The Busy Bean

How To: Basic Pouch with Zipper Tabs

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of little things filling my purse. I love these little zipper pouches to keep those things a little more organized. In fact, wanting a pouch like this was the reason I started sewing in the first place. I’ve been making these little pouches for almost three years and I’m happy to share exactly how I make “Monica” now, with perfect end tabs on the zipper. And if you make it through this, there’s a giveaway at the end.

Here’s what you need:

Cut (2) 6″ x 9″ pieces from your outside fabric
Cut (2) 6″ x 9″ pieces from your lining fabric
Cut (2) 6″ x 9″ pieces of medium weight interfacing
Cut (1) 3″ x 11″ piece for strap
Cut (1) 3″ x 3″ piece for zipper tabs
Zipper – at least 8″ in length, though you can cut a longer zipper down to size

Iron your interfacing to your outside fabric. (I didn’t use any on this, since my fabric is a heavier linen/cotton blend.) Fold your tab in half and press. Open, and fold each side to the fold and press again. Fold ends together along your first fold and press. Cut it in half so you have a tab for each end.

Place one tab on top end of your zipper. Sew 1/8″ from edge to attach it to the zipper. You will have to unzip it a little bit and hold the two sides of the zipper tape together as you sew.

Now take one side of your outside fabric pieces and mark 1/2″ in from each side along the top end. Line up the tab you just sewed with one of the marks. Trim your zipper at the other end exactly on the other mark. Now place the other tab on the bottom end and sew it like the first one.

Trim the sides of the zipper tabs even with the edges of the zipper tape. Now you’re going to make your zipper sandwich. Put your outside fabric right side up, lay your zipper, lining the end of the tabs with your 1/2″ marks, right side down. Then add your lining fabric wrong side up on top. You can pin if you like, I find it’s such a short length that it’s easier to just hold them all together without pinning. Sew 1/4″ from the edge, starting and stopping at the 1/2″ marks you’ve made and backstitching at each end.

Press these pieces away from the zipper and topstitch 1/8″ from the edge. Repeat with the other side of the zipper so you end up with this.

Set that aside and sew your handle. Fold the tube in half and sew a 1/4″ seam along the long edge. Turn the tube right side out and topstitch 1/8″ from edge on both sides.

Fold the handle in half to form a loop. Baste it onto one side of your outside fabric about 1/2″ from the top edge. I like my handle on the side with the zipper pull when the zipper is closed. That makes it easy to upzip your pouch while it’s hanging from your wrist.

***Update: Before going on, open your zipper halfway! Notice how in the picture above, the zipper is open halfway? I made sure to take a picture of it, but forgot to put in the directions! Thanks to celestecreates on Instagram for pointing that out to me.

Now match your outside fabrics together and your lining fabrics. Pin them together and sew around the outside, leaving an opening of about 4″ at the bottom of the lining. Use a 1/2″ seam allowance.

When you get to the zipper, fold the seam so that the outside fabrics match up together on the inside and the lining fabrics are on the outside. Pinch it together this way and make sure that you don’t catch the zipper tabs in your seam so your sides by the zipper are nice and smooth when you’re finished.

Now we’re going to box the corners. Grab the fabric in the corners and pull it apart so you can match up the side seam with the bottom seam. Draw a line 1.25″ long, this will be 1″ in from the corner along the seam. Sew along the line, then trim the corner to a 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat for the other three corners.

Pull the whole thing right side out through the opening you left in the lining. Sew the opening closed either by hand or using a very narrow seam on your machine.

Push the lining back into the bag and you’re finished!

If you want to make a different size, just remember to cut your fabric 1.5″ longer than you want your zipper opening. You’ve got 1/2″ seam allowances on each side and your zipper tabs take up about 1/2″ together.

So, would you like me to send you this awesome pouch? It’s made with some of my favorite Melody Miller typewriter fabric… and it could be yours! Leave me a comment telling me one thing you’ve been afraid to try, but would really like to do. It could be something related to sewing, or maybe skydiving? Traveling to a foreign country? And then tell me when you plan to do something about it!

