DIY Back-to-School 3-ring pencil pouches – free sewing tutorial


Sew up a cute pencil pouch that fits in a 3-ring binder. You can make one that’s BETTER than the pencil pouches that they sell in the store. All you need is a little fabric, a zipper, and some leftover vinyl.

diy pencil pouch 3 ring binder.jpg

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Recently, I was at the store, four school supply lists in hand, and filling my cart up with glue sticks, markers, and binders, when I got to the zipper pouches. Not regular zipper pouches, mind you, but the kind that hook into the three ring binders. Feeling tired of all the store-bought stuff, I took a close look at one of those zipper pouches and thought, how easy. I can do that! And of course it will be better. 🙂


My zipper pouch has a clear vinyl front (you can buy the vinyl at Joanns or cut some from a plastic case like the kind a store-bought bedspread comes in), mostly enclosed seams, an easy, easy zipper, and looks great from both sides.

So here’s the tutorial:

You will need:

a fat quarter (or equivalent) of fabric

10” or longer zipper (I buy mine at

a 10 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangle of clear vinyl


Cut the following pieces from your main fabric (start with the largest first):

1 back piece 16” x 10 1/2”

1 strip 2” x 10 1/2”

2 zipper tabs 4” x 1 1/4”

3 loop strips 1” x 2 1/2”

(the vinyl dimensions are above)

Step 1. Ironing.

Bring all of your fabric pieces to your ironing board and press each one starting from the largest and working to the smallest.  Here’s how:

Take your largest piece and fold it in half with the shorter edges together. Press.


Next you’ll press your 2” x 10 1/2” strip just like a piece of bias tape. Fold in half lengthwise, press. Open and fold raw edges to center, press. Then fold down center and press again.

Now your zipper tabs. Press the short ends to the wrong side about 1/2”. Then fold in half and press.

Press your 1” x 2 1/2” loop strips just like tiny bias tape too.


This is what all your folded pieces will look like.

Step 2. Sewing the pieces together.

Now move all the pieces to the sewing machine along with your piece of cut vinyl.

You will sew the pieces from the smallest to the largest. Sew the tiny loop strips along the folded edges. Note: I found it easiest to place the strip over one feed dog and move my needle over to reach it. Set these pieces aside when finished.

Wrap one zipper tab around the top (open) end of the zipper. Stitch across the folds.

Measure 8 1/2” from the sewn zipper tab and draw a line. Cut off extra zipper tape about 1” past line (make sure zipper is zipped up). Wrap remaining zipper tab around the end, placing the folded edges just over the line. Stitch second zipper tab in place.


Wrap the 10 1/2” long folded strip around one long edge of the vinyl piece. Stitch  in place close to the folded edges. This is now your ‘bound vinyl piece.’

Pin the bound vinyl piece right on top of one of the zipper tapes. The strip will go right across the top, centered, over the tabs, and close to, but not touching the zipper teeth. Stitch about 1/4” from the first row of stitching. Use a zipper foot if you need to.


Now pin the folded edge of your largest piece to the opposite zipper tape. Center it opposite the bound vinyl piece.


Stitch close to the folded edge, and then topstitch 1/4” away from that.


Open the back half of the large folded piece under the vinyl. Fold the loop strips in half and pin in place over the vinyl along the raw edge. The top and bottom pieces should be 1/2” from the edge, with the third piece in the middle. Raw edges are aligned. Baste loops in place.

Fold the fabric right sides together with the vinyl and loops sandwiched in between. Use only a few pins, and be sure to place them inside the 1/2” seam allowance.

Stitch around three sides (not the side with a zipper) with a 1/2” seam allowance and leaving a 3” opening along one short edge for turning. Clip corners and trim away bulky seams.

Turn zipper case right side out. It might seem confusing with the vinyl sandwiched in between the fabric… you’ll just have to peek on either side of the vinyl and turn on the side where the zipper is right side out.  Press CAREFULLY and only on the BACK. Do not touch the vinyl with your iron.


Topstitch around three sides (not the zipper side), closing the opening. Done!

Tip: It may be easier to sew this part with the vinyl side down so your sewing machine’s foot doesn’t stick to the vinyl. That’s how I do it anyway. 🙂


Now make a whole bunch for all the school kids you know.

Happy Sewing!


Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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  1. These are so awesome! Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to give it a try! 🙂

  2. These are great! Will begin working on one tonight- Thank you!!

  3. That is fantastic! Thank you for the tutorial. I’m grabbing my materials to do this.

  4. Love how you make it so easy to understand (: I’ve always been intimidated by sewing a zipper but i just might try this. Thank you !

  5. I am using this to create puzzle keepers too! I saw a thing on pinterest to get pencil cases like this to keep puzzles in to take up less space then the boxes that always fall apart! Thanks!!!!

  6. Thanks for this tutorial! I whipped up a few yesterday. They are so cool and your tutorial was very easy to follow. Also, thank you for the daily tutorial. I can’t wait to get this email in my inbox each day. Plus, love that you have an extra project on your blog most days. Greatest website and archives ever!!

  7. Dianne Rigdon says:

    I got into photoshop and made a pattern for this since I wanted to make a handful at once. If you would like, I can share it with you to include in this post. I’ll try to come back and share pictures when we are done, but as projects tend to go around here, it could be awhile. 😉

  8. Sharon Aitchison says:

    Your tutorials are so specific and exact … your instructions are clear and easy to follow. THANKS!!

  9. Amy Adams says:

    I made this! My first sewing project (other than a pillowcase!). It’s a bit wonky but I think my little 2nd grader will love his mommy made Minecraft pencil case. Can’t wait to show him! Thank you for such an easy to follow project!!

  10. marilyn cotsamire says:

    I love the pencil pouch. (Of course I am partial to butterflies).
    These would also be great to keep masks in for your child. Thanks for all the great mask patterns too.

  11. SashieGirl says:

    Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas and patterns. I’m going to make one of these for each size of my circular knitting needles,

  12. Love the pattern. I was wondering if I could replace the vinyl with mesh?

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