastic in place just inside the seam allowance. I went back and forth with a tight zig zag. And stitch again at the centre of the elastic to make two pencil sections.

Here are my machine settings for the zig zag

And here's my trusty tool for making sure the elastic goes under the presser foot nicely.  Sometimes it gets a little stuck, so I help it along with my seam ripper (keeps my fingers away from that needle). I find this also helps keep the elastic square as I'm sewing.

When you've stitched on your elastic it should look something like this. I stuck a pencil in there to check the fit.

Once you're happy with your elastic placement, stitch the middle section of fabric to the top and bottom lining pieces (1/2" seam allowance). Then carefully press, with the seam allowance away from the middle.  I will generally use a pressing cloth for this step, as the elastic can melt with too much heat.

Then topstitch along those two seams. The elastic is now held secure with 3 lots of stitching, and no exposed ends. Here it is all neatly sewn in place. (this was taken after the pouch was completed - so the zipper is visible)

Complete the rest of the pouch according to the tutorial directions (here's the one I generally use Noodlehead's Open Wide Zippered Pouch).

And then enjoy your super cute pencil case, with spots to keep special pens or pencils easy to hand! (or make one for a friend, relative or random stranger).


Popular Posts