Project reviews

Zola Pen Case Project Review

It’s almost back to school time for students of all ages. Need a new pen/pencil case? Need a new case for long, narrow items like tools, electronic accessories or cables? Caroline at SewCanShe created a long and narrow pen case that might be exactly what you’re looking for. This is a how to sew a Zola Pen Case project review.

The link to the Zola Pen Case project free tutorial is:

Zola Pen Case

This pattern is for personal use. Home sewists may sell Zola Pen Cases that they personally make.

For the purposes of my review, I’m going to summarize the basic steps, tell you what I did differently (if anything) and share my general thoughts about sewing the project.


The Zola Pen Case is inspired by Japanese pen cases and opens to it’s full width when unzipped. When zipped, the zipper serves as a handle and the case has a parallelogram cross-section.

Step 0 Gather Materials

Quilting weight cottons are recommended for this project. You can mix and match your fabrics as shown in the tutorial or use a cohesive theme with a single fabric for the exterior and another for the interior. I used about half a fat quarter for my exterior and a matching solid for the interior. You will also need a long zipper, a snap, and double-sided fusible ultrafirm stabilizer. I used single-sided fusible firm stabilizer.

Pale blue interior fabric, blue & white exterior fabric, white stabilier and blue zipper all on a green background
Quilting weight cottons, stabilizer & zipper
Step 1 Sides

I sewed the side panels as per the instructions.

Close up of 2 blue & white side panels on a green background
Completed side panels
Step 2 Zipper

A zipper foot isn’t required to assemble the zipper panel. It was easy enough to sew the zipper to the fabric without using pins or clips. Be careful if you do so. My zipper tab opening wasn’t wide enough and I had to sew a second zipper tab with a narrower seam allowance than the instructions called for.

Swirled blue & white zipper tab (top) and zipper panel (bottom) on a green background
Zipper tab (top) & Zipper panel (bottom)
Step 3 Body

I numbered my fusible stabilizer pieces so that’s I’d know which one went where.

White stabalizer pieces on a green background
Numbered stabilizer pieces

I had trouble pushing the outer pieces of stabilizer all the way to the edges so I turned the body piece inside out and then fused all four pieces of stabilizer in place. I suspect double-sided ultrafirm stabilizer is stiffer than the stabilizer that I used. I’ll use two layers of stabilizer for my next Zola Pen Case to add additional stiffness to the body.

Blue & white siwrlved exterior panel of Zola Pen Case
Finished main panel
Step 4 Final Assembly

I was surprised by how quickly I was able to complete the final steps of this project.

Here are some photos of my finished Zola Pen Case:

Close up of silver snap in the pale blue interior of Zola Pen Case
Close up of interior showing snap
Open Zola Pen Case with pale blue interio and blue & white swirled exteior on a green background
Multicolored pens inside Zola Pen Case
Blue & white swirled Zola Pen Case with blue zipper
Front view Zola Pen Case


Side view Zola Pen Case made with blue and white wirling fabric & a round silver snap
Side view Zola Pen Case with pens
Zola Pen Case made with blue and white wirling fabric & a round silver snap
Back view Zola Pen Case with pens
Open Zola Pen Case containing black smartphone tripod and charging cable
Zola Pen Case containing smartphone tripod & charging cable

This tutorial is well written and well illustrated. There isn’t a difficulty rating on the project page, but I suspect that most beginners would be able to complete this project. Creating the zipper panel is more similar to working with binding than to installing a zipper into a pocket or bag. This means that a universal presser foot can be used and the steps of layering interior panel, zipper tape and exterior panel are omitted. This narrow case can be used to store a variety of objects. I had fun sewing my Zola Pen Case and look forward to making more in the future.

Have you tried this project? Did you like this Zola Pen Case project review? Comment below and/or Pin me for later!


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