shark pencil pouch tutorial | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns
Bags Tutorial Becky  

Shark Pencil Case Tutorial

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Learn how to sew a shark pencil case! This tutorial gives you step by step for the shark shaped zipper mouth bag. Super cute for shark week!

What’s that?  A Shark Pencil case you say?  Yes.  Yes it is.  Whether for boys or girls…..anyone who loves a shark will be thrilled to have one.  Today, let’s do that.

Back to school time! Around here we pick out new pencils, load up our pouches and fill up on supplies {I always pick up a few things for myself and my sewing cottage}.

This year…and since it’s shark week, and the fact that the oldest has always had a fascination with sharks, I went with a little bit different.

A shark pencil case.

Yes, something that could hold a bunch of pencils and look cool….and was for a boy too!

shark pencil pouch tutorial | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns

Shark Pencil Pouch Materials List:

grey -or your choice of color- fabric scraps

lite interfacing

red fabric- lining

white zipper 7″

pinking shears

Shark Templates– Download    Get the password for the library including the free shark pattern!

shark pencil pouch tutorial | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns

How to sew the Shark Pencil Case~

1)  Sew together your scraps until they are large enough to be cut out with the template

2)  Pin template in place and cut out 2 body pieces- out of patchwork and out of interfacing

3)  Laying the patchwork body piece on top of the interfacing, quilt together.  (I quilted straight lines)– set aside these two pieces


4)  Layer these in order– back fabric, interfacing, interfacing, top fabric, template for fin.

5)  Pin together the layers and cut out


6)  Sew around the sides (you can leave the bottom un-sewn)

7)  Cut the sides with your pinking shears– don’t cut your seam!

8)  Repeat so you have 2 side fins and one large fin for the top of the shark

9)  Take the body piece you are using for the top of your shark and fold in half- iron to crease


10)  Lay the large fin in the center of the shark and with the raw edge or bottom of the fin touching the center crease

11)  Fold the shark body in half again and sew 1/4″


12)  Repeat this with the bottom of the shark….with no fin.  Just fold in half and sew 1/4″

13)  Pin and stay stitch the side fins of the shark


14)  Lay right sides together and sew the sides and bottom fin of the shark- catching the side fins.  Stop and start your seams at the dots marked on the template

15)  Snip the curves, corners, and valleys


16)  Turn right sides out

17)  Cut out 2 pieces for the shark lining— notice that I didn’t cut the tail– you don’t really need it.  Just end the pouch with a square bottom- it does go to the end of the tail in length


18)  Lay right sides together of the lining and sew down the sides and bottom– leave a 3″ opening on one side for turning later and stop and start at the marks

19)  Pin the zipper or stay stitch the zipper in place at the mouth

20)  Place the pouch inside the lining and pin along the mouth with the zipper in between– this area is small, it’s a bit tricky


21)  Sew around the mouth securing the zipper — you might need to play a bit with this step. It’s tricky.  In the end after I had the bag all done, I did go back with needle and thread to secure the ends of the zipper– and to close an opening or hole.  If you find that you need a few touch ups after it’s done, just do it and don’t worry about it.  Mine turned out just fine after a few stitches here and there. Not even noticeable that the zipper was a little tough to deal with.

EDIT:  this has been added to help with the zipper.  Thank you to tm for putting into words what I didn’t!  You are the best!

Okay, to attach the zipper.

If it helps to picture it, remember that your finished zipper will be opposite of how you need to attach it. (The last step, we will turn both the lining and the zipper together, and then stuff them inside the shark. Doing this, will flap the zipper completely.)

That being said, we have to attach it “backwards” so it is correct in the end.

You should have the shark body, right side out. I placed it in between my knees, tail down, head up.

Take your zipper, and un-zip it.

Holding the 2 loose ends of the unzipped zipper in one hand and the zipper pull in your other, flip the zipper pull through it self. The zipper pull will be facing inward, but the 2 loose zipper ends will be facing outwards. Place the zipper pull in one corner of the mouth with the “teeth” facing DOWN toward the tail. The fabric part of the zipper will be facing up. Line up the fabric part of the zipper with the raw edge of your shark mouth.

