When you're a kid, Valentine's Day is the perfect combination of giving and receiving. It's fun to plan and put together cards and treats for your friends and family; then it's a thrill to see what you get in return. The occasion is certainly auspicious enough to demand its own special carrying case. Ours is super cute thanks to novelty PUL (polyurethane laminate), fold over elastic, and plastic snaps. PUL looks great and wipes clean... a bit like kids themselves! The case is stabilized with an inner layer of cardboard - although firm foam or flexible template plastic would also work well. We designed three generous pockets so little fingers have lots of places to put important stuff.
The large clear vinyl pocket on one side can display finished valentines. The other side can hold paper, pencils, and stickers in the sleeve pocket along with markers, pens and glue sticks in the smaller flap-snap pocket. You'll find lots of uses for the case on Valentine's Day and beyond.
All three pockets snap closed with plastic snaps. This was a favorite of our little model, who spent her time opening and closing the pockets over and over... and over. When our models have a hard time giving up the samples at the end of the shoot, we know we have a winner on our hands. If you are new to working with these cute snaps, we have a full tutorial.
The PUL is quite easy to work with – as is the craft vinyl, but you do need to remember a few things to make it as frustration-free as possible. Check out our tutorial: Successful Sewing with Laminated Cottons, Oilcloth, And Other Sticky Stuff.
The minimum combo for each case is TWO coordinating fabrics, but you could certainly up that to three fabrics: one for the front panel, a second for the outer pocket panel, and a third for the back panel, folded pocket, pocket trim, and handles.
Each case finishes at approximately 9¼" wide x 8¼" high, excluding the handles.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
NOTE: Make sure you start with a new machine needle to allow you to easily stitch through the PUL and vinyl. We recommend a denim/jeans needle.
- Teflon® type presser foot, such as the Janome Ultra Glide foot (optional); we found the PUL very cooperative and so used our regular presser foot rather than a specialty foot.
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown below are for ONE carry case.
- ¼ yard EACH of TWO coordinating 60" wide PUL cuts
NOTE: As mentioned above, we found good selections of novelty PUL at both Fabric.com and Joann Fabrics Online.
- ¼ yard medium-weight sew-in interfacing; we used Pellon Sew-In Interfacing
- ¼ yard of 4-6 gauge clear sewing and craft vinyl
- 1 yard of 1" fold over elastic in a color/pattern to coordinate with your PUL
- SIX size 20 plastic snaps plus appropriate snap setting tools/pliers
- ONE 10" x 10" square of medium-weight cardboard or similar stiffener
- All purpose thread to match fabric and binding
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Clips to hold layers together (instead of pins); we used quilt clips, Wonder Clips are another option
- Straight pins
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: the FOUR pattern pieces: Valentine Case Front/Back TOP, Valentine Case Front/Back BOTTOM, Valentine Case Outer Pocket, and Valentine Case Folded Pocket, which have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each page within this PDF is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on each page to confirm your printout is the correct size.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- The base panel of the case is two pieces (Top and Bottom). Butt these pieces together, following the arrows and diagram on the print out, to create the full pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape in place.
- Using the Valentines Case Front/Back pattern piece, cut ONE piece from the front PUL fabric (Little Monsters and Sassy Cheetah in our original two samples).
- Using the Valentines Case Front/Back pattern piece, cut ONE piece from the back PUL fabric (Solid Green and Sassy Dotsin our two original samples).
- Using the Valentines Case Folded Pocket pattern piece, cut TWO pieces from the same fabric you used for back of the case (Solid Green and Sassy Dotsin our two original samples).
- Using the Valentines Case Outer Pocket pattern piece, cut ONE piece from the same fabric you used for front of the case (Little Monsters and Sassy Cheetah in our two original samples).
- Using the Valentines Case Outer Pocket pattern piece, cut ONE piece from the craft vinyl.
NOTE: To get the neatest wrap for the binding, it's important the cut edges of the vinyl are straight. It's easier to see and cut if you leave the vinyl's protective paper in place.
- From the same fabric you used for the back of the case (Solid Green and Sassy Dotsin our two original samples), cut the following:
TWO 4" x 15" strips for the handles
TWO 2½" x 9" strips for the outer pocket binding
- Using the Valentines Case Folded Pocket pattern piece, cut ONE piece from the interfacing.
- Here are all the cut fabric pieces ready to go for our Sassy Cheetah sample.
- Trim away the seam allowance from the Valentines Case Front/Back pattern piece (cut along the inner line). Use this trimmed piece to cut ONE piece from the medium weight cardboard (or similar stiffener).
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Outer pocket binding
- Thread the machine with thread to match the pocket binding in the top and bobbin.
- Find the two 2½" x 9" pocket binding strips.
- Place each strip wrong side up on your work surface.
- Using your ruler, measure ½" in from each 9" raw edge, and draw two parallel lines the length of the strip.
- Fold in each raw edge to align with its nearest drawn line. Machine baste both folds in place.
NOTE: PUL doesn't press well, so it's harder to get it to hold a folded measurement than a normal cotton. Basting in place produces the same result.
- Using your ruler, draw a line down the center of the strip (on the wrong side of the PUL).
- Find the PUL outer pocket piece. Place the upper edge of the pocket (the straight edge) along the drawn center line.
- Fold the binding down over the top of the pocket and secure in place with clips. Be extra careful to make sure the bottom folded edges of the pocket binding are flush front to back so your stitching will accurately capture both sides in one seam.
- Slightly lengthen your stitch setting.
- Edgestitch along the bottom of the binding through all the layers, removing the clips as you approach each one.
- Remove the basting stitches.
- Repeat to attach the remaining binding strip to the clear vinyl outer pocket.
- Find the two PUL folded pocket pieces and the one interfacing folded pocket piece.
