An Easy Method for Installing a Zipper Pocket

There are quite a few ways to put a zipper into a bag lining. This method is a really easy way to do it. Later we’ll try some of the other, more complicated ways.

First, collect the supplies you’ll need:


1/2 yard of fabric for the lining.

1/4 yard of fabric for the pocket.

1 zipper (I’m using a 9″ zipper).


Rotary cutter.

Pattern piece for a bag lining.


A hand sewing needle.

Thread to match or coordinate with the lining.

Fabric pencil or tailor’s chalk.

A seam ripper.

18″ transparent ruler.

Cutting mat.

First, cut out one of your two lining pieces, following your pattern. I used the pattern piece from the Absolute Beginner Lined Tote project that we did a couple of weeks ago. Cut the other pattern piece 2″ longer than the pattern. Use this bigger piece for the zipper installation.


Set the lining pieces aside for a moment. Now take your zipper. A couple of centimeters inside from the metal stops, at both the top and bottom, hand stitch a satin stitch across the zipper’s teeth, and then snip off the metal stops, like this:


Once you’ve finished, your zipper will look like this:


Now, take the lining piece in which you’re going to install the zipper. Measure down 3″ from the top:


With your rotary cutter, cut the piece across at the 3″ mark:


Find the center point of the top piece. Measure your zipper in its altered state, my zipper is now 8-1/2″. Half the length of my zipper is 4-1/4″. Measure out from the center point of the lining fabric 4-1/4″ in each direction, mark with a fabric pencil:


These dots mark your zipper placement. Lay your zipper there centered between the dots. Now measure from each end of the zipper to the edge of the fabric, like this:


This measurement is 4-1/2″. Add an inch to this measurement, so 5-1/2″. Now cut two strips from the same fabric, measuring 2″ X 5-1/2″. Put the zipper on your work surface, right side up. Line up one of the short sides of the strip, right side down, with one of the ends of the zipper and pin into place, like this:


Do the same on the other end of the zipper and take them to your sewing machine. Line up your presser foot with the edge of the fabric and make a seam across the short end of the strip and the zipper, like this:


Repeat with the other end. When you are finished it will look like this:


Set the zipper aside for a moment. Take your pocket fabric, cut two squares that are about 2″ wider than the zipper, and no longer than your bottom piece of lining fabric. I made my squares(rectangles, really) 10-1/2″ X 13″.Tutorial003_image012

Now take your zipper and place it right side down on your work surface. Turn under the edge of your pocket fabric and pin it along either side of the zipper, like this:


Make sure not to get too close to the teeth, about 1/8″ from the teeth on either side. When you’re done pinning, take it to your machine. With the zipper foot on, sew along the edge of the pocket fabric on both sides.


I start with the zipper partially unzipped. When I near the zipper pull, I stop, with the needle down, I raise the presser foot and pull the zipper closed. This keeps it from interfering with the seam. It takes a bit of manouvering, but it can be done.

When you’re done sewing, take the pocket/zipper and lay it on your work surface with the pocket fabric down (the zipper itself will be face up). Now take the two pieces of lining fabric (the 3″ strip that you cut from the top, and the bottom piece). Turn under the edges and pin them along either side of the zipper, like this:


Take it to your machine, with the zipper foot in place, sew along the edges.


Again, start with the zipper partly open, when you near the zipper pull, stop, with your needle down, raise the foot and close the zipper. When you are done, your piece will look like this on the front:


Turn it over and fold down the top half of the pocket:


On each edge of the pocket, where it is stitched to the lining, break some of the stitches with a seam ripper, so you have about an inch free on either edge.


Once you have a free edge on each side, fold in your lining fabric on all sides, and pin in place,so the pocket is exposed, like this:


Take it to your machine, with the standard presser foot in place, sew along the three open edges of the pocket.


You’re almost done. Your piece will look like this on the front:


And like this on the back:


The inside of your pocket looks like this:Tutorial003_image024

Now, the only thing left to do is to repair those stitches that you broke earlier. With your standard presser foot, line up your needle exactly over your previous stitches and top stitch over the broken section, like this:


You are done:


Along with the other, plain piece of lining fabric, it’s ready to be sewn into a tote bag or purse.