This super easy, beginner-friendly zipper pouch tutorial is nothing revolutionary or completely new in the DIY world, but I do have a tiny secret weapon that I think will bring you some added accuracy and squelch any possible frustration you may have experienced in the past when sewing a zipper pouch.
What is this extra special, fancy tool you wonder? Well it's not special or fancy at all. In fact, you probably already own it, which means once I mention how to use it, you'll be able to right away! How fun! So, without further adieu, let's jump in to the zipper pouch tutorial. (And if you're new to zippers and quite scared of that oddly shaped zipper foot your sewing machine came with, let me tell you that my 10-year-old niece zips through making these zipper pouches with ample success. You're going to do great.)
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Zipper Pouch Tutorial Supplies
- Fabric scraps large enough for the pouch size you would like to make. You will need 2 pieces of outer fabric and 2 pieces of lining fabric – all the same size. To determine the length of your pouch, measure the length of your zipper from tail to tail. For example, my zipper is 8" from pull to stopper, but 9 1/2" from tail to tail. That means I'll cut my fabric 9 1/2" long.
Outer fabric: I’m using a really pretty watercolor linen in monarch gray I got from Purl Soho. Any kind of fabric works here, but if you’re going to be rough and tough with this pouch, you may want to play around with a sturdier fabric like linen, canvas or home dec.
Lining Fabric: For the lining, I opted for a silky soft Liberty of London Tana Lawn. It’s an old print I’ve been snipping scraps from for years so unfortunately I can’t remember the name. However, if you aren’t familiar with DuckaDilly, this shop has a fantastic selection of Liberty fabrics. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding something you love there.
So, for the opposite reason I picked a sturdy fabric for the outside of this zipper pouch, I picked a softer, more delicate fabric for the inside because it will be protected for most of its life and I like to touch soft things when reaching into a bag.
- Zipper: the length of the zipper = length of the pounch. Like I said before, my zipper is technically 8". I purchased it from a wonderful Etsy shop called Zipit Zippers. They have a wide variety of lengths and colors.
- Pins: I really like these quilting pins by Clover
- Water-based glue: This fine-tipped glue is what I'm using, but it's nothing special. The actual glue itself is the same stuff from any craft store. In the USA Elmers is a common brand. Liquid or stick form both work great.
- Iron and ironing board or pressing mat: I'm using a wool pressing mat in this zipper pouch tutorial
- Fabric scissors
Step 1: Measure Your Zipper
I know this is the third time I'm saying this, but here we go again, the length of your zipper will determine the length of the fabric you cut for your zipper pouch. The width of the pouch, however, can be as wide as you want. I like to think about what the pouch will be holding, and customize it to that.
In this case, I am making a small zipper pouch to hold my hand quilting supplies. It doesn’t take much to hand quilt, so this pouch will be pretty small. (To read more about hand quilting, check out – How to Hand Quilt (with Video Tutorial).
Step 2: Cut Your Fabric
Cut 2 outer pieces and 2 lining pieces the same size. Since the entire length of my zipper, including its tails is 9 1/2", that is how long I will cut my fabric pieces. So all 4 of my final cut pieces will be 9 1/2" x 7".
Step 3: Sandwich Your Fabric
Layer the zipper pouch by laying a lining piece of fabric right side facing up. With the zipper also facing up, line up the edge of the zipper with the raw edge of the fabric.
Lay the outer piece of fabric right side facing down on top of that. My outer fabric is reversible, so sides don’t matter for me, however they would if you’re working with a printed fabric.
Step 4: Glue – the Secret Weapon!
Are you ready for our exciting secret weapon that's actually not that secret because I talk about glue all the time on this blog? The next thing we do is get out a very basic water-based glue and glue baste the edges together.
I love glue basting when it comes to small areas that I want to sew precisely. In my opinion it’s so much easier than trying to sew over pins or remove clips as you go. You can use any form of water-based glue (the cheap glue you get in a bottle or a stick for your kid’s craft projects is water-based. That’s perfect!)
The trick with glue basting is to heat set it with your iron after. I dabbed some liquid glue along the edge of my lining fabric and the edge of the zipper (so all three layers would be basted together.) I moved the zipper up and down as I went so I could get the edges nice and flush with each other. Once the glue is heat set, it’s ready for sewing!
Step 5: Attach Your Zipper Foot
My zipper virgins, this is the part you've been dreading. But don't fear! I'm here, holding your hand. And remember my 10-year-old niece who makes lots of zipper pouches? She's holding your other hand. You can do this!
Sift through your sewing junk drawer and find that funky little foot. Clip it onto your machine! This zipper foot is important because it allows you to sew closely to the teeth of the zipper.
