Zipper pockets are amazing. A little spot to pop your keys, phone or little odds and ends that you need to reach without having to do a one handed deep dive through the purse.
Want to learn how to add one to your next bag? We have based this Zipper Pocket blog on our Patchwork Handbag Applique Pattern.
Get your lining ready
First things first, pick a lining for your bag and cut this out to suit the interior of your new bag pattern. The dimensions are in our instructions document for whichever bag design you are sewing.
Fold the lining fabric in half and press along the crease.
Open the lining fabric and cut in half using the crease as a cutting guide.
These two pieces will become the front and back of your bag lining.
Trace the exterior
Mark the base line of your bag panel onto your fabric 10cm (4") up from the bottom of the lining. (For our Patchwork Handbag pattern we require a 10cm (4") allowance as the full base is18cm (7") wide and this allows for a 12mm (1/2") seam allowance.)
Place the front of your bag on top of the lining so the bottom of it is lined up with the line you just marked.
(This extra section of fabric will become your base panel for the lining).
Draw a line down both sides of the bag panel that continues down to the bottom edge of the fabric. (The section of the line extending down from the bag panel should be straight not angled like the side of the bag).
Cut the lining
Cut your lining fabric along the straight lines you drew and then use your bag panel as the rest of the pattern to cut your lining. (Note this is two pieces of fabric and as such will make the full lining of your bag).
Tip: To make cutting around those curves quick and easy, and minimise moving your project you can use a mini rotary cutter.
If you do need to rotate your panel, pin, clip or tape (washi tape) your panel to the lining so that you do not lose or shift your lining from your panel.
Once you have cut all the way around your bag front you have cut out both sides of your bag lining.
Starting the pocket
Let's pop over to the sewing machine and get to work.
First of all you need to take one side of your lining and find the centre of the piece.
To do this simply fold the top of the lining (the opening of the bag) and fold this in half and then into quarters.
Simply finger crease your lining piece and then mark this with a washable or fadeout pen.
Next make a mark 10cm (4") down from the opening of the bag along the vertical centre crease.
Then using this mark as your depth, draw a straight horizontal line approximately 18cm (7") long, depending on how wide you would like your zipper. (Make sure this horizontal line is paralell with the horizontal crease you made earlier).
As our Patchwork Handbag is quite wide, a zipper 10cm (4") down from the opening, 18cm (7") long is the perfect size. (You can choose a different depth and width for your zipper depending on the size of your bag.)
After you have drawn the placement line for your zipper, you need to cut a piece of interfacing for under the zipper. (This will provide some added support for the zipper in the lining).
Cut the interfacing the length of your zipper plus an additional 12mm (1/2") at each end. The width of the interfacing should be about 5cm (2") wide.
Once you have your interfacing cut, fold your lining along the horizontal zipper placement line you drew earlier. Finger press along the length of your zipper placement line. Then turn over your fabric so it is wrong side up and place your interfacing over the zipper crease.
Doing a quick finger press will ensure you can see exactly where you need to place your interfacing on the wrong side of your fabric.
Centre the interfacing over the marked line and press it onto the lining with an iron.
Pocket fabric cutting and sewing
Once you have your interfacing ironed onto your lining fabric pop your lining to the side, we are going to get to work on our zipper.
For our Patchwork Handbag design we will be using a piece of fabric 6cm (2"1/4") wide and 23cm (9") long. You generally want to make this piece of fabric 2.5cm (1") longer than your zipper.
This will be made like a bound button hole type pocket.
We have ironed another strip of interfacing onto the back of this piece of fabric for additional support.
Fold both sides of the length of the fabric into the centre of the fabric and press.
On your pressed fabric next mark the length of your zipper. In this case we will be marking at 18cm (7"). Draw a line at each mark across the width of the fabric.
It is important that these lines you draw are square to the length of the fabric, as what we draw here is what we are going to see when the pocket is turned out.
