Sunday, June 2, 2013

Zip Along: Straight-Sided Flat-Bottomed Pouch

Happy Sunday to you! Ready to sew up one of these?

You can make this in any size you want--large, small, smack-dab in the middle. If you make a reasonable sized bag you're going to need the following ingredients:
  • 2 fat quarters (one for the lining, one for the exterior) or thereabouts if you're using yardage
  • 1 zipper to fit whatever size you're making (I like to work with extra so for the measurements for the bag made above I'd use a 12 inch zipper
  • Fusible interfacing and fusible fleece (about a fat quarter's worth)
I'm sorry to tell you this, but you're going to have to make your own pattern. Don't worry--I'll walk you through it. But once you learn how to do this, you can make bunches of these in any size. Get a ruler, pen(cil), and paper. I'll show you the measurements for the bag I made, but feel free to use these as a guide to drafting your own, or use them exactly if you're not in an adventurous mood today.

First you must decide how big you want your pouch to be. Draw a rectangle that size. Mine is eight inches wide and five inches high. At the very top of that rectangle add 1/4 inch for the seam allowance. This surely isn't drawn to any sort of scale--it's just an example.

Now, figure out how deep you want your pouch to be. I want mine to be about three inches deep, so I'm going to take half that measurement (1 1/2 inches) and add a 1/4 inch seam allowance to it (1 3/4 inches). Look carefully at how my ruler is laid out below:

The bottom corner is 1 3/4 inches away from the right edge of the ruler. Keeping those two points together, pivot the top of the ruler so that the ruler's edge meets the top corner. Then outline that triangular shape. Do the same on the other side.

Those are some pretty fabulous computer drawing skills I possess, eh? Make sure your corners and lines match nicely in real life :)

We have the front/back, and the sides. Now we need the bottom. Underneath your large rectangle draw a smaller one the same width, but of a height that matches the width of the triangles you just drew.

There. That's your pattern. Kind of odd looking, but it'll work out. If you want to fold it down the center to make sure your sides match up nice and even do it now and trim anything odd. If you're way off give it another crack--we want it to be nice and neat. Then cut it out.

OK, boring math jibber jabber over! Out of this cut 2 exterior, 2 lining, 2 fusible interfacing, and 2 fusible fleece. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior pieces, then fuse the fleece to that. Let them cool a bit for the adhesive to set. You should have two interfaced exteriors, 2 linings, and a zipper:

Take an exterior, a lining, and the zipper and make a sandwich like so: your exterior is right side up, your zipper is right side down, your lining is right side down. Pin/clip together along the top edge.

Make sure your pieces are lined up neatly--I like to use a longer zipper so it hangs over the edge and stays out of my way. This pic is just to show you the order of your layers--don't line yours up like that.

If you use a zipper foot, attach it now. I don't--I use my regular foot lined up with the edge of the zipper teeth and my needle moved over to where I want it. Stitch your layers together, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

I go slowly, feeling for the edge of the zipper teeth as I go to keep everything aligned.

Now repeat for the other edge of the zipper--make your sandwich and stitch. When finished it should look like this:

Arrange everything like above, and press the folds down (be careful you don't melt the zipper!--if you're nervous about that you can finger press). Then you're going to topstitch each side. This keeps the fabric from getting bunched up in the zipper.

OK, now we've got one big floppy piece of...thing. Take your 'thing' and pin the bottom edges of the exterior, right sides together. At the other end of your 'thing' pin the bottom edges of the lining, right sides together. You're going to sew across those bottom edges using a 1/4 seam allowance, BUT on the lining make sure you leave a gap of four to five inches for turning later on. Press those seams open. I slip it over my sleeve board and do it that way so I don't smash everything.

Now we have this:

At this point it is very important that you make sure your zipper is open, but that your pull isn't hanging around outside of the bag edges. I go about half way--it's enough for me to reach in and open it further when I'm ready to, while keeping the pull out of the way while sewing the edges.

