How to Sew a Zippered Pocket

close-up of finished zippered pocket on the 7th street tote

If you have ever wanted to add a zippered pocket to your bag or other sewing projects, this tutorial will walk you through how to do it! This zippered pocket tutorial is a companion article for the 7th Street Tote pattern but these techniques can be certainly be applied in other patterns.

closeup of zippered pocket with wallet and chapstick sticking out

A zippered pocket can be added to the inside or the outside of a bag for added storage or to keep personal items secure. Throughout this tutorial I’ll be referring to measurements used in the 7th Street Tote pattern, but they can be easily changed depending on your project.

I was pretty intimidated to sew zippers when I first started sewing, but the more I practiced, the more confident I became! If you’re looking for a great oversized tote bag pattern and want some more zipper practice, check out my Lakeview Tote pattern which has an option to add a zippered pocket to the inside.

zippered pocket supplies laid out on table

This page contains some affiliate links to products and I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links (at no extra cost to you).

Some Things You’ll need

  • Fabric – lightweight to midweight cotton fabric
  • 1/4″ double stick fusible tape – optional, but is really nice when you want the zipper to stay in place before topstitching around.
  • Fusible interfacing – optional, but the sturdiness from the interfacing makes it easier to sew the zipper.
  • 7″ zipper (You can also use a longer zipper and cut it down to the length you need – That’s what I did in this example)
  • Ruler – this is my favorite quilting ruler
  • Rotary cutter or fabric scissors
  • Cutting mat – a must have if using a rotary cutter
  • Iron

I have my pieces cut out and ready to go – the Lining pieces for my tote bag, and two smaller Pocket pieces in lining fabric for my pocket. Another way to cut out your pocket is to cut one long piece to fold up at the end so that you have one less side to sew. I’m using two separate pocket pieces in my example.

You only need one of the Lining pieces – this is what you will be cutting a “window” out of for your zipper. The pocket size I’m using is 9″ x 7″ which is a pretty typical zippered pocket size for inside a bag. The measurements I’m using are for a 7″ zipper, but if you want a bigger pocket with a longer zipper, make sure your pocket pieces is at least 2″ wider than the pocket opening. My pocket opening is 7″ (the length of my zipper between the metal stoppers) so my pocket piece is 9″ wide.

Let’s get started!

Draw the markings for the pocket Opening

showing the interfacing on the wrong side of the lining centered in the middle

Mark the center of one Lining piece. Cut a small piece of fusible interfacing measuring about 2” x 9” (this is optional but it does provides stability while installing the zipper). Mark the center of the interfacing and line it up with the Lining center mark and 4″ down from the top. Press interfacing with an iron to the wrong side of the Lining.

On the interfacing, mark long straight lines as follows: (you will not see these lines as they will be on the wrong side of the lining).

5” from top (this is where the center of the zipper will be)

1/4” above center line

1/4” below center line

Find the center on the interfacing using your Lining center mark. Close up the “box” by marking vertical lines 3.5” from the center on the right and left.

showing the diagonal lines going from the corners to the center line for the zippered pocket

Draw diagonal lines from each corner to the middle line like in the picture above.

Place pocket piece on right side of lining

Turn the Lining over so the right side is facing up. Take one of the pocket pieces and mark the center. Draw a horizontal line on the Lining 3.5” down from top with chalk or washable fabric marker (this will show on the right side of the fabric).

With right sides together, line up the pocket piece along the line you just drew and centered using the center marks. Place a pin in each corner of the pocket – you want the pins to be in the corners so they are out of the way for the next step.

sew around outside of box

Turn everything over so the wrong side of the Lining is facing up. Stitch along the outside of the box using the lines you drew as a guide. Tip: Use a smaller stitch length to help with accuracy.

Cut opening and pull pocket through

Cut along the middle line of the box until you reach the points of the triangles. Tip: You can get started a rotary cutter and then finish with scissors. Cut along the diagonal lines into the corners as close as you can but without cutting the stitches.

Pull the pocket through the opening you just made from the right side to the wrong side of the Lining. The right side of the pocket should be facing up. Press around the edge of the opening, making sure that the pocket lining isn’t showing from the right side.

Tip: If the corners are still rounded, you can check to see if you still have room to clip a little more into the corners – this will help to get pointed corners.  

Position zipper behind pocket opening and sew

With the wrong side of the Lining facing up, Apply 1/4” fusible tape flush along the top and bottom edge of the zipper opening and press with iron to fuse. Remove paper backing before the next step (If you have trouble removing the paper backing cleanly, it may need more pressing with the iron). 

*The fusible tape makes installing the zipper easier and helps to keep the zipper in place when sewing, but you can use pins if you want.

With the zipper face up on a table, place pocket opening on top of zipper (right side up), centering the zipper where you want it. Decide which direction you want the zipper to open and make sure the metal stoppers are out of the way before topstitching. Press again with iron, if needed, once zipper is positioned.

showing the finished topstitching around the zipper on the zipper pocket

Using a zipper foot, sew close to the edge of the opening, all around the opening. *When needed, raise the presser foot and move the zipper pull out of the way when you come to it.

Sew pocket pieces together

Turn everything over so the wrong side of the Lining is facing up. Place the other Pocket piece right side together, and line up the raw edges. Pin just the pocket pieces together and sew all around the edges with 1/4” seam allowance. Make sure to move the bag Lining out of the way when needed.

And you’re done – try out the finished pocket! You can wipe the markings away with a damp cloth at this point and continue on with the pattern instructions. In the 7th Street Tote, the next step is sewing the Lining pieces together to finish up the lining for the bag.

After the lining is finished, the recessed zipper comes next so head over to my tutorial How to Sew a Recessed Zipper to help walk you through those steps.

showing the finished zippered pocket in the 7th street tote

Thanks for reading and hope you found this tutorial helpful 🙂

Bethany signature

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