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I know now that working with zippers is not nearly as complicated as it seems, but that intimidation did keep me from trying more than one project during my early sewing years.
One way to work around this intimidation if you are in the beginning stages of learning to sew, or if you are working with a younger person who may not be ready for working with zippers yet, is to try using a Velcro closure. These pencil pouches are a great beginner project that teach some basic sewing skills but create something very functional!
Begin by cutting two pieces of fabric into 10 inch x 10 inch squares with a Fiskars Acrylic Ruler, Cutting Mat, and Rotary Cutter.
I used burlap for one of my pencil pouches, so I used a double thickness of burlap for one of my layers.
To prevent the edges of the burlap from fraying, I used a zig-zag stitch around the perimeter.
Lay the fabric squares right sides together and stitch a ½ inch seam along to opposite edges. Iron the seams open and turn the stitched panels right side out.
To create decorative trim as seen in the first step of the instructions, cut a 20 inch long length of coordinating fabric that is 2 inches wide and run it through a bias tape maker. If one is not available, you can create the trim by folding the long edges of the strip to the center and ironing it to crease the edges. Fold the strip in half along the long edge and iron a crease down the center. It is easiest to work with during stitching the phase if one side of the trim is slightly wider than the other.
Cut a 12 inch long section from the trim. Starting about ½ inch from each end, trim each side of both at a slight angle toward the center of the end of the strip. When folding the end of the strip over to enclose the raw edge in the next step, this will help reduce the bulk and prevent excess fabric from sticking out along the edges.
Fold each end over toward the inside of the trim to enclose the raw edge at each end and iron to crease. When finished, you want the trim to be 10 inches long. Using pins or hem clips (seen in the photo above), attach the trim to one of the edges that has a seam.
Using a straight stitch, top stitch close to the edge of the trim. If you made one side of the trim wider than the other, this side will be the side that is placed on the needle plate.
Stitch a square of velcro on the lining fabric of one end and the outside fabric of the other end.
Fold the panel into thirds with the decorative trimmed edge overlying the opposite edge. Stitch trim to the 2 sides in the same way you did the opening edge of the pouch earlier.
Hand sew a decorative button to the center of the the trimmed edge if desired.
And that is all there is to creating a fun, functional beginner's pencil pouch!
Two coordinating fabrics remnants (at least 10 inches x 10 inches)
Coordinating fabric for trim (at least 20 inches long)
Pins or hem clips
Bias tape maker (optional).