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See-Through, Box Bottom Zipper Pouch

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One of our most popular project categories is the Little Zippered Pouch. Similar in must-have status to the LBD (Little Black Dress), we’ve found that you simply cannot have too many zippered pouches in a variety of sizes and styles. This cool design combines pretty cotton at the top with a handy see-through bottom in flexible, sewable vinyl. 

Where is my favorite lipstick? In which pouch did I put my flash drive? It’s always nice to be able to quickly spot what you’re looking for when digging through a larger bag or tote.

Plus, in today’s security conscious travel environment, there are more and more instances where see-through containers are mandatory. Not only is it handy for you to be able to see the contents of your pouch, it is likely to be required on your next trip.

In fact, if you love this little see-though pouch, you may also like our full-size Clear View Tote with Dritz Hardware. It’s the perfect tote for sports stadiums and other venues that allow only see-through bags.

If you’ve never sewn on vinyl, it’s easier than you might imagine. We have a full tutorial on sewing with laminates, vinyl, and oilcloth that you can review for information on specific tools and techniques. But in general, it’s no harder than working with a stiff cloth substrate.

Below, we show you all the steps for a tabbed-end zipper that is cut to an exact width for the top opening. The tabs are completely finished so the zipper can sit slightly above the side seams with a tiny gap at each end. You may have seen this same technique on zipper pouches you’ve purchased at the store. It’s a great option to reduce bulk and make the pouch a bit easier to turn right side out.

We used a ½" awning style stripe from Riley Blake; mixing black, gray, and pink in our color palette for a rather elegant French boutique feel. Our fussy cutting instructions are specifically targeted at our ½" striped pattern, but the general steps would work for any favorite fabric. You need just small cuts, which makes it an excellent ScrapBusters project.

We stitched the vinyl with thread to match the upper cotton, adding a subtle pop of color to the see-through section.

Our pouch finishes at approximately 9½” wide x 7” high with 1½” box corners. It's a generous size, and with the full top zipper, the pouch opens to allow you to fill it with everything from make-up and toiletries to office supplies to tech cords and adaprters. 

With the holidays right around the corner, one of these pretty pouches filled with sweet treats would be an excellent gift idea. 

Let us know how yours turns out. Share a picture on social media so we can all be inspried. We are sew4home on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and sew4home_diy on Instagram.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Quantities shown are for ONE pouch and include extra for fussy cutting.

  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton fabric for the top exterior and lining panels and the zipper tabs; we used ½” Stripe in Hot Pink and Gray from Riley Blake Fabrics
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide 16 gauge clear vinyl for the bottom panels; we used 54” clear vinyl in 16 gauge
  • ¼ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we recommend Pellon Shape Flex
  • ONE 9”+ zipper; we used a standard black polyester zipper
  • Scrap or ONE package of standard piping to coordinate with zipper; we used Wrights Maxi Bias Tape Piping in Black
  • Scrap or yard of ” wide ribbon for the optional zipper pull; we used black
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
  • Utility scissors for cutting the zipper; optional
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Clips to hold vinyl

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the top exterior and lining panels and the zipper tabs, cut the following:
    FOUR 4” high x 10½” wide rectangles for the top panels, fussy cutting to center the stripes vertically so you end up with a solid color stripe ½” from each side edge; in other words, there is a white stripe at the very edge along each side and then a solid color stripe
    NOTE: Our fussy cutting instructions are particular to the ½” striped fabric we used.

    ONE 2” high x 2½” wide rectangle for the zipper tabs, fussy cutting to center the stripes as shown in the photo below so the tab will end up as a solid color when properly folded, and so will blend with the outer side edge solid stripe

    NOTE: Our tab size was based on the width of our zipper. Measure your zipper’s width and adjust as necessary. The height of 2” can remain the same; the width should be double the actual width of your zipper.
  2. From the vinyl for the bottom panels, cut TWO 6½” high x 10½” wide rectangles.
  3. From the piping cut TWO 10½” lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the main front and back exterior panels

  1. Find all four cotton panels, the two interfacing panels, the two lengths of piping, and the zipper.
  2. Place an interfacing panel on the wrong side of the exterior front and exterior back cotton panels. The exterior and lining panels are essentially the same, but if you feel one set is fussy cut better than the other, choose this as the front and back. The interfacing should be centered so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  3. Place a length of piping along the bottom raw edge of both the exterior front and the exterior back panels. The raw edge of the fabric and the raw edge of the piping’s insertion tape should be flush. Pin in place.
  4. Machine baste the piping in place. With our black piping, we chose to use the hot pink thread for this stitching so it would be easy to spot later through the vinyl.
  5. Clip a bottom vinyl panel to the right side of a top exterior panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers.
  6. Stitch together, using an approximate ½" seam allowance; you goal is to stitch as close to the piping cord as possible.
  7. Trim back the vinyl side of the seam allowance to approximately ¼”.
  8. Finger press the seam allowance up towards the cotton panel. It will kind of naturally want to fold in this direction.
  9. Repeat to assemble the back panel.

