Bags, Wallets, and Zips

Binder Pouch Tutorial

Binder Pouch Tutorial - NoodleheadHope you are all staying safe and healthy! Because it’s getting closer to Back to School time (even though it’s looking a lot different this year for all) I’ve had requests for my Binder Pouch Tutorial that was formerly published on the Sew, Mama, Sew! website back in August of 2010. Yes! I’ve been blogging more than 10 years and am still at it! I honestly cannot believe it! Because Sew, Mama, Sew! is no longer in business, their website (along with the Binder Pouch Tutorial) is no longer available. The tutorial was published only on their site (not on my blog), so I’m bringing it back home to share with you.

Funny enough, I was able to track down my own instructions that were on an aggregate site, and decided to make a new pouch to make sure everything was okay and to take some new pictures along the way! I hope you’ll enjoy this tutorial. Even if many of us are not going to be in a traditional school setting this fall, it’s still fun to have this pouch to keep organized! Hey – you don’t even have to use it for school stuff!

Binder Pouch for Sew Mama Sew

I had this project saved on my to-do list for a looong time… I’m so glad Sew,Mama,Sew! is doing a Back to School month! I love this project because of course I love zippers, but I think this will be a great project to send to school with your kids. You can even make it super-personalized by having your kids pick out the fabrics, or adding an initial, or you could even embroider a favorite animal– Go crazy! Extra bonus: when you make it yourself you know it’ll hold up to a lot of wear and tear.

  • Scraps of fabric (or 1/4 yard or fat quarter of the main print will work)
  • 10″ zipper 
  • Scrap of see-through vinyl approx 7″x 3.5″ (see final cut measurement below), find some at your local quilt shop, or grab some awesome transparent vinyl at Sew Hungry Hippie, or glitter vinyl
  • 3 (3/8″) Grommets (Dritz are my favorite, they install easily and come with the setting tools you’ll need)
  • Scrap of interfacing cut to 3.5″ tall by 11″ wide (this will reinforce where the grommets are installed)
  • Optional: Binding tape to cover the seams 1/2″-wide (store bought or make your own)
  • Sewing machine, thread, etc. 
  • zipper pull (here and here)
    {All seam allowances 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.}
Cut Fabrics:
  • cut (2) 6.5″ tall by 4″ wide Pouch Front (left)
  • cut (2) 6.5″ squares Pouch Front (right)
  • cut (1) 6.5″ tall by 11.5″ wide Pouch Back
  • From the vinyl cut one piece 6.5″ tall by 3″ wide.
  • cut (1) 3.5″ tall by 11″ wide Grommet Tab (fuse the interfacing to the wrong side)
    {Just a note: sewing through the vinyl might not be your thing! If you don’t feel up to it, skip the vinyl, and cut that piece from fabric. It’ll still turn out super cool.}
{All seam allowances 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.}
Make Front Exterior of Pouch:

Place the Pouch Front Left pieces right sides together with vinyl in between the fabrics, matching/aligning the 6.5″ sides.  Sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance.Press fabrics away from vinyl being sure not to touch the hot iron to the vinyl.

Place the Pouch Front Right fabrics, right sides together with the vinyl in between the fabrics, matching the 6.5″ sides of the opposite side of the vinyl.

Sew and press fabrics away from vinyl. Your front pouch will measure 6.5″ tall by 11.5″ wide.

Topstitch on either side of the vinyl (on the fabric through both layers).

(Optional) Baste fabric layers together along perimeter.

Assemble the Grommet Tab:

Fold the Grommet Tab in half the long way, right sides together.

Sew using a 5/8″ seam allowance on both of the short edges. Clip corners. Turn right side out and press.

(optional) Topstitch along both short edges and the sewn long edge (the open edge of the grommet tab will be enclosed once you sew the pouch together). Set aside.


Assemble Pouch:

Because this is an unlined pouch, we’ll assemble it just a bit differently than a lined pouch. This next step is where a Teflon foot would come in handy, otherwise you can make do with a piece of scotch tape placed on the bottom side of your sewing machine’s foot. The tape will help the zipper foot slide across the vinyl section of the pouch front.

