U-Pick Sewing Project Fail!


This challenge did not go as smoothly for me as I hoped it would. As I totally expected it would.

I mean, you only wanted me to design a pencil case for you, right?

I started by planning my stand up pencil case all out on paper…. dimensions, materials, and techniques. I was so sure that it would turn out fabulous.

But then it didn’t.


This was the first one I made. The materials were all wrong.

I used Pellon Shapeflex (a fusible heavy weight interfacing) on the bottom portion which did not provide enough stability, plus it became unpleasantly wrinkled after turning. That does happen sometimes, so I tried to turn the case very carefully, but it still looks bad to me.

Then there’s the top part, sigh. I had high hopes for it, but the foam interfacing in my top portion was too thick and the cute way that I planned out my tabs did not turn out so cute.

To look on the bright side, I like my zipper install!


But that’s not the worst of it.

Using cotton fabric for the lining was the biggest fail of all. I felt like I should use two layers since the outer lining does show under the cuff (if you look).

But then the lining becomes so bulky that it makes it difficult to push the top part of the case down.

And when the case is ‘compacted,’ the lining fills up 50% of it leaving very little room for your tools.

This was just not going to work. There’s no way I would share a pattern with you that would turn out so crummy!

But I didn’t give up!


Yes… there is a happy ending to this post after all!

The first problem that I had to solve was the bulky lining that took up too much space and didn’t want to help the case slide down into the ‘compact’ configuration.

So I went back to our inspiration photos and realized that their lining is made out of thin slippery nylon fabric. At first I figured that was because nylon is so inexpensive – all the cheap pouches have thin polyester or nylon linings. But then I realized that a thin slippery fabric was just what the lining needed!


They sell rip stop nylon fabric in the ‘utility fabric’ section at Joanns, and it’s easy to find on Amazon too. It is the secret ingredient that fixed my stand up pencil pouch!

The rest of the pouch is made with beautiful quilt weight cotton, Pellon SF101 woven interfacing, foam stabilizer, and a nice wide handbag zipper too, of course!


And look how nicely it fits my tools! You have probably guessed (and I’m pretty sure about it) that mine is bigger than the inspiration pencil case. That is intentional because I want to use it to hold sewing tools, not pencils.

You’ll have the option of using nylon or polyester lining fabric for all of the lining or just the top portion. The rest of the pouch is fat quarter friendly!

If you decide to shop for zippers now, choose a YKK size 4.5 handbag zipper that is at least 20’’ long (or Zipper By the Yard – that’s what I used).

I’ll write up the Stand Up Tool Pouch tutorial as soon as I can. Make sure you are signed up for my email newsletter so you can watch for it!

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. I love that you shared the failure! It really helps us succeed. Thank you! ❤

  2. Amazing!!! Thanks so much for persevering Caroline! I can’t wait for the tutorial.
    Thank you!

  3. Top marks for perseverance, Caroline. It is challenging when you are working from a photo. You figured it out and many will enjoy making this unique Pencil case…that can be used for other items. Looking forward to when you post the directions. Kudos for the inspiration and all you do.

  4. Lara Trottier says:

    Wonderful job. I appreciate you showing the fails as well. That just shows that no one is perfect and that if you keep trying you can do it. 🙂

  5. Thanks Caroline for not giving up on the stand up pencil case. And thanks for showing us that you too have "failures". Your finished product is very nice. I’m looking forward to the tutorial.

  6. haha! I love seeing other people’s fails! It’s so nice to seed that part of the process too. But I’m happy it worked out in the end! I make your Zola pencil case a lot! (in my adaptation).

  7. Way to problem solve! It looks great, and I can’t wait for the pattern! Thank you so much for sharing your sewing journeys with all of us!

  8. Carla Hundley says:

    Can’t wait for the instructions!
    Love your success holder and
    thanks for finding the way to
    make it happen. Looks so cool.
    Carla from Utah

  9. Have I told you lately how much I love you? 😉 Seriously though, I was hoping that this case would win and that I could re-size the finished pattern so it would be big enough to fit my rotary cutter and fabric scissors. Great minds think alike! Great job on the case, I’m glad you persevered and am also looking forward to the finished pattern!

  10. kerrie fisk says:

    I am so happy you didn’t give up on this,even though I didn’t vote for it,i am still going to try it and you have ironed out the problems for us,WAY TO GO!!cheers,kerrie

  11. Well done Caroline! I would, however like to make a suggestion. It would be very pertinent and very safe to have a scissors blade cover when you store your scissors handle-part down in your updated storage case. Seeing the sharp points of the scissors is an accident waiting to happen! This could be a new project … a scissors saver, as well as a hand-saver!

  12. The final version is ADORABLE! It wasn’t the project I voted for but now I LOVE it. So cute! Thanks too for sharing the "failed" version.
    I admire your determination!

  13. Angie Brooke says:

    I have to thank you for showing us the fail as well as the success of this project. Being a beginner seamstress I fail at projects often. And it makes me so anxious and self conscious of my sewing skills that sometimes I quit all together or think forget it, I can’t do it. So thanks for showing us it’s OK to mess up and to just keep trying.

  14. Teri Bock says:

    You are fabulous. If it doesn’t turn out, be stubborn and figure it out. I admire that! Thank you!

  15. Mammacubed says:

    I love that you shared your “fail” with us – you’re human! This looks like a really useful case. I’ll look for the tutorial!

  16. Linda Paredez says:

    I was so glad I clicked on the "Fail" to see what went wrong, and lo and behold, after the honest critique of your work, you found a workaround and nailed it! NICE JOB!!!!

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