Sunday, June 23, 2013

Zip Along: She's a Brick Pouch

I have been waiting and waiting to post this one just so I could use that title :) For the finale in our zip along series, we're going to make a fun little rectangular cosmetic bag (or craft bag, or small toy bag, or whatever kind of bag). I have made very many of these:

And I could have popped up a quick and easy tut. But do you know what your insides would have looked like?

Oh ew! Raw edges!! I have made many like this, and it never bothered me. But at this point in my sewing "career," combined with the fact that I'm supposed to be teaching you something, made me put my thinking cap on to get those raw edges hidden. Last week's pouch wasn't crazy hard to figure out, and towards the end I realized I could use a similar method for this one. Problem solved. So here we go.

You need about a fat quarter each of an exterior, a lining, and fusible fleece, plus a zipper. I like to use longer zippers and trim to fit, but a fourteen or sixteen inch one will work perfectly for this. Keep in mind that we'll be using a 3/8 inch seam allowance unless noted otherwise, and we're backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam. You'll also need something to mark with for this one.

Cut the following:
  • From the exterior, lining, and fusible fleece cut two pieces each that are 8 by 12 inches (the 12 inch edge is getting sewn to the zipper--keep that in mind if you're using directional fabrics).
  • For the strap: cut one piece that is 5 by 10 inches (you can use the exterior to match, or the lining for contrast, or even something else)
  • For the tabs, cut  two pieces that are each 2 by 3 inches (either matching or contrasting fabric).
Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of your exterior pieces. Put them aside to cool. We'll make our pull tabs and our strap first so they're ready when we need them.

Take your strap piece and fold it in half longways. Press. Unfold, then fold so that the raw edges meet at the center crease you just made and press (we're basically making binding tape). Fold in half along your original crease and press. Take your tabs and fold them in half, right sides together, so that the two inch edges meet. Press

Keeping the strap folded, add some top-stitching to each edge.

Take your tab pieces and sew along each side (you'll have two sewn edges, one folded edge, and one open). Clip the corners near the folded edge to cut down on the bulk.

Turn them inside out, and gently poke the corners out nice and neat. Give them a press. You'll now have these parts ready:

Set those aside. On the wrong side of each of your other four pieces, I want you draw a line 3/8 inch in from the 8 inch edges. Since you have four pieces you'll be drawing eight lines total.

Let's make a delicious zipper sandwich. Lay down your exterior right side up, the zipper right side down, and your lining right side down. Pin everything nice and neat along the top edge.

You can use your zipper foot here, but I don't. I simply butt my regular foot up against the zipper teeth and move my needle as far left as it will go. This next part is insanely important--when you stitch your layers together, it is critical that you start and stop your stitching at the lines you drew--we are not sewing edge to edge, but line to line.

See how my needle is down on the purple line? You'll see why in a bit but do not skip this.

OK, so go ahead and stitch. Then make the same sandwich with the other edge of the zipper and stitch line to line. Once that's done press all your fabrics away from the zipper--you'll have two "wings" coming off the zipper, each with your exterior and lining on top of each other. As you press make sure you don't melt the zipper. 

Now topstitch alongside the zipper to keep the top edges of the fabric from getting stuck in the zipper. The lines you drew will now be hidden, so make a little mark or stick a pin where your stitching started and stopped, and stitch between those two marks--not from edge to edge. You'll have what looks like little flaps at each edge of the zipper but we need those so don't worry about them :)

  See how I'm not starting my topstitching at the edge?

Pin the lining pieces together along the bottom, right sides together leaving a gap of about four inches in the middle. Pin the exterior pieces together along the bottom, but don't leave a gap. 

Sew those edges (from edge to edge--you can ignore the lines right now), and then press the seams open. Open your zipper a little more than halfway. Things might start looking a little weird now, but stick with me and you'll get through it. This is differently shaped than your standard zipper pouch, so we have to construct it a little differently. You're going to position each piece so that they're laying on top of each other with the zipper running down the center (to get it centered just right match up the seams you just sewed with the zipper). The picture helps to clarify this step:

My zipper is way long so it looks like a frog catching flies right now--I'll trim it in a bit.

Take one of your tabs. You're going to slip it in between those exterior layers, with the raw edge meeting up with the other raw edges (or else they'll show--ick!). Try and get it centered with your zipper.

Pin only the exterior edges--shove the lining out of the way. We don't want to sew that yet. When you feed this into your sewing machine I want you to do it with the lining side up--it's easier to move it out of the way if you can actually reach it. Keeping the lining pulled to the side, sew from edge to edge along the line you sewed. When you come to the zipper, don't move it out of the way. Go right across it (I like to go back and forth to add a few reinforcement stitches).

Do that for the other side of the exterior, inserting your tab and all that jazz. Then you're going to flip it over and repeat for the lining, pulling the exterior out of the way as you go. When you come to the zipper, keep it laying flat and just go right over it again (I'll show you what happens later on if you move the zipper out of the way--it's not disastrous, but it's totally avoidable so why not avoid it?). At this point, if you've got a giant zipper you can trim the edges.

Now we're going to box those corners. You need to flatten out each corner into a triangle, but instead of the seams stacking up as in a tote bag, these seams will be perpendicular to each other as they're on the sides of the bag (it's also why we've got to do it so many times). Start with the side of the bag that is opposite to where the zipper pull will be when the bag is closed. My pictures show me sewing the exterior, but I highly recommend that you start with the lining. I don't know why, but it will be much easier to do the thinner piece first instead of the thicker exterior.

