travel sewing kit tutorial

September 5, 2011

I have really loved making these!!  They are so fun and a really useful little kit to have in your purse or car so that you can always work on a project no matter where you are.  :)

I just want to be clear that I cannot claim this idea as my own!  All of the credit goes to the fabulous Tamiko of Patchwork Notes!  She is fantastic and so talented and graciously gave me the go ahead to make up this little tutorial.  I was so inspired when I saw her hexagon sewing kit and really wanted one of my own.  So, thank you Tamiko!!  :)

***update:  if you want to make the patchwork version, here is the tutorial for that version***

I will warn you that this tutorial is VERY long!!!  Please do not be discouraged by it's length!!  This kit is not difficult to make but has lots of parts and steps and I wanted to be as thorough as possible so that you could all create one too!  :)

Ok!  So as for materials, the majority of the kit can be made with scraps but you will need three strips that are WOF (width of fabric) for the binding and the closure strap and thread strap.

materials needed:

  • fabric scraps for the exterior, interior panels, and pockets (2 fat quarters would be plenty and you would have lots left over)
  • cotton batting measuring 16" x 7"
  • 4 to 4 1/2" x WOF for the binding (I will explain below why the measurement can vary)
  • 1 1/2" x WOF for the closure strap and thread strap
  • small scrap of velcro measuring 1/2" x 3/8"
  • small piece of wool or wool blend felt for needle book 
  • scissor case pattern (this pattern was made to hold my gingher embroidery scissors that measure 4 1/2" long and 2" wide at the widest part of the handle, please measure your scissors to make sure they will fit)
  • thread
  • rotary cutter and mat
  • iron
  • pins
*** a note about binding***  Since this is a long tutorial already, I am not giving instructions on binding but here is a great tutorial on how to bind if you have never done it or need a refresher!  :)
I prefer a narrow binding on small items and I also prefer it to be tight up against the edge of the piece, that is why I have cut my binding at 2".  Having said that, if you are a new sewer or have not attempted anything with a bound edge or if you plan on machine sewing your binding on I would highly recommend that you cut your binding at 2 1/4", it will be a lot easier to sew down on the inside.  I hope this makes sense!  :)

cut your pieces as follows:
  • exterior - 15" x 6"
  • cotton batting - cut to 16" x 7"
  • inside panel pieces - cut two (2) at 5 1/4" x 6" and one (1) at 5 1/2" x 6"
  • pockets - cut one (1) at  4" x 5 1/4" and one (1) at 3 1/2" x 6"
  • scissor case - cut your fabric piece for the scissor case using the pattern that you downloaded above.  The inside lines are your folding lines, don't worry about those now. 
  • binding - cut two (2) strips measuring 2" x WOF  *please see above note on binding*
  • closure strap and thread strap - cut one (1) strip measuring 1 1/2" x WOF
  • needle book - cut your wool felt piece to 4 1/2" x 2 3/4"
you should now have these pieces

Now you are going to need to quilt your exterior piece.  I quilted all of mine with somewhat random straight lines running the height of the piece.  I varied the lines between 1/4" and 1/2" apart.  I did this so that later on when you join your exterior and interior pieces those stitches will be somewhat hidden along with your quilting lines.  But feel free to quilt yours however you like! 

I marked my exterior with a disappearing pen about every 1 1/2" just to keep my quilting lines somewhat straight. 

Then quilt away! 

If you haven't already, join your two binding strips and press them in half along the length wrong sides together.  Now take your two pocket pieces and we are going to bind the top edges.  On the left hand pocket you are going to want to bind one of the edges that measures 5 1/4".  On the right pocket we are going to bind the edge that measures 6".

Sew on the binding with the raw edges aligned and right sides together, use a 1/4" seam allowance.  You will then have this.

Fold the binding up and press so that you have a nice edge and can see clearly where the pocket and binding are joined.

Fold the binding toward the back of the pocket, make sure that you fold the edge past the stitching line that you made when you sewed on the binding.  Pin well from the front placing your pins right in the seam line.

Now sew right up against the seam trying not to catch the binding on the front but making sure you do catch it on the back.  Repeat this process with the second pocket.

Place your bound pockets on the two side panel pieces lining up the bottom edges.  Make sure that you have the two panels that measure 5 1/4" x 6" (the middle panel is slightly larger, make sure you don't sew a pocket on to this panel).  Pin and baste the pockets onto the panels.

Now we will join the three panels together.  Sew them right sides together using a 1/4" seam allowance and then press your seams open.  You will now have this!

Now we will divide the right pocket into two sections by marking a line down the middle and sewing right along that line from just below the binding to the raw edge.

To make the scissor case, take the piece that you cut using my pattern piece and iron the wide edge over 1/4".
 Then do the same to each side and then the bottom. Finally, fold the top edge over 1/4" again.  

Topstitch the top edge, I stitched two lines at about 1/8" and 1/4".  

 Then fold your piece of wool felt in half to create the needle book.  Give it a quick press with your iron to make a nice crease so that you have a stitch line.  I would NOT recommend that you use your water soluble marker, I find it takes forever for it to come out of felt.  

