Simple Zipper Pouch Tutorial

 How To: make a neat case for your sewing supplies.
Finished size: 20 cm x 28 cm (8 in x 11 in)

This case is extremely useful for storing and carrying your sewing supplies, or throwing it in your purse for storing small items so they don't clutter about. You can add a loop on the side for carrying it, change the dimensions if you prefer, embellish it in a million ways, upgrade it to a handbag or a clutch bag (different fabric and added strap), etc. I bet you can think of a ton of other uses for it. Also, it's an interesting exercise in inserting lining.

This case is so nice and pretty from all angles because of the lining on the inside. After making several of these, I feel pretty confident with this technique. I actually couldn't find any other online tutorial that shows how to install a zipper with a lining this way! In my opinion, this method is easier (and less scary) than adding interfacing and cutting the fabric, like I've seen in other tutorials. Try it out and see!

Let's begin!


    Outer fabric and lining fabric -
    See dimensions below, you really don't need much. You can probably use scraps you have on hand.
    Recommended fabrics:
    - Outer fabric: lightweight to medium weight cotton without stretch (in the photos: light blue)
    - Lining fabric: lightweight cotton without stretch (in the photos: black and white print)
    One regular (not invisible) zipper - 30 cm (12 in) or longer


Sewing machine, thread, fabric marker (or chalk)
Optional: top stitching thread, basting thread, edge stitch foot

Step 1: Cutting the fabric

Note: Seam allowances are included, as follows:
1 cm (3/8 inch) for all edges, except for a seam allowance of 2 cm (3/4 inch) where the zipper is installed.

Cut the following pieces of the outer fabric (blue in the photos):

        Top Front Piece: 8 cm x 30 cm (3-1/8 in x 11-3/4 in)
        Bottom Front Piece: 18 cm x 30 cm (7-1/8 in x 11-3/4 in)
        Back Piece: 22 cm x 30 cm (8-3/4 in x 11-3/4 in)

Cut the same pieces as above of lining fabric  (black and white print in the photos).

Step 2: Preparing the zipper seam line

Working with the outer fabric (blue) pieces:
Place the Top Front Piece on top of the Bottom Front Piece, right sides together, matching top edges. Pin 2 cm (3/4 inch) away from the edge - this is the seam line for installing the zipper. Along this seam line, make a small mark 4 cm (1-3/4 inch) away from the start of the seam, and another one  4 cm (1-3/4 inch) away from the end of the seam. The segment between these two marks will be the zip opening.

Repeat the above procedure for the lining fabric (black and white).

Stitch along the seam line of the outer fabric:

        Up until the first mark: stitch normally (2.5 mm stitch)
        At the first mark: back stitch a few stitches
        After the first mark and up until the second mark: stitch using a long stitch (4 mm) - machine basting stitch.
        At the second mark: back stitch a few stitches
        After the second mark, stitch until the edge using a normal sized (2.5 mm) stitch.

Repeat the above procedure for the lining fabric.

Finish the seam allowances of the two seams you just stitched (overlock / zigzag / pink). Leave the seam allowances at their current width - don't trim them down significantly.

Note: We will not be finishing any more seam allowances from this point onwards - they will be left raw, because they will be hidden between the outer fabric and the lining.

Using a removable marker, mark a rectangle on the right side of the outer fabric, as shown in the photo. The line is 1 cm (3/8 in) above and below the seam line, and 3.5 cm (1-3/8 in) away from each fabric edge. This is our guideline for top stitching the zipper in place, which we will do in a bit.

Step 3: Basting the zipper to the lining and the outer fabric

Turn the outer fabric front piece wrong side up and lay the zipper on it, teeth down, so that the line of zipper teeth lays exactly centered on the seam line. Pin in place. See the below photos.

 "peeking" to make sure the zipper teeth are centered on the seam line

 zipper is right-side down (teeth facing down) and pinned

 Baste along the length of both zipper tapes and take out the pins. I prefer to use real basting thread rather than general purpose thread because it is easier to take out even if you've stitched over it. Don't skip this step, even if you are not a fan of basting!

Place the lining front piece right side up on top of the zipper you just basted, as shown below.

Align the lining front piece so that the seam line lies above the zipper teeth. You can't see the zipper but you can "feel" for the ridge of teeth, as shown in the photo below. Then baste the lining to the layers below it, along each side of the seam line.

 "feeling" that the zipper teeth are aligned with the seam line

Step 4: Sewing the zipper!

Take this "sandwich" (outer fabric - zipper - lining fabric) to the sewing machine and place it so that the outer fabric faces up. Stitch along the rectangle you marked previously. Make sure the zipper head gets "trapped" inside the rectangle. You can use a zipper foot, but I found it just as convenient to use a regular foot.

 sewing along the rectangle in order to install the zipper

The tricky part is behind you! Remove all basting and carefully rip open the zipper opening seam, inside the rectangle, which you previously sewed using long stitches (4 mm). Do this both on the outer fabric side and the lining fabric side.

 ripping open the zipper opening seam (machine basting stitch)

 What you have now should look like the finished case, except it doesn't have a back piece, and from here on it's pretty easy :-)

Optional Step: Decorate the front of the case

At this point I felt like adding some decorative hand stitching to the front of the case. You can mark whatever design you like and hand stitch it or machine stitch it on. You can applique some fabric, or add any embellishments you wish. Just make sure to sew them on the outer fabric layer only, and not through to the lining fabric.

 hand-stitched design using a back stitch with top stitching thread

Step 5: Attaching the back

From this point on make sure the zipper is left open!

Fold up the lining and pin it near the zipper so it won't get in your way (see photo below). Place the outer fabric front piece and outer fabric back piece together, right sides facing. Pin.

Stitch along all four edges, 1 cm (3/8 in) away from the edge.
Don't catch the zipper because it'll add extra bulk.
Trim the corners at an angle.

Similarly, connect the lining back piece to the lining front piece, but leave the top seam open. We will need that in order to turn the case right side out. There's no need to trim the corners because the lining fabric will not be reversed.

Pull the outer fabric right side out through the open zipper opening and then through the open top edge of the lining, as shown:

Now the case is almost done, except that there's an opening in the lining that needs to be seamed closed:

Press the edges of the opening in the lining 1 cm (3/8 in) inwards (toward the wrong side), pin, and stitch along this edge from the right side, close to the fold.

I used an edge stitch foot, but a regular foot will do just as well.

Push the lining back inside, wash if you want to remove your markings, press lightly, and you're done!

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