Zola Pen Case {free sewing pattern}


I can’t stop making these!!! My version of this Japanese pen case is so much fun. I gave myself the chance to use a bunch of different fabrics by adding a bound zipper that makes a cute snappy handle – it’s the cutest little case in the house. Well, they all are – and they are great for lots more than pens!

UPDATE: This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The PDF download for $2 is totally optional.

When the Zola Pen Case is unzipped, it opens all the way so you can see all your stuff!

When it is zipped, it makes a cute little rectangular box. The end of the zipper snaps to the bottom of the case to make the handle.

Are you ready to sew your own Zola Pen Case???


The full tutorial with step by step photos is below.

Zola Pen Case {free sewing pattern}

Finished size: approximately 8” x 2” x 2” (not including the handle)

You will need:

  • 1/4 yard fabric total (I used lots of different quilting cotton prints)

  • 1 zipper, 18” or longer

  • 1/8 yd Peltex72F double sided fusible ultra firm stabilizer

  • 1 snap (my snap and snap setter are from Kam Snaps)

  • Also, I found that Wonder Clips were much easier to work with on this project than pins. It’s worth having a nice big box to use on projects like this.


From all your favorite fabrics, cut:

  • 4 from the Zola Pen Case side pattern (2 interior & 2 exterior)

  • 2 squares 8 1/2” x 8 1/2” (1 interior & 1 exterior)

  • 2 zipper binding strips 2” x 17”

  • 1 zipper tab rectangle 2” x 3 1/2”

From the double sided fusible stabilizer, cut:

  • 2 strips 1 3/4” x 7 3/4”

  • 2 strips 2” x 7 3/4”

  • 1 square 1 1/2” x 1 1/2”

Make the sides:

1/4” seam allowance included.

1. Place 1 side exterior and 1 side interior piece right sides together. Stitch around all sides, leaving a 1 1/2” opening at the bottom. Clip the corners.

2. Turn the side piece right side out and press flat. Press the edges at the opening to the inside. Topstitch along the top (angled) edge.

Repeat to make 2 sides.

Bind the zipper:

1. Fold the zipper binding pieces in half lengthwise and press. Open and press the long edges to the center. Fold in half and press once more.

2. Cut the ends of the top of the zipper to get rid of the metal stoppers and the part without teeth.

3. With the zipper open and the teeth facing up, insert one end into a binding strip about 1” from the end.

Zipper left side

Zipper left side

Zipper left side

Zipper left side

Zipper right side

Zipper right side

4. Start sewing at the end of the binding strip and continue until you sew over the zipper teeth (inside the binding). Then stop with your needle down and re-adjust so that the zipper runs down the middle of the binding with the teeth about 1/4” out.

Note: These pictures above show different stages from both sides of the zipper. Also, this is not the same zipper on the case shown in the tutorial – I re-sewed this step to get better photos. 🙂

Repeat on the other side of the zipper.

Note that the zipper teeth go down inside the binding about 1” from the end. Make sure this is the case or your zipper pull will come off. Un-pick and re-sew if needed.

5. To prepare the bottom end of the zipper, stitch back and forth across the teeth 1/4” before the end of the binding (this makes your own zipper stop). Then cut off the extra zipper tape past the binding.

Make the zipper tab:

1/4” seam allowance allowed.

1. Fold the 2” x 3 1/2” zipper tab piece in half with the short ends together, press. Place the 1 1/2′ x 1/2′ piece of stabilizer along the line. Carefully turn it over and press lightly to fuse the stabilizer to the fabric without fusing the stabilizer to your ironing board.

2. Fold the short ends together (right sides together) and sew the sides – not the end opposite the fold.

3. Turn the zipper tab right side out. Fold the raw edge of one side carefully around the stabilizer, and press it to make it stick. Then turn the other raw edges to the inside and press the whole piece.

Make the body of the case:

1/4” seam allowance allowed.

1. Place the 8 1/2” squares right sides together and stitch all the way around, leaving a 4” opening along one side. Clip the corners.

2. Turn the square right side out and push out the corners. Press it flat.

3. Start by inserting the two narrower strips (1 3/4” x 7 3/4”). These two go at the top and bottom because they will be next to the zipper. Work them all the way up and down against the edges, and press to fuse.

4. Then insert the slightly wider (2” x 7 3/4”) strips. These will fit in the middle (but trim them down a bit if they don’t lay flat). Smooth out the fabric and adjust the center pieces until they are equally spaced. Then press both sides to fuse.

Fold the raw edges of one side around the interfacing and press to make them stick.

When the whole square is pressed, you will be able to see creases in between the stabilizer strips.

5. Stitch the opening closed 1/8” from the edge.

6. Topstitch lines in the creases in between the stabilizer pieces. If you can’t see the creases, fold the case a few times until you do.

All your pieces are made! Now it’s time to assemble them.

Sew on the Zipper:

1. Open the zipper. Clip or pin one side to the exterior of the case at the top edge.

The edge of the binding should run along the edge of the case so that the zipper sticks up 1/4”. Note that the end of the zipper aligns with the end of the case and the binding sticks out 1” past.

