(it’s probably not the method you have been using!)
Do we really need another zipper pocket tutorial in the sewing blog world? A quick google search yields dozens of helpful results. So why am I adding my own version? Because most of the zipper pocket tutorials at the top of the search results are missing some steps!
Maybe the common methods people are using are meant to be easier, but I think that adding a couple of steps and a few minutes of time to get a professional looking zipper pocket is worth the extra bit of time and effort.
The most common zipper pocket method I see is like Deby’s method at So Sew Easy. She uses the actual interior pocket piece to make a facing for the opening. This creates a clean edge around the zipper opening, but it also leaves the zipper tape exposed on the inside of the pocket. (See below.) I’ve seen plenty of store-bought items with zippers installed this way, so it isn’t necessarily wrong. But you want a truly professional zipper pocket, you can hide that zipper tape with just a couple of extra steps.
The other zipper pocket method I see is like this one at Emmaline Bags. This method hides the zipper tape, but it’s is hard to get a nice clean edge around the opening. I usually end up with fraying fabric in the corners, which is not very pretty. The finished pocket is also less stable than a pocket with a facing.
This zipper pocket tutorial method combines these two techniques to create a clean and professional zipper pocket with no exposed zipper tape and added stability.
How-to Sew a Professional Zipper Pocket:
• a bag lining or other project that needs a zipper pocket
• a zipper (I’m using a 9″ zipper for the example)
• a scrap of medium weight fusible interfacing
• 1/4 yd. pocket fabric (use a pattern piece or cut a rectangle 2″ wider than the zipper and twice as long as you want the pocket depth)
• a zipper foot
Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial:
1. You’ll need your bag lining (or other project), a pocket piece, and a facing piece. Cut a rectangle from your fabric that is 2″ longer than your zipper and 2″ wide. (Mine is 11″ x 2″.) This is the pocket facing. Cut the same rectangle from interfacing and fuse it to the pocket facing piece.
2. On the wrong side of the facing (on the interfacing), draw a line the length of your zipper teeth across the center.
Draw two more lines, 1/4″ above and below the first line. Connect the ends to make a rectangle, and draw diagonal lines from the corner to the middle line.
3. Place the pocket facing right sides together with the bag lining, centered over the place you want the zipper.
Sew around the outer rectangle, using shorter stitches on the ends.
4. Cut along the center line and into the corners at the diagonal lines.
Push the facing through the hole and press flat.
Below is the wrong side of the lining.
5. Align the opening over the zipper. Using your zipper foot, stitch around the edges of the opening. If you find that the zipper is slipping, you can try using fusible tape to keep it in place or a couple pieces of gift wrapping tape (which you can sew through and easily remove).
6. Align the wrong side of the upper zipper edge with the right side of the pocket piece. Fold the top of the bag lining out of the way. Stitch the upper edge of the zipper to one end of the pocket piece as close to the seam as possible. Make sure you are only sewing through the pocket piece, the zipper tape, and the facing piece.
7. Take the other end of the pocket piece and align it with the bottom edge of the zipper. Fold the bottom of the bag lining out of the way, and stitch the pocket piece to the zipper as close to the seam as possible.
When you finish, it should look like this.
8. Press the pocket piece toward the bottom of the bag. Fold the sides of the bag lining out of the way. Stitch along the side of the pocket, from the top to the fold, catching the ends of the zipper tape in the stitching. Repeat for the other side. Trim the excess pocket fabric if needed.
That’s it! See How nice the inside looks! You can use this zipper pocket method in place of the common methods included in your sewing patterns. I regularly toss aside zipper directions and install zippers using this process.
I’m currently updating the Retro Rucksack pattern to include this type of zipper installation (and adding some other helpful tips!). If you have the original version of the pattern, you can use this tutorial to replace the interior zipper pocket directions included in the pattern.
What do you think of this method for sewing zipper pockets? Will you try it next time?