Next we pin the side edges--don't do anything with those cut-out corners. Just the sides. When you get to the zipper, make it so that the teeth are facing the lining:

Sew from one end to the other with a 1/4 inch seam, backstitching at the beginning and end. When I get to the zipper I like to go over that section a few times, but be careful as it's very thick here and your machine might say "No way Jose" to your efforts.

Almost done! Now we finish off those corners to give the pouch some depth. Match up a bottom seam with a side seam, right sides together, in any of the corners--line them up and pin them so they don't wiggle.

Stitch across: 1/4 seam, backstitch. Do this for the other three corners.

Still looking messy--almost done!!

One of the trouble areas with zips is the corners where they fall when the bag is turned right side out. It's a bit bulky in there. One solution is to sew fabric tabs to the end of the zip. I have zero luck with this method, so I trim a bit of the bulk down from those seams like so:

It's difficult to get too close to the seam without hacking into it when it's such a bulky area, but it's better than wrecking your almost-finished pouch.

This next step is called birthing the bag. Or so I've heard. I didn't make it up. I don't know if it's an official term or not, but it's quite accurate-feeling. You're going to reach into that gap in the lining and pull everything through to the outside (this is why we unzipped the zipper--if we hadn't this step wouldn't be working out).

Once it's all right side out I want you to stick your hand in up near the zipper edges and poke out those corners--they'll look a little tidier now that the bulk is snipped, but be careful you don't pop any stitches. Once done, tuck the raw edges of the gap in the lining in, and pin the gap shut. Sew the gap shut either by hand or by machine.

Tuck everything down inside the finished pouch nice and neat. I like to stuff a dish towel inside and give it a good solid press. No matter how you do it--give it a press right now. Tie a bit of pretty ribbon on the zipper pull, step back and smile. You did it.

Pick off your stray threads. Hehehehe...I've got a few. And stuff your goodies into your nice, roomy pouch:

So now off with you! Go! Sew up oodles of these and stuff with them goodies for great gifts! And if you get a chance, pop your photos into the Flick group. I would love to see them!

As ever, let me know if you have any questions. Happy sewing!


  1. Thank you for your tutorial! I love this! Your fabrics are always so beautiful too :)

  2. Great Tute Bethany! I love making zip pouches!!
    xo Kris

  3. Huh, never thought of there being an angle at the corner bit there, well you learn something new every day!

  4. Thank you for sharing. This would be a great project for some of my students! I'd love for you to link up to our Pattern Party starts the 1st of each month.

    Get Your Crap Together

  5. This looks like a great tutorial! The fabric is beautiful and I love the flat bottom. I will follow so I can come back to this. I've been wanting to make more like this to store my sewing notions in. Thanks! Saw on nap-time creations. Love for you to visit my site as well.
    ~ Gina (

  6. Thanks for sharing this - I may have to try it! I've successfully made a zipper pouch without the flat bottom....maybe I'm ready to try the next step up?! Saw you at Funky Polkadot Giraffe :)

  7. great job!amazing print fabric!

  8. This is great! It would make a nice make-up bag!

  9. I've been on vacation and just now saw this. Thanks so much for the tutorial, I can't wait to make one. Is it okay if I Pin this to my sewing board on Pinterest? Thanks :)

  10. Great idea tutorial! I'm pinning this one! : ) I'm hosting a link party on my blog and I'd love for you to join! Simply Dream & Create

  11. Cute pouch! I love the fabric, and the red zipper matches perfectly!

  12. I love the fabric you used! I really, really need to learn how to sew!! I found you and your cute pouch at Tatertots & Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party! I also love your cute blog name! :)

  13. This zipper bag is awesome!! I love it and have already picked the fabrics to use. Thanks for posting such a clear tutorial!

  14. I've made lots of zipper bags and am always looking for new ideas to play around with, I think this one might be my favorite! I love the straight sides and the measurements you give here make for a really nice sized cosmetics type bag. Will definitely be making more of these. Thanks!

  15. I used your bag patern to make a couple to donate to our church for fundraising. Came out very nice. Thank you so much.



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