As a Japanese company, Janome was one of the first to incorporate Sashiko stitching options into their sewing and embroidery machines. Today, we look at the intricate patterns of Sashiko as a gorgeous decorative art, but did you know its origins can be traced back to the ingenuity and frugality of the 17th century rural Japanese farming and fishing communities?
The word, Sashiko literally means “little stabs” and is a reference to the simple running stitch that is the mainstay of the patterns. By repeating and interlocking this basic stitch, it was possible to reinforce and reuse old garments and bedding, layering the fabric and holding it together with Sashiko stitching. This was a critical practice at a time when people simply couldn’t afford to throw out even the smallest scraps of fabric.
Indigo Niche, a Brisbane, Australia based supplier of Japanese textiles and quilting supplies, has a lovely history of Sashiko as well as interesting background on the evolution from the ordinary running stitch to the most popular and enduring patterns we see in current Sashiko art.
“They found using white thread created an attractive contrast against indigo fabric (the most affordable fabric at the time), and a creative and individual flair to their handmade garments started to appear. Every crafter had her own way of working and varied the style to suit herself and her needs. Some motifs had talismanic significance, their shape and position meant to protect the wearer in specific ways.”
We’ve created two different zippered cases to showcase our own experimentation in Sashiko style. This first case is done entirely with straight stitching and can be created on any machine featuring a Triple Stitch or a named Sashiko Stitch. A Triple Stitch is likely to be found within your machine’s utility stitch collection. If you are lucky enough to sew on a Janome machine with a wide range of unique stitches, such as the Janome Continental M7, look in the Sewing Applications tab to find three specially programmed Sashiko Stitches.
Whichever option you choose, there are three main things to remember: 1) use a fine thread in the bobbin – we used 60wt bobbin thread, 2) use a clear monofilament thread in the top, and 3) use a size 16 needle, often referred to as a jeans or denim needle. This is the combination that, when combined with the correct stitch, will give you the look of Sashiko. Janome also recommends changing out the bobbin case if possible to their Blue Dot Bobbin Case in order to get the best tension results.
In addition to these main elements, proper stabilization is also important. We suggest experimenting with the layering of your fabric. A supportive base helps give the machine stitching a bit more depth and texture. For the stitching on our sample case, we used a gorgeous mid-weight cotton/linen blend layered with a firm tear away stabilizer. After stitching, we added a layer of fusible fleece for structure and softness. We left the tear away in place as one of our layers, only tearing it away within the seam allowances to reduce bulk.
We offer a full downloadable pattern set below to insure all the curves of your case come together perfectly. Our exterior fabric is a Robert Kaufman Essex Cotton/Linen blend in Plum from Fat Quarter Shop. FQS carries a wide array of color options, which makes them a wonderful resource for a project like this, which depends on a strong solid. The lining is a standard quilting cotton.
In order to get a perfect match, we recommend making your own custom piping to highlight the pretty oval shape of the case. We have step-by-step instructions below along with links to our full piping tutorial for even more detail. This is an extra thin piping made with ⅛” cording, so you could substitute a packaged piping should you be able to find one that matches your fabric.
You’ll find our signature S4H step-by-step detail to take you through how to create the top zipper panel with its cute triangle pull tabs that make zipping open and closed easy. The majority of the construction is done with flat panels, so although the finished look is super pro, the steps to get there are easier than you might think.
The case finishes at approximately 9” wide x 4½” high x 3½” deep.
Our thanks to Janome America for sponsoring our Adventures in Sashiko! They were so patient and helpful as we went through all our testing, using several Janome machines. It was fun to explore all the options. Once you try it yourself, be ready to become addicted.
If you like this project, you may want to check out our second case, featuring machine embroidery Sashiko style designs!
