Zip open wide and drop your stuff inside! This versatile case can hold toiletries and more. Quilted layers give it a flexible finish so the sides can softly expand to fit items of all shapes and sizes. If you’ve always been a little intimidated by three-dimensional sewing, we encourage you to give this little case a try. It’s surprisingly straightforward, and we’ve included lots of helpful tips along the way.
An 18’ purse zipper is recommended for the project. This type of zipper has two pulls that meet in the center so you can open and close the case in either direction. You’ll like our easy steps for inserting the zipper. We mention this, because three-dimensional sewing fears are usually second only to zipper fears, but with thorough instructions and lots of photos, you’ll move through the steps with ease.
The front and back exterior panels are highlighted with piping, which is a great way to emphasize the pretty curving shape. We used a standard packaged piping in a coordinating color to the zipper. You could certainly make your own piping should you want a thicker line and/or a more perfect color match.
The case is made from three quilting weight cottons, but each section also includes a layer of fusible fleece to provide the needed structure. We opted for quilting cotton for both the exterior and lining, but you might want to consider going with a ripstop nylon for the lining if you’ll be using the case for items that could be prone to leaking or spilling in transit.
We originally used Natural Beauty, the swan song collection by Amy Butler for FreeSpirit Fabrics. It is no longer readily available, but you can always find new favorites in store and online… or maybe even in your stash.
As with most commercial bags and cases, for the longest life, this case is meant to be spot cleaned. Spraying the outside with a stain repellant, such as ScotchGard or similar is a good protective step. That said, all the elements are machine washable, and on a gentle cycle in cold water, you could certainly get away with a full wash. However, tumble drying isn’t recommended. Let the bag air dry after any cleaning.
For easiest construction, this case goes together in a way that creates visible seam allowances on the inside. We choose to wrap ours in our own custom-made bias binding from one of the three quilting cottons. You could do the same or select your favorite machine sewn seam finish. Don’t have a favorite? We have a four-part series on the subject with lots of great options from which to choose.
As a finishing touch there are the tabs at the head and tail of the zipper. These are handy to hold on to in order to making zipping easier, and we added a D-ring to one so we could clip on a wrist strap. Use the strap to carry the case or to hang it on a bath hook for easy access when traveling.
Our Quilted Case finishes at approximately 8½” wide x 6½” high x 4” deep with a 6” detachable wrist strap.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but best for thicker layers – or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the exterior bottom panels, side panels, zipper panel, wrist strap, and interior bias binding; we originally used Abundance in Meadow from the Natural Beauty collection by Amy Butler for FreeSpirit Fabrics
NOTE: You could use packaged double fold bias binding rather than make your own. If this is your choice, one 3 yard package is sufficient – choose a color to coordinate with your lining.
- ¼ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the exterior upper panels; we originally used Field Folly in Berry from the Natural Beauty collection by Amy Butler for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we originally used Spider Web in Meadow from the Natural Beauty collection by Amy Butler for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ONE package bias tape piping in a coordinating accent color; we used Wright’s packaged Maxi Piping in Navy
- ONE 18” purse zipper in a color to match the piping; we used a Coats Purse Zipper in Navy
- ONE ½” swivel hook and D-ring; we used a Dritz ½” Hook and Ring Set in Gunmetal
- ¼ yard of ½” coordinating grosgrain ribbon for the end tabs; we used navy
- ⅓ yard of 45″+ fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- Scrap of mid-weight fusible interfacing – you need a 12” x ½” strip; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- PATTERN DOWNLOAD: Download and print the TWO Quilted Case pattern pieces: Case-Bottom and Case-Top. You may want to print more than one set of pattern pages since we use the pattern pieces both independently as well as taped together.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of TWO 8½” x 11″ sheets, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid line.
- From the fabric for the exterior upper panels (the Field Folly in our sample), use the Case-Top pattern to cut TWO.
