National Stationery Week starts today, and Lisa Dolson, one of our favourite illustrators and printed textile designers, has created an easy to follow how to guide to make your own lined pencil case.
Hi I’m Lisa Dolson, a freelance Textile Designer and Illustrator from Glasgow, Scotland. I have a passion for textiles, drawing, sewing, quilting and weaving. I enjoy making zipper pouches, pencil cases, clutch bags and quilts with my fabric designs, and as a fabric and stationery hoarder, I love trying out new pens to draw with or different techniques for creating art. I’m inspired by everything around me, mostly nature, flowers and the countryside, particularly at my holiday home in Loch Lomond where the wildlife is amazing and the views are breathtaking. I am also inspired by the everyday objects we use, and recently developed a collection of prints using drawings of shoes, cassettes, cameras and watches. I’m in the early stages of collaborating with a shoemaker who wants to use my designs on their handmade shoes! It’s really exciting to see the possibilities that print designs can have, and I’d love the opportunity to collaborate with more companies. In particular, I would love to see a range of my designs on purses, pencil cases, bags, and more!
As it’s National Stationery Week this week (24 April 2017) I thought I would share a step by step guide on how to make one of my favourite things…a pencil case! No self-respecting stationery hoarder would be without one! They are so much fun to make, especially using your own digitally printed fabric. I often like to line them with a contrasting colour or design. You can make them in any size to store all sorts of stationery goodies, give them as gifts, and make them for yourself as I like to do. You can adapt this pattern to make them any size you want, and they are handy for putting in your handbag when travelling. I recently made some new pencil cases for my sons, and I made them fairly large to hold all of their coloured pencils. I have to warn you, these are very addictive and once you know how to make one, you will be hooked!
You can use any fabric for your pencil case, upholstery fabrics and canvas type fabrics add more structure. However, if you are using a lighter fabric you can always add an interfacing to give it more strength. I also love to quilt and enjoy creating improv pieces using a variety of scraps and handprinted fabrics to create unique pencil cases and pouches. You could use vintage fabrics, screen printed fabrics and hand dyed fabrics. In this demonstration I am using a Furnishing Cotton printed by Print & Press with my Handcreme print, and for the lining I am using linen, with an 8” zip with brass teeth. The size of your zip will decide the width of your fabric to cut. Although this is a 8” zip, the overall length of the zip is 9”, so make sure you measure the full length of the zip and not just from the pull to the stop of the zip teeth.
Ok, lets get started!
How to make a lined pencil case (or a zip bag)
- Fabric for the outer layer
- Fabric for the lining
- a zip (I am using an 8” zip)
- contrasting threads, scissors and some wonder clips (or pins)
- Sewing machine
Step 1. Cut 2 pieces of the outer fabric 9”x 6.5” (You can make length of your fabric any size but I think the 6.5” length creates a decent size pencil case). Cut 2 pieces of your lining fabric 9”x 6.5”
Step 2. Layer your fabrics –
a) Place your lining fabric face up on your work surface
b) Place your zip on top of the lining along the top, ensuring you line up the raw edges of the fabric with the edge of the zip. *The zip pull will be on the left hand side of the fabric
c) Take your outer fabric and place this face down on top of your zip and lining fabric, ensuring all 3 edges are lined up.
Step 3. Secure this ‘sandwich’ of fabrics and zip in place for stitching. I like to use Wonder clips as they hold the fabric in place well and are bright and colourful. I purchased mine from Hobbycraft, they have a world of amazing little things you never knew you needed!! You can also use pins if you wish. Place 4 clips along the top of your fabric holding the lining, the zip and the outer fabric in place.
