Thursday, April 16, 2015

Improv Piecing Zip Pouch Tutorial

Today I worked on a improv pieced zippered pouch for next week's guild swap. I am a recovering zipper-a-phobe and part of my therapy is to make things with zippers so I don't forget how. :)

A few weeks ago I found this three bears tutorial on box type pouches and loved the shape of them. She gives a great tutorial on an unlined, single fabric pouch.  But I had all these fun scraps to left over from my My Plus One quilt:
And I wanted to do some improv piecing and make the bag bigger so I could use more scraps.

I started with two lining/backing squares 11 x 7.5 inches and a 14 inch zipper.
I probably should've edited this shot a bit. But instead I'll just say, "Look, here's a peek at one our Turkish carpets!"
I cut matching rectangles from flannel to use as a thin batting. Then I just grabbed a scrap and sewed it down on two sides smack in the center of one panel.  From there I added more scraps, placing each one right side down on the panel, slightly overlapping a previously sewn piece. Sew it down, then iron it open (right side up) before moving on to the next scrap.
I worked in a fan pattern this time, but that is not necessary. You can add scraps in all kinds of ways. Just make sure that each new piece covers the raw edges of the previous pieces. Keep adding pieces until you've covered your entire base panel.  It will be a bit of a mess, like this:

But will trim up nicely to this:
Repeat on your other panel.

Now it's time to add the zip. Switch to your zipper foot. Place the zipper face down at the top of your panel, lining up the top edges. Like this:
Notice that there is plenty of zipper hanging over both ends of the panel. 
Sew along the top edge as close to the zipper as you can, using thread that matches the zipper.  Now turn the zipper right side up and top stitch about 1/4 inch from your seam. This will finish it nicely and make the seam lay flatter.

Repeat with the other side, making sure to line up the two panels. You should now have something like this:

Now match the right sides of your panels together and sew across the bottom. 

Unzip your zipper halfway. I'm going to say that again: UNZIP YOUR ZIPPER HALFWAY. If you don't, you will be stuck with an inside out bag with a non-functional zipper. 

Line up your bottom seam (that you just sewed) with the zipper and sew the sides. Like this:
I always sew back and forth across the zippers a couple of times just for added strength. You can cut off the extra zipper tails at this point. (remember your zipper is STILL halfway unzipped.)

Now you are going to box in the corners. 
It's easier than it looks. Hold the bag with the zipper to your right and pull the two seams away from each other to create some space in the bag. Then smush the end seam in to create a corner. 

How deep you make this corner will determine how 'tall' your pouch is.  I use a ruler and marker to ensure that each corner is the same. 
For this one I drew a line 1.75 inches down from the peak of the corner. Pin your corner at the top and sew across each line.  You'll now have something like this:
See those corners sticking out?  Turn your pouch right side out (which you can do, because your were smart enough to leave the zipper halfway down) and check the height.  If you like it, turn it wrong side out again and trim off those corners.  
If you are feeling perfectionistic you could zig zag or serg the raw edges. I didn't. Today was a loose, shoot from the hip kind of day. 

And there you have it!  Mine finished at 7 inches long, 4 inches high and 3 inches wide.  It stands up nicely on its own and has some body to it without being stiff. 

I'll be taking it to our guild meeting next week for a swap and will come home with someone else's zippered, improved creation! 


  1. What a fun and cool pouch! Love it!

    1. Thanks Jayne!. I'm loving your latest quilt and those cute whale bookmarks.

  2. Wonderful pouch. Thanks for describing how you made it.

    1. HI Sheila. Thanks for stopping by. I haven't done many tutorials yet so I'm glad you found it helpful.

  3. I love the fabrics you pieced together. I would like to have a go at some quilts using that process, but have been short on time and confidence. But, experimenting with pouches is a great idea. Your pouch ooks great! Thanks for the link.Visiting from FIUF.

    1. Thanks. I think small projects - minis, pouches, pillow covers, even baby quilts, are a great way to try out something that would scare me to attempt on a larger scale project. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Replies
    1. Isn't improv fun? I love to be able to revisit favorite fabrics from previous projects and just play with them. Thanks for stopping by.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Gosh! With your clear directions, I think even I could make this! It's on my list of things to do now. Thanks.

    1. Thanks June! It really is a pretty simple way to do a pouch and I love that it stands up on its own. I'm glad you found the directions clear. Happy sewing!

  6. Gosh! With your clear directions, I think even I could make this! It's on my list of things to do now. Thanks.

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Getting feedback and hearing from other quilters makes my day!