How to Add a Zipper Pocket to Any Purse Pattern

How to Add a Zipper Pocket to Any Purse Pattern


Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

So you have a basic purse pattern or have a pattern that includes a basic slip pocket and you would like a zipper pocket.  Not a problem – this sort of thing can usually be added to any bag.  You can add them on the outside like in the Nautical Expanding Tote Bag, or on the inside of the bag in the lining like this example from the Carry All Bag.  Or both if you want lots of pockets and storage.  The exposed zipper can really add a nice pop of color and an interesting design feature to any bag.

Zipper examples

Here are a few of my tips and tricks to help you insert your first zipper pocket, as part of the My First Bag series of patterns and tutorials.

Watch the video

Here is an extract from the Nautical Tote Bag video which shows step-by-step how to do this.  You could start here first.

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Step by step photos – how to add a zipper pocket

Prefer to see it in words and pictures?  No problem, I’ve got that too.  These are a combination of photos from the Nautical Tote Bag and the Carry All Bag to show you some of the variations you might use to get the job done or get a different look.

Start by imagining how the finished pocket is going to look.  Where on the bag will the zipper come? How deep will the pocket be inside?  What colors or fabrics do you want to use?

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

TIP – The fabric used to directly back the pocket will inevitably just peak through to the front side around the opening.  You have two choices – go with it and use a nice bright contrast to outline your zip, or use a matching fabric to blend in and disappear. The back of the pocket can be a separate piece for a pop of color, or the same – again, it’s up to you.

Consider which fabrics to use where.  You have two choices.  You can either use a single piece for your pocket lining and fold it in half, or you can use two different pieces if you prefer to use contrasting fabrics.

TIP – your pocket lining should ideally be at least 2 inches wider than your zipper.  3 inches wider is even better.  Give yourself plenty of room to work.

The rectangle

Place the piece of fabric for your pocket lining face down, right sides together over your outer piece.  Decide where the pocket opening will go.  From the top of your pocket lining draw a line across which is 1.5 inches down from the top.  Draw another line underneath which is 2 inches down from the top, making 1/2 inch between them.

Find the center and draw two small vertical lines to mark the length of your zipper from the end of the teeth to the outside of the zipper stop at the other end.  You have a long rectangular box in which the teeth of your zipper will fit inside.

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

Position the lining fabric correctly on the outer fabric and pin it in place to stop it from shifting.  Shorten the stitch length a little on your machine (I take mine from a 2.5 down to a 2) and then stitch exactly around the rectangle you just drew.

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

If you haven’t already done so, draw another line through the center of the rectangle right across.  This is your cutting line.  At each end, draw a triangle from the corners to that center line.  Carefully cut along the center line until your reach the triangle, and then snip into the corners, close to, but not through, your line of stitching.

Turn the lining fabric through the hole you just cut and out to the back.  Press the opening neatly.  Concentrate on getting the front neat.  The inside may be a little puckered at the corners, but don’t worry, no one will ever see that part.

TIP – pinning the zip can create ripples and puckers.  Use double-sided adhesive tape to keep the zipper flat while sewing.

Tape and zippers

Time now to place our zipper.  You can use pins at this point, but I find it hard to get everything to lie flat that way, so I like to temporarily ‘glue’  the zipper in place before I sew.  I use a product called Wonder Tape, which is a double-sided temporary adhesive specially designed for sewing.  Add some strips of the Wonder Tape to the reverse of the pocket opening and then pop your zipper over the top and press it in place.  Check placement from the front and you can easily reposition it if you need to.

Sew the zip

Sewing with the front uppermost, stitch around the opening to secure the zipper in place.

If using a single-piece pocket lining, fold up the pocket lining and pin along the 3 open sides.  This is where having plenty of space to work will be important.   Stitch the 3 sides of the pocket lining, making sure to only sew the lining, not through the outer fabric as well.

pop

If using a two-piece lining to showcase a different fabric inside the pocket, pin and stitch this on all 4 sides.

And you are done.  Congratulations, you did it! That’s another bag-making skill you’ve got under your belt.  Check out some of the options again.

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

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Turning Japanese Bag – some variations

Turning Japanese Bag – some variations


Japanese Bag

Have you tried the Turning Japanese Bag pattern yet? You should give it a try – it’s really easy! Part of the ‘My First Bag series’ it’s a single pattern piece, no fancy zippers or closures, the handles are ready-made and it’s perfect to showcase a really nice fabric or a large-scale print.

However, just because it’s simple, there’s no need to stop there. A simple pattern is often an ideal base to start from if you want to add a few additions of your own.

Japanese Bag

In this example:

  • I add a hard bottom and some shiny bag feet
  • It has a couple of small d-rings on the side where you can add a removable shoulder chain
  • I split the pattern to use two different fabrics instead of just one. You can split it in any direction, sew a curved seam, diagonal, or even patchwork.
  • I add a simple slip pocket
  • I also (very badly) add on the bias trim handles instead of the ready-made grommet handles.

Here is the original bag.

Japanese Bag

You can watch me make a few simple changes to the pattern and hardware to create something a little different.

Links you’ll need:

Please review this tutorial

Here’s some more information on Making the Perfect Slip Pocket for Your Bag

Japanese Bag

Making changes and additions to the Turning Japanese Bag pattern

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So, to summarize, make a better job than me with the bias tape handles or treat yourself and create a much better bag with the metal ones!  (I’ll be getting myself another set of those handles and replacing my terrible sewn ones!  Ashamed…)  Otherwise, the additions of the bag feet and the strap are really nice, and I’ll use this version of the bag a lot. I like having a light shoulder strap so I can keep my hands free while shopping and then just slip the chain back inside when I’m not using it.  More versatile than a heavier-weight long strap I think.

Japanese Bag

Having the option to change up the look with the different fabrics is an easy way to change the pattern and I think I might make another with a diagonal fabric change, perhaps in a really bold combination, or even with faux leather!  If you know me, don’t look – you’ll probably be getting one of these bags for Christmas!


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Vintage Sewing Pattern Printable Fabric Purse Project

Vintage Sewing Pattern Printable Fabric Purse Project


I HAVE to make me one of these. Print your own fabric with a sewing pattern envelope and make your own sewing pattern zipper pouch. NEED IT!

I may be here on the site today with a new project, and sending you the weekly newsletter, but actually, I’m not here.  I’m on my way back today from Sewing Holiday in Sioux City, where I’ve been rubbing shoulders this week with some great sewing instructors.  Hopefully, I’ll pick up some great tips I can share with you, meet some great people and be able to share some photos of the event.

Untitled-1

I’m actually really nervous.  I had been reading comments prior from some of the attendees and they all had SO much sewing knowledge and experience – I was worried I was going to embarrass myself in their company.  I’m a slapdash sewer for sure, never do things the ‘right’ way and just get the job done.

What should I take with me?  What supplies, tools, and equipment would I need?  According to the class schedules, almost everything was supplied so I shouldn’t need to take much with me.  But what should I wear?  Oh no – should I wear clothes I had made myself?  Would the ladies be nice (like you all are), or would they be critical of what I had made?  Arghhh.

Never mind all that.  I just needed a small zipper pouch to carry a few basics and of course, it had to be sewing-related.  I went back to the earlier idea of creating my own fabric, and the vintage envelope zipper purse from the printed fabric.  Could I create something like this, but sewing related?  What is that sort of size and shape – a sewing pattern of course.  Light bulb moment!

I HAVE to make me one of these. Print your own fabric with a sewing pattern envelope and make your own sewing pattern zipper pouch. NEED IT!

The Print-Your-Own Fabric Sewing Pattern Envelopes

I wanted to make two pouches, one with the traditional portrait envelope and one, if I could find the right images, that was landscape.  It’s only when you look, that you realise just how few images there are longways.  Most pattern envelopes have the image upright.  I picked out some images and I was going to try to do a tutorial for you on how to adapt them to the right size, add a border and prepare them for printing, etc – but well, it’s not that easy and not everyone has the right software – so I just thought I would share the ones I made.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I did this in Photoshop and made all 4 the same size then added a border in a light matching color so the edges weren’t just plain white.

Just as a guideline if you fancy trying this yourself, I made the image 8 by 6 inches and this worked well without distorting the images.  You can find some great vintage sewing pattern envelope images on Google HERE.  Pick the ones that suit your style.

To make your sewing pattern pouch

Materials:

Download the Sewing Pattern Envelope printable files for fabric

This is a ‘pay what you can afford’ download.  Choose your price – anywhere from $0.00 upwards.  Free downloads are fine – I won’t come hunt you down or think badly of you!

Print, sew and enjoy using these vintage sewing pattern envelope files for your print-at-home fabric projects.

Preparation

Read through the earlier articles about printing on fabric here:

  1. How to print on fabric at home – 4 different ways
  2. Printing on fabric – washing and fading
  3. Print your own ‘handmade’ labels
  4. Vintage envelope zipper pouch – print your own fabric
Wow, I love this idea. How to print your own fabric in any design you like and great a roject with it. These vintage envelope bags look great!

To make your pouch

Cut your fabric piece with a 1/2 inch seam allowance around the outside of the pattern image.  Double-check they are the same size.  If you are using my templates, then they should match OK.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apply lightweight fusible interfacing to the back of the printed fabric.

Create an inside pocket if you like, add your own ‘designer’ label and add it to one piece of your lining fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then sew your zipper pouch in the usual way.  If you’ve not already made a ton of these sort of things before, then there is a step by step on how to sew under the earlier tutorial about how to use your own printed fabric to create the vintage envelope bag.  Check out the sewing tutorial here.

I HAVE to make me one of these. Print your own fabric with a sewing pattern envelope and make your own sewing pattern zipper pouch. NEED IT!

And that’s it, your sewing pattern pouch is ready to fill with your sewing supplies, or whatever else you want to use it for.  I was jumping about with excitement about these, showing my husband and just squealing with the cuteness of it all.  He seemed under-impressed until I told him that I had printed the fabric too, then he was a little more impressed but not much – honestly, only you ladies can appreciate how darned fabulous these bags are.

I HAVE to make me one of these. Print your own fabric with a sewing pattern envelope and make your own sewing pattern zipper pouch. NEED IT!

Now I know I can go on Sewing Holiday and have something awesome to take with me.  I’m still nervous, but not so bad now.  I’m wondering if any of you will be there?  Hope we had a chance to say hello and get our photos taken together if so.

Pin Me
I HAVE to make me one of these. Print your own fabric with a sewing pattern envelope and make your own sewing pattern zipper pouch. NEED IT!

Copyright – please note, the issue of copyright on sewing patterns is extremely complicated.  I don’t believe there is anything to stop you using a sewing pattern envelope image to create your own bag or other items.  However, that’s OK for personal use, but you should not sell the bags unless you are certain that copyright does not apply to that pattern envelope or image you have used.  Therefore feel free to download these images I have created for you, but please use them solely for your own personal use.  Or create your own fabric from images of your choice.

Download the Sewing Pattern Envelope printable files for fabric

This is a ‘pay what you can afford’ download.  Choose your price – anywhere from $0.00 upwards.  Free downloads are fine – I won’t come hunt you down or think badly of you!

Print, sew and enjoy using these vintage sewing pattern envelope files for your print-at-home fabric projects.


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Free Bag Pattern with Video Tutorial- Turning Japanese Bag

Free Bag Pattern with Video Tutorial- Turning Japanese Bag


Free bag pattern. The handles make this bag really easy to make, but it looks fab! I want one!

Never sewn a bag before or just looking for a quick and easy project? The use of metal handles in this bag means there is no need for fiddly zippers or closures, but the bag still looks super cute and just like something you could have bought in a nice store.

Feedback to the site, comments on Facebook, and emails I’ve received show that you all love to sew bags!  You asked for more quick and simple projects, more bags, more for new and beginner sewists and more projects that can be made with small pieces of fabric, or short periods of time.  I think this bag fulfills all of those.

My First Bag Series – In fact, I’ve decided that over the next 12 months I’ll try to bring out several new bags that could all be sewn by beginners and would be perfect if you’ve never sewn a bag before.  They’ll all be simple to sew, have simple patterns and each will come with instructions even a beginner can follow – it’s the ‘My First Bag Series’.

Free bag pattern. The handles make this bag really easy to make, but it looks fab! I want one!

Sew the Turning Japanese Free Bag Pattern

  • Finished bag approx 11 inches tall by 10.5 inches wide

Firstly, download and print the pattern and read through the written instructions.  You will need the following materials

  • Outer fabric – 14 x 30 inches
  • Lining fabric – same
  • Metal handles
  • Matching thread
  • Interfacing/fusible fleece

Download the Turning Japanese Bag Pattern

You can download the pattern and instructions for the Turning Japanese Bag from my design account at Payhip.  It’s a PDF file containing both instructions and pattern all in the same file.  Enjoy!  Trouble downloading the pattern? Check out this article – How to Download and Print PDF Sewing Patterns.

Fabric Suggestions from Amazon.com

I’m struggling to find the exact fabric I used for this bag.  It just doesn’t seem to be being made anymore.  However, here are a couple of other really good alternatives that will still give you a similar style.

Free Video Tutorial

You can also watch this tutorial video.  See how easy it is!

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You can do it !  You can sew a bag to be proud of and that others won’t believe you made yourself.  Give it a try.  I’m always here to answer your questions if you read through the instructions and watch the video and are still stuck.

Free bag pattern. The handles make this bag really easy to make, but it looks fab! I want one!

And watch out in the future for simple variations you can add to this bag too.  Once you have the pattern and know how to sew it, making your own changes to the pattern isn’t too difficult.  I’ll show in a future tutorial how to add some piping and make it in two different fabrics. Even how to add a shoulder chain and some bag feet too so you can really Wow your friends!

Download the Turning Japanese Bag Pattern

You can download the pattern and instructions for the Turning Japanese Bag from my design account at Payhip.  It’s a PDF file containing both instructions and pattern all in the same file.  Enjoy!  Trouble downloading the pattern? Check out this article – How to Download and Print PDF Sewing Patterns.

  * * * * * *

Why the Turning Japanese Bag?  When I saw this lovely fabric (and the lining fabric) it reminded me of a popular song from the 80’s – Turning Japanese…


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