Prepare and attach the zipper tabs

  1. Find the zipper and the zipper tab.
  2. Fold the zipper tab in half, wrong sides together. Press to set a center crease line.
  3. Flip wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Fold in the raw edges so they meet at the crease line.
  4. Press, then fold in half again along the original crease line and press once more. Your finished piece should now be ½” x 2½”.
  5. Cut in half so you have TWO ½” x 1¼” tab pieces.
  6. Open up the zipper halfway. Center the zipper along the top raw edge of one exterior top panel. Align the stop end of the zipper with the outer solid strip at the right side edge of the panel. Trim away the excess zipper tape.
  7. Open up one of the tabs along the center crease line.
  8. Slip the ends of the zipper into the tab. The end of the zipper should be flush with one folded-in side of the tab.
  9. Fold the tab along the original crease line, wrapping the end of the zipper. Pin in place. Align the tabbed end of the zipper again with the outer solid stripe.
  10. Repeat to trim the top end of the zipper so it aligns with the solid stripe at the opposite side of the panel.
  11. Insert, wrap, and pin the remaining tab over this top end.
  12. Unfold each tab, but keep each pinned in place. You are simply revealing the zipper ends. Stitch the zipper ends in place. It’s okay if this stitching is messy, it will be covered within the folds of the tab. We used our Janome AcuFeed™ Flex foot to help keep these layers from shifting under the needle.
  13. You are stitching both the top and bottom ends in place in the same manner.
  14. Re-fold each tab along its original crease line, agian sandwiching the stitched zipper ends between the layers. Pin in place; the inner folds should be flush on either side of the zipper.
  15. Edgestitch in place, close to the inner folds. This edgestitching should be as neat as possible.

Insert the zipper between the exterior and the lining

  1. Find the front exterior panel. Place it right side up on your work surface.
  2. Place the zipper right side down on the front panel. The tabbed ends should align with the solid stripe at each side edge, which means the zipper is centered side to side and sits approximately ½” - ⅝” in from each raw edge. Open the zipper about half way. Pin in place. 
  3. Find one lining piece. Place the lining panel right side down on top of the front panel, sandwiching the zipper between the layers. The top raw edge of the lining panel should be aligned with the other layers. Pin well.
  4. Stitch across the top through all three layers, using an approximate ¼” seam. As above, your goal is to get as close as possible to the piping cord with your seam. We continued to use our Janome AcuFeed™ Flex built-in fabric feeding system.

    NOTE: All with all zipper insertions, when you feel you are approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Raise the presser foot and twist the layers slightly so you can access the pull and move it out of the way of the presser foot. Once clear, drop the presser foot, re-position the layers, and finish the seam.
  5. Fold the lining back so the front panel and the lining are now wrong sides together and the remaining free side of the zipper tape is sticking up. Press, being careful to keep the iron away from the bottom vinyl panel.
  6. Lay flat again so you are working with just the lining panel. Fold up the bottom raw edge of the lining panel ½”.
  7. Fold the two panels wrong sides together again. The bottom folded edge of the lining panel should now just cover the top/bottom exterior panel seam. Re-fold this edge as needed to insure it is super straight all the way across and that it is NOT visible through the vinyl from the front of the panel.
  8. That said, you also need to be sure your lining panel lays nice and flat against the exterior panel. Pin the folded edge in place.
  9. Lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch along the zipper teeth to hold the fabric layers together.
  10. Remember, your panels extend ½” to either end of the zipper, your edgestitching should go to the very end of the panels at either end.
  11. With the same lengthened stitch, edgestitch along the piping through all the layers to secure the lining in place.
  12. Find the back exterior panel and the remaining lining panel. Make a second sandwich similar to the first one. Place the back exterior panel right sides together with the front exterior panel.
  13. You are aligning the top raw edge of the back panel with the remaining free edge of the zipper tape. Lightly pin in place.
  14. Place the remaining lining panel right sides together with layered panels. The top raw edge of the lining panel should also be flush with the free edge of the zipper tape. Because your front panel is facing wrong side up, this means the new lining panel is right sides together with the in-place lining panel. As with the first sandwich, you have sandwiched the remaining free edge of the zipper between the back exterior panel and the remaining lining panel. Pin in place through all the layers.
  15. Stitch through all the layers along this second side of the zipper, again using an approximate ¼” seam.
  16. As you did above, fold the exterior back and lining wrong sides together and press.
  17. Open up the entire unit so it lays flat. Fold up the raw edge of the back panel lining as you did above and pin in place.
  18. With the unit still flat, edgestitch, using a lengthened stitch matching what you used above, along both the piping and the zipper teeth.

Complete the pouch

  1. Make sure the zipper is open all the way.
  2. Fold the exterior panels right sides together. Align the raw edges along both sides and across the bottom. Be especially careful to line up the horizontal seam lines of the upper cotton panels. The zipper should be along the top edge. Pin the upper cotton panels in place; clip the bottom vinyl panels in place.
  3. Using a ½ seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter. Start at one upper edge next to the zipper tab. You are stitching right next to, but not on, the tab. If you are using a stripe as we did, this stripe is the perfect starting guide line.
  4. Continue stitching along the stripe (along your ½” seam allowance).
  5. Once you cross over onto the vinyl, maintain the ½” seam allowance.
  6. Remember to pivot at the corners. As mentioned above, we used thread to match the colored stripe to stitch our vinyl, making it a design element of the see-through bottom.
  7. With the pouch wrong side out still, the next step is to box the bottom corners. 
  8. Our pouch is designed to have 1½” corners.
  9. Cut a ¾” box from each bottom corner. Yes, you are cutting through the seams. That’s okay; they’ll be secured in the corner seam.
  10. All seams are visible from the inside, which is as we designed the project. Trim back the seam allowance close to the stitching along the vinyl – about ¼”.
  11. Also trim back the seam allowance along the cotton to match.
  12. Because the vinyl doesn’t fray, it can be left as-is; the pretty colored stitching and close trim is the “finish.” The upper cotton seam allowances should be finished with your favorite method. We used a simple zig zag finish. These seams will be well hidden inside the pouch since they are tucked along the side seams.
  13. Pinch one corner so the side and bottom seams align and the trimmed edges are flush. Clip in place.
  14. Stitch across the corner with a ½” seam allowance.
  15. Trim back the seam allowance to ¼”. 
  16. Repeat with the opposite corner.
    NOTE: If you are brand new to boxing corners, take a look at our full step-by-step tutorial prior to starting this project. We outline this cut-out method as well as a second method to create this classic corner.
  17. Carefully turn the pouch right side out through the open zipper. Free up the zipper tab at each end.
  18. Then continue turning. Be patient, the vinyl does have a tendency to want to stick to itself, but is still flexible and you can turn it.
  19. Once right side out, continue gently pushing to get the corners to form their box shape.
  20. We added a fusible Sew4Home label at this point to the top center of the front upper panel. As mentioned above, with any ironing on this project, keep the heat away from the vinyl.
  21. Finally, we slipped the length of thin ribbon through the zipper pull, attaching it with a simple hitch knot – similar to how you’d attach a gift or price tag.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (4)

pawoosley said:
pawoosley's picture

The pouch is adorable.  My only concern is that you say it is scrap friendly, and the sizes needed certainly go along with that, but several occasions in your instructions refer to where you are on the stripe (numbers 6 and 9 in the outer panel construction and number 2 in the zipper insertion).   I know your seam allowances are 1/2", but refering to the location in referece to the stripe color can be misleading.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@pawoodsley - It is great for scraps . As we mentioned in the intro and in the supplies: "We used a ½" awning style stripe from Riley Blake... Our fussy cutting instructions are specifically targeted at our ½" striped pattern, but the general steps would work for any favorite fabric." We do refer to special helps that come about when using the ½" stripe, but do make sure to always mention the seam allowances as well. Thanks for pointing out that it might need yet another reinforcement. 

Momo said:
Momo's picture

OO La la!  Tres Chic!  A nice gift for we-know-what-is-coming all too fast, too!  Yummy!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Momo - Thanks! Yep - this definitely falls into the "great gift!" category