Patchwork Pencil Case Tutorial

One of the best things (more like the only good thing) about going back to school is new stationery and supplies; new kit marks a new year. Normally, I would love searching WHSmiths or Paperchase for a stylish pencil case, however this year I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of practical and suitable designs. So, in true DIY fashion, I decided to make my own, allowing me to customise the shape and avoid the disaster of someone else having the same one. I am LOVING patchwork at the moment, so went for a classic hexagonal pattern using a simple pencil case design:

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Here are the 9 steps to a fabulously original pencil case:

1. Choose between 4 and 7 different fabrics that complement each other, without matching (the quirkier the better!)

2. Firstly, you have to cut out some hexagonal templates – you can make your own or print out these, I find paper works just fine but if you wish to re-use the templates, you can print it onto card.hexagons

3. Place the template on the back of the fabric and cut around it, leaving, roughly, a 1cm edge and lay the template on the back side of the fabric. Then fold two of the sides down and sew the adjoining corner, do not sew the paper template (this prevents the stitches showing up on the front). Carry on sewing all of the sides, remembering to fold the next side before sewing the corner.

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4. Once you have made two hexagons, attach them together by lining up two sides, with the hexagons facing each other, then sew the sides using over-stitches, without stitching the paper. Keep the stitches as small as possible so that they do not show up.

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For Y seams – when more than two pieces are being sewn together – you may need to force the edges to line up, I find that taking the paper out at this point can make it easier, however it is useful to keep the templates in until you have finished so that the whole piece keeps its shape. Also, to do the top edge of the case you will need to do a few half hexagons, simply cut a template in half and follow the same method.

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So after a while sewing away (I must admit patchworking is not for the impatient!), you should have created something that looks a little like this:

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Aim for about 26cm by 12cm, with 17 full hexagons and 8 halves, this should give you enough room for an average pencil and a little extra just in case. Now you can remove the templates. If you need a little extra guidance on patchworking, take a look at this tutorial.

5. As a backing for your pencil case, choose a plain fabric (I used some curtain lining fabric) and cut a 26cm by 13cm rectangle.

6. Iron the patchwork to make it look super professional, and create a hem by ironing a 1cm fold on the long side of the backing fabric – I use a bit of card to make sure the hem is straight.

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7. Now you can start installing the zip (available from craft or DIY stores, or for a better variety, try Amazon). If you want to use an invisible zip, check out this tutorial. However if you just want a bog standard zip, all you need to do is line up a long patchwork edge over the zip and secure with tape, then set your sewing machine to the ‘off-centre simple stitch’ (what I call it anyway!). Once that is safely sewed up, line up the backing fabric (hem facing downwards) and use the same method again.

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8. Almost done… Fold the two sides so that the zipper is upside down and pin them together, then mark with a pencil the outline of the pencil case (leave at least a 1.5cm edge just in case), go right up to the plastic teeth of the zip, now unzip the zipper. Sew along the line using a basic short stitch setting you should end up with something like this:

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9. Cut off the excess fabric and the ends of the zip (not the teeth) and turn it inside out…Ta dah! You now have a place to put all of your lovely new stationery.

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If you get stuck or need any tips don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

Ella x

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