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
NOTE: As mentioned above, if you are using a Janome machine, switching out to the Blue Dot Bobbin Case is suggested for the best Sashiko style straight stitching
- Zipper foot
- Satin Stitch foot
- Size 16 Denim needle
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44”+ wide mid-weight linen or similar for the exterior pieces; we used Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman Fabrics in Plum from Fat Quarter Shop
NOTE: The quantity above allows a bit extra for testing and perfecting your Sashiko style stitching. If you’re a pro already, you can get away with ½ to ⅝ of a yard.
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of coordinating mid-weight linen or similar for the pull tabs – you need just two 3” squares; we used Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman Fabrics in Black from Fat Quarter Shop
- ⅓ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining pieces; we used a coordinating quilting cotton from the S4H stash
- ⅓ yard of 45″+ wide one-sided fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- 1½ yards of 20”+ wide tear away stabilizer; we used Pellon EZ Stitch Tear Away
- 1½ yards of lightweight fusible interfacing for all the linen pieces; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
NOTE: As above with the linen fabric, the 1½ yards each of the interfacing and stabilizer gives you extra with which to practice your Sashiko style stitching.
- 1½ yards (ONE package) of standard packaged bias binding to finish the interior seams; we used Wrights Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape in Ivory – the binding should coordinate with your lining fabric.
NOTE: Should you choose to finish the interior seam allowances using a different method, this item can be eliminated
- 1⅝ yards of ⅛” cording for the piping
NOTE: We do strongly recommend making your own custom piping with cording and fabric for a perfect match of the piping to the panels. However, standard packaged piping can be substituted. One two-yard package of piping should be sufficient.
- ONE 12″ zipper; we recommend a chunky metallic zipper
NOTE: Longer zippers can be cut to fit, but finding a 12” zipper allows for the easiest construction. We used a 14” zipper that we cut to fit.
- All purpose thread to match fabric for construction
- Clear monofilament thread for the Sashiko style stitching
- 60wt – 80wt thread in a contrasting color for Sashiko style stitching; we used black 60wt
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth; because you are working with monofilament thread, it’s best to protect your stitching with a pressing cloth
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins and/or clips
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT the FIVE pattern pieces: Front/Back, Base Panel (parts A and B), Zipper Panel (parts A and B), Pull Tab, and Piping (parts A, B and C). These pattern pieces have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
NOTE: We recommend printing TWO COPIES of the pattern set. This will allow you to keep one set intact and trim back the second set to use to cut the fusible fleece. You will end up with un-needed second copies of the piping page and the pull tab page. These extra pages can be recycled or, when printing, set your print window to skip those pages on the second set.
IMPORTANT: Each of the five pages within the PDF is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern along the solid line.
- Match up the A and B parts of the Base Panel and Zipper Panel, using the printed arrows as your guide. Match up the A, B and C parts of the piping pattern, using the printed arrows as your guide. In all cases, butt together each pair and tape; do not overlap. The pull tab is a single pattern piece.
- From the fabric for the exterior pieces (the Plum Linen in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 13” x 13” square for the front and back panels
Using the assembled Piping pattern, cut TWO on the bias
NOTE: These are simple 1½” x 26½” strips and so can certainly be cut without a pattern, but should still be cut on the bias.
Using the assembled Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- From the fabric for the pull tabs (the Black Linen in our sample), using the pattern, cut TWO.
- From the fabric for the lining pieces (the stash quilting cotton in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled Base Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 13” x 13” square for the front and back panels
ONE 2” square for the pull tabs
Using the assembled Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- For the fusible fleece, first trim the pattern pieces along the dotted seam allowance line, then cut the following:
Using the assembled and trimmed Base Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the trimmed Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- The tear away stabilizer can be “cut wild” prior to stitching. This means you simply cut a piece a bit larger than the actual fabric with which you are working/stitching. It’s easiest to do this right before you stitch, but in general, you’ll need the following:
ONE apx. 13” square for the front and back panels
ONE rectangle to fit the base panel
Two strips to fit either side of the zipper panel
- Cut the thin cording into two 26½” lengths.
