Zipper pouches are a great way to use up smaller pieces of fabric and they are quite handy to have as gifts or to hold sewing notions. Need a beginner sewing project or a break from a larger complex project? I got you. Lets bust your scrap pile and make some handy dandy little zipper pouches.
Fair warning, though, once you make one you will want to make more and add details like pockets and fancy trims. Also, don't fear the zipper foot. It is a friend, not a foe. Be brave and try it out.
Materials needed for making a zipper pouch
- Fabric: For the free pattern, you will need 4 pieces of fabric at around 10.5" x 8". Select your shell fabric first. If it is a lighter fabric, then be sure to use a thicker fabric for the lining like canvas.
- Zipper: For beginners, go with a nylon zipper. They are easier to work with and can be cut to size.
- Zipper Foot: Most machines come with one, so consult your manual before buying a new foot.
- Basic Sewing Tools: Scissors, Pins, Sewing Machine, Iron, Thread, etc.
- *(2) 3.5" x 2" Fabric Pieces: These are added to the zipper to give a more professional look and make sewing a little easier. I like to use 3.5" pieces of double fold bias tape, which are included in the Zipper Pouch Kit.
- *(2) 2" pieces of 3/8" ribbon: These will be tabs on the sides to give a place to pull when opening and closing the zipper.
- *Optional Embellishments: Level up and add a personal touch, consider decorative elements such as buttons, ribbons, or embroidery floss. Add these before sewing the pouch to keep it simple.
*These items are completely optional, but will level up your zipper pouch.
Cutting the Shell and Lining Fabric
Having a pattern is always nice, but not entirely necessary when making zipper pouches. These can really be whatever shape or size you like. Also, you can decide if you want a flat pouch or boxed corners or even add darts to adjust the shape. For this tutorial, I am going to do a simple pouch with a boxy bottom that will hold pencils. Here is a link to a free downloadable pattern for a basic zipper pouch.
If you'd like to come up with your own pattern, just remember to add seam allowances and consider the change in height when boxing the corners. Also, be aware that rounded edges, especially with zippers, can be fussy.
Adding Tabs and Extras
This is the time to add any embellishments. If you bought a zipper pouch kit from Hey Kitty Rae, then there will be two 2" pieces of 1/4" ribbon included. Fold these in half and sew one to each side of a shell piece about 1" below the zipper edge.
Prepare the Zipper
I am going to share a trick with you that made my zipper loving life a lot easier. Add tabs to each end of the zipper. It's a simple thing, but when you sew the pouch sides, it makes all the difference and provides a more professional finish.
Start by trimming each side of the zipper to about 1/2" from each side of the pouch. Then, take the zipper to the sewing machine and create a stop at each end of the zipper. Do this with a zigzag stitch set to the highest width and 0 length, then carefully go over each open end 15 to 20 times.
Next, open up the 3.5" bias tape pieces and iron so that only one side is folded. Or, with 2 pieces of 3.5" x 2" rectangles of fabric, fold about 3/8" along one of the longer sides of each scrap and iron to crease the fabric.
Wrap the bias tape/scrap around each open side of the zipper and carefully sew over the crease you just created. I use the wheel to hand roll the needle through the zipper. Just be sure to back stitch when starting and ending.
Sewing the Zipper
Ok, this is perhaps the most tricky part, but not too bad. Don't worry, I will walk you through it and we will all see success!
- Mark the center of the zipper, shell and lining with a pin.
- Place the front shell fabric piece FACE UP on the table.
- Open the zipper about 3/4 of the way and place FACE DOWN on top of the shell, lining up the center pins and with the zipper opening on the left side.
- Using sewing clamps (pins work too), secure the edges together.
- Place a lining piece FACE DOWN on top of the zipper and move the clamps to secure all three pieces in place
Go to the sewing machine. Attach the zipper foot so that the needle is on the left side. This foot is special because it will hold the fabric down while sewing closely to the zipper.
- Place the fabric under the foot and sew until you get to about 1/2" away from the zipper pull.
- Make sure your needle is in the fabric.
- Lift the foot and carefully close the zipper. It is okay to turn or twist a the pouch a bit because any mess ups here won't show.
- Lower the foot and carry on sewing.
You made it through the scariest bit! Great job! Okay, at this point I like to fold open the seams and top stitch along the zipper, catching the shell and the lining so the fabric won't get caught in the zipper when opening and shutting the pouch. Also, this will straighten out the seam and hide any hiccups I had when sewing in the zipper.
Now just repeat the process for the other side, except now, you will start with the zipper closed and open it when you get to about 1/2" away from the pull.
Sewing the sides and bottom of the pouch
You've made it through the trickiest bit! Let's get to the easy stuff. Time to sew the sides and bottom of your pouch.
OPEN THE ZIPPER. If you forget to do this, you will not be able to turn the pouch right side out, which would be bad. Fold the pouch so that the shell fabric pieces are right sides together and the lining pieces are right sides together, with the zipper centered in the middle.
Fold the zipper tabs toward the lining and clamp in place. Pin the sides of the pouch together, making sure to align the edges and the bottom corners. Place two pins at the bottom of the lining about 4" apart for an opening that will allow turning the pouch right side out.
Using a straight stitch and about 1/4" seam allowance, start at one side of the opening on the lining and go to the corner. If you are boxing the bottom corners, skip the cut out part and move down the side. Do this again along the bottom of the shell, the other side and the bottom of the lining until you reach the opening again. A hump jumper can help get over the zipper more smoothly.
At this point, flip the pouch over and check that the back fabric was sewn. Truthfully, I don't always catch it, but there is no need to unpick the seam. None of this will show on the final product. Just go back and sew over any questionable areas, then move on.
For boxed corners, finger press open the seams and pin through each seam. Sew along the edge at 1/4" seam allowance.
Turn the Zipper Pouch Right-Side Out
We are so close to being done I can almost smell the pencils! So exciting!
Reach through the opening in the lining and through the zipper and grab the bottom of the shell fabric. Pull that through the opening until both the shell and lining are right side out. Use your fingers to push the boxed corners out on the shell.
Iron the edges of the opening in the lining and sew along the fold to close the opening.
Put the lining into the shell, using your fingers to push the corners into place and PRESTO! You now have a handmade zipper pouch! Pat yourself on the back, you did a great job.
Now that you know the basics of how to make a zipper pouch, it's time to level up! Add some embroidery, ribbons, buttons or ricrack or maybe even make a couple of quick mini quilts and use those as the shell. Try switching up the shape, maybe make little house shaped pouches to hold little dolls! There are so many options I hope you go wild and I would LOVE to see what you do! Tag me on Instagram when you share your finished products!