Sunday 12 February 2017

Zip Pouch with Neat Corners

I have a small zip pouch that I keep in my handbag, containing a few make-up supplies - powder, lip balm, lipstick.  Just to try to keep me vaguely presentable during the day!

For the last four years (nearly) I've been using this one I made.  It has held up really well despite being in constant use.  However, a month or so ago the pull on the zip broke so I decided to make a new pouch.  It was also looking a bit grubby from four years of abuse (I suppose I could have washed it....!) and, well, it's nice to have a change every now and then.

So, without further ado, here is the new pouch!

I decided to record a bit more detail this time - the measurements of the fabric, etc - in case it's useful to anyone, and in case I want to make another one in the future.

These are the pieces I used.  I had the zip in my stash, and the fabric was a gift from my friend Anna for Christmas 2015.  It is so cheerful and bright, I love it!  This project means I can enjoy it every day.

Lining pieces:  17cm x 15cm
Outer top pieces:  17cm x 10.5cm
Outer bottom pieces:  17cm x 6cm
Zip tabs:  1 inch x 2 inches
(Yes, that was a flagrant swapping between metric and imperial units of measurement!)
Zip:  My zip was longer than needed, so I cut it down to size by eye, lining up against the fabric.

I use the side of my sewing machine foot as my seam allowance - which is between 7 and 8 mm.  Depending on what you decide to use as a seam allowance, cut the outer pieces accordingly.  As a guide, measure as below:

Outer top pieces:  17cm x 10cm+seam allowance
Outer bottom pieces:  17cm x 5cm+seam allowance

Sew the outer pieces together, as above.  If you have a directional print, such as my top fabric, remember to ensure it is the right way round when sewing.

It is also a good idea to put your outer fabrics (once sewn together) on top of your lining fabric and if there is any difference in size, give them a little trim.

I'm not going to go into a full tutorial on resizing a zip and using zip tabs, as it has been covered online by far more skillful sewists than me (and I kind of muddled my way through!)  However, here are a few notes...

I tried something I've not done before, with regards to the zip, in an attempt to create neat corners at the top of the pouch.  It is notoriously tricky to sew a zip into a pouch without creating a lot of bulk in the corners, where the ends of the zip and lots of excess fabric seem to gather, leaving dented not-that-neat corners.

Trimming the excess zip ends off and encasing them in zip tabs helps remove bulk.  When I made the previous zip pouch, I did this.  However, I sewed the tabs into the sides of the pouch when sewing it together, which is a common method.  The corners are not the best, though, and I guess I probably should have tried to trim some of the bulk in those places after sewing together, before turning the fabric to the right side (I can't really remember what I did now!)

Old pouch - zip tabs reach to width of the pouch fabric

In fact, looking at this - I think I may not have trimmed the zip within the tabs... that would definitely have made it bulky in the corners!

I have since seen another method, where the zip tabs do not get sewn into the sides at all.  This naturally leaves less bulk, but means that there would actually be small openings in those corners.  That thought bothered me, but I thought it was time to give it a go.  Therefore you will notice that my zip - once trimmed and with tabs on - is the width of the pouch fabric, minus a seam allowance on each side.

New pouch - zip tabs do not reach to width of the pouch fabric

To make a zip tab, fold the 2 inch length in half (making it 1 inch), open it and fold both ends into the middle and fold it back in half again, giving it a good press with an iron.  Do this for both zip tabs and these little 'sandwiches' then get sewn onto the ends of the zip, trimming your zip to size as you go.  (Again, best to consult other tutorials online if you need help with this.)

Sew the outer and lining fabrics to the zip as per usual pouch making, top stitching afterwards.

Sew the pouch together as normal, leaving a 2 inch gap in the bottom of the lining for turning, and ensuring that the zip is half open.  When sewing past the zip on both sides, sew close to the tab but do not sew through it.  I also like to sew back and forth a couple of times when going past the zip, to reinforce that section.

Before turning the pouch the right way round, I trimmed down the seam allowance fabric next to the zip a bit, to help reduce bulk there.  I also trimmed down the seam allowance in the corners to help create nice pointed corners at the bottom of the pouch when turned the right way.

Once turned round, poke all the corners out neatly and carefully.  I used a crochet hook inserted into the gap in the lining, to push the corners out.  Sew the lining up by hand and press the finished pouch.

I cut out the top pieces so that I focused on different parts of the design on each side.  I love that they are different on each side!  Which side do you prefer?  (The side with the strawberries is a bit wonky as I cut lined up to the selvage which I thought would be straight... not sure what happened there, probably something I should know not to do!  For the other side I did it by eye more carefully.  But I don't really mind the wonkiness, I don't think it matters.)

So... did the zip method work to create neat corners?  I would say they are the neatest I've managed when making pouches.  And what of the openings in the corners?  Well, they are nothing to worry about!  I don't think you would realise there was a gap there without examining it, and you couldn't get anything in or out of it, so I am quite content!

This is zoomed in on one of the 'openings' (the other one is actually more tightly closed) and you can see compared to the size of my nail that it is small.  There are also no raw edges, everything is encased.  I was bothered by the idea of a gap before trying it, but I am happy with this, and would use this method again.

Wow, that was a long post - I hope it will be useful to someone out there!  (Maybe just me in the future...)

Sew a cute zip pouch with neat corners, perfect for make-up.

Check out my other sewing projects here.

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  1. Great little project and fun fabrics to use. Thanks for your tutorial, maybe one day I might attempt it :)

  2. You make it look so easy! Thank you for sharing ☺

    1. Ha, it wasn't as easy as it looks - I do faff about a lot and take longer than I should! :)

  3. Oh it looks very yummy in that fabric! I have a crocheted pouch in my bag for just the same reasons ;-) xx

  4. This is a very helpful tutorial on pouch making! Thank you!! :)

  5. I know this is an older post but i was searching for ways to reduce bulk in (zipper) corners and it was EXACTLY what i was looking for! Thanks!


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