- Leave the optional bias tape intact. It will be cut to fit within the construction process.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Sashiko style stitching
- As with any new technique, practice makes everything go more smoothly. We recommend first playing with scrap fabric to get used to the stitching process. You can then move on to some extra pieces of your chosen fabric to refine all the settings. As mentioned, we’ve indicated extra amounts of the linen, interfacing, and stabilizer so you can test, test, test.
- Thread the top with clear monofilament.
- If using a Janome machine, if possible, insert a Blue Dot Bobbin Case. This is not mandatory, but does make the Sashiko style stitching easier and cleaner.
- We recommend attaching a clear Satin Stitch foot.
- Thread the bobbin with a 60wt – 80wt thread in a contrasting color. We used black 60wt.
- Select the proper stitch. Depending on your machine, this might be a Triple Stitch, likely found within your machine’s Utility stitches. If using a Janome model, open your Sewing Applications tab and look for either “Sashiko” or “Quilting – Hand Look.”
- We increased the tension setting to “5,” which was the upper limit allowed.
- We set our stitch length to 4.5.
- As mentioned above, do lots of testing to confirm your own stitch and settings. Much is based on personal preference so don’t be afraid to change things up until you get a look you’re happy with.
- The above adjustments and threading allow the bobbin thread to pull to the top though the larger hole made by the size 16 needle. The bobbin thread then becomes the most prominent part of the seam on the right side of the fabric. The clear monofilament is virtually invisible, leaving the thicker bobbin stitch to appear widely spaced, like a hand running stitch.
Stitching the front and back panels
- Find the 13” x 13” square of linen and the 13” x 13” square of lightweight fusible interfacing. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the linen. The two layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Using the paper pattern, transfer the pattern shape and the stitching guide lines to your fabric. It is easiest to first draw in the outer perimeter shape of each panel, the vertical starting line, and the middle horizontal line.
- With those lines in place, draw in the remaining guide lines. These lines are ¼” apart, and notice the point where the lines switch from horizontal to vertical is NOT at the exact center of the panel. This is important for the best finished look of the stitching. As always, anytime you are marking on the right side of your fabric, make sure you are using a tool that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- With your machine settings confirmed and your guide lines drawn on the front and back panels, cut a panel of tear away stabilizer to fit under the 13” x 13” linen panel. Layer the linen panel right side up on top of the stabilizer panel.
- Stitch along each drawn line.
NOTE: If you are a pro at decorative stitching, you can simply draw in starting lines and use the edge of your presser foot or a quilting guide bar to keep each subsequent line parallel and evenly spaced.
- If your front and back panel perimeter drawings are perfectly lined up on one top of the other, you can stitch continuous vertical lines of stitching from one panel to the other. Then, stitch the horizontal lines within each drawn perimeter. This is shown in our sample photo below, but it is optional and should only be done if you are absolutely confident the two panels are exactly aligned. If you’re unsure, stitch each panel independently.
- Sashiko style stitching doesn’t look good with a traditional backstitch or locking stitch to secure the seam. The best way to avoid this is to simply stitch slightly beyond the drawn perimeter of the panel. When the panel is cut to size and all the pieces are sewn together, the Sashiko style stitching will be secured. However, this won’t work on the front and back panels where the horizontal lines run up against the first vertical line. In this instance, stitch each horizontal line should stop and not cross the vertical lines.
- We recommend stitching the vertical lines first. Then, start each horizontal at the mid-point and stitch out to the edge of the panel. Start with long thread tails and take one stitch to pull up the bobbin thread. Hold the tails as you begin to stitch. When all the lines are finished, pull the tails through to the back with a hand needle and hand knot to secure. It’s okay to leave the thread tails long; they’ll be covered with the fusible fleece.
- With all the stitching complete, use the full size paper pattern (don’t use the piece you trimmed to cut the fusible fleece!) to cut out the final front and back panels. If your original drawn perimeter outline is still visible, you can of course use this instead of the paper pattern.
