Friday, July 6, 2012

Contrast Zip Pockets for Bags Tutorial

I really like having a zippered pocket in my bags to keep "valuable" items like my wallet, keys, and phone easily accessible.  I thought it would be fun to add the pocket as a design element as well as a practical one.  This method can be used to add the pocket to the inside or outside of the tote (I'll write a tutorial for my patchwork totes next.) 

I'll include my measurements but this tutorial is easily adaptable to your preferred size.


You'll need 4 pieces of 10x10" fabrics.  You can use 4 of the same, 4 different, 2 of each, or any other combination of fabrics.  From these fabrics, decide which piece you want for the front of the pocket (A), the lining of the fabric (B) and (C), and the back of the pocket (D) which will be visible as a second lining.

1 zipper*  

Let's get started:

Take fabrics A and B and cut a 2 x 10" strip off the top of each and place aside for later. 

Place fabric A right side up on your table.  Take your zipper and place it right side down on top of the fabric.  Place fabric B right side down on top of the zipper.  

Using your zipper foot, stitch along the top of the zipper.  I like to place my zipper a little beneath the top edge of the fabrics (as shown above) - this way I know I'm catching both pieces of fabric in my stitches when using the zipper teeth as a guide for where to sew.

Flip both fabrics so that the right sides are facing out, pull the fabrics taut, and top stitch (when I'm making a pocket for the outside of a bag, I like to use a contrasting thread here.) 

 Place the small piece of Fabric A right side up, the zipper (already attached to the fabrics) right side down, and the small piece of Fabric B right side down on top of that.  

Repeat the last two steps above.

Take fabric C and place it right side down, then place fabric D right side up, then take the fabric with the zip already attached and place it right side down (so fabric A is facing down.)

Starting in the upper right corner (as shown below), stitch around three sides using 1/4" seam (or as I did for this bag, using a 1/2 seam and then trimming to 1/4").

At this point, you need to open the zipper halfway - I'll repeat that because it is very important - open the zipper halfway!  Then finish stitching all the way to where you started.   Clip the four corners but don't clip your stitches.

Using the zipper opening, turn the bag right side out.  Stitch across the top of the bag about 3/8"- 1/2" down from the top.  This will depend on your seam from the previous step.  The reason for this line of stitching is to enclose the raw edges on the inside of the bag so try to feel where the raw edges end and stitch right below there.

Decide whether you want your pocket on the inside or outside of the bag.  For this tutorial, I attached the pocket to the lining.  Place the pocket where you want it and starting and ending just under the zipper, stitch around the three sides as shown.

You can either make a needle down turn at the corners (as in the blue stripe pocket) or reinforce by going past the pocket (onto the lining, cut your thread, and then turn your fabric and start the next line of stitches from the lining (as shown on the green pocket.) 

Stitch down a bit on the diagonal on either side on top of the zippers using either method shown above. And that's it.  You have a contrasting zip pocket for your bag with an extra pocket behind it - so, basically, a double pocket.  

If you don't want the double pocket, just attach all four sides to the bag.  And to save a piece of fabric, just eliminate fabric D but you can keep everything else the same.

*Okay, let's talk zippers.  I have figured out a few tricks by trial and error - though, installing zippers is still definitely a work-in-progress for me.  So, um, you know, use my techniques at your own (and your stash's) risk!  Oh, and keep your needle away from those metal parts.  But I would LOVE to know your zipper tips - let me know in the comments!  


  1. Great tutorial! I love the idea of using a bright zipper as part of the design. a zipper tip? Hmmm...basting tape can be helpful to keep the zipper in place while you sew and don't try to sew right next to the pull...needle down, lift the presses foot and move the pull out of the way then continue sewing.

  2. Love the idea of a double pocket. Thanks for the tutorial.

  3. Thanks for a basic "how to" - now I just need zippers ... I don't really have zipper tips - I still always run to the phone calling gran or mom when they get tricky

  4. Great tutorial! I don't have zipper tips, it is still my weakpoint, I always have problems with the fixing before sewing.

  5. Great tutorial! pockets are always handy for everything!
    My only tip would be to invest in an actual zipper foot! They are great and make the top stitching so much neater too =D

  6. Thanks for the tutorial, Beth, it's a really great one! I especially like that grey and yellow fabric with the pink zipper! I have a pretty good zipper stash, because when I first started sewing I thought I was going to sew clothes for myself - LOL, it's so hard. I tried some things that didn't work out and ended up with a lot of unused zippers. Eventually I really should sew them into bags!

  7. Wonderful Beth! I have never sewn a zipper :) I really want to make a bag with a zipper one of these days. Pinned it to my Pinterest :)

  8. Great tutorial Beth! I don't really have any tips because I don't do much with zippers...I should though because I really like them. :O)

    Vicki @ Quilting Lodge

  9. I love the colors of your zippers! So bright and cheerful!

  10. Good tutorial! My tip would be to let the head of the zipper (zipped up position) hang over the edge of the project while sewing the tape on each side. When done unzip it until it is inside the pocket and stitch over the edge of the pocket or sew seam. Reinforce the stitching over the zipper and trim excess off. Clear as mud, right?

  11. Cute how to! I love the colors you chose - especially with the stripe! It makes it look like you have a contrasting "stripe" in the middle of the fabric! super cute. My only zipper tip (recently learned) is to make sure your zipper is 2-4 inches longer than necessary. You can trim a zipper down, but you can't make it bigger, and if you (for example) alter the seam width from say 1/2 to 1/4 inch, you may run out of zipper! (...learned from experience). All zippers seem to be pretty cheap so it hasnt been a big deal to "overbuy" in terms of length.


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