Sunday, March 30, 2014

Square Pouch Tutorial

A few weeks ago I received an email from Penny Cottons, a fabric company from Thailand that is venturing into the world of quilting cottons after a long history in the apparel fabric industry. I asked if they'd be interested in a project-for-fabric trade, and they quickly sent me some fat quarters to play with. I was curious as to the quality of what they would be sending--the prices are so low I thought for sure I might be getting some low-quality pieces. I was so very wrong. They sent me their Vintage Patchwork fabrics, and they are beautiful.

The colors are true to what is on the website, and they are wonderfully soft. They stitched up beautifully and I am so very very pleased with them. I've already placed an order with them for more. The selection is a bit limited right now, and postage is a little on the higher side, but the good prices balance that out. If you see something you like there I recommend that you give them a shot. And now, on to the project and tutorial.

Last week I posted a tutorial for how to make up a pattern for a boxy pouch in any size at all. This week I'm putting my money where my mouth is (or my fabric where my needle is, I suppose would be a better way to state it) to show you that it does work out.

First up--I drew my pattern. I knew I wanted a three inch square pouch, and about nine inches long. I put the zipper in the center, and used a quarter inch seam allowance. Here's the pattern that resulted.

For this size a fat quarter each for the lining and exterior were perfect. I used cotton quilt batting for this one, but I would recommend using sew-in fleece (I like Thermolam Plus) as it's a bit more sturdy. You'll also need a standard zipper (one inch wide) long enough for your top edge. I recommend going longer to have some wiggle room. for the top-stitching. I started off by quilting my exterior fabric. Yum. Not necessary, but I'm glad I did.

Using your pattern piece, cut out an exterior and a lining. If you didn't quilt your fabric, cut out a piece of fleece and treat that and the exterior as one layer.

Let's make a zipper sandwich. Lay down your lining, right side up, your zipper right side up, and your exterior, right side down. Line them up nice and neat and clip/pin in place. Your layers should look like this:

In order to be able to do this with no raw edges on the inside, we need to 'indent' our stitch line a little bit. Make a mark a quarter inch in from each edge. Those will be your start and stop marks. Using a quarter inch seam allowance (a quarter inch foot is crazy good at helping you put in nice neat zippers) stitch in your zipper, starting and stopping at the marks you just drew, backstitching at each end.

It's a good thing you're hungry as we need to make another sandwich for the other side of the zipper. Layer your fabrics the same way but, because we have no bottom seam, you'll have what looks like two loops with the zipper at the top:

Make your marks and stitch as you did for the first side of the zipper. Now, to keep the fabric from getting jammed into the zipper we need to topstitch it in place. This is where a longer zipper comes in handy--opening it wide makes this step a little easier. Arrange your bag so it looks like this:

I like to finger press the folds of fabric near the zipper and pin them in place so they don't shift when I topstitch. As we need to keep those teeny flappy bits at the ends free, topstitch the same way you inserted your zipper--indent the stitch line a quarter inch.

OK. Now we need to arrange our bag so that the exterior and the lining are separate layers. Reach in through the gap and turn the bag inside out with the two layers kind of 'stacked.' It may take a little fiddling and turning the first time. Also--open up your zipper about halfway (at least).

We're going to start with the lining. With the zipper in the middle, line up the bottom piece with the top piece where the zipper is and pin together. The exterior will want to come along--just push it out of the way and tell it to wait its turn. If you did your math right (for those adventurous souls who made your own pattern) these pieces should line up perfectly.

Stitch those layers together and smoosh the exterior out of the way of your presser foot. Go right on over that zipper.

Repeat for the other side of your lining. Now you're going to repeat this with the exterior, pinning the sides together and sewing over the zipper. I didn't for this one, but if you're going to insert little tabs near the zipper (ribbon would look cute for this size) lay them between the exterior layers in the center. This is detailed better in the original tutorial.

By now you should have two flat pieces stacked up and stitched on the edges.

Now we are going to box the corners. We have to do this step for the lining and the exterior so you'll be a pro by the time we're done. Put your index fingers in the gap, one at each corner, and pull them apart so the edges are together and you have a straight line instead of the 'L' shape you see above. If you have it arranged correctly, one side will have the seam in the center (see below). Pin, and stitch across. For the lining do this for three corners, but do all four for the exterior.

When you've got seven corners boxed, work the bag through the final corner of the lining that you left open. Go gently. This is why we opened the zipper, or else we'd have an impossible task ahead of us. Once through the gap, with everything turned right side out, find the lining gap. Tuck the raw edges in and sew them shut, either by hand or machine. Tuck the lining inside, poking the corners out gently, and give it a press. Tie a bit of ribbon to the zipper pull for a little something extra. Done.

The cute polka dot lining has been in my stash forEVer. I've never had a need for it until now. It matches perfectly. I loved how this one came out so much that I immediately made another, but smaller by one inch in each direction.

I'm just noticing how, on the blue bag, the right side looks misshapen. That's only because the batting is so soft that when I picked it up I squished it slightly out of shape and am just noticing now. Isn't the pink one just the cutest?

I used fleece on the little one, and you can see how it holds the shape much better. I also put in the little tabs near the zipper for this one. It's going to be perfect to hold my crochet hooks and stuff, as my current case could use a break.

I used the same exact technique for both, and was amazed at how quickly they came together when I didn't have to pause for pictures. In the future I'll be using fleece as opposed to batting as I like the little bit more stiffness it gives. One word of advice: I wouldn't recommend making the sides smaller than two inches. I felt like an OB-GYN really earning their paycheck when I turned that one inside out. No joke.

So there you go. Another option for your bag arsenal. Link some up in the Flickr pool. I love seeing other folks' fabric choices. Thank you, Penny Cottons, for the delightful fabric to work with.

Linking up here:


  1. Those fabrics are beautiful. I love the tutorial and being as I don't have much time I think I may just copy your pattern measurements so I can just get on with sewing it. Thanks for all the time and effort you've put into making this tutorial for us.

  2. I like this tut! And it doesn't mean quilting!! ;-) **traumatised, still**
    Have a great week,

  3. such pretty fabric and I Love what you made. Gorgeous and so talented!!!

  4. They turned out lovely. I have to admit I actually deleted the e-mail from them as I couldn't quite understand what they were after!

  5. Those fabrics are really cute! I love that you had the perfect dotted lining just waiting in your stash. =) And thank you for the tutorial. =)

  6. Both pouches are lovely! The fabrics are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this tutorial!
    Hope you have a wonderful day and week!
    Hugs from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful project on The Inspiration Board at homework. You were featured in the spotlight!
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    carolyn ~ homework

  8. Great project and tutorial! I love that there are no raw edges inside and you explained how to accomplish that, even with the quilting. When you said you used fleece for the pink one...was it fusible fleece? I always use it for bags and am never disappointed.



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