DIY Soft Box Pencil Case

I’m going to start this off by saying that I don’t sew.  I mean, obviously I can, but I rarely have successful projects, and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around sewing concepts… So I end up frustrated.

With that said, this is a super fun project, and I’ll try to make it easy for non-sewers like me to understand.

I bought a bunch of colored pencils for my new bullet journal, and I wanted a cute little pencil bag to put them in!

I actually made this project twice… The first time, I followed this tutorial and this tutorial, both of which said to measure your initial fabric at 5.5″x9.5″.  And in the end, my pencil case ended up being too small!  It didn’t even fit a pencil.

That was really frustrating.

Also, my zipper kept snagging on the inside fabric.

And the inside of the pouch wasn’t very… Finished.

So, I started over, and followed the first tutorial I mentioned, but also did my own thing.

Materials needed:

  • A zipper (11 inches) (I ripped mine off of an old jacket I was about to donate)
  • 2 fabrics
  • Pins
  • Ruler and pen
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron

First off, find 2 fabrics you like, one for the outside and one for the inside.

It works better if the outside fabric is pretty stiff.

Cut 2 rectangles out of each fabric.

If you want pencils to fit in your pencil box, each rectangle should measure 5.5″x11.5″. You also might be able to get away with 5.5″x11″.

If you want your box to be more like a cute little makeup box, cut your rectangles at 5.5″x9.5″.

Layer your fabric as follows:

1. Your outside fabric, facing up.

2. Your zipper, facing down.

3. Your lining fabric, facing down.

Pin it, and sew it with a zipper foot.

Make sure to sew a fair distance away from the zipper.

This is the distance of my “tiny” pencil box vs. my second try. The lining of my first box kept getting caught in the zipper.

Next, we solve the problem of the unfinished inside.

Lay out your inside fabric so that it’s right side up.

Place the other sheet of inside fabric on it upside down, so that the good sides are touching.

Pin it and sew it along the outside edge.

Iron down the fabric that’s attached to the zipper.

This will prevent it from poofing into the zipper.

I didn’t take very good pictures of this next part, so try to follow…sorry.

Take the inside fabric panel that isn’t attached to the zipper, and lay it right side up. Naturally lay down the other inside panel, and line up the zipper (right side up) with the unsewn panel.  Lay the last rectangle of outside fabric, right side down.  It’ll look like this underneath.

Basically, your layers will look like this:

Pin it together.

Sew along with the zipper foot. (Again, remember to give a little space away from the zipper.)

Unzip your zipper, and iron down the seams of the inner fabric.

And then here’s the part where I messed up (I was making this up as I went), so there aren’t pictures of the right thing to do.


Zip your zipper back up.

Take your two RIGHT sides of your outside fabric, and pin them together. Sew along the bottom seam.

Unzip your zipper, and you should basically see this… EXCEPT, you should be seeing the rough seams facing towards each other, and touching in the middle.

Feel free to flip the whole thing inside out, and iron the seams of your outside fabric flat, as well.

Next, with the zipper unzipped, and the fabric laid out, line up the middle seam of your inner and outer fabrics, and pin them together.

I sewed a line on either side, but you could also sew a zig zag down the middle.

If you look closely, you can see the two lines.

This is what it looked like on the other side for me, (cause I messed up), and therefore this is what the bottom of my bag was going to look like.

I zig zagged the two seam flaps so that they didn’t get in the way.

Next, zip up your bag inside out, all the way, and pin both ends. Make sure the zipper is centered with the seams on the bottom side.

Then, DO NOT FORGET THIS, unzip the zipper half way.  You don’t want to accidentally sew your bag without a zipper head.

Tip: Pin your open zipper ends together, to help when you sew.

Sew across both ends of your bag, being careful around the zipper.  I straight stitched, then zig zagged next to it.  I also did extra zig zags at the zipper, to help fortify that area.

Cut off excess fabric, and the excess zipper parts.

Here’s what the bottom will look like.

Now, if you flip it right side out at this point, you have a functional zipper pouch.  If you did the smaller 5.5″x9.5″ dimensions, I believe that pencils would fit, in this form.  If you did the larger dimensions, it would be a little big.

If you want to continue to make a box, flip your bag back inside out.

Pull a corner towards you, flattening it.

Take your ruler, and mark a line across at 2.25 inches (2 and a quarter). Use a disappearing pen, if you have one.  If you do a longer length, like 2.5 inches, that just makes your box taller.

Pin it.

Sew along it (straight, then zig zag to fortify.)

Cut off the corner.

Zig zag the very edge, to keep it from fraying.

And then turn it inside out and you’re done!!

This is what the bottom of mine looks like, but yours will just have the two straight lines, and not seam flaps.

The pencils fit wonderfully.

There was extra space (I’ll admit that it was a little more vertically roomy than I wanted), so I also threw some other things in there that I regularly use!

I think it turned out super cute, the zipper works like a dream, and I’m excited to use it!

It also gave me a tiny bit more confidence at sewing!

Make one for yourself, for your kids at school, for your make up, for your whatever.

Hasta luego!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. juliarethinkgreen says:

    I love it! I’m looking for small projects to do with zippers and cloth from clothes that are getting too holey to wear. I’m teaching at a high school this year, and the kids totally need these to keep track of their pens. Those who don’t have them never seem to have pens with them! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great way to use up old clothes! I think this is a fun project, so I hope you enjoy it. Maybe you could have your students pick the fabric for their pencil cases!


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