- Place the interfacing piece on your work surface.
- Place one PUL pocket piece right side up on the interfacing piece.
- Place the second PUL pocket piece right side down, so the two PUL pieces are now right sides together on top of the interfacing. Be sure all three layers are flush all around. Pin in place, leaving a 4" opening along the one straight side.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the folded pocket PUL in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch around the pocket, pivoting at the corners, going slowly around the curves, and remembering to lock your seam at either side of the 4" opening.
- Trim the corners and clip the curves.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the 4" opening.
- It's best to avoid ironing the PUL. Instead, roll the seam with your fingers to create a crisp edge, folding in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Place clips around the entire perimeter to hold the seam flat.
- Find the folded pocket paper pattern piece. Place it on top of the pocket and mark the position of the top fold line along both sides. Place a pin or a clip at each point.
- Starting at this fold line point on one side, edgestitch up and around the curved pocket top (what will become the flap). End at the opposite fold line point.
- Edgestitch across the bottom.
- Leave the remaining sides un-edgestitched and leave the clips in place.
Attach the folded pocket to the PUL outer pocket
- Find the bound outer pocket in PUL. Place it right side up on your work surface. Find the outer pocket paper pattern piece.
- Fold the folded pocket (that sounds funny, but we have been calling it the folded pocket!) along the two fold lines, forming the bottom pocket and the top pocket flap.
- Using the outer pocket paper pattern piece as your guide, place the folded pocket right side up on the PUL outer pocket. Pin in place along the upper folded edge only.
- Edgestitch straight across the upper folded edge through all the layers. This secures the folded flap in position.
- Open the top flap. Remove the clips and pin the pocket's sides in position.
- Edgestitch through all the layers along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners.
- Find the folded pocket pattern piece. Transfer the pattern's four circle marks for the snap positions.
- Following manufacturer's instructions, or our own handy tutorial, insert the top of the snaps on the flap. When these two snap halves are in place, double check the positioning marks on the bottom of the pocket to insure they still align with snap tops. When confirmed, insert the base of the snaps.
Assemble the front and back panels and add the handles
- Find the two PUL front/back panels. Place them right side up on your work surface.
- Place the outer PUL pocket with the folded pocket right side up in place on top of the BACK panel (Solid Green and Sassy Dots in our two original samples). Align the outer and bottom edges of the two layers and pin or clip in place.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, machine baste the two layers together.
- In the same manner, place the outer vinyl pocket on the FRONT panel (Little Monsters and Sassy Cheetahin our two original samples). Align the outer and bottom edges of these two layers and pin or clip in place.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, machine baste these two layers together.
- Find the outer pocket paper pattern piece. Place it over the BACK panel and mark the position of the snap bases within the pocket's binding.
- Following manufacturer's instructions, or our handy tutorial, insert a snap base at each mark within the pocket binding. You are just inserting through the pocket binding. Do not capture the back panel.
- Repeat to insert snap bases within the pocket binding of the vinyl pocket on the FRONT panel.
NOTE: We used all pink snaps for our Sassy Cheetah case but went with a variety of snap colors for our Little Monsters case.
- Find the two 4" x 15" handle strips. Place each strip wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Use your ruler to draw a line down the exact center of each strip.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the handle PUL in the top and bobbin.
- Similar to how you handled the pocket trim above, fold in each raw edge to meet at the center line. Machine baste both folds in place, approximately ½" from each folded edge.
- Fold back each end of the basted strip ¼", then fold the entire strip in half. Clip in place.
- Re-threading as necessary, and keeping a slightly lengthened stitch, edgestitch around the entire perimeter of the handle, pivoting at all four corners.
- Make sure the beginning and end of your seam come together in a perfect match, and if possible, use a locking stitch to secure rather than overlapping the seam - it will look more like a continuous, uninterrupted seam. If your machine doesn't have a lock stitch, leave the thread tails long and hand knot to secure.
- Remove the basting stitches.
- Repeat to create the second handle.
- Measure ½" up from each end of each handle and place a positioning dot centered within the width of the handle. This marks where the remaining snap tops will be inserted.
- Following manufacturer's instructions, or our handy tutorial, insert the top half of each snap in place. These top halves are what will line up with the base snaps you already inserted into the pocket binding strips.
- Snap the handle into position onto the top of the pocket. The bottom edge of the handle should align with the bottom of the pocket binding.
- Making sure the handle is perpendicular to the trim, pin the handle to the base panel 1" down from the top raw edge of the panel.
- At this 1" point make an "X-box" to secure each side of the handle through the base panel. The width of the box should should be in line with the existing edgestitching on the handle. The height should be approximately ¾", making the bottom of the X-box about ¼" above the top of pocket binding.
- Repeat to attach the remaining handle and snaps to the opposite side over the vinyl pocket.
- Place the completed front and back panels wrong sides together. Pin or clip together.
- Find the yard of fold over elastic.
- Starting along one side at the top of the pocket binding, wrap the fold over elastic around the raw edges of the panels.
- Stitch in place. We used a small zag zag stitch (3.0 mm in width and 2.0 mm in length).
- Wrap and stitch down the first side, around the curved bottom, and back up the opposite side, stopping at the top of the pocket binding.
NOTE: It helps to stretch the elastic slightly as you go around the corners to maintain a smooth curve.
- Lock your seam and remove the case from under the needle. Do not trim the fold over elastic.
- Find the cardboard (or similar stiffener) insert. Slip it between the front and back panels.
- Place the panel layers back into position.
- Continue wrapping and stitching the fold over elastic until you are back at your starting point.
- Overlap the head of the elastic about ½" to finish.
- Lock the seam and trim away the excess elastic.
NOTE: The fold over elastic does not ravel so you do not have to finish the ends.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler