Pattern: Flat bottom straight(ish) sides zippy pouch (with a little zipper trick)

I love the method of sewing across two corners of a pouch or bag to create a flat bottom (this post is going to sound a bit like a cosmetic surgery clinic brochure at times I fear), but sometimes I don’t want the sides of the bag/pouch slope inwards towards the base. I knew that this had to be solvable through the careful application of trigonometry, so…. I decided just to take a guess at how to solve it (‘cos I’m no mathematician). After a few false starts, I managed to draw this pattern which creates a straight-ish sided pouch with a flat bottom. The finished pouch is 9″ wide, 7″ high and around 3″ deep at the base.

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I also have an issue with the standard way of doing zip ends. I love to use zip end covers because it gives such a great-looking finish, but I don’t like the fact that you run the risk of getting a hole between the zip end and the side of the pouch. I’ve tweaked this method a little to provide a foolproof finish, by extending the zip end cover past the end of the zip and into the line of the seam. I haven’t seen another method that does it quite like this, but please forgive me if this is a really well known way and I just think I have invented it!

Before you start you need to download and print the pdf pattern. After a considerable quantity of wasted paper testing this, I have found that using Google Chrome or the most up-to-date version of Adobe is the best way to open up the pattern once you have downloaded it. You need to make sure that your paper is oriented to landscape and ‘fit to page’ or ‘shrink to fit’ is disabled. There is a line marked on the pattern that should measure 6″ –  if it doesn’t, then your printer is definitely shrinking to fit, and you need to try again! Once you have printed the pattern, cut it out and match the sections together, aligning the dotted lines and taping into place. You will have 2 pattern pieces – one for the interfacing/fleece, and one for the fabrics.

You will need:

Fabric for outer
Fabric for lining
Iron-on medium weight interfacing
Fusible fleece (low loft or high loft, depending on the weight of the outer fabric you are using – I would use low loft with thicker fabrics).
10″ (minimum) zip
sewing machine and zipper foot

Preparing the fabrics

Cut out two pieces of outer fabric and two pieces of lining fabric, using the larger pattern piece. Cut out 2 pieces of fusible fleece and 2 pieces of iron using the small pattern piece. Cut 2 pieces of fabric 4″ by 1″ – these will form the zip end covers.

Fuse one piece of fleece so it is positioned centrally on one of the outer pieces of fabric, like this:

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Repeat with the other piece of fusible fleece and outer fabric. Then interface the 2 lining pieces of fabric with the medium-weight iron-on interfacing, aligning it centrally, in the same way.

Preparing the zip

Take one of the 4″ by 1″ pieces of fabric and fold it in half widthways (middle line in the picture), then mark two lines 3/4″ away from the short edges, as indicated in the photograph.

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Fold the two edges inwards on these two lines (1), press, and then and then fold in half again (2) and press.

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Repeat to create the other zip end tab. Put to one side whilst you sort out the zip.

Trim the open end of the zip so that it measures 3/4″ past the end of the zip stop (you probably wont have to trim much).

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Then measure 9″ from the trimmed end and mark a line and trim the zip to this line.

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I put a dot of glue or clear nail varnish on this end of the zip to keep it closed. Another option is to zig-zag stitch over it.

Open up one of the fabric zip end covers and place one end of the zip inside, aligned with folded-in edge (as in the picture below), not with the central fold as you normally would. I use my glue pen (mine is a Sewline) heavily at this point to glue the zip into position. You could use pins, but IMO your life will change for the better when you invest in a glue pen, so do it….

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Now fold the zip cover  in the middle, on the fold line you made earlier, using more glue or pins to hold it in place – it will look like this, and there with some of the zip end cover extending past the end of the zip:

IMG_9477

Repeat with the other zip end cover.

It’s finally time to get the sewing machine out….

Stitch the zip end covers in place close to the edge nearest the zip. I like to use 2 rows of stitching, but you don’t have to!

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Place one piece of outer fabric, right side up, and align the zip, face down, with the top edge, like this:

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Position one of the lining pieces on top, right sides together with the outer piece, and so the zip is sandwiched between the outer and the lining. I use loads of glue again here (on both sides of the top fabric part of the zip) to hold the zip/fabric sandwich together… You can use pins, but glue is awesome (really).

Fit a zipper foot to your sewing machine and sew along the line indicated in the photo. 

IMG_9491

You will need to fiddle about with the zip pull to move it out of the way as you sew. My usual technique is to start with the zip pull in the middle of the zip, then sew along until I get as close to it as I can. Then I raise the zipper foot, but keep the needle lowered, and move the zip pull back where I have just sewn, so it is out of the way. Then I put the zipper foot back down again, and away I go to the end.

Repeat all of that with the other two pieces of fabric, on the other side of the zip.

The finishing zip touch is to top stitch along the zip edge on the outside of the pouch. Open out the two side and press the lining and outer fabric thoroughly away from the zip. Then (still with the zipper foot attached), stitch where indicated in the photo, nice and close to the line where the fabric meets the zip.

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Don’t forget, if your lining fabric is a completely different colour to the outside, you can, if you want to, use a different colour bobbin thread a this point (that might be obvious to you, but it took me a while to figure that one out).

Sewing it all up

Now for the fun bit… Make sure your zip is at least 3″  UNZIPPED now or you’ll be very sad later when you can’t turn your pouch the right way round… Line up your fabrics so that the outer pieces are right sides together, and the lining pieces are right sides together too. You should end up with something that looks like this:

IMG_9495

See how the zip is there in the middle, and the outer and lining fabrics are pulled to either side of it. Pin all round the edges (sorry I took my photo before I finished pinning).  There is a lumpy area round the zip that you need to pinch flat in order to sew. Fold the zip cover flat so that it is sandwiched between the 2 pieces of outer fabric, like this:

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Once you have pinned everything into place you need to stitch the sides and the bottom of the pouch, leaving the 2 small L-shaped cut outs at the bottom unstitched, and also leaving a 3″ gap on one of the sides so that you can turn your pouch right side out later.

So, stitch where I’ve marked with the dotted lines, with a 3/8″ seam allowance (you will be stitching pretty much along the edge of the interfacing). Remember to do a bit of reverse stitching on each side of the gap you are leaving for turning, or you run the risk of your stitching coming undone when you turn the pouch through.

IMG_9498

The final stage before you can turn the pouch right side out, is to stitch the bottom corners of the pouch. Working on one corner, pull the 2 inner angles of the L-shape apart, and open up the L-shaped section. Align the bottom seam and the side seam of the pouch and line up the two edges of the unsewn corners at right angles to the seams, like this:

IMG_9504

You should be able to see how you are creating the nice boxy base to your pouch. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t – have another go before you sew! Stitch across the corner, reverse stitching at each end because this bit of stitching needs to be very firm. Repeat this process with the other 3 corners.

Now it’s time to turn the pouch right side out to check all is OK – I always do this before I trim any seams! If you are happy with how it looks (use a crochet hook or knitting needle to push out the zip covers to check they look good), then turn inside out again and trim the seams to 1/4″. Then turn it back through, sew up the turning hole with ladder stitch and then give the whole thing a thorough pressing. And you are all finished!

Kitty in the house pouch

I’d love to know how you get on with my zippy pouch suggestions – any feedback is much appreciated.

Click here for lots more FREE sewing tutorials from Very Berry.

94 thoughts on “Pattern: Flat bottom straight(ish) sides zippy pouch (with a little zipper trick)

  1. Hi Ali thank you for this detailed tutorial. This is the second one Iam making for my friends birthday. It turned out so perfect. God bless you for helping people like me who are a beginner in sewing.

  2. Your tutorial is exactly what I was looking for! I needed to figure out how to sew my zippered purse with more room inside. Just couldn’t figure how to make the flat-bottom. And the zipper tab trick is amazing! It’s really going to raise the finished quality of my purse. I’m excited to try this! I’m using faux leather for the outside, and linen for the lining. It’s going to be a bit bigger, with pockets on the outside and inside as well. I made it once, but it wasn’t big enough inside because it is just flat seams on the bottom as well as the sides. This trick is going to make it perfect!
    Thanks for the great pictures and tutorial!

