Patchwork Pencil Cases

Another tutorial today!

I have been making pencil cases for Da Boyz. So I’m going to show you what I’ve been up to. Here’s what you need to follow along:

  • Sewing machine and the usual equipment (scissors, thread, and needles)
  • Patchworking equipment (ruler and set square, rotary cutter and mat, and fabric pen)
  • Fat quarters in complementary and contrasting patterns,
  • Fasteners (I used bottons but you could use poppers or 'hook and loop' tape or if you're up for a challenge you could even put in zips),
  • Pens and pencils!

  • The design for each of my pencil cases is pretty much the same. They all have two pouches (one for pens, one for pencils) that have buttons at the top to fasten. They are all lined and all have the same dimensions (front and back are 20cm X 10cm). The patchwork for each is different though, so I’ll go through each of those seperately first and then show the construction of the pencil case. If you’re wanting a plain front and back you can skip straight to the construction here. And the three patchworks are seaside squares, diagonal rockets, and farmyard fun.

    A couple of notes:

    1. I use a 1cm seam allowance throughout.
    2. Take your time with every step, mark everything out very carefully and check your measurements. It will make your finished product look that much better and will save you from making mistakes with your cutting!!
    3. I couldn’t be bothered to sew as many button holes as I originally planned, so you’ll notice that my finished cases only have 3 buttons each, rather than the 4 in my sketch.
    4. Press your fabric before you start and always press the seams apart. This will make the fabric lie flat and it will be so much easier to mark out, cut and sew. (This is the only time I use an iron by the way; I never iron clothes!)
    5. Use a rotary cutter, metal ruler and self-healing mat to cut the fabric. It is so precise!

    Patchwork 1

    So, O’s first. Here is my initial design:

    The plan is to make the top 6cm with 2cm squares (10 across and 3 down) and then add a 4cm boarder along the bottom. So with the 1cm seam allowance, we need to cut three strips in each of the two blue fabrics, 4cm wide and at least 40cm long.

    Use a long metal ruler and a tailor’s pen to mark out the strips carefully. I also checked all the way along with a set square and ruler to make sure sure they didn’t get thinner or thicker. Honestly, this will save you from problems later!

    I then sewed the strips together as shown below to form two bands of alternating fabrics.

    Press the seams apart and go back to the cutting mat.

    Next we need to cut the bands into 4cm slices. Use a ruler to mark every 4cm, and then use a set square to draw lines perpendicular to the orginal strips. Carefully cut along the lines to get something like this:

    Take one piece from top and bottom, match the seams carefully and pin. Make sure:

    1. You put right-sides together,
    2. The topmost piece is the same for each pair,
    3. You sew down the same side of each pair,
    4. If your fabric has a ‘right-way-up’, both pieces are the same direction.

    When I have a pile of small things to sew, like this, I save time (and thread) by joining them in a long line.

    Press the seams open and then repeat the previous step until you have 2 blocks, each 10 squares long.

    So, here is why it is so important to take the time to measure, cut and match seams so carefully:

    You want the corners of the squares to match up exactly. The closer they are the better the finished product will look!

    Finally, mark and cut 2 pieces of contrasting fabric 20cm x 6 cm. Sew these along the bottom edge of the patchwork panels, and press.

    So, there is the first patchwork for the pencil cases. If you’re ready to move on to constructing the case then skip to here.


    Patchwork 2

    This one is sort of similar to Patchwork 1, in that the initial steps are to create three strips of alternating fabrics, and then cut them perpedicularly. Then things get a bit more complicated.

    I cut the central strip 5cm wide and the two sides 10cm, in hindsight I should have made them all a little bigger as my finished panel was a little small and I didn’t have a full centimetre seam allowance. So I suggest you up the measurements to 6cm and 11cm respectively.

    The strips need to be at least 40cm long.

    Sew the strips together leaving a 1cm seam allowance and then press the seams open.

    We need eight 5cm-wide strips cut perpendicular to the original stripe. Mark every 5cm and then use a set square to draw across the strips. Cut with a rotary cutter against a metal ruler, for a straight, clean line.

    I muddled up the strips so that the rockets weren’t matching, but you could keep them together or maybe you are using a fabric where it doesn’t make any difference. Have a play around and decide what you like best!

    So this next step is rather ‘fun’! You need to take two of your pieces, match the upper seam of the central square of the bottom piece to the lower seam on the top piece. Thereby staggering the central squares.

    Pin them, sew them and press the seams open and then repeat, so that you have two blocks of 4 strips.

    Like this:



    Patchwork 3