Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pencil Case - Part 3

Today we're finishing up the Pencil Case!  If you missed the first 2 parts, you can check them out:

So, on to Part Three - Where Jaime shows you some stuff you might not have seen before... And hopefully finishes the Pencil Case... Finally!

The Supplies we're using today are:
12 1/2" zipper (or longer, since zippers don't come in that size)
Yarn needle
Sewing pins
The cotton yarn you used to make the crocheted outer shell in Part One 
Knit Picker

As you Dynamos may already know, I can never find a 'right-sized' zipper.  I haven't put a un-customized (that's not a real word, btw) zipper into any of my crocheted projects.  I cut and stitch and melt all of them.  I was lamenting this sad fact to Jake a while back, and he suggested I find someplace that I could purchase big lengths of zipper, if I was just going to customize it anyway.  Brilliant!  

Did you know that you can buy a big, fat roll of zipper?!  Okay, smarty pants, well the rest of us didn't know about it!  I got mine online at  They have two kinds of the Make-A-Zipper,  regular and heavy duty.  I got heavy duty, since most of my projects are meant to be used a lot.  So, lucky for me, I was all ready to go when I needed a 12 1/2" zipper!

I was able to zip the zipper pulls along, up the spool of zipper, until I got the length that I needed.  Then I just cut it off.  So easy peasy!  There are instructions on the package on how to sew the ends closed (in fact, they HIGHLY recommend sewing the ends before cutting the zipper), but we fly without a net around here. Usually, I elaborately stitch the ends closed with sewing thread, but this time I knew that I would be stitching across the ends when I sewed the zipper in, so I just used a piece of yarn and sewed it once around the zipper teeth.  Even more simply, I tied the ends in a knot on the back of the zipper.  Seriously, Dynamos, it was freeing to work so loosely!

I used a match to (very slightly) melt the cut ends of the zipper fabric.  This will keep it from fraying.  I don't know how necessary this step is for this particular project (the ends won't show, get rubbed or abused or handled in any way), but on the off chance that I would ever need to wash the case, I did it for good measure.

Putting a zipper in, without wanting to throw the project across the room, requires some prep work.  First, we're going to pin the zipper in place.  Grab your pencil case with liner and your pins!

Decide if your case has a front and back (if you used one solid color, this doesn't matter, but two or more colors will have a slight jog in the stitches on one side, thus necessitating a banishing to 'back' status).  I put my zipper in so that it would unzip from left to right.  You can, of course, put your zipper in however you like.

Start by sliding the end of your zipper about a half inch in between the liner and the crocheted outer shell. Pin it in place (I put the pin in sideways, across the zipper).  Unzip the zipper to make it easier to see what you're doing.  Slide the zipper fabric in between the liner and the crochet, slowly working around the edge of the flap.  Pin it in place as you go.

When you get to the corner of the flap, you're going to want to fold the zipper fabric over to miter the corner.  Make sure you catch both layers of zipper fabric when you pin it between the liner and the crochet flap so it doesn't spring apart.

Make your way around the case, sliding the extra length of zipper end in between the liner and crochet outer shell when you get to the other side.  Pin, pin, pin everything. Once you've got it pinned in place you can check it by (very carefully!) zipping it closed.  If the zipper pulls the fabric weird, or in some way aggravates you, NOW is the time to adjust it.   Also, check to make sure that the liner fabric and crocheted fabric are spaced evenly (maybe 1/8th inch?) from the zipper teeth.  Go around and adjust the pins until you are thrilled with how it looks, and you're sure the zipper pull won't get caught on too-close fabric.

Now, get out your Knit Picker and yarn, 'cause we're going to crochet it all together! 

If you didn't see my previous Knit Picker project (the Simple Ruffle-Butt Onesie) I would strongly encourage you to go and look at the step-by-step pictures of the knit picker in action.  It's okay, open it up in a new tab and read through the instructions on how the tool works, we'll wait for you  because we are covering so much info today that this next part is bare bones, baby!  Okay, not bare-bare bones, but it will be really confusing if you don't know how to make it work.  If you've used one before, or you're familliar with the latch-hook mechanism as it pertains to this application, then you're ready for this next part! 

This project is harder than the onesie, since you're going to have to go through multiple layers of fabric.  I found it was easier to get through the layers of liner, then go through the zipper fabric, and come out in a crocheted stitch.

The good part is that you don't have to mark your stitch guide, just use the crochet stitches on the flap as a guide.  Your knit picker stitches will be evenly spaced if you go through each crocheted stitch across the top of the flap.  Down the sides of the flap I used the rows as a guideline, but I just eyeballed the spacing.  The stitches don't show on the outside of the case, so it's hard to make a mistake on the side spacing.

Pulling the (much thicker than the yarn we used for the onesie) cotton yarn through all those layers of fabric is not easy.  Once you've done a few stitches you'll get the hang of it, and you'll know how hard you need to pull to get it to work.  

I started in the center of the back, since I figured that was a spot that was least likely to show, and wouldn't have much tension placed on it in the zipping/unzipping process.   

That reminds me, make sure that you really pay attention when you get to the bottom of the flap, as you go across from one side to the other, put a stitch on each side of the zipper teeth.  One on one side, go across and one on the other side.  This will really secure the zipper in place.

Once you've gone around the case, pull the last loop out just a little extra.

Come in from the outside, so that you can pull the loop through.  This will make it really easy to weave the end in when you're finished.

Once you've gotten the loop through, pull it out really long.  You may need to grab a crochet hook for this part.  **In fact, if at any point you are having trouble pulling a loop out far enough for it to 'chain' to the other stitches, use a crochet hook.  You will feel like you're going to break your knit picker if you pull very hard, and it's just not worth the sick feeling in your stomach if you've got your tool kit nearby.  The knit picker is super sturdy, and it shouldn't break, btw. I'm just sayin' why take the risk if it makes you nervous?**

Fasten off and weave in the ends, 'cause you are done, baby!!!

Oh yeah!  Inside!!  And now Outside!!!

I know I say this about every project, but I really am so happy with how it turned out.  I have made a few more that need to get the zippers put in, but I'll share those with you when they're done (and I don't have anything else to talk about that day...).

In the meantime, I thought I'd share this video.  This is the one that my friend Eliz sent me that really kicked off my knit picker love.  If you'd like more info you can click HERE and it will take you to TECHknitting, who pioneered this technique.  (And I know that in-blog videos are annoying, but pop it open to full-screen because this one is really good and well worth watching.).



  1. Wow, you are amazing. I think you may have given me the courage to try lining a handbag like that.

    1. Hi Nyan! Oh I hope you do, it's really fun.
      xo Jaime

  2. This tutorial is awesome Jaime.

    1. Thanks Piper! It was such a fun project!
      xo Jaime


    No, seriously! we need to spread the word on all social media outlets..... (I'm only on one or two myself...)

    Oh, and, ROLL of zipper?! how cool is that!? I'd never heard of it before -- brilliant!

    oh, and, your knit picker is sturdy? that's great! (hmmm..... I may need to eventually get the one you've got -- mine's from KnitPicks, and it's not very sturdy at all....)


    1. I'll show you mine. I've pulled it HARD a couple of times and was afraid that I was going to snap it, but the metal just kinda sproinged (you will notice I'm using technical jargon here)and was fine. I am hard on my tools, and since I didn't snap it with this multi-layer zipper project, I would consider it to be sturdy (for what it is).

      But even if I had snapped it, I'd have bought another one. Because I Looooooove it.

  4. Cooooool!! I hate zippering, how awesome is it that they come on a roll?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...