Now that you have the length of your Zipper measured and marked, pin or washi tape the fabric to the right side of your bag lining, with the open seam facing up. Centre the fabric on top of the horizontal crease in the bag lining.
Next you need to stitch a rectangle around the edge of this fabric.
We are going to sew right around the outside of our folded fabric in about 7mm (or a generous 1/4") from the edge. The ends of your rectangle should be stitched on top of the two end lines you drew earlier.
Now that you have this stitched in place just remove your pins or washi tape and check the wrong side of your lining to ensure the rectangular stitching looks symmetrical and square.
Now it's time to cut the fabric so you can open your zipper.
Pinch your sewn rectangle in half and cut the fabric between those two raw edges.
Cut the fabric up the centre for your zipper, stopping short approximately 9.5mm (3/8") from the end and cut a V into the end corners.
Repeat for both ends of your zipper.
Now you need to turn your folded cut fabric through to the wrong side of your panel.
Tip: It helps if you moisten your zipper fabric with a little steam before turning through.
Give each end a quick press of the iron to keep the ends down and the right side edges even.
Repeat at both ends.
To hold these zipper pocket edges in place do a quick stitch on each side of these turned edges.
Just 3 quick rows back and forth at each end will hold these in place and keep them firmly in place in your bag.
Next it is time to add your zip.
Close the sides of your zipper pocket edge fabric together, on the right side of your bag panel. Use some tape to keep the edges in place.
We like to use washi tape, as it is easy to apply and quick to remove, however you're able to pin or do a very wide zig zag stitch if you would prefer.
Ensure that both edges of your pocket edge fabrics are touching on the wrong side of your panel. You do not want any gaps, because when this is done you don't want to see any of the Zipper.
Now for the zipper.
Find a zip you like, generally these will be much longer than your pocket, this is fine.
Lay your zip onto the wrong side of your fabric face down so that the stopper and zip are laying facing the wrong side of the lining.
Using pins or clips attach your zipper to the seam of your pocket edge fabric.
Once this is secure, you need to sew the zipper to the seam of the pocket edge. Pick your work up and put it so as the zipper is placed on top of the sewing table. (Make sure the lining is out of the way and you are just stitching the zipper to the seam). Stitch just to the right hand side of the original stitching.
Repeat this along both sides/lengths of the zip.
Now check to be sure that the edges on the right side of your fabric are butted together and you cannot see too much of the zip.
Do not worry if the zip puller or the stopper are outside the length of your pocket at this stage.
It is time to stitch your pocket bag on.
Cut of a piece of fabric for your pocket.
This piece of fabric needs to be as wide as the length of your zipper and twice the depth you prefer for your pocket.
Place your bag lining onto your work surface with the wrong side up and the base of the bag lining closest to you.
Place your pocket wrong side up on top of the zipper with the lower raw edge (width) of the pocket meeting the lower raw edge of your zipper.
Pin or clip your pocket onto the zipper and onto the same seam you stitched the zipper to earlier. Once again you will sew the pocket to the zipper and the seam but NOT to the lining.
Sew this just like you did when attaching your zip.
Fold your pocket fabric down and press in place.
Fold the pocket fabric up now so the other raw end of your pocket fabric goes on top of the zip and you can clip or pin this to the zipper and to the seam.
Once again sew your pocket along the length of your zip attaching the pocket to the zip and the seam but NOT to the lining.
Your pocket bag is attached!
Now you need to grab the zip puller/runner and open your zipper about half way. It should be visible on the right side of the bag panel.
Trim both ends off your zip.
We're almost there.
Now you need to sew around the pocket bag. Place the pocket bag against the table. You will need to stitch about 13mm (1/2") in, around the edge of your pocket bag.
Tip: Do curved edges at the bottom of your pocket, because curves last longer. Keys and money will be more likely to run to the centre of your pocket rather than sit in the corners, causing wear and holes.
And that's how it's done!
Check out a great video tutorial by Martyn Smith on our YouTube channel and above for more. Enjoy!