- Find the fusible fleece panels. Center one fleece panel on the wrong side of each exterior panel centering the fleece so there is ½” of exterior panel showing beyond the fleece all around. Following manufacturers instructions, fuse in place.
- Tear away the tear-away (that sounds odd doesn’t it?) from the seam allowance. In other words, tear the stabilizer back to the edge of the fusible fleece. Don’t worry about disturbing the stitching. It’s being held in place at the moment with the fusible fleece and will be permanently secured within the final seams of the bag.
- Set aside the front and back exterior panels.
Stitching the base panel
- Find the linen base panel and the matching panel of lightweight interfacing. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the linen. The two layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Using the paper pattern, transfer the stitching guide lines to your fabric.
- Add a layer of tear away stabilizer against the back of the linen, and as above, stitch along each drawn line.
- As you did above with the front and back panels, find the coordinating fusible fleece panel and center it on the wrong side of the stitched base panel. Then, tear away the tear-away back to the fleece line all around.
Create the zipper panel with its Sashiko style stitching
- Find the linen zipper panel and the matching panel of lightweight interfacing. As you’ve done above, place the interfacing on the wrong side of the linen. The two layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Find the zipper panel’s lining piece. Layer the lining panel and the fused exterior panel with all raw edges flush.
- Slice the zipper section exactly in half lengthwise so you have TWO linen strips and TWO lining strips.
- Set aside the two lining strips for now. You will first be working with just the exterior strips to do the Sashiko style stitching.
- Find the zipper.
- Place one exterior strip right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the zipper right side down on top to the exterior strip. The zipper should be centered side to side and the edge of the zipper tape should be flush with the raw edge of the strip. Pin along the top of the zipper tape through both layers. Open the zipper about half way.
NOTE: Remember, our zipper was longer than the opening so you will see the tail end of the zipper extending beyond the fabric in our photos. We will trim it flush prior to attaching the zipper panel to the base panel.
- Re-set the machine for standard straight stitching with construction thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Attach a Zipper foot and stitch the length of the strip.
NOTE: The zipper should be about half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you’re approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly in order to access the zipper pull and carefully close the zipper, moving the pull out of the way of the foot. Re-position the fabric, drop the presser foot, and finish sewing to the end.
- Press the fabric strip away from the zipper teeth.
- Repeat to attach the remaining exterior strip to the opposite free edge of the zipper.
- Find your base panel, which should already have its pretty Sashiko style stitching finished. Align one end of base panel with one end of the zipper panel. Use the Sashiko style stitching on the base panel as your guide to mark the stitching lines on the zipper panel. There should be three guide lines to each side of the zipper.
- Draw in the full guide lines to either side of the zipper.
- Set aside the base panel.
- Cut strips of the tear away stabilizer to fit beneath the linen strips to either side of the zipper.
- Lightly pin in place.
- Re-set the machine for the Sashiko style stitching and stitch along each drawn line as you did above. This includes re-attaching the standard Satin Stitch foot.
- Stitch one side and then the opposite side. It helps to stitch with the zipper fully open.
- As you did above with the front and back panels and the base panel, find the coordinating fusible fleece panel, slice it down the middle, and center it on the wrong side of each stitched linen strip. Then, tear away the tear-away back to the fleece line all around.
- When done with the Sashiko style stitching, once again re-set the machine for standard straight stitching with construction thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Don’t forget to re-attach the Zipper foot.
- Un-zip the zipper all the way. With the zipper unit right side up, fold one side the zipper unit – one stitched exterior strip – back over the zipper, revealing its original seam allowance.
- Flip over the zipper unit.
- Find one lining strip. Place the lining strip right sides together against the exterior strip, sandwiching the zipping between the layers. All the raw edges of the exterior and lining strips should be flush. Pin through all the layers.