Fold one front pouch 11.5″ edge to the wrong side by 1/2″ and press. The vinyl won’t fold as well, but finger press it well (and a hair dryer on a low setting will help make it more pliable), do the best you can especially if it’s your first time using vinyl. Do the same for the back pouch fabric, folding one 11.5″ edge to the wrong side by 1/2″.

Center raw edge of Grommet Tab along (unfolded) 11.5″ edge of the back pouch piece, right sides together and baste (stitch length of 4-5mm) in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

With the zipper right side facing up (zipper pull at the left) place the pouch assembled front’s folded edge in place along the zipper teeth (approx. 1/8″ away from the zipper teeth) and pin in place. Topstitch in place close to the fold (1/8″ away from fold).

Pin the back exterior’s folded edge in place along the zipper teeth on opposite edge. Topstitch in place close to the fold.

Now take the pouch and fold it so the RIGHT sides are together, be sure to keep the grommet tab tucked in between the front/back layers.

Pin along both sides and bottom edge. Make sure the zipper is open about half way. Sew along both sides and bottom edge.

Finishing Seams:

You could just leave the pouch as is at this point, zig-zag, or serge the edges. As another option, you could use binding to cover up the raw edges.

I left my seams as is and then clipped the corners with my pinking shears.

Turn right side out and press! (Again, be careful around the vinyl!)

Insert Grommets:

Using a water soluble pen, make a dot on the grommet tab in the center of the tab, measuring .5″, 4.75″, and 9″ from one grommet tab edge. I’d recommend having the binder you’ll be using with the pouch to make sure everything aligns before you install the grommets. It’ll be much easier to make adjustments now rather than have a non-functioning pencil pouch just because the grommets don’t align with the binder rings.

Install the grommets using the directions on the packaging. Here are a few photos, too. I use the grommet to trace the inner circle (centered on my dot marking) and then with a sharp scissors I cut the circle out. 

Fill with some pencils and pens or markers, snap it into your binder and you’re all set! Water lily fabric is from my Driftless fabric collection.

Bags, Wallets, and Zips

Forage Bag – Free Pattern!

Forage Bag: Free Pattern - Noodlehead Forage Bag: Free Pattern - Noodlehead Another free pattern for you! I’m excited to finally share about the Forage Bag pattern I designed to go with my new fabric collection, Forage. I should have shared it a few weeks back, but better late than never, right?! I hope. After finalizing Forage, it was time to dedicate my efforts to designing this new pattern. I had so many ideas for different designs that it was hard to nail down just one. I guess that’s a good problem! Although, sometimes I wish I could make up my mind a little easier!

Forage Bag: Free Pattern - Noodlehead

This is a sweet little set of bags with a zippered opening. It’s kind of like having an extra pocket instead of carrying a whole purse full of things you rarely use. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m heavily on the side of not carrying a lot of things with me. I like to travel light and not feel encumbered by a large bag or purse. Of course there can be exceptions to my own rule, especially for road trips and weekend getaways — so the Forage Bag is an ode to traveling light! It’s a fairly straightforward pattern that uses small amounts of fabric – which is always fun. It’s also perfect for mixing and matching your favorites. I love that! I think it’ll look amazing in so many fabric combos. I love that quality because sometimes you just want to sew! Agonizing over fabric selection isn’t what it’s all about anyway.

Forage Bag: Free Pattern - Noodlehead

So be sure to stop over to the Robert Kaufman site to pick up your free copy of the pattern. It comes in two sizes, regular and mini. The regular size has a slip pocket inside, and the mini is perfect for a small wallet/phone and keys! Make sure to whip one up! Or two! I think they’d make a great present or treat yourself and make one for you!Forage Bag: Free Pattern - Noodlehead

As always, thank you for supporting my work. I could not do what I do without the support of all of you. Thank you!

Pattern: Forage Bag Pattern (thanks for your patience while the file was being updated, the file is now available for download)
Fabric: Forage fabric collection by me for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
Grommets: I highly recommend the Dritz brand grommets, pick them up at your local quilt shop or local craft supply store.
Zippers: 8″ zipper here, 6″ zipper here, Leather zipper pulls here

Forage Bag: Free Pattern - Noodlehead

Bags, Wallets, and Zips

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

Finally, right?! Eeek! I hope you find this tutorial fun and helpful!