That seam running left to right in the photo above needs to be perfectly centered across the triangle. So lay your ruler down on it to measure a line that is 3 inches from edge to edge. If you 1 1/2 inch mark is on the seam line and both sides are even, go ahead and draw a line across and pin it in place so it doesn't wiggle. If it's not even, adjust it until it is so you don't have crooked corners.

Now stitch across the line you just drew.

Repeat it for the other corners at that end of the bag (you'll have two lining corners and two exterior corners). Trim the triangle about 1/4 inch away from your seams--

At the other end of the bag box the corners on the lining. Now we've got to insert our strap in the last two exterior corners. Make your triangle as you've been doing, marking your line, but don't sew. About 1/4 to 3/8 inch from your line I want you to cut the tip off the triangle. Poke your strap down into the hole and center it. Pin it in place. You may need to move a few of your pins to get the strap down in there, so recheck the line you drew that it is still centered.

See my strap poking out of the corner? My marker was running out of ink so you can't even see my line but it's there--I know you were worried :)

Now sew across as you've been doing. Do the same thing to your remaining corner--the only difference is that you'll have to reach into the innards of your bag to feel for the other end of the strap and feed it through the gap from the inside. Pin it in place. Check that your line is centered, and then sew across. 

You will now have something that looks like a huge mess of crap--

Reach into that gap in the lining, and through the open zipper (aaaahhh, that's why we left it open) and pull everything through so that it's all right side out. Tuck the raw edges down into the gap left in the lining, pin, and stitch closed either by machine or by hand. Tuck the lining inside the bag and gently poke your corners out nice and neat. Press. Maybe tie some ribbon to the zipper pull. And then smile, because you're done :)

Now, if you were curious to see what would happen and moved the zipper out of the way a few steps back, you'll notice that you've got a little gap near the zipper (and that it may have been crazy hard to sew past the zipper when it was pulled out of the way, leading to some odd stitches)--

If you've got that going on it's all ok--you just need to pop in a few hand-stitches and tack it in place--

Now go and fill it with whatever your heart desires! And then make a bunch for your friends, because they're actually fun to make once you get the hang of it!

And the best part is--no raw edges! These little pouches are so versatile--cosmetics and toiletries, small toys, first aid kits, a holder for chargers and cords, all kinds of stuff can go in them. Change the fabrics and you can have a nice manly toiletry bag that looks so much nicer than the shop-bought ones. You can play around with the size to suit your needs. Or how about trying it in laminated cottons for a wipe-clean case? You really can have some creative fun with this one.

As ever--if you have any questions or you're wondering if I bungled the instructions, please let me know. And when you've finished I'd love to see some pictures in the Flickr group so we can all have a look.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! Very good work! Bravo!

  2. Great fabric colors and so good tutorial!
    Well done!

  3. I really need to get some zippers, and some more time, so I can try these bags. Thanks for the tutorials.

  4. Again you give us another great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  5. You do beautiful work! I love pink and green together!!! So nice!
    xo Kris

  6. great work!fabric is beautiful..

  7. Very nice tutorial, Thank you!

  8. Thank you so much, I have made at lot of thise Boxes ( as I call them )with the edges hidden behind binder. now I am looking forward to try your toutorial, it shows the perfect way to hide the edges.

    P.S. Sorry if my english is not correct, I am danish

  9. This is definitely going on my making list. Thank you for sharing this great tutorial.

  10. Great Tutorial, I love what you did with the zipper tabs- in the past I have sewn them on the zipper and ended up with a wobbly line showing and lots of bulk.

  11. great work; im going to be making some for my Air Force son, my travelling love. whats the final dimensions? if you cut a 3" corner, does it reduce the height/length by 1.5" or 3" ? thanks!

    1. Hi Bunny-- The final dimensions of the bag are 8 inches long, 4 1/4 inches wide, and 3 inches high. If you cut each corner at 3 inches instead of 1.5 it's going to reduce the length by 3 inches (because there's 2 corners on each side) but it will make the pouch 3 inches taller. I wrote up a tutorial on how to make one of these pouches in any size you'd like (find it here: Once you figure out the size you'd like you can follow the brick pouch tutorial for assembly instructions. Hope this helps you out! One other thing--my sample is a bit of a squishy bag. If you'd like yours to be sturdier you'll want to use an interfacing with a little more oomph to it (perhaps a layer of medium sew-in)? Happy sewing!

  12. THANK you so much for this GREAT tutorial. I made this bag, then used the tutorial for my BEGINNING sewing class (I teach through Community Ed). Prior to this class most of the students had never made anything, and several didn't even know how to turn their sewing machines on! We made 2 other projects in class then our final project was your 'Brick Pouch'.....It's a great introduction to zippers. Thank you again

  13. This is an excellent tutorial. Great instructions, pictures are relevant and help make sense of what you are explaining - next best thing to an actual video tutorial. As someone who just learned to sew about 6 months ago, I'm so proud of how this bag turned out, thanks to you! I'm making for my sons as their travel marker bag (or whatever they choose to put inside) as well as my Hubby for camera extras or a travel bag. Thank you so much!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...