- Stitch along the original seam line through all the layers. As above, start with the zipper about half way open, then move the zipper pull as needed.
- Press both strips away from the zipper teeth so they are now wrong sides together.
- Repeat to add the remaining lining strip to the other side of the zipper in the same manner.
- Because of the beautiful Sashiko style stitching, you do not want edgestitching to show on the right side (the linen side) of the zipper unit, but you do still need to secure the layers so the zipper unit will lay nice and flat.
- With the “wings” of the zipper unit wrong sides together to either side (exterior and lining are wrong sides together to either side of the zipper), start with the zipper unit lining side up. Sweep just the exterior strip back under the zipper so the two exterior strips are right sides together, leaving just the one lining strip extending to the right. Edgestitch the lining to the zipper tape. Repeat on the other side.
- The zipper unit is now secure from the lining side…
- … without any edgestitching on the exterior side.
- See those pull tabs in the photo above? We’re making them next :-).
Make the pull tabs
- Find the two 3” linen squares and the one 2” interfacing square.
- Center the interfacing square on the wrong side of one of the linen squares so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Re-thread the machine with construction thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Place the two squares right sides together. All raw edges should be flush.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides of the square, pivoting at each corner.
- Slice the sewn square in half along the diagonal.
- Clip the corners and trim back the seam allowance to about ¼”.
- Turn each triangle right side out through the open diagonal edge. Use your finger or a blunt tool to gently push out the point so it is nice and sharp. Press flat.
Make the piping
- Find the two 26½” bias strips and the two matching lengths of thin cording.
- Place each strip wrong side up on your work surface.
- Place a length of cording down the center of each strip.
- Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. The raw edges of the strip should be flush. Lightly pin close to the cord to hold the fabric in place.
- Lengthen the stitch to its maximum for basting. Attach a Zipper foot.
- Stitch close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping.
NOTE: These steps are summarized for space. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How to Make and Attach Your Own Piping.
Layer the front and back panels and add the piping
- Find the back panel, the front panel, the two main lining panels, and the two lengths of piping.
NOTE: The photo below also shows the base panel, zipper panel and pull tabs. Hang on to those; you’ll put them together in the next section.
- Layer a lining panel wrong sides together with each exterior panel.
- Pin the piping on the right side of each exterior panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the panel and starting/ending at a center point of each panel.
- If necessary, you can clip the piping to better allow it to curve around the corners.
- When you are about 1″ from your starting point, lay the piping against the fabric so it is flat and smooth at the joining point.
- With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric on the tail to expose the cording underneath. Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly butts together with the head of the cording.
- Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge. Trim away excess fabric if necessary. Overlap the folded end over the head of the piping to conceal the joint. Finish pinning.
- Still using a Zipper foot, machine baste all the way around through all the layers on both the front and back panels, running the seam close to the piping cord.
NOTE: As above, these piping steps are summarized for space. If this is your first time attaching and finishing piping, see our tutorial, How to Make and Attach Your Own Piping.
- If the fabric curls up at the corners…
- … add a second line of stitching along the corners to keep the fabric flat.
Assemble the outer ring/side loop, adding the pull tabs
- Find the exterior base panel, which should already have its Sashiko style stitching in place, and the base panel lining. As you did above with the front and back panels, layer the exterior base section with its lining panel, wrong sides together.
- Find the zipper unit and the two pull tabs. Pin a pull tab to each end of the zipper unit on the right side. The raw edge of each pull tab should be flush with the raw end of the zipper unit with the point of the triangle centered on the zipper teeth.
- You are still using construction thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin and a standard straight stitch. We continued to use our Zipper foot for the best control. With a ½” seam allowance, stitch each tab in place.
- If, as we did, you used a longer zipper, now is the time to cut it flush with the end of the zipper unit. Remember to use your craft scissors for this step – not your good sewing scissors. Clip through the zipper tape then pry away just enough teeth to cut flush. Sometimes you can simply use your fingers to work off the individual teeth. If you’re having trouble, try a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the teeth.
