Sunday, June 16, 2013

Zip Along: Front Zip Pouch

Are we having fun with zippers yet, or are you all still terrified nervous? This week's tutorial is for a front-zip pouch (kind of like last week's double-zip but with just the one zipper across the front instead of across the top). I had to figure this one out as it's new to me too, and I'm pleased to say I got it on the first try. That leaves me quite certain that you'll do just fine. Ready?

As with any of the pouches in this series you'll need to decide what size you want this to be. I wanted something a little smaller, but not teeny, so I chose a size that would finish in the four by six inches area. You need less than a fat quarter of each fabric (more like half of a fat quarter of each) and some scraps of interfacing (I interfaced my lining and exterior and it's way sturdy; if you want something a little softer to the touch only interface the exterior). You'll need a zipper to fit whatever size you're making, and a swivel hook (though this can be optional). In addition to regular sewing gear, you'll also need something to mark with.

From your exterior, lining, and interfacing cut one each of the following:
  • 5 inch by 7 inch piece
  • 4 inch by 7 inch piece
  • 1 1/2 by 7 inch piece
From the exterior cut one of each:
  •  1 1/2 by 14 inch piece (strap)
  • 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch piece (strap tab--omit if you're skipping the swivel hook).
A few things to keep in mind: we're using a 3/8 inch seam allowance throughout, back-stitching at the beginning and end of each seam. I recommend giving a read through the instructions before you get started. Finally, be mindful of your fabric if you're using directional fabrics so you don't end up with an unintentionally upside-down pouch. Let's go, then.

On the wrong side of each piece, mark a line that is 3/8 inch from each shorter edge.

 Make sure you get both edges, though the photo shows one. You'll be drawing twelve lines total (6 pieces, 2 edges per piece).

Let's get that zipper on the front. Take the lining and exterior pieces that are 1 1/2 by 7 inches and your zipper. Make a sandwich: your exterior fabric is face up, the zipper is face down, and the lining is face down. Line everything up nice and neat and pin/clip along the top.

If you use a zipper foot put that on. I don't--I use my regular foot butted up against the teeth and my needle moved as much towards the left as it will go. This next part is very key to the success of this project--sew from line to line, NOT from edge to edge.

See where my needle is? Right on the purple line.

Sewing from line to line will leave you with a few unsewn bits at the ends--no worries, we'll get there later.

Now take the two four by seven inch pieces and make the same sandwich with the other edge of the zipper: exterior face up, zipper face down, lining face down. Line up the sides as best as you can with the sides of the pieces you just sewed.  Sew again from line to line.

Take this over to your iron and press the pieces away from the zipper, being careful not to melt the teeth. Then head back to your machine and do some top-stitching. DO NOT TOP STITCH THE LITTLE FLAPS--ONLY TOP STITCH TO MATCH WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY SEWN. I made a little mark so I would know just where to start and stop.

Now we're going to make our strap pieces. If you're skipping the hook you can skip the tab; you'll just be pressing and stitching the long piece you cut for the strap in the same way. Take that little rectangle you cut--press it in half with the longer sides touching. Fold each raw edge towards the center seam and press. Then fold it in half again and press. Do the same for the long piece.

If you're making the swivel hook version, top-stitch only the short tab piece. If you're skipping the hook, you can go ahead and top-stitch the strap. I stitch along each edge as I enjoy symmetry :)

Fold that piece in half (or fold the strap in half) and place it as shown below, pinning it only to the exterior piece. I placed mine so that the bottom edge lined up with my top-stitching. Sew that down with a 1/4 inch seam allowance (these stitches won't show as they're within our regular seam allowance and will thus be hidden. I go over it a few times for security--wherever the straps are connected in any bag you also introduce a stress point.

If you look closely you can see where my top-stitching stops along the zipper, as well as my little reminder marks.

So far not too hard, right? Ok. Now we're going to make this into a pouch, but stick with me as the construction is different than a standard zipper pouch. Place your pouch face up. Take your remaining exterior piece and lay it face down. Pin the top edges together, but ONLY PIN THE EXTERIOR. Your lining is going to try to get involved, but just push it out of the way.

My finger is shoving that intrusive lining out of the way so I can pin together the exterior.

Stitch along the top from edge to edge. Open your zipper a little more than halfway. Pin the sides together, but only the exterior pieces. Keep that lining out of the way :)  I want you to feed this into your machine with the lining facing up--it's easier to keep it out of the way if you can get to it. Now stitch along the lines you drew, keeping the lining out of the way. When you get to the zipper sew over it--don't move it out of the way.

Repeat for the other side of the exterior, pulling the lining out of the way and all that jazz. Finally, pin together the bottom edges (just the exterior) and sew that. Now we get to do it one more time. Yippeeeee!!!

