{tutorial: how to sew a zippered pouch}

Two years ago I was learning how to sew in a zipper to make a pouch and I was failing! failing! failing! at understanding how to do it. If you know me in real life {hi, mom!}, you can probably guess I was thinking to myself “why?”, “where?”, and “…what?!” the entire time. Thank goodness I had 30 library books to help me understand how to sew in a zipper.

And that number is not an exaggeration.

Anyways :] I thought it would be fun {and helpful} to do a tutorial post on installing a zipper, which coincidentally includes how to sew a zipped pouch.

Shall we get started?

* front & back outside pieces of fabric {mine are 9″ x 5″}
* front & back inside pieces of fabric {9″ x 5″}
* two pieces of interfacing or felt {9″ x 5″}
* a 10″ zipper
* sewing machine
* coordinating thread, to match your outside fabric
* scissors
* optional: embellishment for your zippered pouch

The first step is to lay flat the front outside piece of fabric {with a pouch, you’ll have front & back outside pieces and front & back inside pieces}. If you want your pouch to unzip from left to right, lay your zipper as shown below. Make sure you place the zipper far enough down so that you have some excess fabric extending over the top edge of the zipper.

*Yes, it’s OK to sew over your zipper {sew slowly so you don’t break your needle} and to cut your zipper if it needs to be shortened. Just be careful you don’t cut the zipper pull off! ;)

Next, lay your front inside piece of fabric on top of the front outside piece of fabric. This piece should also extend over the zipper.

Carefully pick up all the layers {outside fabric, zipper, inside fabric}, and align your needle next to the zipper teeth so it pierces all 3 layers. Use the teeth of the zipper as a guide for sewing your zipper in straight. {Note: I don’t use a zipper foot when installing a zipper. And I never have. Amen.} One thing that’s helpful about using a brightly-colored zipper and a light-colored lining is that you can see the zipper and use it as a visual guide.

Look closely at the photo below — can you see the zipper underneath the cream fabric?

When you’re finished sewing the zipper in it will look like this ~

This is the view when you separate the fabrics away from the zipper ~

Fold your inside piece {lining} so it lays against your outside piece. Make sure you pull them taut from the zipper.

The next step is a little tricky {sometimes having a print for your inside fabric helps to learn this step more quickly}… First, place your back inside piece on top of your front inside piece. I’ve pulled the back inside piece down so you can see what I’m talking about ~

Tip: Be sure and align all four layers of fabric before you start sewing. This will help later when you’re getting ready to sew the pouch up as you’ll retain the original measurements. If your layers aren’t perfectly stacked you’ll end up with a smaller-than-planned pouch.

Photo 1 shows you what the next step is, and photo 2 is a more-detailed example. Make sure you can recognize all four layers and the order they are placed “around” the zipper {The four layers: front & back outside layers, front & back inside layers}.

Remember to use the teeth on the zipper as a guide for a straight line of stitches ~

*See my thumb in photo 2? I typically pinch that area of the fabric, holding tight to all the layers as I sew. I’ve found that cutting a perfectly straight line and holding the fabric taut helps to sew a super straight line of stitches. (wow that was a lot of s’s)

Laying directly on the table are the inside pieces — do you see them? Take a second to really study these images ~

You’re almost done!! :]

The last two steps are super easy: simply sew the three edges together, shown here:

Once you have the 3 edges sewn, turn the pouch right-side out, gather the fabric opening {the lining} and press the raw edges together to create a finished edge. Click here to see a photo of the lining, see the raw edges that have been pressed inward? Sew alongside the finished edge and tuck inside the zippered pouch. Don’t forget to back stitch when you start and stop!

All done!

* * *

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  1. 1


    Thank you for sharing this tutorial! It seems like something even a beginner could try (aka me!). I looks like I have a fun project for my next day off. ;]

  2. 3


    Fantastic tutorial! I remember the first time I tried to sew a zipper. I was making a hobo-bag style purse from a tutorial on Craftster.org and was using a metal zipper. I sewed THROUGH the teeth of the zipper SNAPPED the needle in half and jammed up the whole machine! I thought sure I’d permanently broken it. But my cheapo little Brother sewing machine from WalMart survived just fine … new needle and picked out some of the jammed up thread and I was on my way again. Amazing the beating those things can take and keep working (Thank goodess for me ’cause I’m a craft-disaster sometimes LOL)

  3. 7

    skye says

    wow! i think i could even do this. maybe. if you were standing over my shoulder helping me! :) nevertheless, i do love the pouch and the bright pink zipper! too cute! :)

  4. 8


    Thanks for sharing this — I’ll totally be bookmarking it since one of my New Year’s Resolution is to figure out how to do zippers on my sewing maching!!

  5. 13


    Wow, thanks for the tutorial! I have wanted to make a coin purse for a long time but had no idea how to do the zip! Thank you so much for sharing!


  6. 14


    Love that Gussy pouch! I still have not tried this, though I have a lot of zippers. Turned one into a bracelet and one into a necklace, since they weren’t getting any use as notions. ;) I might just try this using your directions. I say “might” loosely. I’m not great at following directions. I know once I do it, I’ll be like “duh, that was easy – what took me so long?” Of course, it would be more fun if you just came over and showed me how. hee hee

  7. 18

    Debbie says

    Still looks hard to me (of course, I’ve never sewn a thing in my life). Do you make eyeglass cases – or will glasses fit in the pouch?

  8. 19

    Danyell says

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this!! I was just thinking the other day, how I wanted to learn how to do a zipper. It was going to be something I googled in the next week or so, but NOT anymore!! I cant wait to make a little pouch!! :) LOVE YOUR STUFF btw!!

  9. 21

    connie says

    My 9 year old daughter is just learning to sew and has made a few pillow cases. We’ve been looking for a fun project for her to try so I’m excited to show this to her…she’ll be making one this weekend.

  10. 22

    Kelly says

    When do you add the interfacing? Did I miss something? I am currently trying to make a t-shirt blanket out of old college shirts for my sister and the online “how to” I found said to use interfacing to steady the t-shirt fabric…I’ve never used it before…is it an iron on type thing? Great pictures for the tutorial…I am so visual, so this totally helped me to figure out what was going on. I’ll have to really do it to fully get it though I think. Any chance you’ll show us a ruffle tutorial some day? Thanks, you are the best as usual! So fun to follow. :)

  11. 24


    when i was teaching myself how to do this once i sewed the zipper too close to the fabric and couldn’t open it…eek. i was so sad. but oh well. okay perhaps that happened more than once but now I think I have the hang of it. What I don’t have the hang of is the pressing with the iron bit. grr.:(

  12. 25


    I am loving that color combo! Thanks for the tutorial! I get all cross-eyed when I’m trying to figure out which layer goes where and in what step, but maybe if I took my computer in there and followed this step by step, I could do it. Ha! And THANK YOU for mentioning that you don’t use a zipper foot. Just the thought of trying to figure out how to change my machine to one is enough to deter me from even trying. Haha!

  13. 31

    Catherine says

    I just tried it and it worked! Two pouches in no time! Thank you Gussy! I can checked one 2011 resolution!

  14. 36


    this is the first tutorial i’ve seen that doesn’t require i have a zipper foot!! I’m fairly certain i’ll still screw it up, but it’s worth a shot!! thanks Gussy!

  15. 38


    Update! I just made this today (my first sewing project EVA). The last part, sewing the pieces together and turning inside out was SUPER confusing. Took my husband and I together like an hour to figure out. So glad we did! This was a great first project for me. I loved it! I’m going to use it to hold some of my sewing tools (since I have yet to get a box). Thanks for the tutorial!

    • 39

      sara says

      @Kimberly, I;m attempting this right now and I’m sitting here with my almost-finished-pouch re-reading and re-re-reading and looking at that photo trying to understand whaaaaaaaaaaat she means about ‘easy’ because that finally bit is so confusing!!!

  16. 40


    Hey! LOVE the tutorial! you should see the zipper pouches that I made a few months ago. not pretty. I was wondering if you buy your zippers in bulk, if so, can you share where? I am going to see if you answer is in the FAQ too :)

  17. 42

    Bobbi says

    Thanks for the great tutorial Maggie!! I’ve been wanting to make a zippered pouch forever. I do have a question that I have been struggling in my head to figure out – if I want to make a flat bottom pouch, how much shorter would the top have to be so my sides would be straight vs. slanted?

  18. 44

    Cathy says

    Thank you for this tutorial. Can you tell me, what is the purpose of the excess fabric extending over the top edge of the zipper?
    Thanks again!

  19. 45


    Thanks for the tutorial! It took me the longest time and a lot of stitch picking to get the right sides on the zipper too when I started!

    My problem is sewing the sides together and then turning right side out, I always end up with funky zipper ends that don’t pop out correctly. Any tips on how to fix that?

  20. 46


    I just did this as my very first ever sewing project and it turned out so well!!! Thanks for the tutorial, the instructions and pictures were the best!

    • 49


      hi eleanore! thank you so much for the comment! where i buy my tags is one of the very few things i don’t share on my blog ~ thank you so much for understanding!!

      if you know what kind of tag you want (embroidered, iron-on, side seam, etc.) you can do a quick Google search :)

      good luck! xo

  21. 50

    Krista says

    you lost me at the end :-( I don’t understand how you sew this closed without sewing through the zipper (which is longer than the fabric). Help!

