Friday, 8 July 2011

Zippered pocket tutorial, and bird babies

 Bags are nice, and bags with a zippered pocket inside are even nicer. When I make a bag for myself, I usually like to add a pocket to keep my keys and cards safe while the bag can preferably be open or closed with a single button. Maybe you think zippers are difficult to sew, but I can show that they are not necessarily. (Changing a zipper for boys' jeans is on the top of my least favourite list.)

First you need to measure the zipper you are going to use. I prefer 18 or 20 cm, the length commonly used on skirts and trousers. Measure the teethed part only, and add a tiny bit like 2-3 mm.

Cut the pocket so the width is the same or more than the length of your zipper tape. The pocket can only be as deep as the distance from the zipper to the bag bottom. Draw a line as long as you just measured, about 3 cm from the top of your pocket fabric:

Pin your pocket fabric right sides together on the lining where you want the pocket. Now sew a square around your line using the side of your normal sewing machine foot as a guide. Make right angle corners and double stitch the ends where your drawn line ends.

Here is my square, you may need to click the picture to see  better.

Then comes the exciting part: you must cut along the line. I start by folding the fabric in half across the line and cut a hole along the line somewhere in the middle.

Then open the fold and carefully cut along the line. When you are close to the end, cut towards each corner but be careful not to cut your stitches. Do this at the other end as well.

Then pull the pocket fabric through the opening, and finger press the seams flat. Pin the pocket on the lining at the corners, finger press the ends so there are no wrinkles. If this seems impossible, you may need to cut a bit more, but again be careful with the stitches. You could iron the opening to make things easier at the next stage.

Next take you zipper and pin it under the opening with the pins on the right side. Use your zipper foot if you have one. This can be done with a normal foot or a quilt foot as well. I usually stich the zipper down on both sides, so I started on the right side, with the zipper pulled down a bit so I can make a straight line.  When I have sewn  down to the first pin, I stop with the needle down, lift the foot and pull the zipper closed. Foot down again, and continue sewing close to the edge of the fabric all the way down, make a nice turn and double stitch across the bottom. Then change your zipper foot to the other side and sew across the top a double stitch, and finally down the left side of the zipper. Again, you can open the zipper for the first bit if your needle comes close to the zipper pull.

Here is the zipper on the reverse. Notice that I have sewn the top ends of the zipper tape together, this helps to sew a nice square seam when fastening the zipper.

To make the pocket, sew both pocket tops together above the zipper -the zipper foot  is good for this as well. You need to fold the bag lining away and sew only the pocket fabrics.

Then join the pocket sides, and bottom, if you have a separate pocket back fabric (I had a long piece which I  folded at the bottom). Stitch the pocket front piece (with the zipper) on the pocket back with right sides together.

 The pocket is now ready, and you can finish your bag lining. You can make any bag pattern perfect for you by adding the pockets you need.

Here is my new bag made of the fabrics I bought in June. I have another one coming in white with purple dots.

A week ago the pied flycatcher babies flew out from their nice house. This last one took a long time, coming to the opening and going back in again.

Finally it made the decision, jumped out and ended up on a big branch about a metre from the nest. The mother came immediately and rewarded the baby with a treat. I watched them for about five minutes, but apparently the baby then knew how to fly, and they both vanished. I can still hear them almost every day, but they don't live in the nest any more.

The baby is almost the same colour as the oak, and with his or her back towards the camera. You can click the  pictures to enlarge.


  1. Thanks for the instrustions on the zipper, it is the thing I hate to do the most!! I will now try your way, it looks alot easier than the way I tried before. Have a beautiful week. Hugs, Marie

  2. I need to copy your photos and make a poster collage for my sewing room! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Love the soft polka dots.

  3. Thank you so much for the tutorial. Zippered pockets are excellent for holiday bags- they keep the sand off your camera too.

    Aww little Pied Fly Catcher- you must be so proud of his fledging.

  4. Wow!! You made that look so easy!! thanks for sharing!! This is something I hate doing...must put this into my favourites so that I have it there for 'next time'! Thanks again!

  5. What a wonderful idea. I love this very classy addition of a pocket inside a bag. You made it look so easy.

  6. good tutorial, i'll bookmark it for the future. love your new header, a beautiful water view.

  7. thank you for a clear tutorial with excellent photos. I might even try on my next bag.

  8. Jetzt nach deinem guten Tutorial habe ich keine Entschuldigung mehr für das Auslassen einer Innentasche. Bis jetzt habe ich eine solche immer vermieden. Vielen Dank für die genaue und gut erklärte Anleitung. Wie schön, dass du die kleinen Vögelchen bei ihrem Ausfliegen beobachten konntest und sogar die Kamera zur Hand hattest. Das nennt man Glück!
    Liebe Grüsse
    Dein neuer Header ist wunderschön...typisch (für mich!) finnische Seenlandschaft!

  9. Wonderful tutorial, Ulla! I have always avoided pocket zippers, but now I think I can do it! And your bag is adorable! I think it's wonderful that you were able to see the little flycatcher take his maiden flight!

  10. Nicely done, Ulla. I haven't put in a zipper like this yet and I'm sure your tutorial will help.

    Love the shape and the fabric for the bag!

  11. You make the zippered pocket tutorial look so easy. Maybe I should try it one day. Maybe in my Loft Tote?
    How special, to have seen those birds fly out and that you can still hear them nearby (o:


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