Quite a few months ago I made these pencil pouches from the canvas fabrics in my collection for Cloud9 Fabrics, Rain Walk. So today I’m sharing the how-to and pattern template as a way of saying thank you to all who stop by my website, leave kind note, and are excited about sewing! I’m grateful for the community and fun and sharing!

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead


  • 10″ zipper
  • templates CLICK TO DOWNLOAD (print at 100%, no scaling)
  • fat quarter – 18″ x 22″ cotton canvas for lining (I use an unbleached 9 oz. weight cotton canvas from my local Joanns, it’s perfect for showcasing all your pretty pencils and pens!)
  • 6″ x 18″ main print (canvas/denim/twill)
  • 6″ x 12″ accent fabric (canvas/denim/twill)
  • 1/4 yard fusible woven interfacing (I prefer Pellon SF101 which is 20″ wide)
  • zipper pull (optional) available here and here

Note about materials: If you choose to substitute a different fabric type than suggested, you may need additional interfacing for desired structure. Just sayin’.

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

All seam allowances 1/2″ unless otherwise noted. Seam allowance included in template.
RST=Right Sides Together, WST=Wrong Sides Together

Approx. finished size: 3 1/4″ tall x 10 1/2″ wide x 1 1/2″ deep


(1) Main, (1 Main reversed)
(1) Accent, (1 Accent reversed)
(2) lining
(2) fusible woven interfacing – using lining template

A note on cutting: Because you’ll want the color blocking to reflect on each side of the zipper, make sure you cut the exterior pieces accordingly (reversed as directed), they’ll look like this:

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

*my exterior pieces in the following steps are shown without interfacing so as to hopefully better show the process.

Piece the exterior

  1. Start by sewing the exterior together by placing the main print and accent fabric RST and sewing using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press seam to one side and topstitch. Fuse woven interfacing to wrong side.
    Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  2. Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - NoodleheadRepeat to assemble remaining exterior panel.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

Prepare the zipper

  1. Bend zipper ends in place and sew (at both the pull side and end stop side).

    Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

    View from wrong side of zipper.

    Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

    View from right side of zipper.

Attach zipper

  1. With assembled exterior panel right side up, center zipper right side facing down (zipper pull at left) along top edge. Pin in place.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  2. Place one lining piece, right side down on top. Pin in place. Using your zipper foot, sew along top edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  3. Press exterior panel away from zipper and topstitch along zipper using an 1/8″ seam allowance.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  4. Position exterior panel and lining panel WST. Press away from zipper.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  5. Repeat 1-4 to attach remaining exterior panel and lining panel to remaining zipper side. This time placing zipper pull at right. Make sure your exterior panel seams match up at the same location as best you can.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - NoodleheadCanvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - NoodleheadCanvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

Complete Pouch

  1. Open zipper halfway!!!
  2. Position exterior panels RST and pin along sides and bottom. Position lining pieces RST and pin along sides and bottom. Be sure that you place pins at the intersections of where the lining meets the exterior on each side of the pouch.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  3. Sew around perimeter of exterior and lining leaving a 4″ opening at the bottom of the lining.
  4. Press seam allowance open. If desired, trim lining seam allowance to 1/4″ except at opening.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  5. Reach inside the pouch and wiggle the zipper open fully.
  6. Box corners by pinching one bottom seam to match its corresponding side seam. Sew. Repeat for remaining 3 corners.Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - NoodleheadCanvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - NoodleheadCanvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead
  7. Turn pouch right side out through opening in lining.
  8. Sew opening in lining closed (by machine or by hand)
  9. Push lining into exterior and press along zipper edge. Tip: To get the pouch corners crisp, use your fingers to squeeze the seam allowance together at the side seam when the zipper is fully open. Use a chop stick or other dull instrument to poke out the corner on the metal end stop side. Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead

I hope you enjoy making some pencil pouches! They make such fun teacher gifts and of course my kids love theirs. If you want extra credit these would be an awesome companion to a Wool + Wax Tote. I also wanted to point out that this is just one way to install a zipper or make a pouch, believe me when I say there are many many more options! Check out my other tutorials and patterns if you’re interested in working with zippers or love to make pouches.

Canvas Pencil Pouch Tutorial - Noodlehead