One thing you’ll notice immediately once you attach it is that if you leave the needle centered where it is, it will smash right into the zipper foot. So, the next thing you need to do is…
Step 6: Adjust Your Needle Position
Adjust your needle position so that it is to the left of your foot. On my machine that’s an obvious button on the right side next to stitch length and width. If you can’t find where to adjust this, look at the Table of Contents in your machine’s manual for something like “needle position.”
Step 7: Sew the Edges of the Zipper Pouch Together
Before you sew, unzip the zipper a couple inches. The reason we unzip the zipper is because you don’t want to sew around the zipper pull. It’s hard and I don’t want to put you through that.
Start at the top edge, backstitch (sew forwards a couple stitches then backwards a couple stitches), then sew until you’re about a 1/2" away from the zipper pull.
Stop. Keep your needle down.
Move the zipper pull back to the top then continue sewing all the way to the other edge, backstitching again at the end.
Now flip the top fabric over and admire your beautiful work! Just a little more to do before we’re finished. Look at you go!
Step 8: Repeat!
Repeat the previous steps to sew the fabric to the other side of the zipper. First, lay the second piece of lining fabric right side facing up. Place the zipper unit on top also facing up, lining up the edges.
Then place the last piece of outer fabric on top with the right side facing down. Glue baste those edges together just like we did in Step 4. See how well the fabric sticks together once you heat set it?
Move the zipper up and down as much as you need while glue basting and sewing so that it’s out of your way. I started glue basting the left side, so I moved the zipper to the right. Once that side was heat set, I moved the zipper to the left and glue basted the right side.
Step 9: Press the Seam Around the Zipper
Press the fabric around the zipper. I like to use the tip of the iron to gentle press the fabric away from the zipper. I do this to both the outer fabric and the lining fabric. Pressing will make this zipper pouch look really crisp and professional.
Step 10: Topstitch
Topstitch along both sides of the zipper. This stitch will be visible, so pick a thread color that coordinates with your fabric. My outer fabric is a dusty light pink, so I’m changing the cream thread I was using for my top thread to a light pink. I’ll keep the cream thread in my bobbin because it looks nice with my lining fabric. I will also keep my zipper foot on for this.
Backstitch at the beginning and end and sew about 1/8" away from the zipper. It’s OK if this gets a little wide or isn’t exact. The point of this stitch is to keep the fabric in place and away from the zipper teeth.
Step 11: Unzip and Pin
Unzip your zipper so that it’s at least half way open. This is so you can flip your zipper pouch right sides out once all of your sides are sewn.
Place the corners of the outer fabric and the corners of the lining fabric together. Pin the zipper in place with the teeth of the zipper facing the lining. This will feel bulky, and you'll wonder if you're doing it right. You are.
Pin around the edges, leaving a 3-4" space in the center of your lining fabric. This hole needs to be big enough to fit your hand.
Step 12: Sew Around the Perimeter of the Zipper Pouch
Sew 1/2" around the perimeter of the zipper pouch, starting with the first pin marking the hole on the lining side and ending at the second hole-marking pin in the lining. Backstitch at the beginning and end. With your needle down, pivot at each corner.
I switched to my presser foot to do this, but you can keep your zipper foot on if you’re feeling comfortable. Sewing over the zipper will feel like your presser foot is climbing a tiny mountain. Just sew slowly and if you need to, help it through by gently pulling the fabric on the other side of the machine. Only do that if your feed dogs are having trouble on their own.
Step 13: Snip the Tips
With your fabric scissors, snip the corner tips 1/4" away from the seam. This will alleviate bulk when you're pressing out the corners of the zipper pouch.
You can also snip the edges of the zipper to alleviate some bulk there too.
Step 14: Flip
Put your hand through the hole in the lining and pull the entire pouch through. Now all of the right sides of the fabric are facing out. The lining will be on one side of the zipper and the outer fabric will be on the other side.
Step 15: Close the Lining Hole
Pin the lining hole closed and sew it shut. Sew closely to the edge and backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. You can do this by hand, but it's a lot quicker to zip it through your machine.
Step 16: Poke Out the Corners
Poke out the corners and push the lining into the pouch. I used this pretty pointer tool from Modern American Vintage, but you can use anything from the back of a pencil to the end of a toothbrush. Even just your fingers will do the job well enough!
Give the zipper pouch a final press once you're finished poking out the corners and making sure your zipper looks nice. Voila! You are finished, you beautiful genius, you! Now go forth and make more pouches to impress all of your family, neighbors, friends and even frenemies. Oh, especially your frenemies 😉
Did you enjoy this zipper pouch tutorial? Let us know in the comments! And if you have tips to add, please share!