Loosely pin zipper to shark. (loosely, cause we are going to re-pin it again with the lining. it doesn’t have to be prefect in this first step)

The zipper will be open and pinned to the OUTSIDE of the sharks mouth, with the zipper pull facing IN / upside down.

Next, take the red lining piece (right side together / inside out) and place it OVER the shark body, and OVER the zipper. 

Both ends of the zipper will be sticking out it is okay, you won’t see them in the end. If you zipper is too long, it is still okay. you won’t see it in the end, as it will be in-between the red lining and the inside of the shark, hidden.

One by one, take a pin out, and re-attach it, so all 3 parts are pinned together; shark, zipper, red lining.

***Remember, the zipper teeth are facing down, toward the tail and the fabric of the zipper is facing up, and is aligned with the raw edges of both the shark and the lining. You zipper pull will have a twist in it, cause earlier you pulled it through itself. this is correct.

Now, I hand stitched the zipper in place, because I am not experienced enough to do this with my sewing machine. 

***Keep in mind, if you sew too close to the TEETH of the actual zipper, the red fabric will get stuck in the zipper every time you try to open / close the zipper. Give yourself a little bit of room!

Once all 3 layers are sewn, pull the red lining up and over the head of the shark. Give it a yank, so the zipper also turns or flips.

Then, stuff the red lining into the sharks mouth. Pull out the zipper pull, which will correct your zipper direction.

Leave the stop ends of the zipper hidden inside.

(As the pattern says, you might have to go back and hand stitch some holes, etc. Because I did mine by hand, I did not have to.)

22)  Pull the bag through the opening and close the opening

23)  Stuff the lining inside the bag

24)  Stitch 2 black buttons on the top for eyes


Stuff the shark case with pencils, pens, glue sticks…or whatever supplies you’d like!  It’s just deep enough for the pencils and it can be stuffed quite full!

shark pencil pouch tutorial | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns
shark pencil pouch tutorial | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns

What’s your favorite school supply– or what would you stuff inside?

Love this shark project?  Here’s another using the same template!

shark pillow tutorial with printable template | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns
12 shark tutorials you can sew! | patchwork posse | easy sewing projects and free quilt patterns

86 thoughts on “Shark Pencil Case Tutorial

  1. Mary C.

    That is SO adorable~! Thanks for the tutorial. It’s always hard to come up with things to make for boys.

  2. Teresa in Music City

    This is JUST darling!!! My granddaughter loves sharks and wants to be a Marine Biologist – she will be thrilled with one of these as a Back-to-School gift!!! Thanks so much for sharing such a cute design with us!

  3. Susan

    OMG!!! This is too cute! I wish my son was still in grade school, he would have loved this. He’s in college now–maybe I’ll surprise–oops! more like embarrass him with one!

  4. Maryse

    Oh my!!! Is has to be the cutest thing I have seen in a long time. I love that you chose red for the inside, it makes a perfect contrast. Quite ingenious!!
    Thank you for the tutorial! I couldn’t help it…I had to pin it! 🙂

  5. Vicki

    This is beyond cute! Love the patchwork choice. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Ronja Lotte

    Very cute! Thank you for your work and sharing!
    Ronja Lotte

  7. Anne

    That has got to be the cutest pencil pouch ever!! I’m SOOO making one for my daughter as a back-to-school surprise! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow morning that links to your tutorial:

  8. Cher

    Wow!! That is THE CUTEST pencil holder I’ve ever seen!! I love it!

  9. Crafty Ashley B

    EEK! That is so cute!!! Seriously thinking about making my hubby one for when he goes back to grad school! Best part? I know he’d put it in his backpack! LOVE IT! Totally making three or four of these! Going to Pin this now!

  10. Rebecca Grace

    This is SO AWESOME!!!!! My husband was making me watch Shark Week with him and now I am having nightmares about that 30′ long great white named Submarine who actively hunts humans and swallows them whole… Which is so nice because what mom doesn’t need more variety in her nightmares?! My sons would love a pencil case like this, but I think kiddo the elder would get in trouble for chasing girls with it. Thanks for sharing!