- From the fabric for the exterior bottom panels, side panels, zipper panel, wrist strap, and interior bias binding (the Abundance in our sample), cut the following:
Use the Case-Bottom panel to cut TWO
ONE 18½” wide x 5” rectangle for the center zipper panel
ONE 14” wide x 5” high rectangle for the base panel
ONE 2” x 13” strip for the wrist strap
Enough 2” wide strips on the bias to equal approximately 72”
NOTE: As mentioned, you could also use packaged double fold bias binding rather than make your own. If this is your choice, one 3 yard package is sufficient – choose a color to coordinate with your lining.
- From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
Tape together pattern pieces, aligning them at the center along the dotted seam allowance line
Using the assembled pattern, cut TWO lining panels
ONE 18½” wide x 5” rectangle for the center zipper panel
ONE 14” wide x 5” high rectangle for the base panel
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
Use the same assembled pattern as above for the lining, but trim along the dotted seam allowance line
Using the assembled/trimmed pattern, cut TWO panels
ONE 17″ x 4″ rectangle for the center zipper panel
ONE 13” x 4” rectangle for the base panels
- From the mid-weight interfacing, cut ONE ½” x 12” strip.
- From the ½” grosgrain, cut TWO 3” lengths.
- The packaged piping remains un-cut.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Assemble the front and back exterior panels
- Find the two exterior top panels and the two exterior bottom panels. Pin each top panel to a bottom panel, right sides together. You are aligning the bottom raw edge of the top panel with the top raw edge of the bottom panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through both layers.
- Press the seam allowance down towards the bottom panel.
- Find the two main fleece panels. Center a fleece panel on each assembled fabric panel. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Pre-quilting the exterior
- Find the two main lining panels.
- Layer each fused main panel wrong sides together with its matching lining panel. The raw edges of the two fabric panels should be flush all around.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch; we used 3.5mm. If possible, attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system. This is what we did throughout, using the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system.
NOTE: We used a green thread for all our quilting – even across the pink fabric of the upper panels. It will look best if you choose ONE color for all the quilting.
- Stitch horizontally across each panel, running this topstitching alongside the upper/lower panel seam within the bottom panel.
- Measure to find the exact vertical center line of each panel. Using a fabric pen or pencil, draw a vertical line at this center point. Remember, anytime you’re working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron. You could also choose to use a marking on your presser foot or a quilt guide bar.
- With your exact center lines set, measure and mark parallel lines ½” apart across each panel, first moving from the center line to the right, then working from the center line to the left.
- Stitch along all of the drawn vertical lines.
- Set aside the two quilted exterior panels.
Create and quilt the base panel
- Find the exterior, lining, and fusible fleece for the base panel.
- As you did above with the main front and back exterior panels, center and adhere the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the exterior base panel. Then, layer the this fused panel wrong sides together with the matching lining panel. The raw edges of the fabric panels should be flush.
- On this base panel “quilt sandwich,” you’ll create ½” lines of quilting across the panel similarly to how you did above on the exterior panels, but the quilting is horizontal rather than vertical.
- First find the horizontal center of the base panel quilt sandwich. Draw a horizontal line at this point. From this center guideline, measure in ½” increments above and below the center line.
- Make sure the machine is still threaded with thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin, and that the stitch is still lengthened to match what you did above.
- Stitch along each drawn line. As above with the front and back quilting, you could skip drawing in the lines and instead use your presser foot or a quilt guide bar to maintain your ½” spacing across the panel.
- Set aside the base panel.
Create and quilt the zipper panel
- Find the exterior, lining, and fusible fleece for the center top zipper panel.
- Place the exterior and lining panels wrong sides together. All raw edges should be flush. Slice down the center of the panels so you now have two halves of each panel that are each 18½” x 2½”
- Slice the fusible fleece down the center in the same manner so you have two halves that are each 17” x 2”.
- Center and adhere the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the two halves of the exterior zipper panel. Then, layer these fused halves wrong sides together with their matching lining halves. All raw edges of the fabric should be flush on the two quilt sandwiches.
- Place one of the non-fused lining halves right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the zipper. Place it right side up on the lining, aligning one side of the zipper tape with the raw edge of the fabric (the edge that will be the center edge – if working with a directional print). The zipper pulls should be at the center.
- Lightly pin the zipper in place.
NOTE: If you use a zipper longer than 18” that is okay. They are easy to trim. If this is the case, take the time to carefully center the zipper and allow the top and bottom to extend beyond the layers. You will see this process in the photos below, which shows the extending zipper ends and how we trimmed them.
- Place one of the fused exterior halves right side down on top of the lining half, sandwiching the zipper between the layers.
- The top raw edge of the exterior panel should be aligned with the top raw edge of the lining panel and the zipper tape. Re-pin through all three layers.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Attach a Zipper foot.
- Stitch across through all three layers, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- As with all zipper insertions, when you feel you are approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Raise the presser foot and twist the layers slightly so you can access the pulls. Then move the pulls out of the way of the presser foot. Once clear, drop the presser foot, re-position the layers, and finish the seam. This is particularly important with this type of zipper because there are two pulls to move out of the way.
- Fold the layers away from the zipper teeth so the fused exterior panel and the lining panel are now wrong sides together and the remaining free side of the zipper tape is sticking up. Press.
- Lengthen the stitch to what you’ve used above for your quilting stitches.
- Edgestitch along the zipper teeth through all the layers. This seam is a ¼” seam allowance.
- From this first seam, continue parallel lines of quilting at ½” increments from the edgestitching out to the raw edges of the zipper panel. As above, you can stop and draw in guide lines to follow with a fabric pen or pencil, use a mark on your presser foot or use a quilt guide bar.
- Find the remaining half of the fused exterior panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Layer the sewn side of the zipper right side down (so the exterior layers are right sides together) on the exterior panel. Align the remaining free edge of the zipper tape with the top raw edge of the fused exterior panel. Lightly pin in place. In the photo below, you can see the ½” lines of quilting described above.
- Find the remaining non-fused lining half. Place it right side down (so the lining layers are also right sides together) with the top raw edge of the lining aligned with the free edge of the zipper tape. Pin in place through all three layers.
- Stitch through all three layers along this second side of the zipper, again using a ¼” seam.
- As you did above, fold the exterior and lining wrong sides together and press. Add the edge stitching along this side of the zipper teeth, matching what you did on the opposite side.
- Add the parallel lines of quilting out to the edge of this half, again matching what you did on the opposite side.
- Press well. Remember to keep your iron away from the plastic zipper teeth!
Add the tabs, D-ring, and create the center loop
- Find the D-ring and the two 3” lengths of ½” ribbon.
- Slip a length of ribbon through the D-ring aligning the raw ends.
- Make sure the zipper pulls are together at the center of the zipper. Place the D-ring tab at one end of the zipper and the plain tab at the opposite end of the zipper, aligning the raw edges of the folded ribbon with the raw edges of the layered panels. Pin in place. The tab with the D-ring is the side where you’ll attach your wrist strap. Which side is really up to your preference. We placed our D-ring tab to the left and our plain tab to the right.
- Find the quilted base panel and the quilted zipper panel. Place the base panel right sides together with the zipper panel, forming a loop, Make sure to match up the quilting lines on the two layers. Pin in place.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers at either end of the zipper. Stitch slowly! You can even stop and hand walk across the zipper to insure you don’t hit the zipper stops. We continued using our Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system to help keep these tricky layers moving together smoothly and evenly under the needle.
- If you used a longer zipper or there is any excess zipper tape extending beyond the fabric, trim it away so all edges are flush.
- Press both seam allowances down towards the base panel – away from the zipper.
- Turn the center loop right side out. Flatten it under the needle and edgestitch across just below each of the seams within the base panel.
