Boxy Denim Pencil Cases a tutorial - another clothes upcycle

I still have plenty of scraps from the clothes I'm upcycling into things to sell at our school carnival this year.  This is another project to use up some of those denim jeans scraps.

My girls tell me they like this type of pencil case just now, rather than the large, flat ones I've made for them previously!

Here's how to make one.

You will need, denim jean (or other) scraps, fabric to line the pencil case and a zip - at least 26cm (10") long.

Cut 2 inner fabric rectangles 26 x 17 cm (10 x 6.75")
Cut 16 strips of denim, 17 x 4 cm (6.75 x 1.5"). I did 8 each of two colours, but you could do any combination and pattern of colours you choose!

Don't worry if some of your pieces have seams in them - I think this adds extra character to clothes upcycles, reminds you where they came from AND means less waste as you can use so much more of your clothes scraps this way!

Take your strips and stitch them together one by one along the long sides. Make sure you have right sides of the fabric facing and stitch using a 2/8" seam.

Continue until you have joined 8 strips together, then start again with the other 8.

You should now have your two outer rectangles to make your pencil case with.

Press all seams on the back of these rectangles open. This reduces bulk and makes it easier to sew.

Place your zip face down on the top long edge of one of your outer rectangles. Then place one of your inner rectangles face down on this. Your two fabrics should be right sides together with the zip sandwiched in between.

Pin along the top edge, making sure all three edges (two fabrics and the zip) are in line with each other.

Then using the zipper foot on your machine, stitch where you have pinned close to the zipper teeth.

Then open out your fabrics and pull back from the zip smoothing them flat. Top-stitch along the top fabric, close to the zip. This will keep the fabrics from getting caught in the zip as you open and close it.

Place this piece you have just stitched on top of the other inner fabric rectangle, so that both inner pieces are facing right sides together.

Now lay your other outer fabric rectangle face down on top of the whole thing.

Pin along the top edge, then as before, stitch using your zipper foot close to the zipper teeth. Then open out the fabric and pull back from the zip. Top-stitch down the other side of the zip.

Now fold the fabrics over so that the two outer pieces are facing each other and the two inner pieces are facing each other. Pin and stitch down the two outer edges as shown here.

Now reach in and open up your zip, then turn your pencil case so that it is inside out, still with the zip open.

Smooth out the two fabrics and lay flat so that the zip is on the top in the middle, running along the same line as the seam on the bottom. Pin both edges closed. Keep the zip open, but make sure the zipper teeth are touching at the open end of the zip.

Stitch along both edges, running backwards and forwards over the zip ends a few times to secure.

   Then using pinking shears trim the seam to prevent fraying, as this seam will remain exposed inside your pencil case.  Alternatively you could use a zigzag stitch along the seam or if you're lucky enough an overlocker (serger).

Now to make your pencil case 'boxy'!

Pinch each corner between your fingers like this to make a triangle.

Then flatten the triangle and sew in a straight line across it about 3 cm (1.25") in from the point.

Repeat this for all 4 corners. I usually run 2 or 3 lines of stitching on each corner to make it secure.

Trim each corner off with pinking shears. (or trim with regular scissors and finish the seam with a zig zag stitch or an overlocker/serger)

That's it! you're done. Turn your pencil case out and admire your work.

Here you can see the strip with the seam in on the side of the pencil case.

I love look of the boxed end of the case.

I made another different coloured striped pencil case like this, and also a plain brown denim one.  I will be making more using up more of my denim scraps for the carnival stall.

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

Do you or your kids prefer this boxy type pencil cases or the flat ones?  Here are the flat ones I made recently from old jeans.(tutorial link here)

To see what else I made from old clothes for the school carnival stall, go here.

And for over 100 other free sewing tutorials I've made for sewing all kinds of things and all levels of sewing ability go to,

Perching Owls - a clothes upcycle tutorial

I saw perching fabric owls on market stalls when we were travelling in Asia at the beginning of this year and wanted to try making them myself.

So since I have a growing pile of scrap fabric from this year's clothes upcycling challenge
I thought I'd use those scraps to give them a go.

First I drew a basic owl shape to use as my template. You can download the PDF of that here.

Here's how to make a perching owl.

Using the template, cut two main owl bodies. I used denim scraps from old jeans for this.

Then for the features. I used white and black for the eyes, pink for the beak and coloured scraps for the tummy. For these features you will need to use fusible webbing ironed onto the back of your fabric, and then cut your pieces from that, which you can then iron on.

Every time I use this fusible webbing for an appliqué project, I keep the offcuts - so I had a bag full of scraps to cut owl features from too!

Here's my three owls with the features cut out and ready to iron on.

Using a damp cloth on top of the features, press with a hot iron to stick the pieces to one main owl body.

Then using the applique stitch on your machine, or a tight zig zag, stitch around the features to secure them.

Your owls are now ready to put together. Pin the two main owl body parts, right sides together.

Stitch around the edge, leaving a gap in the base to turn the owl right sides out.

Then clip the tips of the ears and the curves a little.

Turn your owls right sides out, and stuff with fabric scraps. I used the really small scraps and threads from my thread catcher!

Once your owls are stuffed, hand stitch the openings closed. Now you're ready to make them perch!
You will now need a stick for your owl to perch on, some embroidery thread for the 'feet', some string and some invisible thread.

 Take your owl and a needle threaded with some coloured embroidery thread. Stitch loops around the stick and through the base of your owl where you want the 'feet' to grip onto the stick.

Once the owls feet are secured, you need to tie some string to the stick on either end with a loop in the middle big enough to hang the owl up.

Finally using some invisible thread, secure some thread from the centre of the top of the owl head and then tie around the top of the string loop where you will hang the owl. this will stop the owl toppling off his perch!

Now your owls are finished. Hang them up and admire them!

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I think these owls will make a cute addition to the school carnival stall, what do you think?

To see what else I made from clothes to sell at the school fair this year, go here.