My mom taught me and my sisters to sew and do basic handiwork when we were in elementary school, but it’s been years (like more than 20) since I have sewn anything. So, when I decided that I wanted to refresh my skills and create something useful, zippered pouches seemed like an ideal project. Once you master the basic skills needed, you can modify to suit your specialized needs or design preferences.I will be using these pouches to organize my purse (watch for details in an upcoming post) but the possible uses are almost endless.
A couple of notes before getting started. Since these pouches are unlined, I recommend using a canvas weight fabric to give added structure. Also, it is ALWAYS a good idea, especially if you have limited fabric, to measure twice (or 3x, or 4x) and cut once 😉
- Fabric (I purchased mine from fabric.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Zipper/s (at least as long as your biggest bag, you can trim excess)
- Zipper pulls (optional, I used this leather lacing)
- 100% polyester thread (your choice of matching or contrasting color)
- Sewing machine (w/zipper and regular presser foot)
- Measuring tool (one of these is really useful)
Before starting this project you will need a basic familiarity with sewing terminology and tools. Additional resources are easily found online. This tutorial follows a similar process.
Making a Zippered Pouch:
Determine the finished size/s of your bag/s. Add 1 inch to both the finished length and height as a seam allowance. (My small bags are 4″x 6″ finished, so the cut measurement is 5″x 7″)
Carefully measure and cut two (2) pieces (per bag) at the increased measurement (for example 5″x 7″ for my small bag) size. Keep in mind the pattern of your fabric as you layout and make the cuts.
Take one of the pieces of fabric you’ve cut to size and place the zipper and fabric right sides together. Make sure your fabric is correctly positioned based on print direction. If your zipper is longer than the finished size, match the bottom of the zipper to the edge of fabric and allow the extra length of the zipper to hang past the other edge (see below). Pin in place.
Attach the zipper foot to your machine. Place the zipper and fabric under the foot and lower the foot into place. I positioned the left edge of the foot against the zipper and used that as my guide.
Start sewing, guiding your zipper and fabric through carefully. You may have to finagle a little around the zipper tab, go slowly and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Complete the first side, and repeat the process for the second piece of fabric. (Make sure your fabric and zipper are right sides together. Once I pinned the fabric and zipper together, I double-checked the right-side of the fabric/zipper combo and ensured everything was correct BEFORE sewing 😉
Carefully sew the other side as you did the first side. You will end up with this:
Iron your fabric. (If using a plastic or polyester zipper, don’t let the iron touch the teeth!)
Important – open the zipper! You need a hole to turn the pouch right side out, if you forget you will have to tear out seams and start again…Not fun 🙁
Fold your pouch right sides together and pin around the edges.
*When you fold your pouch right sides together to prepare to sew the sides, the zipper teeth MUST face away from the exterior fabric (see image below). Squeeze them to together so they point up. This keeps the zipper from puckering in the corner.
Sew the three edges with a 1/2″ seam allowance, short sides first and then across the bottom. Stitching near the zipper at the top requires some extra attention to ensure the teeth remain facing away from the fabric, but the rest is easy. If you have used a longer zipper than is needed, this stitching process allows you to trim off any excess without the zipper falling apart.
Trim excess threads and fabric from the seams. Then trim the bottom corners, being careful not to snip through your stitches (the image above is before I cut the bottom corners at a 45 degree angle just outside the point where the lines intersect). If needed, trim zipper to fit by carefully cutting between the teeth at the required length.
Turn your pouch right sides out and gently push the corners out.
Add zipper pull if desired. Make sure to test that your selected pull will fit/attach to the zipper you are using. I had to buy a zipper with a larger hole in order to accommodate the leather lacing.
Good job! Now you just have to decide how to use your pretty new pouches.
Special thanks to my mom for the refresher sewing course and help on this project. If you live in the Huntington, WV area she offers
sewing classes 🙂