Step 4. Using your sewing machine you want to stitch about 1/2” seam allowance to secure the fabric to the zip. I like to use my zipper foot as the needle can get close to the zip without the presser foot getting in the way.
a) Start stitching about 2” down from the top, the pull of the zip will get in the way if you start at the top of the fabric. I start about 2″ down and stitch all the way to the bottom.
b) Once you have done this, open up the fabric ‘sandwich’ and check your stitching, if it looks ok, open the zip a little (3”) and fold fabric back in place. You can now stitch the rest of the fabric from the top to where you first started (I always start with a back stitch and end with a back stitch to secure my stitches.)
Step 5. Now you want to do the same to the other side so you will repeat step 3
- Place your lining fabric face up on your work surface
- Add your zip (which now has your 2 pieces of fabric attached) to the top of the lining fabric
- Your zip pull will now be on the righthand side of the fabric
- Place your other outer piece of fabric on top face down
- Repeat step 3 by using your clips or pins to secure this all in place, taking care to make sure you have all the edges lined up
- This time once fabric is secured you can stitch from the top straight down using a 1/2” seam allowance, or as close to the zip as you can
- Make sure you stop about 2” from the end as the zipper pull will be at the bottom this time
- Repeat the same process, open up the fabric ‘sandwich’ and then open up the zip about 2″, fold back in place, and starting with a backstitch finish off stitching until whole side is stitched
Step 6. I like to open out the fabric with the zip in the centre, you should have an outer and a lining on either side of the zip. Take this to the iron and press out the seams from the centre out – taking care to ensure your iron is at the right temperature for your fabric. I like to do a test first to ensure it isn’t too hot!
Step 7. Once pressed, take the fabric to your sewing machine and add a topstitch either side of the zip, this helps hold the fabric in place, and prevents any fabric catching inside your zip.
- You can use any stitch size you like, I like to make mine about 3″. You could even use a contrasting thread.
- Still using your zipper foot stitch a straight stitch either side of your zip and secure with a back stitch
- Check over your stitching and make sure your zip works
Step 8. This is the important part – this is where you must remember to open your zip or else once you stitch the whole pencil case you will not be able to turn it the right way out
- So, you have been warned! Open your zip about half way
- Take your 2 lining pieces together and your 2 outer fabric pieces together
- This can be a bit tricky, but make sure your 2 zip ends are flat against each other and the teeth are facing the lining fabrics, and secure with a clip
- Do the same with the other side, make sure the zip ends (that are open) are flat together and also facing the lining section
- This can create a bit of bulk so take your time to ensure the zip teeth are facing the correct way and pin in place
Step 9. Finish pinning or clipping around the whole ’square’ of fabric
- When you come to the lining fabric, leave a gap about 3”. This will be your opening for turning the fabric the right way out and pulling it all through
- I use 2 pins to highlight the area I need to keep open
- Start by stitching a back stitch at the 2nd pin and stitch all the way around the fabric square using a 1/2” seam allowance
- Stop when you reach back to the 1st pin, and backstitch
Step 10.Trim the corners of all 4 points to remove any bulk
- You can also trim the edges including the zip ends as they can often be bulky
- Leave the edge of the lining with the opening though. as you will be turning this in anyway
Step 11. Now the magic….
- Using the opening place your hand inside the opening and pull the inside out (thankfully we opened the zip before stitching!)
- Use a seam ripper or sharp pencil to poke the corners of the outer fabric to ensure it looks nice and sharp
- Pull the lining pocket right out too and poke the corners out
- Then fold in the opening on your lining fabric and secure with a pin, stitch this opening closed with a matching thread and secure with a backstitch
- Then place the lining back inside your pencil case and check over your pencil case ensuring the zip works
Step 13. I like to iron over my pencil case and press it inside to ensure a nice clean finish….and voila! You have just made yourself a cute pencil case!
We hope you found these instructions useful and feel inspired to make one yourself. You can see examples of Lisa’s work on Instagram, please add a comment to her page to let her know how you get on, and tag us both in your creations @lisadolson and @printandpressuk.
If you want to create your own customised fabric for a pencil case you can order a metre, or try a Lucky Dip to get an A3 sample of personalised fabric (for only £7.50!).