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.


New! Quarry Trail Fabric Collection

Quarry Trail Fabric Collection by Anna Graham for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, shipping to stores December 2020!!!

How’s your summer going? I hope you are all safe and healthy. This year feels so different than past summers for sure. On the positive side, we have enjoyed spending lots of family time without the interruption of having to dash off to activities or soccer games. Days blend together, but I am grateful to have sewing in my life. Today is a great day and one I’ve had marked in my calendar for many months! My next fabric collection, Quarry Trail, with Robert Kaufman Fabrics was just released (that means that shops are now seeing it and are able to order). I’m so honored to have been able to work with Robert Kaufman Fabrics once again.

Quarry Trail Fabric Collection by Anna Graham for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, shipping to stores December 2020!!!

Quarry Trail fabric collection by Anna Graham for Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Quarry Trail is a collection of 22 prints overprinted on Essex, Essex Yarn Dyed, and Essex Yarn Dyed Homespun (yesssss! eeek!) all printed in the USA. It’s been interesting to see just a glimpse of how the pandemic has affected the whole process. But I’m so thrilled with how the fabric turned out. Here’s the super important part – it’ll be shipping to stores in December! Yep, it IS a few months off, but I think it’ll be worth the wait! If you’re interested in these fabrics, please share this with your local quilt shop and ask if they’ve ordered. That way they can be sure to get some ordered! I hope this small peek of the collection will provide a little bit of inspiration and get you excited about sewing with it.

Annnnnd, I’m so excited to show you the projects I made using it! I’m planning on writing about my inspiration while designing the Quarry Trail prints and sharing some fun pictures, too. In the meantime, here’s a little hint. I’ll be posting about the individual projects when it gets a bit closer to the release date (so maybe sometime starting in October?!) as I know it can be so hard to be inspired to make something yet not have the fabric available. So please hang in there!

Thanks so much for your support and encouragement! This year especially! I’m so excited for Quarry Trail! I feel so honored when I see my fabric designs being used in your projects.


Georgia Tee from my stash

Georgia Tee, pattern by Elizabeth Suzann - Noodlehead Recently, Liz of Elizabeth Suzann announced that she was closing her business. She does have plans to open back up and offer sewing patterns and kits in the fall, but in the meantime, she had generously offered her patterns for some of her most popular designs to the home sewing community thanks to some crowdsourced funds from the sewing community. Lucky us! Thanks to organizers (@MinimalistMachinist, @mombasics and @thestoryclubpdx for all their work on providing these. They requested that you make a donation (for non-Black and able, to a local or regional Black led organization for the amount you would have paid for access to these patterns. They offered a few suggestions: @glits_inc / @mvmnt4blklives / @thelovelandfoundation. I chose a local chef’s (Adrian Lipscombe) fundraiser, 40 Acres and a Mule. ****Lastly, in anticipation of Liz releasing her sewing patterns, the files are no longer available to the community (read the post here), but I think it will very much be worth the wait when she releases them! Plus, they’ll be accompanied with the full instructions which will be so great! I’ll try and touch base again when I hear more about her timeline for when the patterns might be available. Or sign up for her newsletter. ***

So it took me a little bit of time before I could dive into trying one of the patterns, but the Georgia Tee skipped to the top of my list once I saw other sewists making it. I spent an hour or so putting together the paper pattern and then it seemed like it took hardly any time at all the cut and sew the top itself. The last garment I made was the Archer Buttonup shirt. I had so much fun making it, even though it was more time consuming, it was totally worth the feeling of accomplishment once I finished. But the Georgia is such a lovely simple tee, it was refreshing to sew it up so quickly. I love it’s boxy shape and the fabric that I tried was really fun and easy to sew with. I cannot figure out what fabric this is! It’s been in my stash for a few years at least, but I was thinking it was a silk noil? You can find it at places like Fancy Tiger Crafts, Blackbird Fabrics, and Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics (and probably more! if you know another shop feel free to add it to the comments below). I serged my seam allowances, too, which also helped contribute to the super speedy finish.

I checked a few sources on the patterns as far as seem allowances go,  3/8″ seam allowance was what I went with and it seemed to work great. I also checked on the neckline to see how that was constructed. @trishington on Instagram added her construction info on her caption. Here’s a rundown: I did the neckline similar to how I would do quilt binding. Sewing the short ends together first and then pressing the loop in half wrong sides together, then attaching the loop to the neckline. I actually hadn’t sewn a neckline this way before that I can think of, but it was really slick and sewed on without a hitch.

I lengthened the bodice by 1/2″ and it feels just right. I’ll wear it a bit more before I set to make any further adjustments to a second one, but it feels really nice to wear! I’m so excited to add this to my (very small) closet. I’m pretty sure I might just have to make another! P.s. you can see more versions of the upcoming patterns using the #esmadebyme)