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A zippered pouch is our favorite carryall when small items need to travel. On this clever little critter, we mixed Dritz fold-over elastic with cotton fabric and pet screen to create a sporty pouch you can take across the country on vacation or across town to the gym. The open mesh of the pet screen allows you to easily see what’s inside; it’s also great when you need to sift out sand after a day at the beach or shake out crumbs from on-the-go snacks. The elastic is used like a binding, adding heft and flexibility rather than stretch. And the fabric accent panels are perfect for pre-cuts or scraps. What do you need to carry today?

The fold-over elastic along the sides provides a soft bound edge for the screen, which does have rough edges when cut. This type of elastic is substantial enough to provide a generous binding, keeping the pouch soft to the touch on all sides. We also used a standard 1″ colored knit elastic on either side of the zipper, adding stability with a bit of extra give along the top opening.

The elastics and the mesh can be machine washed and dried, and the elastic is fade resistant and color fast. If you’ve been hiding your elastic inside a casing all these years, maybe it’s time to let it burst to the surface.

The pouches finish at approximately 6″ tall x 7½” wide. These would be great to carry smaller items within a diaper bag.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies


NOTE: Supplies listed below are for ONE pouch.

  • ONE package of 1″ fold-over elastic for the key ring tab and the side binding; we originally used Dritz fold-over elastic in Navy/Blue Foulard and Brown/Tan Skin
  • ONE package of 1″ Knit Elastic; we originally used Dritz knit elastic in 1″ Blue and 1″ Brown
  • ¼ yard of Pet Screen Mesh or similar for the body of the bag; we originally used black for both pouches
  • Scrap, Layer Cakes or ⅛ yard cuts of TWO coordinating 44″+ quilting weight cotton fabrics for the exterior and interior highlight bands; we originally used cuts from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics
  • ONE 7″ zipper to coordinate with the fabric and elastic; we originally used black for both pouches
  • ONE 1½” diameter round ring
  • All-purpose thread to match the fabric and elastic
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the 1″ fold-over elastic cut the following:
    TWO 15″ lengths for the side binding
    ONE 4″ length for the key ring tab
  2. From the 1″ knit elastic, cut TWO 8″ lengths.
  3. From the fabric for accent bands, cut TWO 8″ wide x 2¾” high rectangles from each fabric.
  4. From the Pet Screen, cut ONE 8″ x 12½” rectangle.
    NOTE: The Pet Screen is much easier to cut with a rotary cutter. And, measure with your ruler; don’t be fooled by the weave of the screen – it’s not always square.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Top zipper with elastic and fabric

  1. Find the exterior and interior fabric accent bands and the zipper.
  2. Place the interior accent band right side up and flat on your work surface.
  3. Place the zipper, right side up, across the top edge of the fabric. The raw edge of the fabric and the edge of the zipper’s insertion tape should be flush.
  4. Place the exterior accent band right side down over the top of the zipper, aligning the top raw edge of this fabric layer with the top edges of the other layers, sandwiching the zipper between the two pieces of fabric.
  5. Attach your Zipper foot.
  6. Stitch across the panel through all the layers. You should be stitching right along the zipper teeth.
    NOTE: As with all zipper work, you’ll need to open and close the zipper in order to stitch straight without running into the zipper pull. To do this, start with the zipper about half way open. When you get to the center near the pull, stop with your needle in the down position, lift up the presser foot, and gently twist the zipper in order to close it. Re-position, drop the presser foot, and continue stitching to the end.
  7. Fold the exterior and interior pieces wrong sides together so the zipper stands straight up. Press up each remaining 8″ raw edge ½”.
  8. Repeat to attach the remaining two highlight bands to the opposite side of the zipper
  9. Find the pet screen rectangle, the two lengths of knit elastic, the 4″ length of fold-over elastic, and the key ring.
  10. Insert one 8″ edge of the pet screen in between the two front fabric layers. Push the screen all the way up against the zipper seam. Fold the fabric layers down into place on either side of the screen, and pin to secure.
  11. Re-attach your regular presser foot. Set up your machine for a wide zig zag.
  12. Zig zag across the width of the Pet Screen, staying close to the bottom folded edges of the fabric.

    NOTE: Opening the zipper will allow you to more easily insert the Pet Screen under the presser foot.
  13. Place one 8″ length of the 1″ knit elastic across the top of the front panel approximately ⅛” below the zipper teeth. Pin in place. Remember, we’re using the elastic in this project for heft and flexibility rather than stretch.
  14. Find the 4″ length of fold-over elastic. Slip it through the key ring, aligning the raw ends so the finished tab is now 2″. Hand baste the ends to secure.
  15. Slip the raw edges of the tab under the 1″ knit elastic. The outside edge of this tab should be 1″ in from the raw side edge of the panel (to the left of the what will be the finished pouch –at the bottom end of the zipper). Re-pin the knit band in place.
  16. Re-attach the Zipper foot.
  17. Edgestitch the elastic in place along both sides through all the layers.
  18. Repeat to attach the elastic and insert the Pet Screen on the back of the pouch, except there is no ring on the back. You simply fold-up the remaining 8″ raw edge of the Pet Screen. The bottom of the pouch is this middle fold of the screen.
    NOTE: This side will take a bit of futzing since it will no longer be flat, but with the zipper open, and using a free arm if you have one, you can insert the screen and stitch the three seams.


  1. Zip the zipper closed. You now have a loop with raw side edges.
  2. Find the two 15″ lengths of fold-over elastic (FOE). Starting at bottom of the pouch, with approximately 1″ around to the back, wrap and pin the FOE over the raw edge of the pet screen, using the center line woven into the FOE as your folding guide line. Continue to wrap and pin around the entire loop. When you come back around to your starting point (at the bottom/back) overlap about 1″. Trim away any excess if needed.
  3. If possible, set up your machine to use its free arm. If you do not have a free arm, you will need to do some serious twisting and turning to make everything work.
  4. Slip the loop over the free arm and drop your needle at the starting point at the bottom/back. Stitch around the loop, staying as close as possible to the edge of the FOE but still making sure you are still catching both sides. As mentioned above, the elastic’s stretchiness is not our focus here; we’re using it instead as a soft and flexible binding alternative.
  5. When done, slip the loop off the machine, and repeat to bind and stitch the opposite raw edge.
  6. When both edges are bound, flatten the pouch so the zipper is at the exact top, the bottom is a clean folded edge, and the binding overlap is positioned at the bottom/back of the pouch. The edges of the FOE should be flush with one another. When aligned, you’ll be looking at the center woven lines side by side, so the edge will appear as a solid color… cool!
  7. Slip the the pouch back under the presser foot, and edgestitch through ALL the layers along both outer edges of the elastic. You are stitching through a lot of layers here, but fold-over elastic is usually nice and soft, which makes needle penetration easier. Go slowly, and if you need to stop to adjust, make sure the needle is in the down position.
    NOTE: In our sample photos above, you’ll see a zig zag stitch on the 1″ Knit Elastic in the brown pouch version. This was our first assembly theory, but we decided it was too difficult to get in close without a specialty presser foot, and so went with a straight stitch for our instructions. The zig zag is a cool look though, and if you’re feelin’ the spirit and the skill level… go for it.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews What Sew Ever

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7 years ago

These were fun to make and I

These were fun to make and I used this tutorial as a jumping off point. I read the first comment and made them as a snap bag instead. https://runningwithrocket.blogspot.com/2017/02/project-snap-bags.html

Jane Coombs
Jane Coombs
7 years ago

My bff gave me a bag like

Another variation to consider…My bff gave me a bag like this. She bought a metal tape measure and cut it the size of the opening using it instead of the zipper. The bag snaps shut, and is smaller than the one you feature.

7 years ago
Reply to  Jane Coombs

That it’s a amazing idea, how

That it’s a amazing idea, how exactly did she do that?

Gale m Kohler
Gale m Kohler
7 years ago

what is the overall size

what is the overall size

7 years ago
Reply to  Gale m Kohler

The finished measurements are

The finished measurements are mentioned in the description (before the instructions).

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