  11. joanne york

    I can not get the templates to download. I get the tutorial but not the templates. Can someone help me. I can open PDF, Word,

  12. joanne york

    I can not get the templates to open, so I can download them. I can open PDF or word.

  13. Lynne Campbell

    I can see enlarging the pattern and put on appropriate straps for a purse or backpack!!!

  14. Peggy A.

    Super Cute! After I get a few done for the grandkids, I want to make one for my rotary cutter.

  15. Maia

    This is so awesome! What a clever design, thank you for sharing it!

  16. Ann

    Your shark pencil case is the cutest! I don’t even have children this age and want to make one. Thanks for the templates and tutorial.

  17. A.J. Dub (Amy)

    Way too cute! Love this.

  18. Christina

    quick question, when putting in the zipper it goes inbetween the fabric and lining right? I wanted to make sure before sewing this together and doing it wrong!! Thanks for the cute tutorial and pattern!!

  19. Renee

    I’ve been working on a couple of these for my kids, and am to the part of adding the zipper–your instructions are not very clear as to how to do it, and your photo is incomplete (doesn’t show how or where the zipper ends or pull should be). I’m fairly comfortable working with zippers and making little pouches, but this has me ready to pull out my hair! Any help would be very much appreciated!!

  20. Sanne

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial!

  21. Sandy Wootten

    I am stumped about putting in the Zipper as well. I have the body done and have turned right sides out. I cant figure out how to pin the zipper in. Can you help please.
    Thanks so much for all you share with us.

  22. beverly

    this is the cutest ive ever seen. cant wait to make it for my grandaughter who starts kindergarten next week. i can see the tut but cannot get the pattern to download. what is wrong? thanks.

  23. Becky

    Click on the shark template link and it will take you to the craftsy store where I have the template in my shop.

  24. tinad

    I have gotten to the zipper part and I am finding the 7″zipper is huge..this will take alot of manuevering..Did you cut the zipper?

  25. Sara H.

    Thanks for this tutorial! it is very cute!

    I’m having difficulty visualizing how to sew the zipper in as well. Any words of wisdom?

  26. Becky

    The zipper is really kind of tricky and will take a few times of playing and pinning and maybe a bit of tucking and hand stitching to make work. The area is small, but it is still doable.
    Use your smart zipper sewing knowledge and you’ll get it.
    If the zipper is too long, then by all means cut it after everything is done to make it work better. Because it is on a curve, the user does have a tendancy to pull on it so make sure it is sewn securely.

  27. corinnea

    Thanks so much for the cute pattern! I made one for my grandson and it turned out so cute.

  28. Carol Winfield

    I love the pattern, but absolutely could not complete it with small opening for the mouth. so bummed!

  29. Carrie

    Darn! I am having the same issues… the mouth is much too small after the middle seam is made. The zipper is huge… I thought I’d just cut into the mouth further, which is fine. BUT… now I’m confused about the zipper. Do you twist the closed end? Bend it inward and swivel inside? how to you get it to sew on and then be correct when you invert? SO frustrated right now… please I have zero smart zipper knowledge, whatever that is!! is there a pic somewhere? thanks!!!

  30. Julie

    Just made one of these for my son, I hand stitched the whole zipper in . Attached the zipper to the lining and then placed it inside the outer body part ( no need for the opening in the lining ) and rolled the edge and hand stitched the outer part to the lining and zipper . Turned out pretty good 😀

  31. Vaishali

    The designs are amazing !! Could you please put up the measurements ?

  32. CandleVixen

    Wow, I love this! I am thinking it can also be used as a makeup brush holder that would be fun and whimsical.
    And of course, make one for husband for his art pencils.

  33. Lara

    This is the cutest thing ever! I’ve pinned it for future use with my soon to be in this world son!


  34. Jill

    This is the coolest pencil case I have ever seen! I <3 it!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  35. Sarah

    I’m at the zipper mouth part now, and because there are no clear instructions on the zipper installation (as others have mentioned), I am just going to do it my own way. I also ran into the confusion of not knowing what the seam allowance was supposed to be, so I added 1/4″ all around the pattern, and cut out the body, the lining, and the fins with the extra 1/4″. I then sewed 1/4″ seams. As a result, I don’t see the mouth space as being too small for the zipper…yet. 🙂 This shark is absolutely adorable, and I do hope that it works out in the end.

  36. Becky

    Sarah- darn that mouth! It is a kind of sew by the seat of your pants pattern. The seam allowance that I always use is 1/4″ unless I note. So yes, you are right there! yay! hmm not sure why the opening would be smaller though. Play with it a bit and I’m sorry it’s not much help. Please share a picture when you’re done. I’d love to see.

  37. Julia

    The template does not load so that I can print it. Broken link? Please fix.


  38. Teresa

    I am having issues with how to put the zipper along the mouth and have it right. Please email me how to lay it along the mouth to get it sewn. I am to that part of making this for my grandson for Christmas. He loves sharks! Can you help me?

  39. kerrie

    this is so darn cute….found it on sew can she for tmr (i peek early)

  40. Claire

    What a great creative idea. It’s a lovely and useful pencil pouch. Thanks for the tutorial.

  41. Becky

    teresa- there isn’t really any easy way to describe the zipper part. I fiddled until it worked. Sorry! It’s a small cramped area and does take some time (especially with my chubby fingers) to work out.

  42. Karen

    I also had the problem of the mouth being too small. My daughter looked at the pattern and informed me that you hadn’t mentioned that we needed to add a 1/4″ all round for seam allowances. She said that normally it would be notated that you had to add the 1/4″ and if it wasn’t notated then it was already included. If it hadn’t been for Sarah’s post about adding it then I would have never known. It looks like that is what happened to these other ladies too. I will start again because I do think it’s cute.

  43. Yvonne

    What a cute shark pencil case. I was wondering the same thing about the seam allowance I read it over and over. Then I checked to make sure I printed the pattern the right size and that it wasn’t downsized to fit. I then saw the exact final measurement of the completed shark. It looked way to small. I reprinted and it was still the same regardless. I then decided to add 1/4″ extra seam allowance. Now I am hoping my granddaughter can sew it, I guess I will be having fun with the zipper as well. A bit confused as to how to do it but will give it a go.

  44. Gaylynne

    Very nice. Thank you .

  45. april

    I was with you until I got to the zipper.

  46. Amanda

    Ok, as with so many others I’m fine up to the zip…
    Stage 19 states “Pin the zipper or stay stitch the zipper in place at the mouth”. Is this the mouth of the outer fabric turned right side out or the inner fabric wrong side out?


  47. april

    I fought with this thing for hours last night, but I just finished it and it looks great. I worked it backwards. Here is what I did: I turned it right side out and pushed the red piece in like it is supposed to go when it is finished. I folded the raw edges under and tucked the zipper in between and pinned. Then I flipped it inside out to work with it on the inside. I basted it all together and flipped it again to see if it was correct. Once I got that right, I hand stitched the zipper in and then took it to the machine. (I just don’t trust that my stitches would hold up against the kiddo’s wear and tear.) I had to do some touching up afterward too.

    My sandwich was the right sides of the shark and right sides of the red fabric were together with the zipper in between with the teeth on the inside/down. It was like the photo in the example. I think her red fabric would have been fine with either side being the right side as my red fabric was patterned and definitely had a wrong side. That’s where I was getting confused because I couldn’t tell if it was the right side or the wrong side.

    It is very tricky to sew a straight zipper on a curve, go slow. If you are using a longer zipper that you will trim down, keep it a little longer than you think you will need until you have the curve fully covered. I got really close to cutting the zipper too short and I thought I had left enough room.

    The other thing I was going to add was that mine turned out narrower than the example. I wasn’t sure about the seam allowances. I think mine were too wide. I was going to measure them before I finished it up just so I’d know, but forgot to. Oopsie. Ah, well. No biggie. He can still shove several pencils in there. The kiddo is happy with it.

    I hope this helps someone! 🙂

  48. Amanda

    Thanks April, that’s brilliant, just what I wanted to know . I will have a go later today, fingers crossed!

  49. Donne Roma

    That is simply amazing!

  50. Robyn Brown

    I just found this and love it. I’d love to make one but the templates aren’t working.

  51. Nanc

    Be sure to add 1/4 inch around the pattern. The zipper will fit much better.

  52. Kirsty

    Hi, I am very disappointed! I loved the idea of this pattern, but I don’t understand how the finished size is the same size as the template? I have gathered my favourite scraps of fabric to make this for my son, and thought the pattern looked a bit small. Now my fabric is wasted and I understand why everyone has issues with the zipper! Because the pattern fits on an A4 paper (11.6 x 8.2) there is no way the finished pencil case will measure the same! I think you must have left out your seam allowances. If I was going to attempt this again, I would increase the pattern size in order to finish with the correct size.

  53. Robin


    I just finished making 3 of these sharks. My granddaughters are going to be thrilled with them.
    I put some colored pencils in them for starters. I had a blast making these the tutorial was very easy to follow.
    I would love to send you photos of my creations. Let me know 1

  54. Marina Andreani

    Hello Becky! I’m from Italy. I realised your sweet shark pencil case last week. It’ s so cute! Trans a lot! Can I send you some pictures? Have a nice Easter time! Marina

  55. Rita

    Muito muito obrigada por compartilhar tamanha criatividade e tutorial…….tentarei fazer e posto fotos no faceboock ok……bjs do Brasil.

  56. Marg Bertrand

    So fun to make. I put the zipper in first. Easy as pie.

  57. brandee

    Looks suspiciously like a Minnebites. Please be careful of copyright infringement.

  58. Priscila Paez Chavea

    Vou tentar fazer para meus sobrinhos muito obrigada!!

  59. Sheila

    Cute pattern but, Yes! zipper was a pain. Figured it out on my own.

  60. Stephanie

    I’m really struggling with trying to translate the language into the action. Any chance that you’d be able to fill in with more pictures or video?

  61. Sewing Made Simple

    Hi. Super like this project! I would like to give you a heads up that I featured your project here on my blog,

    I used your picture with a link back to this post. I hope you won’t mind. Please let me know what you think.


  62. J. Ross

    I love sewing for babies!
    And I love sewing baby gifts!
    Thanks for sharing my tutorial! You guys are the best.

  63. Jessy

    Hello Becky! I’m from Turkey. I realised your sweet shark pencil case last week. It’ s so cute! Trans a lot! Can I send you some pictures? Have a nice Easter time! Marina

  64. Brenda S

    Your zipper instructions are too frustrating to figure out without clear visuals. Maybe you would consider a video, strictly to show how to place the zipper. After four tries, I give up.

  65. Rebecca

    I made two of these… I still have NO idea how to install the zipper; hand sewn in both (differently)…oddly my second zipper attempt was way worse so the shark has a lopsided grin.
    I’d love to share pics if you’re interested!
    Thankyou so much for the pattern! My son is in LOVE

  66. Becky

    If you’d like- you can use this group to share images. Thanks and can’t wait to see them!

  67. Cucicucicoo: Eco Sewing and Crafting

    This is so adorable! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Lisa

  68. Sarah Jane

    This would be really cute but I cannot get the zipper…I’ve basted it 3 times, no luck 🙁

  69. Susan

    I was with you until I got to the zipper.

  70. Evelyn

    This is great! I think it would be even better if you had a video along with it.

  71. Alice

    What a brilliant idea!This shark looks cool,my little one will surely like it,thanks for sharing!

  72. Ignas

    Oh this zipper is a real pain, I really cannot get it right. Super cute idea but should really really have explanation with some pictures. I consider myself an amature at sewing so it looks rather impossible.

  73. Rajat Chakraborty

    Never knew making a shark pencil was that fun. I will try this myself tonight. Thanks for the valuable info.

