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Positioning a zipper on a pencil case PLUS the finishing touches [tutorial]

Positioning a zipper on a pencil case PLUS the finishing touches [tutorial]

by Claire Haillot

In yesterday’s post, I showed you how to create the postcard-valentine embroidery using the delightful limited edition PFAFF creative™ ambition™ 640. Today I’ll show you how to finish this wonderful pencil case project just in time for Back to School. To start, remove the embroidery arm on the machine and grab the Invisible Zipper Foot that’s part of the 5-piece bonus set included with the machine.

A hand holds a box with 5 bonus presser feet for the PFAFF creative ambition 640 sewing machine which sits on a table behind the open box.

The PFAFF creative ambition 640 comes with 5 bonus presser feet.


A yellow rectangular piece of fabric with 6 hearts embroidered with words in red thread lays below a gray zipper and a marking pencil on a green cutting mat; Chacopel Pencil Set - Fine Point, COSTUMAKERS General Purpose Closed End Zipper 23cm (9″)

Marking the center of the fabric and edges of the zipper to ensure the zipper is well centered

To make sure the zipper was well centered on the fabric, on the back of the embroidered fabric, I marked the center and the edges of the zipper. I did the same for one of my other fabric rectangles. Then I stitched my 2 rectangles together, right sides facing each other, using a ½” seam allowance. I stitched a regular solid stitch on both edges, but simply basted the section where the zipper goes. Meaning that for the regular stitch, my stitch length was 2.5 while the basting stitch was at 4.

2 rectangular pieces of fabrics ready to have the zipper positioned using HeatNBond Quilter's Edge Iron-On Adhesive Tape; COSTUMAKERS General Purpose Closed End Zipper 23cm (9″)

Applying HeatNBond Quilter’s Edge Iron-On Adhesive Tape onto the seam allowance to secure the zipper

Now here’s my new trick to easily position a zipper onto a project.

  1. Iron the two pieces together and, on the reverse side, press open the seams.
  2. Apply a piece of ¼” HeatNBond Quilter’s Edge Iron-On Adhesive Tape in the center of each seam allowance, in the basted section, by gently pressing for two seconds with your dry iron using the silk setting.
  3. Let the fabric cool off, remove the paper backing on the adhesive tape and then position the zipper. Press once more with your iron for 4 to 6 seconds.
  4. Using the Invisible Zipper Foot, sew the zipper into place.
  5. Flip the project over and carefully remove the basting to reveal the zipper.

UNIQUE Sewing SeamFix Red Seam Ripper and Thread Remover is used to remove the basting, revealing the zipper on the pencil case project. Case; COSTUMAKERS General Purpose Closed End Zipper 23cm (9″)

Carefully remove the basting to reveal the zipper.

Adding a lining

Now, you can finish the pencil case at this stage, but I prefer adding a lining to hide the backside of the embroidery. All you need to do is position another rectangular piece of fabric with the right side facing the zipper and stitch once more.

A rectangular piece of colorful fabric is used as a lining to hide the back of the embroidery of the pencil case. The fabric lies on top of a green cutting mat next to the edge of a quilting ruler; COSTUMAKERS General Purpose Closed End Zipper 23cm (9″)

Adding a lining to the pencil case

Repeat for the other side. Your lining is now set on your pencil case.

Two rectangular pieces of colorful fabric are sewn on each side of a zipper to make the liner of the pencil case and laid out on a green cutting mat with the edge of a quilting ruler showing on the right of the picture; COSTUMAKERS General Purpose Closed End Zipper 23cm (9″)

Both linings added to the pencil case

Adding a strap

Once more, you can be ready to finish the project at this stage. However, I decided to add another touch to the project, a strap! I thought it would add a nice touch and a way to easily carry the pencil case. I took a 3” x 12” piece of fabric and folded it in half lengthwise. I then folded each edge toward the center (first fold crease). Once pressed into place, I stitched a straight line on each edge. You can also use a fancy decorative stitch available on the machine or even better! Why not stitch the name of your child on the strap? It’s all possible using the PFAFF creative ambition 640.

A hand is folding a 3” x 12” piece of colorful fabric to create a strap for the pencil case, shown on a green cutting mat

Folding a piece of fabric to create a strap

A finished colorful fabric strap with stitched sides to secure the folds, lays folded on a green cutting mat

Securing the strap with a straight stitch on opposite sides

Finishing the pencil case

The next step is to fold the pencil case into its finished look, the right side facing you. Pin the edges together, all 4 layers, ensuring they’re nice and flat. Add the strap to an edge facing inward and secure it with pins. Stitch into place.

Folded pencil case with 6 embroidered hearts with word stitched with red thread on top and the strap pinned to the top right, and a marking pencil, a green pin tray with quilting pins, all lay on top of a green cutting mat; Clover 418 - Chacopel Pencil Set - Fine Point

Pinning the pencil case together for final stitching

Cut any excess fabrics around the stitch line so you only have a ¼” seam allowance all around. Then open the zipper and turn the pencil case inside out, ensuring the strap lays nice and flat inside. I like to press the seams and corners to ensure they also lay nice and flat. Stitch once more at ⅜”. This method gives you a nice smooth finish without having to add a binding.

Pencil case flipped inside out with additional stitch at ⅜” laid out on a green cutting mat

Flip pencil case inside out and stitch edges at ⅜” for a nice smooth finish.

All you need to do now is flip the pencil back to the right side and you’re done! You have a personalized pencil case ready to head to school with even if your child isn’t that ready!

Pencil case with strap created using yellow fabric and 6 embroidered hearts with the words Funky, Kind, Sweet, Loved, Brave and Loyal, written in each heart

Personalized pencil case ready for Back to School

Hope you enjoyed making this pencil case project. I sure enjoyed creating it while testing the new PFAFF creative ambition 640. I just love how easy it is to use the machine to embroider cool projects with it. Please do post your finished products on your favorite social media using #Thesewgoeson so I can see them too.

This is part 5 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 4: Embroidery personalizes an essential Back to School pencil case [easy]


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