- Place the completed zipper section right sides together with the base section, aligning each end of the zipper section with the ends of the base section to create a loop. The zipper should be just slightly open. Pin in place. Double check that the loop in not twisted anywhere along its length.
- Using an approximate ½” seam allowance, stitch the two short seams through all the layers. We say “approximate” because your goal is to stitch just beyond the zipper stops at the top and bottom, which might be slightly narrower or wider than ½”.
- This process yields a seam allowance that will be visible on the interior of bag. We recommend finishing these two short seam allowance with your favorite machine finishing stitch in matching thread, such as a zig zag stitch or an overcast stitch. When the pouch is completed, these seams are quite deep into the sidewall of the pouch and will not be very visible, however, a finished edge is recommended. We used a simple zig zag.
- You now have you main ring/side loop and your front and back panels completed and ready for final assembly.
Insert the front and back panels
- Find the back panel. Fold it in half and place a pin at each edge of the fold.
- Fold it in half in the opposite direction and place two additional pins. You now have pins at the quarter points of the panel, like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock.
- Repeat this process with the front panel.
- Then repeat the process once more with the side loop to mark quarter points along each of its raw edges.
- With the side loop wrong side out. Set the back exterior panel into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together.
- Align the quarter point pins of the front panel with the matching pins of the loop. Pin through all the layers at these points first, then fill in around the circle. We used clips instead of pins – either option works fine.
- Using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around the panel, running your seam as close to the piping as possible. If your machine allows you to adjust the needle position, move it all the way to the left.
- Here’s a shot looking down into the pouch with the first panel stitched in place.
- Repeat to add the front panel. Stop for just a moment to confirm the stitch direction of the panel. It looks best if the front and back panels are opposite one another – in other words, on one side the panel has horizontal stitching on the right hand side and on the other side the horizontal stitching is on the left hand side.
- This second panel will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present an initial challenge, go slowly and stop – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed.
- As you can see by the seam line in the photo below, it can be helpful to go around more than once. A second – or even third – time around can help you get in even closer to the piping, which is the ultimate goal. You can do this when inserting both the front and back panels.
NOTE: This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. In this case, we simply have a narrow tube and our “circle” is more of an oval. If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
Finish the interior seam allowances
- To flatten the interior seam allowance and “stiffen” it so it is easier to bind, we suggest going around the seam one more time to finish the edge. We used a zig zag stitch. Do this on both the front and back.
- Find the double fold bias binding. Cut a length to fit around one complete panel seam allowance. Slip the binding over the seam allowance, encasing the raw edges to give the seam allowance a finished edge inside the pouch. Leave 1″ extra at the tail for an overlap. Pin in place all around… or simply slip the binding over the seam allowance and allow the presser foot to hold it in place. This option allows you to use your hand to stretch the binding slightly and wrap-as-you-go. A slight stretch or tautness to the binding can make it easier to curve around the corners.
- Stitch the bias binding to the seam allowance all around. The presser foot is your choice; we used a Satin Stitch foot. Remember, you are stitching only through the seam allowance; do not stitch onto the main pouch itself. Repeat to bind the remaining seam allowance on the opposite side.
- Turn the pouch right side out and press.
NOTE: This was our chosen finish but it is not mandatory. You could also choose to use a simple machine sewn finish as you did above with the short joining seams of the side loop. A standard zig zag or an overcast stitch with the Overedge foot are both good options.
ONE MORE NOTE: The zipper pull tabs should be loose from the side of the pouch, which is what needs to happen so they can act as pulls to open and close the zipper. However, if you want them to sit more flat, you can use a hand needle and matching thread to very lightly tack them in the down position along the top of the triangle. Work from the inside of the pouch, hiding the stitch through just the back layer of each tab.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever