Make a Recycled Denim Pencil Case for Back to School

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Pencils. Notebooks. Crayons. Markers. School supply lists for kids in elementary school tend to look the same. As a result, the supplies we parents buy tend to look the same as well. This year, I was determined to make at least one item on my daughter’s back-to-school list by hand. Since I’m no good with power tools and I made crayons for her last Christmas, I decided to try my hand at making a pencil case.

Understand that I am a complete novice when it comes to sewing. I can sew a straight line, hem curtains or make a pillow cover, but I’d never, ever tried to make anything with a zipper involved. I thought the process would be complicated. But I really wanted to create a zippered case to make sure my daughter wouldn’t lose all her pencils and markers. A pouch with a flap just wouldn’t be secure enough. So I tried to find the simplest possible tutorial for making a zippered case. I stumbled upon this one over in the Craftster forums and decided it was just simple enough.

I don’t want to be redundant, so I won’t repeat all the steps, but I did make a couple of small changes. I wanted a really durable fabric, but nothing I had on hand really fit the bill. I decided to use an old pair of jeans that no longer fit me. I used the bottom portion of one leg because the width of the fabric was most even there. I also wanted my case to be a little larger than the one in the tutorial, so my fabric was 11″ x 11″ to begin with. Other than that, I followed all the steps as provided. And trust me when I say if I can do this, anyone can do it. I will say that does help to have a zipper foot on your sewing machine.

The finished case was no masterpiece, but I managed to get it done without blowing up my sewing machine. Still, I knew it needed a little something extra. Thankfully, I’d picked up more than one zipper from Walmart when I was planning the project. I bought a black zipper and a pink zipper because I hadn’t decided which fabric I was going to use for the case. I wound up using the black zipper, but I remembered seeing jewelry made of zippers on Etsy. I figured I could use the pink zipper to make some sort of embellishment.

The process of making my zipper flower was relatively simple. Click the photos to view them larger.

1. Open the zipper as far as possible and cut off the pull.

2. You’ll be left with 2 zipper halves. Cut each side of the zipper into 4 equal pieces, for a total of 8 pieces. I used a 16″ zipper, but you can use any length you have on hand.

3. Fold each segment into a petal shape and secure the ends with a drop of hot glue. Try to make them as flat as possible.

4. Attach the petals together at the ends, starting with the first 2 and building from there.

5. Once all the petals are glued together, you’ll need something to cover up the center so you won’t see all the overlapping areas. I used a fabric-covered button that I happened to have in my sewing kit, but you can use a regular button, a circle cut out of fabric, a few rhinestones or anything else you can think of.

6. Attach it to your case with hot glue, and you’re done!

I’m pretty proud of my little case, and my daughter loves it!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for sharing a back to school DIY project with You. Participation is voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own.

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12 comments… add one
  • Madisyn August 11, 2011, 11:22 am

    I love that flower especially! With your permission, I’d like to post it over at the homemade showcase with a recap of the instructions.

    • jennae August 12, 2011, 8:01 am

      Hi Madisyn. Thank you for the compliment, and feel free to post it.

  • Lynn August 11, 2011, 7:01 pm

    Very cute! Congratulations on your sewing project. I know anything new can be intimidating especially when it involves a machine you can stitch a NEEDLE through your finger (speaking as one who has done it). Good job.

    • jennae August 12, 2011, 8:02 am

      Lynn, I’ve had enough close calls to know exactly what you mean 🙂 Just putting the zipper foot on the machine was a challenge in itself!

  • Kerri August 11, 2011, 8:27 pm

    Aw, it looks so cute! How long did that take you to do? Good idea too!

    • jennae August 12, 2011, 8:03 am

      Because of my complete novice sewing skills, it took me about an hour. But about half of that was making the flower. It really is simple to make!

  • madella August 12, 2011, 5:20 am

    awesome…i am gonna try and give it for my baby…

    • jennae August 12, 2011, 8:03 am

      Madella, if you do try it, I’d love to see how it turns out.

  • Tara @ Deal Seeking Mom August 12, 2011, 11:58 am

    So cute, Jennae — the zipper flower really makes it!

  • Anna @ Outdoor Living August 18, 2011, 10:10 am

    I am going to try to make these for my girls. They are so cute I think some of their friends moms might ask me to make more for their daughters. Depending on how long it takes me to make them, I might have to just direct them to your site.

  • anderson August 26, 2011, 4:49 am

    i think this is really cool and cute.. kids should be taught about these kinds of projects and activities because they will definitely learn a lot from it and their potential as artists could really be enhanced by doing this kind of stuff

  • Stesha August 28, 2011, 10:02 am

    Love it! I had to post it to my Pinterest board! Can I post on my blog too?!Just a photo of the finished product, a small intro and a link back here for instruction and so on:)

    Hugs and Mocha,

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