Now you are going to pin both the needle book and the scissor case onto the center panel.  the scissor case needs to be 1/2" from the top and 1/8" from the left seam.  Place the folded edge of the needle book 1/4" from the left seam and 1/2" from the bottom edge.  See the below picture !

Sew down the fold line of the needle book and very close to the edge of the three sides of the scissor case to attach both. 
Take your strap piece and iron it in half along the length with the wrong sides together.  Open it back up and press each edge in to meet the center crease.  

Press each end in 1/4" and then refold the whole strip back up.  It should now measure approx. 43" x 3/8".  Do NOT sew it yet.  You need to cut 6 1/4" off this strip to make the thread strap.  Only one short end needs to be folded in on the short strap but you will need to fold in both short edges of the long piece so that all of the edges will be encased. Now sew down each of the long sides and the ends to close up the straps.

Pull apart your tiny piece of velcro and place one side on the finished end of the short strap and pin in place.  Sew on the velcro.  
 Take the other half of the velcro and place it along the left seam of the interior piece.  You want it to be 3/8" from the bottom edge.  Pin in place and sew!

Put the two pieces of velcro together to hold the strap in place and pin the other side in place.  The raw edge of the strap is going to hang over the edge.  You will need to make the strap somewhat slack so that there is enough room for your thread spools to slide on and still be secured with the velcro.  It may help to put two spools on so that you can judge how slack to make the strap.  Then sew down the strap very close to the top edge and cut off the excess.

Now we want to attach the exterior and the interior along the seam lines on the interior.  Place your exterior face down on your table making sure that it is oriented the way you want it and then place your interior piece face up aligning the edges so that your corners and edges are all matched.  Pin enough to keep it all aligned.  

Sew down the two seam lines in the ditch to attach the exterior and interior.  You will have to move the strap out of the way on the left seam. 

Almost done!!!  Now you need to bind your sewing kit with the rest of the 2" binding that you made in the beginning.  Sew your binding on the outside of the piece and then hand stitch the binding onto the inside.  Don't forget that I linked to a great binding tutorial at the top of this post too!!

You now have something that hopefully looks like this!  :)

All we have left is to sew on the tie!  Take your tie piece and mark 12" from one end.  Then take your sewing kit and place it face up on your table.  You are going to need to find the stitch line on the exterior of the piece that corresponds to the left side seam line on the inside.  I know this sounds confusing!  Simply, you are going to stitch your tie to the exterior but you want the stitches to be disguised by the seam on the inside.

Find that seam on the exterior and mark the middle.  It will be 3" from the top and bottom and approx. 5" from the right edge when the piece is laying exterior side up on your mat.  Match the two marks, the one on your tie and the one on your strap.  Pin in place and sew on your strap from the inside so that you can make sure your stitches are masked by the seam.

You are all done!!!  Woo hoo!!  Now fill it up with goodies!!!

I hope you all will love making these fun sewing kits!!  I would LOVE to see yours and please make sure you add it to the lots of pink here tutorials flickr page!!!

If something is unclear, PLEASE let me know.  You can email me at or leave me a comment on this post.  If you leave a comment make sure that I have an email address for you so that I can respond!!

Don't forget to stop by Tamiko's blog too and say hi!!!  Thanks again Tamiko for the inspiration!!!

Stop by tomorrow and I will share some other sewing kits that I made and I will have lots of links to some great embroidery resources that I have found.

***Please note that this tutorial is for personal use only!!!  Please do not make items to sell using this tutorial!  I am happy for you to make as many as you like for gifts or for charity!***


  1. Thank you for such a clear tute!! of course it is totally adorable!! I've got to finish some knitting and then I'm on this!!

  2. Love! Love! Love! Perfect Christmas gift idea!

  3. Love, love, crushing, love, love and more love!

  4. This is so lovely, I have already added it to my much too long to do list, but it is being bumped up towards the top because it will be such a nice Christmas gift for so many on my list!

    Thanks for preparing and sharing.

  5. Amy, this is just fabulous. I definitely have to make one ASAP. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great job Amy (and Tamiko!) I know that tutorial took a lot of effort and time.

  7. Great tutorial Amy! I never could have explained this as clearly as you did. So glad that you ran with it. Maybe I'll even make one for myself!

  8. Oh how cute! Much better than my ziploc bag... LOL!

  9. I love this travel sewing kit. I actually recently made something very similar, but I love that yours has room for both thread and embroidery floss. So very useful! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

  10. I have wanted one of these since I saw the hexie one on Flickr. Thanks so much for doing a tutorial! I will post a pic when I am done.

  11. I'd love to update my personal blog through posting a finished product using this tutorial. You were indeed of great help!

    Grace | men tuxedos

  12. Thank you so much for providing this tutorial & pattern! I just finished mine - it is adorable!

  13. Very cute.Love,love .Thanks for the tutorial,great!!

  14. It is very lovely! Thanks so much!

  15. Wow so cute and useful. I hope to make myself one soon. thanks for the tut.

  16. I love this idea, what a great gift for my crafty friends.
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial

  17. Dear Amy, I spent Saturday afternoon on this tutorial, I wanted to have it done during the weekend since I have to take my sewing material to school on week days. This is such a challenging tutorial for me, I got real mess up on converting the measurements to cm (all my patchwork material is in cm) so I had to make some adjustments to fit since it turned out about 1 inch smaller. But at the end I really enjoined the results. I will just have to make some more to practice and try to get the right measures :D

  18. Love this tutorial as well. I saw that you have this fabric in your shop..I will have to get one along with the Ruby :)
    I will try to make ones for my sewing friends.

