Friday, February 20, 2015

Layer Cake Square Pencil Bag Tutorial

Layer Cake leftovers?  These cute little pencil bags were sewn with 10" layer cake squares - And Mochi Linen by Moda.   We love this strong linen in little bags and totes.    I used a variety of left over layer cake squares or 10" squares.  The ones shown in the tutorial are from Heather Ross's Briar Rose Collection for Windham fabrics.

Have you seen the TOMS pencil bag made from the TOMS flags.  We wanted to make those for our Young Women's 14 year-old Church group this week, but not all of the girls had TOMS flags. So I pulled out the Linen and some left over 10" squares.  Walaaaa.  Cute bags.  They loved them! And they all finished their bags in our hour long meeting.  A perfect way to introduce zippers  to beginning seamstresses.

Actually I love this little bag for much more than pencils.  This will carry all those loose trinkets in my purse.  And you can make it any size you want!

 First cut a 10" square of Mochi Linen.  Here is the link if you are needing to purchase some from our shop.  Match it to a 10" Layer Cake square - with wrong sides together zig zag stitch or serge the outside edges to hold the pieces together and finish off the edges.  I placed a little washable fabric glue (from a glue stick) inside to hold them in place while I stitched around the edges.  This will finish off the edges since this bag will not have a separate lining.

Lay the fabric square down with the outside fabric facing up.  Pin the zipper to the top of the square, matching zipper and fabric edge.  Make sure the zipper is face down - the zipper pull on the underside.  And the zipper pull should be on the left side.  I used a 14" zipper.  You could use a smaller one, but not smaller than 10".
 Note - you can also have the print on the outside-just flip your square.

 Can you see the zipper pull is on the underside?  Very important.  Using your zipper foot, stitch down the zipper.  This is about 1/4" or a titch more from the edge.

 Next, flip the sewn zipper back.  Fold the seam under towards the fabric square.  Top-stitch down the fabric sewing down the seam.  This will keep your fabric from getting caught in the zipper.  I switched the presser foot as you can see.  I did this so that  I have a guide to follow for a straighter top-stitch.  See the finished top-stitching below.  NOTE : For those teaching a youth group, I set up two machines - one with each presser foot.  That way they rotated machines with pinning so there was little wait time.  We finished 8 bags in just a little over an hour.

Click on the picture if you need a close up.  Now we need to do the same stitching on the opposite side of the zipper.

Fold the bottom up to the top of the zipper edge.  Notice the zipper pull is face up and the wrong side of the bag is face up.  Sew along the edge.  This will form a tube when you are finished.

Open up the zipper all the way.  You will need this open to top-stitch this side of the zipper.  Top-stitch the seam down the same distance as your fist top-stitching so they will match when the zipper is closed.

Now you can finish your bag 2 different ways.  For the youth group (and with the TOMS flags) we just needed to sew the seams.  The edges are visible in the inside.  Just follow the next picture.

 If you want to French Seam your bag (raw edges will not show) skip to the French Seam instructions below.

 IMPORTANT Close the Zipper half way.  Next you need to decide if you want a center opening or an opening near to the top.   Center you zipper if you want a center opening.  Pin down edges.  OR...
 if you want a top access opening, position the zipper near the top.  Measure the top and/or bottom of each side to make sure your zipper is straight.
 Pin the zipper edges close together where they are separated.  Did you remember to close your zipper half way?  Stitch about 3/8" from the edge down each side.  Back-stitch at the beginning, the ending, and over the zipper.  I back-stitched over the zipper to strengthen this seam when you turn the bag to the right side.  Trim off excess zipper.

Just turn your bag to the right side.  Push those little corners to a point.  You are Finished!

French Seam Finish Instructions

After closing the zipper part way, turn your bag to the right side.  Position the bag opening where you want it to be.  Stitch a quarter inch seam down each side.  Cut off the excess zipper to be flush with the edges.  Make sure your zipper is close together on the separated side.  As you can see I cut out the zipper coils inside the seam to reduce bulk.  I also clipped the corners so they would be less bulky.

 Turn the bag to the wrong side.  Push out the corners and sides as best you can.  Press the seams flat. Pin where needed.  You are going to stitch a seam down each side.  I recommend 1/2" seam. (3/8" seams are too bulky).

  Just as before, back-stitch the beginning, ending, and over the zipper.  Turn the bag to the right side.

And you are finished.  Can you see the finished seam on the inside?  No raw edges or fraying to deal with.  These little bags should last a long time.

I hope you enjoyed this simple project.   Once you make one, you won't need all the pictures. I love projects that use up scraps of fabric.  If you teach sewing to a youth group, they will love this fun and  easy pencil bag.   Even one of the girls that declared she "didn't sew" loved these bags.

Happy Sewing!  Stay warm!
Kristin and Sandra


  1. Those are SO adorable! I am going to make some this weekend :)
    How about another quilt along in the near future? The last one was so fun!

    1. I have been thinking of a new quilt along. Last time we had nice large 12" blocks, but this time I am thinking very scrappy and maybe 9". Also, have you seen the Jen Kingwell patterns? I want to start a quilt along with Midnight at the Oasis pattern.

  2. Alas! That quilt is WAY too busy for me.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you LInda. They are really easy to make. And they make fun gifts.

  4. Fabulous! Can't wait to make several of these!

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  7. What a great tutorial! Thank you for sharing. My 10 year old just made one and even did the French seams! Now I want to make one. :D

    1. Yay for your 10 year old. This is awesome! We began sewing about that age. I made some for little bridesmaid gifts. They loved them.

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