I’ll draw a winner on Monday night.

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61 Thoughts on “How To: Basic Pouch with Zipper Tabs

  1. Bruinbr on July 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm said:

    I’ve always been afraid to go to a quilt show by myself (I know, weird!) but I’ve decided to go outside my comfort zone and go to the Long Beach quilt festival here in CA next week 🙂

  2. Gloria on July 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm said:

    You know me, I have always been afraid to try doing a quilt that is not tied. Well, I have cut the stirps needed to put together a Double Irish Chain quilt for a birthday present. Just waiting to learn the next step. You don’t have to put my name in for the drawing but I just thought your readers should know that you are teaching your Mom how to quilt.

  3. Fantastic and helpful tutorial! Thanks so much. I would someday love to get up the nerve to attempt English Paper Piecing. Sigh! thanks for the chance to win this gorgeous pouch. I don’t have any of the typewriter fabric!

  4. This is a little different than my normal method, but looks great – will have to try it – thanks!

  5. I am honestly a little afraid to cut my hair short. I’m sure that sounds silly, but with naturally curly hair it is a bit tricky. I don’t want to end up looking like a frizz ball.

    Great tutorial- very clear instructions. I’ve never made a zipper pouch but I’m going to have to try it!

  6. I love the typewriter bag!

    Want to know what I am afraid to try? Making a bag of any sort – especially one with a zipper!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  7. Julia on July 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm said:

    I am very afraid to sew curves! But I signed up for a curve class so . . . Thank you so much for the zipper tutorials. I need the help very much 🙂

    p.s. I like your Mom’s comment

    • Pay day loans are so practical that many consumers love thepimslicity associated with payday loans to the high charges ofcards Challenge loose change began at theoutset of World War I along with were used for you to battalionsas symbols of unity camaraderie

  8. Barbara on July 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm said:

    I’m afraid to try free motion quilting on a real quilt! I’ve practiced, but I don’t yet have to nerve to try it on a quilt. I stick to straight line quilting, or send my quilt out to have them quilted. I love the typewriter fabric, and would love to win this cute little bag.

  9. I’m reading this on a very sleep-deprived brain. I’m not sure if I understood boxing the corners (by the way, LOVED that you do that, why couldn’t I have thought of that sooner?!). Do you think you could email me a picture of the boxed corner before you cut it off? Thanks. Tired brain syndrome.

    Something I’m deathly afraid of …. jumping off the high dive at the swimming pool. Scared me to death as a kid, and have never tried it. Not sure if I want to now. 🙂 Fortunately I don’t of any swimming pools near my house with a high dive.

    I like that your mom is learning to sew from you! What a great mom.

  10. I was looking for a pouch tutorial with zipper tabs just this weekend!
    I’m a bit nervous/afraid of entering a quilt show. I don’t think I have anything good enough to enter yet, so i’ll have to finish up some projects and think about entering.


  11. A Brilliant tute thank you… I’m most scared of diving into the water even just from the edge of the pool… I’m on hols at the moment and am determined to crack it by the time I leave!

  12. OK I’ve got a question for you. So from your photos and your instructions, it seems like you aren’t attaching the covered zip ends to the bag in your final seam, which leaves a little hole between bag and tab, yes? If you extended your tabs slightly and sewed just the very edge (sans actual zipper) into your seam (or cut the zipper up to the metal bit and then attached the tab), does the corner still indent? I’ve seen this done a few ways, another technique is to hand close them like this – . I’ve tried them all and I’m not really happy with any of them, just wondering if there’s a specific reason you do it this way, and have you considered hand stitching closed your tab corners? Thanks! Great tutorial!

  13. Kellie on December 8, 2012 at 5:34 am said:

    Thank you soooo much for this tute! Best pouch I have made yet and I didn’t even need to use my zipper foot!