  19. Thank You for this wonderful tutorial. I've almost finished mine - I'm going to have to make another however, as this is too nice to give away. Again, thank you for such a wonderful, detailed tutorial.

  20. Hi Amy,
    just finished my kit, thanks for the easy tutorial!
    I'll try to add my fotos to your flickr-pool.

  21. Thank you, Amy for this lovely tutorial! Great project!

  22. Fantastic tutorial and great project! I've made one for my sister :)
    I've blogged about it here:

  23. This is GREAT! Getting ready to host a workshop for kids and I wanted to make them Take Home Sewing kits and this is perfect. THANK YOU!

  24. thanks for the tutorial on how to make it. this would be handy and won't take to much space.

    Sig: Andrew
    The Economics of 2011 in Graphs
    plain t-shirts

  25. Thanks for sharing the tutorial for this super cute and practical sewing kit!

  26. Thank you so much for this tutorial, it was so easy to follow. Check out my version: I'm so pleased with it - thank you!

  27. Thank you so much for this tutorial!! I just finished making mine last night and your instructions were so clear, I never had a problem! I'm so happy I finally have a way to take my hand sewing with me and keep it organized!

  28. I love these. I have made the Zakka travel sewing pouch and use it all the time. This is so adorable I am just gonna have to make one and alternate between the two. Nicely done.

  29. THank you for the sewing kit tutorial. It's a great project for my daughter learning to sew! I'd love to feature it sometime on my Modest Mommies blog for girl projects. Thanks!

  30. Great tutorial, thank you so much, I've just made one.

  31. I made one of these for my granddaughter and she loves it . Thank you.

  32. Nice documentary blog. It improved my knowledge. thanks for sharing. flights for pakistan

  33. Nice tutorial! I made one myself en I love it! See my blog for the result. Thank you!


  34. WONDERFUL tutorial! In fact... I'm to make this right now! I'm leaving for a mini vacation in the morning, and this will be perfect for me to bring some goodies in!

  35. Hi, I'm from Brazil, I want to know what is WOF.

  36. WOF means Width of Fabric

  37. I suppose I've selected an unbelievable and interesting blog.sewing kit

  38. Thanks for the great tutorial! I made a change to the scissor sleeve. On the bound version, I trimmed the top of the scissor piece to a 1/4" seam allowance and cut two. I cut a 1" piece of trim and stitched it to the top of both scissor pieces right sides together with 1/4" seam allowance. Press both seams in the same direction. Fold in half with right sides together and stitch all around leaving an opening on one side for turning. Turn and press. Topstitch the binding edge. I didn't even slip stitch the opening closed, just edge stitched onto my lining. This was much easier than turning the edges under and also makes the sleeve a little more substantial.

  39. Hi Amy
    I made your travel sewing kit .You did a wonderful job on your Tutorial and very detailed.... I changed a few things and made 2 thread fobs and 2 sets of pockets piggybacked instead of one at the far end of the kit. I think I might make a few for gifts.!!!! Thanks so much for the project. Very cute and very "doable" .I loved it so bright and cheery in your color selection . I posted a picture on my blog of my project Thanks again Amy....Debbie Kelly

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. here is a picture of my sewing kit on my blog with a link to my blog.....

  40. I just love this - thank you so much for sharing your tutorial. I'm adapting your idea to make an on-the-go crochet/sewing kit so I can keep my hooks, darning needle, snips and pattern in one piece. I loved your patchwork version so I've pieced the cover and about to start quitling it. If it turns out I'll be sure to tag you on Instagram. :-)

  41. Thank you for the tut and sharing it. You are so kind and generous. I made some and really enjoy making them. I guess is the best project to learn to quilt and it's not overwhelming and make you want to show it off to. Thank you so very much

  42. How big of scissors can the scissor pocket fit? 3inch? 5inch? Thanks

  43. I have a few questions about the instructions.
    1. Once you have quilted your exterior to the batting, you cut off the excess batting around the edges?
    2. Towards the beginning, when you say "Join your two binding strips and press them in half", do you mean sew the two strips together on the short end to create one very long (2" x (2xWOF)) strip?
    3. Towards the end when you say to cut 6 1/4" strip off the strap piece, you mean to use that smaller piece for the thread strap?
    4. Can you also machine stitch the back of your binding in place the same as with the pockets, or is it recommended to hand-sew it for a cleaner look?
    5. For attaching the final strap to the Exterior, how much of the strap should be hanging off the sides on either side to account for the folding close of the kit and tying the straps?

    I hope I asked clearly enough. Thank you so much for this tutorial and I can't wait to try it!!

  44. I love this idea, what a great gift for my crafty friends.
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial

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