2. Stitch the zipper to the case, sewing on top of the stitching on the binding.

3. Topstitch along the bottom edge of the binding too, all along the case.

4. Close the zipper and fold the case around to help you put the other zipper tape in the right spot. Pinch the zipper in place, open it, and then clip the opposite zipper tape across the the other side of the case.

5. This is what it should look like. If you followed step 4 above – the zipper won’t be twisted.  Stitch the second zipper tape in place the same way as the first.

6. Fold the extra inch of binding on both sides around to the inside and sew it in place 1/8” from the edge. Trim away the extra binding about 1/4” from your stitching (you can go back and trim more when the pouch is finished, if desired).

Attach the sides:

1. Clip or pin one side piece against the inside of the case – center the side piece in the middle of the case. The interior fabrics should be together.

1. Start sewing on the edge of the side piece, about 1/8” from the corner. Sew 1/8” away from the edge.

2. Sew until you are 1/8” from the opposite corner – stop with your needle down.

3. Lift the presser foot and tug the side of the case around until the corner reaches the top edge of the zipper binding. Wiggle it around until it fits. Then continue stitching until you reach the top edge of the binding.

4. Clip or pin the remaining edge of the side piece in place and stitch, starting at the top corner and sewing until you meet your previous stitching.

One side is attached – yay!


5. To make a little pleat on the side of the case (which makes the sides fold inwards when it’s zipped) – turn the case inside out and fold the side in half right sides together. Stitch for about 1”, 1/8” away from the edge.

Turn the case right side out again and repeat steps 1-5 above again to attach the other side of the case.

Attach the zipper tab and snap:

Almost done!

1. Insert the zipper inside the zipper tab about 1/2”.

2. Stitch around the square 1/8” from the edge to secure it.

3. Attach the male side of the snap to the zipper tab, with the smooth part on top.

4. Attach the female side of the snap to the bottom of the case on the center topstitching, with the smooth part on the inside.

All done! Now make some more. 🙂

Happy Sewing,

Now try one of these other 11 Free Sewing Tutorials to Make you More Organized!

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. Gene Judge says:

    Just about to put the snap in ! Went pretty easy. Somehow, though, I can’t seem to figure out what to do with those extra 1" ends. They were supposed to get tucked in when the ends went on. Right? Or do they just get cut off? I have tried looking closely at the pictures, but cannot understand where I went wrong. I will try to send a photo. Does not seem to be a way to post a picture with my comment.

  2. Carla Hundley says:

    Thank you so much
    for the free pattern
    and instructions!
    Very cute and a
    great idea.
    Carla from Utah

  3. Hi Caroline,

    If I don’t want to have the long zipper with the snap I should be able to just make it shorter, right? Everything else in terms of directions would be the same?

    It is a wonderful little case and I look forward to making one for my knitting supplies.

    Thank you,

  4. Hi Caroline,

    Me again. If I don’t want to create the binding for the zipper do I just attach the zipper to the sides as I would do for other applications?

    Thank you,

    1. I experimented with about 6 different ways to insert the zipper in this project and the bound zipper really was easiest. If you insert it other ways you need to figure out what to do with the ends, how to make it open up all the way, and how to keep the zipper from getting in the way when you sew on the sides. Good luck!

  5. Finallysewing says:

    Thanks for the fun pattern! There’s a typo in the "Make the zipper tab" section. The stabilizer should be 1.5"X1.5". You have 1 1/2′ x 1/2′

  6. Hi 🙂 Thanks for this lovely and free project.
    I have a question.
    I don’t have double sided fusible ultra firm stabilizer. Is there something else I could use or do differently?
    I do have decor bond, fusible fleece interfacing, fusible woven, non-woven, medium and lite interfacing too. I also have iron-on glue (don’t know the name but it comes on a bolt like fabric do).
    I thought someone more experienced than me might know what would work best 😉 Thanks.

  7. the tutorial is detailed enough for the non english speaking. Not everyone understands the language so detailed videos and step by step are great for those with lack of the language. Thank you. I think I can make the case…..

  8. Anne Hayward says:

    Thank you can’t wait to try this, I made your sewing machine cover as a Christmas gift and my friend loved it xx

  9. I LOVE this pencil case. I was wondering about making a little larger. Have you tried making one larger? Thanks for the pattern

  10. I must be missing something…how do I know the measurements for the side pieces?

  11. Gail Rosenquist says:

    Thank you so much for all of your wonderful sewing patterns!!! I struggle with depression and find that sewing projects for people really helps me to feel better about myself and my sewing skills. It’s especially heart warming when I give something to my Grandchildren and see how they appreciate it. I really look forward to your posts!

  12. Annemarie Frederiksen says:

    Love all your sewing patterns and try to keep up with all your projects. Question, which brand of snaps do you use.

    Annemarie Frederiksen

  13. Uyen Nguyen says:

    Thank you very much for instruction. Step by step with clear and detailed pictures for each step. So helpful.

  14. Carolyn,
    Thanks for the cute pattern/tutorial. But when I click the link above for the templates it gives me a star template for a "puffy star". Can you check that out please?
    Thanks, DAwn

  15. About the free pdf download. It goes to Instagram. I don’t have an account and don’t want one. Am I out of luck? Is there another way to get these pdfs?

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