  14. Dorothy Midson on December 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm said:

    Love your clear instructions, going to make me one tomorrow yippee

  15. Hi, just found you by following Red Pepper Quilts here for your tutorial on how to do your bag. I have made a number of bags like this but with one exception, and that is i don’t leave a 4″ hole to turn it right side out. I leave the zipper open and turn it that way. Have you tryed it that way before??
    It can be a bit tricky to do it that way, then i don’t have to go back and try and sew up the 4″ hole. Just a thought

  16. Oh thank you! This is the best zipper tute I have seen…I cant find a zipper size on the list. Does the length matter? Can I just cut one to be the right size? I feel greedy asking after all you have done already, but I promised myself I’d learn how to see a zipper by the end if the year and “Monica” looks like the perfect place to begin.
    Thank you so much!~~~SonJa

  17. What is the length of the zipper required for this bag?

  18. This was a great tutorial. I have a hatred of zippers and since most of my sewing to date has been Elizabethan outfits (no zippers) I have avoided them. This was such a quick and easy project. My daughter has a bunch of friends who exchange gifts, this is on the list for next year.

  19. Monique on February 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm said:

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial! I just followed it and my zipper looks fantastically neat!

  20. Cindy Smith on June 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm said:

    I made this little pouch today and it was SO much fun to make …. and now all of my friends want one. I guess I know what I’ll be doing for the next month.

  21. Cindy Smith on June 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm said:

    Hi, I have made 2 of these little pouches and each time I get confused about the placement of the 2nd zipper tab. If I cut the zipper right on the 1/2″ line, does that not make the 2nd zipper tab inside the bag more than the other side? This is the only part of the tute that gives me any trouble. This little pouch is so cute I want to make tons of them but I need to get this part of the puzzle figured out first. Thanks !! 🙂

  22. Cindy Smith on June 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm said:

    ha! nevermind, I realized my mistake, duh! Thank you for giving us this little pouch pattern.

  23. Thank you for this tutorial! It helped me perfect my zipper tabs and I got to try out doing a box bottom too.

  24. Thank you for this tutorial. I have found it very useful in improving the quality of my zipped pouches.

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  26. Thanks for the tutorial! My last Christmas gift is finally done!

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  32. I found your tutorial doing a search and it is wonderful! Thank you for sharing. On my way to give it a try.

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  40. Thanks so much I have been after a really finished look. This pattern does that makes it look pro.

    I tried a few and now I have finally Got it .

    Mine look professional now Thank you for a brilliant tutorial.

    Lots of gifts and maybe I can sell a few as well.

  41. Sorry that was for the zip bag with tab ends

  42. Rebecca Pharr on December 3, 2015 at 10:47 pm said:

    I am terrified of zippers. I am scared I will ruin my material. When finished I don’t want to send it to anyone. Afraid it won’t be good enough.

  43. 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 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)

  44. JDpenelope on December 11, 2015 at 7:40 am said:

    Thank you for the best tutorial I could find for adding zipper tabs to a pouch. Am still perfecting — my problem seems to be that I use THICK home dec fabric or heavy denim and batting for the outside, which apparently makes the ends of the tab to be crunched. Another problem MIGHT be that I use thin vinyl so the resulting “makeup” bag will be waterproof. (Couldn’t do it without my industrial walking foot machine, which helps with thicknesses and also the teflon foot when stitching sticky lining pieces on my home machine.) Here’s a link to pic of two bags sewn so far, following your instructions. Any tips or pointers would be appreciated:

    Don’t suppose you could add a tutorial for dealing with heavier materials, including batting. TIA.

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  46. Barbra on May 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm said:

    Hi, is there a gap at the end of the little tabs and the sewn seam when finished? If so, can thus be remedied

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  48. Grammy Blick on April 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm said:

    Just to let you know that this was very helpful for a newbie and it went together quite well. I’m making them to sell at our church craft sale this fall and these instructions were what I needed. The first one I gave as a gift to our pastor’s wife and she’s enjoying it. I’ll be referencing this in our Missions meeting tomorrow, so you have have some new readers, too. Thanks for making this so simple.

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