  22. 53

    Mandy says

    You totally lost me at the end. How do I sew it together so that when I turn inside out, all the edges are sticking out in the inside of the pouch? Did I miss something, or is that just the way this pouch looks?

    • 54


      hey mandy! take a look at the past photo. see how the machine needle is down into the lining edge? that’s where you start sewing when I say,

        “The last two steps are super easy: simply sew the three edges together. Turn the pouch inside out, press the inside layers to get a finished edge, sew, and turn.”

      re-read the last part again and let me know if you still have questions? xo

  23. 57


    hi, thank you for the clear tutorial of making this cute bag. even I understand from your directions!

    Also, as a sewing machine repair tech, I’d like to congratulate you on your choice of sewing machines!!!! when ever anyone asks me what would be a great machine for either someone starting out sewing to someone who is excellent at sewing, I always mention Kenmore machine like the one you have.! well done!

  24. 62


    Great photo’s explaining it! I love your machine…that was my first machine ever bought at a tag sale and I was just given another one a couple months ago. Seeing someone else use it finally makes me feel like I don’t need to go out and buy a a new one. :o)

    • 63


      i loooove this machine! my husband’s mom + grandma gave it to me for christmas a few years ago, it’s been in their family for about 30 years now :)

      thanks for your comment! xoxo

  25. 64

    NoniWV says

    Gussy, for those who may be new to sewing, maybe you should explain about how you layered the felt and stitched those together, (there are more layers than mentioned) how you made your shirred piece on the front and explain sewing three sides only when there are four. Explain that the side left open is the bottom of the lining. And lastly, I know you see in the pic that the back outside piece is under the zipper, but it isn’t stated as such. I teach sewing so don’t mind me with the extra steps. I looked back through to see if I had missed something on these hints. I only say this because I have all adult students, some with degrees, and even the simplist instructions on sewing will have their head spinning. What I assume they should know, they don’t. Thanks for being out there to help new sewist to get involved and learn new skills. You did a great job.

    • 65


      hi Noni — i see what you’re saying about the layers and zipper, and i can certainly go back in and add those clarification steps in, but i’m unable to share how i ruffled the piece of fabric on the front of the pouch. that’s a major design element to my brand and to give that away would be silly :)

      thank you so much for your feedback!!!! xoxo

  26. 66

    LeAnn says

    I have that exact machine! I bought it with my first paycheck after a got out of college before I even bought any furniture to put it on! I still have it and it works great. I have other machines too but I always liked the small arm for sewing sleeves and things.

  27. 68

    Mel says

    I just found this on pinterest – Oh my goodness thanks so much for posting this I think my kids are going to get a “few” pencil cases while I practice :)

  28. 69

    Jamie says

    ok, I’m new to sewing, so I can’t tell if the finished product ends up with the fabric edges hanging out into the inside of the pouch. Does that make any sense? I can’t tell from the pictures, and i can’t visualize how that would work when finishing up the pouch

  29. 71

    Erin Nikitin says

    Thank you got helping me sew in my first zipper. I too was creating a pouch only without a lining since I covered my fabric with vinyl first. I am happy to say that your pictures helped me a ton! Thank you bunches!!!

  30. 72

    Alida says

    I wouldn’t have figured this technique out by myself and I’ve been sewing for years! Very clever. Thanks!

  31. 73

    Lisa says

    So, wait, I’m confused… You can sew through the teeth of the zipper if you’re going slowly, or will it just snap the needle??? I am a beginner, and when I was in sewing classes my teacher snapped my needle when she was showing me how to do the zipper on MY sewing machine! I’ve been terrified of using zippers ever since ahah!

  32. 74

    Kiah Geleynse says

    Question, when you sew the outer fabric together and the lining fabric together is the zipper supposed to fold in half?


  33. 75


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  39. 86


    I work with a community project in Mt Pleasant in South Australia, called Recreate.

    We have a little shop where we sell hand made crafts using recycled and up cycled gear. We sell DIY info sheets on projects for folk to try at home. We would love to add your ‘How to sew a Zippered pouch” instructions to our collection of info sheets.

    Would you mind? We’ll credit you of corse!

    Thanks in advance

  40. 89


    The simplicity of making a zipper bag inspired me to make my own! I also have a blog, and I’m posting about the pencil bag I made following this tutorial. Would it be a bother if I linked this post in mine? I don’t want to do a full on tutorial like this, that’s what this post you made is for! I just want to show off the bag I made and link your tutorial that I used. Please consider!


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