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,


  1. I like both...but this case can be used for so much more! I love it! Thanks for making the instructions easy to follow along to!!!

    1. Thanks Julie. I think you're right - the boxy case is more adapable - perhaps for make-up or even a sewing kit?

  2. Such a great idea Jill, you are so creative :)

    Thanks for sharing at Creative Mondays...

    1. Aw thank you Clairejustine - you're too kind!

  3. Are the striped rectangles the same size as the lining rectangles? My daughter didn't like the stripes and picked out scraps that she likes... so I won't be sewing stripes together! Love the pencil case and will probably make a few for my daughter and her friends!

    1. Hi Jeanine, If you're just using one fabric for the outer instead of stripes, then cut your outer rectangles the same size as the lining rectangles. The striped ones end up roughly the same size yes! Would love to see a picture if you make some of these!!

    2. I've made THREE so far! I want to post pix, but do I just paste them here? I made a pencil case for my daughter, who's 12 and two for my almost 4 yr old son... one to carry his cars and one for snack at school!

    3. Ooh yes please Jeanine - do post the pictures I'd love to see them! Paste them here if you can, or you could email them to me and I'll share them. (

    4. I emailed the pictures to you, couldn't figure out how to post them here!

    5. Thanks Jeanine - got them, they look awesome, great work!!

  4. I absolutely love this! Pinned and tweeted. Thank you so much for bringing such a masterpiece to our party. I hope to see you tonight at 7 pm. We can't wait to party with you! Lou Lou Girls

    1. Thanks so much Kimberly! I'll be back at your party again this week for sure!

  5. The denim means they'll be very sturdy pencil cases. A great way to use up small pieces of denim. Pinning.


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