Make a DiY zippered pencil bag with this simple sewing tutorial and step-by-step photos. Includes how to install a zipper and eyelets to fit into a ring binder.
One of the school supplies you can make yourself is a pencil bag. Any high-quality ones from the store will cost you a pretty penny. This one uses a few supplies that you might already have on hand with scrap fabric and basic sewing supplies.
It’s also really quick to make. This first one took me about two hours, but I was making it up as I went along. And taking step-by-step photos. This one is for my daughter, but I’m planning on making another for my son. Also, maybe a few for myself because they are so cute.
How to make a pencil bag
fabric – I used scraps I had around the house. From my daughter’s bench cushion, in fact. This uses two pieces smaller than a fat quarter. If you buy, get half a yard total. Or two fat quarters. It can be all one color or half of two different ones.
zipper – Mine is 7 inches but you could go up to 10.
3 small metal grommets – Mine are 1 centimeter in diameter. The colorful ones in the photo above were too short, so I just used some plain ones.
grommet tool kit – If you don’t already have one, these are usually $10 or less at any craft store. I think I bought mine at Walmart back when they had a big sewing department and it came with a bunch of grommets.
Step 1: Cut the fabric
Cut two rectangles of fabric that measures 11.5 inches by 15 inches. With the right sides facing, sew the pieces together down the long sides. Turn the fabric right side out and press to crease the seams.
Step 2: Attach the zipper
Fold the short ends in 1/4 inch and iron. Insert the zipper into the opening on either end and sew it between the layers. To do this on a sewing machine without a zipper foot, adjust the needle all the way to the right. Unzip the zipper. Sew down one side about half way. Zip the zipper closed and finish sewing. To do the other side, sew it half way with the zipper closed. Then open the zipper to finish. At this point you have a nifty looking tube.
Step 3: Finish the sides
Line up the short ends of the fabric and sew them together.
Step 4: Finish the corners
Sew the small section between the corners and either end of the zipper closed. The fabric will be pretty thick, something like eight layers, so go slowly. Iron the whole thing.
At this point, the pencil bag looks pretty good on its own. If you want to use it as-is, you are done. Continue to step 5 to add grommets to attach it to a ring binder.
Step 5: Add grommets
Measure and cut three holes, one in the middle and two an inch from either end. They should also be about 1/2 an inch from the edge. This puts a 4.25-inch distance between the center of each hole. You could also use a binder as a guide. To cut the holes, I just folded the fabric over and snipped with the scissors.
To attach the grommet, put it through the hole with the sharp edge and the back of the pouch facing up. Line up the grommet tool and give it several good whacks with the hammer. The little teeth will spread in a starburst. Repeat the process until all three grommets are in and you are done.
The finished pencil bag is really durable and can even go through the laundry if necessary. You can check one school supply off of your list. This also has plenty of other uses. Use it for makeup, toiletries when you travel or organizing small things at home. Find more ideas on my Back to School Pinterest Board.