Zipped Book Pouch Tutorial

For our holiday I made our children small zipped pouches to carry their travel journals and to store ticket stubs and other ephemera they collected on the trip (my daughter saved every single train ticket we used - I nearly went mad). I struggled to find a suitable online tutorial for what I wanted, so in the end I made it up based on a couple of other tuts I'd seen. I thought perhaps someone else might find it useful, so I've prepared a tutorial for a basic zipped pouch with a zipped outside pocket. I did lots of photos - I hope they don't make this post insanely long....

1. You need 3 pieces of your outside fabric. Cut these into two larger rectangles (mine were 27cm by 22cm for a finished bag of 25x20) and one smaller rectangle. The smaller rectangle should be the same width as your large rectangles but a few centimetres shorter. I made mine 27cm by 17cm. 
You also need 2 pieces of lining fabric, cut into rectangles the same size as your large rectangle of outer fabric. You will also need 2 zips of the correct length as your bag width - I used a 25cm zip. And of course you'll need a zipper foot for your sewing machine.
2. Iron a small hem onto the top edge of your smaller rectangle (about ½ a cm will do but if, like me, you find it difficult to iron a tiny edge, make it 1cm and plan for it when cutting out your rectangle).
Lay out the small rectangle and pin your zip along the top, ironed edge. Make sure the zip opening is above the edge. Now sew the zip on to the outside of the small rectangle, using a matching or contrasting thread. I sewed two lines, one directly below the zipper and one at the bottom edge of the zip fabric, to make it nice and neat.
3. Lay your smaller rectangle over your larger rectangle, both right side up. Line them up as neatly as you can so the bottom and side edges meet. Pin the zip into place on the larger rectangle and sew it in place.
4. Lay down your lining fabric right side up. Now lay your second zipper along it, with the top edge of the zipper aligned with the top edge of the lining fabric.

5. Place your front rectangle (the one with the smaller rectangle now attached) right side down on top of these two, sandwiching the zip neatly between the top edges of the two large rectangles. Pin into place and sew.
6. Open out your two layers so that the right sides are showing. They should fold down where they've been sewn onto the zip. 
7. Now fold them together again with the wrong sides facing (the right sides should be showing). The unsewn edge of the zip will stick out at the top. 
Lay down your second lining rectangle, right side facing up. Lay the zip, with its attached rectangles, face up over the lining piece. The right side of the attached rectangle will be facing you. Line the zip up with the top edge of the lining piece as you did before. Now place your second outside fabric rectangle, right side facing down, on top of those, sandwiching the zip as you did before.
8. When you have sewn the zip on, open out the two ‘flaps’ you have sewn on – each side with its outside fabric and its lining now right sides out. It should look like this:
 You can now topsew on each side below the zip to make it nice and neat.

9.  Now fold your two outside pieces towards each other (wrong sides will be facing) and your two lining pieces towards each other. The zip will fold in half as you do so. Fold it so that it is tucked on the lining side of things. Pin all around your edges and use pins to hold your zip neatly in place.
VERY IMPORTANT: You must leave your zip about halfway open, or you will not be able to turn your bag right side out when you are done.
Sew around your edges, leaving a gap of a few centimetres in the lining for turning the bag when you are done. I used a 1cm seam allowance  - you can use whatever seam allowance you like, but you must accommodate your zip, and a too large seam allowance will add bulk to the bag, so try to make it as small as you can manage. I also went back and forth a couple of times over the zips – with kids pulling them all the time zip ends can be a weak spot. 
Clip your corners and trim any zip ends that are sticking out on the sides.
10. Turn your bag right side out, pulling the outer part through the opening you have left in your zipper. You can hand-sew the gap in the lining closed now, though I always just machine stitch it close to the edge since it’s on the inside and won’t be seen.
Ta Da!!
 I have created a pdf version of this tutorial for ease of reference, but of course a 'server error' is preventing me from uploading it to Google Docs. If you'd like me to mail you a copy, please drop us a line on sam(at)heycherry(dot)co(dot)za.


  1. Really awesome. Wish I could sew. I am yet to learn!

  2. Thanks Hayari. You could give the tut a go - it's really very easy. I can also recommend Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karrol. I taught myself to sew using it, and it really makes you feel more confident.