  74. Hossain Khalid

    WoW! This is the most helpful ways i’ve ever seen. I’ll definitely try this by myself.

  75. Susanne

    Ich möchte gerne den Fisch nachmachen aber ich kann den Schnitt nicht herunterladen.
    Kannst Du mir dabei helfen!
    Lg Susanne

  76. pallor17

    I tried this project but the way it is put together seems very impractical. It would help if you would have more photos or an instructional video of how you put the zipper in. I make zipper pouches that I sell. It seems to me that the shark would be easier put together, considering that we have many seams to attach in any case, by using the same methods we would use to line a zipper pencil case in a regular rectangular shape. I was so frustrated (because the instructions were hard to follow) that I abandoned the project, and of course, lost the fabric (!!!). I will try to adapt the idea however over the weekend and see if the way I am used to installing zippers in lined pouches will suffice. Also, I am curious as to why you sew the buttons on afterwards. I have a machine that sews on buttons, so I think that for me, and certainly for others, it would be better to sew the buttons on before the pouch is assembled. Lastly, the pattern doesn’t seem big enough. I don’t know if this is because I didn’t print it to scale or because it did not include seam allowances (nor were there instructions on how much of a seam allowance to leave). So my “finished” side looked micro. Hardly useful for pencils or anything. Another suggestion I would like to make is to finish the shark fins with a fine overlock stitch or zigzag. Being there was a lack of instruction re seam allowance in either the pattern pieces or the text, using pinking shears will drastically reduce the scale of the items, and hence, their look. So I think this pattern leaves room for improvement. I haven’t tried it my way yet. But will definitely let you know how that works out.

  77. luni

    Hi Becky,
    I love this shark pencil case so I tried to sew. It’s not perfect (because of the zipper – of course) but I like it.
    I hope it is ok when I link to your tutorial from my blog.
    You can see it here:
    Have a nice day and thanks for sharing! =)

  78. Julia

    I love this shark pencil case and your tutorial is wonderful! I took some pictures of the part with the zipper. It took me a long time to figure it out! I can email them to you if you would like to post them.

  79. Speattle

    Seam allowance was not included? Why not? I just made one of these today, and did not add anything extra for a quarter inch seam. Mine is on the slender side, but will still hold pencils. Wouldn’t it be just as easy to draft a pattern with the seam allowance included?

    I used a the only white zipper I had in my resource center, and it was more of a sport zipper, definitely not one that you could stitch over. I was just very careful in the insertion to not hit any teeth, and then shoved the ends of the zipper down between the lining and the interfacing and hand sewed the little gaps closed.
    However, if I make this again, I am going to just do a straight across zipper on the underside of the body so I don’t have to insert around a curve. And that way I can do it before closing the side seams….

    I think my 6 year old grandson will like this, as he LOVES sharks.

  80. Jack Sparrow

    I think this is the beautiful thing I have ever seen. I have never seen this much amazing shark. Just kidding.
    Best to gift youngers in my family.

  81. Kathy

    Thank you for the extra zipper instructions! I was having quite the time trying to insert the zipper. The shark is adorable, and I know my grandchildren will love this pencil case.

  82. kathy

    Yowza! Took my three attempts and two zippers, but I finally got it! Tricky is an understatement but persistence pays off! Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial!

  83. Andromeda LeTourneau

    Can you please make a detailed video tutorial on how to make the shark pencil bag?

  84. Rhonda

    I have joined repeatedly and have never received a password. I would really like to make the shark pencil case, could you send me a password so I can get the pattern from your library?

  85. Trixie

    Love this pattern. How do I go about rotating the tail 90 degrees? I like dolphins, whales, and porpoises just fine, but I REALLY want to make a whale shark case. (Shark tails are up and down, marine mammal tails are horizontal)

  86. Mary Jane Chicoski

    Love the pattern! Here is a tip for the zipper. Sew the zipper to the outer pieces and lining pieces before sewing up the sides for the outer pieces and lining pieces, leaving an opening in the lining for turning right side out. Also, leave the zipper open when sewing up the sides for flipping right-side out.

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