Place your project with the lining side facing up. Take your remaining lining piece and lay it face down on top of that.

You know where this is headed, right? Pin along the top, just the lining pieces, and stitch, keeping the exterior out of the way (it's already had it's turn :)  Pin the sides, place into your machine with the exterior facing up so you can shove it out of the way and stitch down the side. When you get to the zipper, don't move it out of the way--just sew right on over it. Other tutorials have you move it, but it creates a gap,as well as the extra bulk being difficult to sew around. Keep it in place and sew right on over it, but feel free to add some extra stitches for security.

Almost done :) Pin along the bottom pieces of the lining and stitch, leaving a gap of a few inches in the center (as shown below by my pins):

Clip the corners, but don't cut your stitches.

Reach into the gap in the lining, and then feel your way to where the opened zipper is (this is why we left it open--we couldn't turn our pouch otherwise!). Gently work everything back out through the lining gap. Reach into the gap again and gently poke out the corners of the exterior (use a point turner, a knitting needle, a chopstick--just be gentle so you don't bust through). 

Tuck the raw edges of the gap into the lining and pin. Stitch the gap shut, either by machine or by hand.

Tuck everything into place and press nice and neat. If you're not using a hook you're finished! If you are we've got a little more work to do. Take your hook and your remaining piece for the strap (which should be folded and pressed). Put the hook on your strap piece--

Now, unfold the strap along the short edges, and pin them together, wrong sides together (be careful your strap doesn't get twisted!). Sew the short edges together. Press the seam open. Repress your folds if you need to. Then refold your strap along your original creases and pin/clip into place.

Topstitch along each edge of the strap, sliding the hook out of the way as you near it.

A free arm comes in handy here but isn't necessary.

Once you're back around, slide the hook down until it's near the seam--

Position it as above (you'll be able to feel where the bulk of the seam is and how it won't really won't to go through the hook). Pin the strap layers together there and stitch across, thereby securing the hook down at the end.

Give it a quick press, clip it on your bag, and you're all set!! Good job!


Nice neat lining--no raw edges--woot!

 Obligatory hardware close-up :)

That wasn't so bad, was it? A bit of a different construction method for a zip pouch, but necessary because of where the zipper is located. You could vary the look of this one in several ways: try it in patchwork; leave off the strap; make it narrower and wider, move the zip to the center and make a pencil case. The great thing about the humble zippered pouch is how many ways it can be modified for different looks and uses. 

As ever, let me know if you have any questions (and also if you think I've lost my mind and wrote something utterly mind-boggling). If you make a few I'd love it if you popped them in my woefully underpopulated Flickr group (link in the sidebar). Ta for now, and happy sewing!


  1. Very good! Thanks for the tutorial!
    Have a great day!

  2. Hi Bethany,
    I've just gotten back into sewing (I crochet too) and I'm so glad I found your blog. I love it. And your sewing tutorial are to die for. I took a free class on my new Jamone Horizon Memory Craft 12000 recently and we made a decorative stitching cosmetic bag. I was so pleased with it I want to make more and then I found all of your tutorials. I have some fabric fat quarters and just purchased a whole lot of zippers in bulk. I want to sew some for family for Christmas. Thank you for sharing these fantastic tutorials. That is so sweet of you. I'm going to try to line the next one I sew. BTW I live in SE PA too down by Willy.

  3. very nice!so good tutorial!well done!
    I'm your new follower!

  4. Thank you for the great instructions and images. I really want to make some of these and I've pinned it for future reference!
    Julie @ The Crafty Quilter

  5. What a cute little bag!! Thank you for the tutorial. Hugs, Beverly

  6. Great tutorial. I have yet to make something with a zipper, but this may make me a little bolder, great pics. I will share in the Flickr group:) See ya soon.

  7. Your tutorials like this one are terrific for a beginner like me. You should publish a book with photos like these. Your book would be a heck of a lot better than "The Bag Making Bible" by Lisa Liam. There's not enough good photos for each step in that book, and for a beginner or even an advanced sewer it looks daunting. You'd make a lot of money from folks like me if you had a book like that out. :)
    So thank you so much for putting up this site!! I love it!!

  8. Just read this tutorial. Looks great! I actually tried a zippered pouch just like this, but messed it up somehow (couldn't pull the lining through). The instructions were different from yours. I'm going to try your method. Love you blog!

  9. Thank you for creating a tut for this type of pouch with NO raw edges inside. I've been looking for this! Thanks again

  10. I recently saw a bag by Hammitt and loved it. But their bags are around $200-$300 each. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how I could recreate it. This tutorial helped me figure it out! And sew easy. Thanks!!

  11. I just made your bag, and it was great fun! Thank you!



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