- Finish the seam allowance on each side of the zipper panel. We wrapped our seam allowances with our custom bias binding. You could also opt to use packaged bias binding or use a standard machine sewn finish, such as an overcast or zig zag. Remember, to re-thread the machine as needed with matching thread in the top and bobbin.
- Cut a length of bias binding to match the seam allowance on each side.
- Fold the binding in half and press well to set a center crease line, then fold in each raw edge to meet at the center crease. Press again.
- Fold in half again along the original crease line so the folded edges align.
- Slip the binding over the seam allowance – you are just wrapping the seam allowance. The binding does not extend at all onto the main loop. Pin in place along each short seam allowance at either end of the zipper.
- Stitch across through the binding and the seam allowance. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both sides of the binding in this one seam. We switched to our AcuFeed Zipper foot for more control.
Add the piping to the front and back main panels
- Find the piping. Starting at the center bottom on both the front and back panels, wrap piping around the perimeter of each panel.
- You are placing the piping on the right side of each exterior panel so the raw edge of the piping is flush with the raw edge of the fabric. Pin in place, If need be, you can clip into the curves at each corner to further help the piping ease around the curves.
- Trim back the piping cord at the start/finish so the the two ends butt together. Fold and overlap the ends.
- Machine baste the piping in place on each panel.
NOTE: If you are brand new to working with piping, we have a full, step-by-step tutorial with the basics, including details on finishing.
Insert the front and back panels into the center loop
- We added our Sew4Home label to the front panel at this point, positioning it at the left edge about ¼” below the upper/lower horizontal seam.
- Find the front exterior panel. Fold it in half, top to bottom, and place a pin at each edge of the fold. Fold it in half in the opposite direction and place two additional pins. You now have pins at the quarter points of the panel, a little bit like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock, but in this case you’re working with a rounded rectangle rather than a full circle.
- Repeat this process with the center loop to mark quarter points along each raw edge. The center point where the zipper pulls come together is the 12:00 point of the loop.
- Flip the center loop wrong side out. Set the front exterior panel into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together. First align the quarter point pins of the front panel with the matching pins of the loop. Then, fill in with points all around.
NOTE: This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat panel into a tube. In this case, we simply have a very narrow tube and a non-traditional “circle.” If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
- Still using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around, running your seam as close to the piping cord as possible.
- Repeat to add the back exterior panel.
- This side will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present a challenge, go slowly and stop as needed – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed.
- As above with the center loop seam allowances, we opted to wrap the exposed interior seam allowances with bias binding. You can choose this method or your favorite machine sewn finish.
- Keep the bag wrong side out. Cut a length of binding to wrap around the seam allowance on the front panel. Make sure to cut enough to create an overlap to finish the head and tail.
- Slip the binding to over the seam allowance. Remember, you are only wrapping and stitching to the seam allowance – NOT on the bag itself. Pin in place.
- Stitch in place. As above, go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching the front and back of the binding in this one seam.
- Repeat to cut, wrap and pin a matching length of binding around the back panel.
Create the wrist strap
- Find the 13” wrist strap strip. Fold it in the same manner as you did above with the binding and find the small strip of interfacing.
- Open up the strip and place the interfacing along the center crease line on the wrong side and, following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Re-fold and edgestitch along the folded edges. Both ends are raw.
- Find the ½” swivel hook. Slip the strap through the swivel hook. Fold the strap in half, forming a loop.
- Slide the swivel hook down to the folded end of the loop. At the opposite side, pin together the raw ends.
- Stitch across the raw ends with an approximate ⅜” seam allowance. Double stitch for extra security.
- Trim the raw ends close to the seam. You can use a drop of seam sealant along the raw edges to help control any fraying.
- Slide the loop around so the tiny seam now sits against the swivel hook.
- The seam allowance should be facing in so when the loop is flattened, this seam allowance is hidden between the layers. Pin together the layers close to the swivel hook.
- Stitch across the strip, through all the layers, running the seam as close to the swivel hook as possible.
- Clip the wrist strap onto the D-ring.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild