Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tricks and Tips with Zips

As promised: some tips and tricks for getting nice pointy (or at least pointier) corners on your zipper pouches.

There is really only one major goal here and there are lots of little things you can do to reach that goal. The goal is: reduce bulk. Seriously, that's it. Logical, right? If there wasn't so much stuff in those corners, they would pop out as nicely as the ones at the bottom of the pouch, right? Right.

***Note: There are about 43 gazillion tutorials for zipper pouches out there. Really. Google it. It's crazy! I'm not really attempting a full-blown pouch tutorial and am assuming that you've made (or tried to make) a few already. I didn't take pictures of every little step along the way but concentrated mostly on getting those elusive pointy corners.***

Okay! Let's gather our materials:
Oh, one last thing: it's probably helpful to read through the entire post before cutting anything because some of the tips and tricks involve the size you make your various panels/pieces. You can make your pouch any size but I would definitely recommend starting out lager rather than smaller because teeny tiny pouches can be a total pain in the ahem.

*fabric for main/outside panels
*fabric for lining
* small fabric pieces for zipper end tabs
* a zipper
* fusible interfacing or fusible fleece, if desired

You will also need your sewing machine with regular and zipper foot and thread.

A few things about cutting and preparing your materials: Remember that your goal is to reduce bulk, especially at the zipper ends. This is why I make little fabric tags at the ends of my zipper. First, you trim the little tails off the ends of the zipper so you're left with just the zippy part of the zipper. Cut right to the little metal stoppers at each end. Then it's like making a thin binding tape and sewing it onto the ends, overlapping so that each end of the zipper is tucked nicely into the tabs.

I also cut my lining fabric a little bit shorter than my outside panels. Like this:

The lining and outside/main panels need to be wider than your zipper (about half an inch) like this:

Make a sandwich of your lining, zipper and main fabric and stitch together using your zipper foot. Flip so that everything is wrong side to wrong side, iron and topstitch. Please reference one of the 43 gazillion other tutorials mentioned above if you need to see how this is all done in more detail. Do it again on the other side and you'll have something like this:

Oh! I completely forgot to talk about interfacing/fusible fleece! Good thing I have these pictures to remind me.

Okay, what's our main goal? Yes! Reduce bulk! So, if you've decided to just use a nice lightweight interfacing than you can iron that on your main fabric panels before you start sewing everything together. (See, this is why I said to read everything through ~ I'm not doing a very good job of keeping things linear.)

If, however, you have decided to use fusible fleece (which I did here) you will want to be sure to cut it smaller than the fabric panel. You can even iron it on after sewing in the zipper so that you can be sure to avoid the zipper area altogether. For the example, the fleece is flush with the sides and bottom of the main fabric panels but it stops short right at the stitching line for the zipper. You could even reduce bulk all around by cutting off the seam allowances on the sides and bottom!

So this is how things should be looking when the zipper is finished:

Next line up the main panels right sides together and sew all the way around from zipper stitching to zipper stitching. It is very important that you do not sew beyond the zipper stitch line! I use a half inch seam allowance for this part.

Make sure your zipper is at least halfway open or you will say some very bad things later. Then line up your lining panels right sides together. Again, sew from zipper stitching to zipper stitching leaving an opening at the bottom for turning. For the lining, I use a 5/8" seam allowance. When you cut your lining a little bit shorter and use a slightly larger seam allowance your lining won't be quite so bunchy when it's finished and all tucked into the pouch.

Now, even with everything we've done to reduce bulk, things are still kind of tight at those zipper ends. Don't be too worried if your stitches don't quite make it to the line of zipper stitching. You can see in the photo that mine are a few stitches short.

You know what else you can see in the photo? A lot of seam allowance trimming! I trim waaay into those areas near the zipper and use pinking shears along the other seams. Trim all four corners as well.

For the lining I trim the corners but leave the full seam allowance at the bottom because it makes turning it under to close up easier.

Okay, the moment of truth! Turn everything right side out through the opening. Leaving the lining out of the pouch (as below) get your favorite pointy tool (mine is an old knitting needle) and gently poke out those corners.

You should end up with something like this!

Sew up the opening in the lining either by hand or machine and tuck it inside the pouch and you are done!

Admire your handiwork!

I made a pencil pouch and even included a little surprise on the inside.

Check out those corners!

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if anything wasn't clear, just let me know.

I know it's hard to weed through all 43 gazillion of those zipper pouch tutorials so here are a couple of my favorites:

Have fun!


  1. Thank you very much for the tutorial :D
    And a great pencil case you made!
    Best regards

  2. Awesome! I'll definitely be trying it out, and I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks!!

  3. That's how you get pointy corners! Looking at your pouch's pointy corners is so satisfying because it is sooo nicely pointy! I never knew how I could get the result but I do now :D Thank you Megan for this fabuous tips!! Oh I have to say that my favorite part of the pouch is the "pencil" fabric appliqued! How fun!!

  4. I think you have solved all my problems (well at least the sewing ones!!!. I never managed to get that zipper nice and neatly into the pouches and among all those 43 gazillion tutorials there was never an explanation to be found how to do it precisely. Now thanks to you - I will be able to overcome my fears.(I didn't really dare to start a new pouch because of the trouble I could see in advance). Actually I am now really looking forward to starting anew. Thank you so much! Greetings from Germany

  5. Thanks for this!!! I have been sewing all the way around and over the zipper tape when the outside and lining fabrics are RST. Just one question, you recommend cutting all of the excess zipper tape off the ends, right up to the metal ends....if you do this, what do you sew the little fabric tab to? Don't you have to leave at least a 1/4" of tape beyond the metal tab?


  6. I enjoy learning new ways of sewing zippers....thanks again...Mel's Designs 'n Harmony

  7. great tutorial and photos! Just one question- in photo# 7 where is the zipper tab? Is it free and clear from the seam stitch line?

    Also, poppyprint has a good question. If the metal part is extended out into the seam, I would need to be very careful to stay between the metal part and also staying clear of the fabric tabs. Is this correct?


  8. Using this zipper tab method, do you have gaps of space when you sew the corners?


I love reading your comments and answering any questions. Thanks so much for stopping by and spending some time here!