  3. I love your method using the zipper tabs. This gives more of a cleaner finish. I make loads of zipper bags with the boxy bottom. They are good for organizing, gifts, and are great for a quich tip to the grocery. I will try your method in the morning. Thank you.

  4. Hi – I love this tutorial and in my hunt for the perfect shaped bag I keep coming back to it. One question though is would it be easy to enlarge? I’m looking for something bigger to use as a nappy wallet but not sure I can brave the maths involved. Any tips?

    1. Hi Sarah – it is quite tricky to enlarge because the angles change somewhat – I can send you the method for how to work it out, but it’s in my notebook at my studio, if you don’t mind hanging on in there until tomorrow… So glad you like the tutorial.

  5. Thank you for the tutorial, have tried several and several zip tabs, none have worked like yours, I make them for gifts from quilting fat quarters, would love to get some fabric like yours, just beautiful, thank you again and God bless your generous spirit.
    Marta

  6. Brilliant!! I have been wracking my brain over how to get straight sides with boxed corners. You presented it beautifully and left me thinking ‘now why didn’t I think of that, it makes perfect sense!’ Thank you!

  7. Hi Ali, I just love this little zipper bag. I have never lined one like that before & even though I used upholstering fabric & par felt stiffening which is reasonably thick, it still worked a treat. Finishing the zipper ends like that is so neat. Your instructions were clear & easy to follow & I like the way you have compensated for the boxing at the bottom to make the sides straight. I have learnt a lot & have a lovely present for my friend’s birthday. Thank you so much! Kath

  8. I don’t understand if you cut the zipper 9″ from one end to the other, and you don’t place those ends in the center of the zip covers than the total length is approx. 10″. That is longer than the top of the bag. Your picture shows them even, and when I made mine the zipper with end covers on was longer than the bag top and didn’t look as good as yours, can you help me with that?

    1. Hi there Cathy, sorry, it’s hard to say what might have gone wrong… If you have made the zip end covers correctly, and positioned them ok, the zip plus end covers shouldn’t be longer than about 9.5inches (9 inches for the zip, plus 1/4inch for the extra bit of zip cover at either end. Hope this helps a bit, and I’m sorry it’s proving a bit tricky.

      1. i can’t get the math to work out for me either. if you start with a 4 inch piece and fold in half, each side of the fold is 2″. then if you fold in at .75″ what is left is half an inch to the fold. if the zip end is attached at that .75″ mark then half an inch is the over hanging (for lack of a better word) bit. with both ends the 9″ zip becomes a 10″ zipper unit. i dont know how long the top of the bag is because i havent printed it out yet. regardless, i’m hoping to try this zipper method and am guessing that the length of the zipper unit (with the tabs) should be the same length as the top of the bag. thanks!

      2. Hi Brandy, I’ve probably confused you by getting my facts wrong in my answer to Cathy… so apologise to her, and to you. You are right with your zip end maths… although, once you have done all the folding, the excess at the zip end cover is more like 3/8 inch than 1/2. So, once you have the zip end covers folded round the zip, in total in measures 9 3/4″. You will find that this is the same measurement as the top of the pouch. If you are at all worried, you can always measure the prepared zip against the top of the pouch before you stitch the second end cover in place, and trim a tiny bit more off the zip, if necessary. Hope this helps, and good luck with your pouch making.

  9. Hi there, loving the tutorial for the bag but loving the cat fabric even more! Please can you tell me what design it is and manufacturer or if possible, where you got it from. Thank you, Karen

    1. Hi Karen- so sorry for the slow reply. I don’t know the name of the pattern or the manufacturer unfortunately, but I got it from an Etsy seller: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/applesandeggs
      Sadly it looks like she is on maternity leave at the moment, but other sellers have it:
      https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/84448322/l312a-cotton-linen-fabric-stripe-cat-and?ref=shop_home_active_2
      https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/84449830/6312a-cotton-linen-blend-fabric-cat-and?ref=shop_home_active_28

      There’s a pink version too, if that takes your fancy. 🙂

      1. No worries as we all have busy lives. I’m on Etsy so will have a look at those listings. Thank you for your help 😃

  10. I am always having trouble to make these types of bags, but now after reading your tutorial, I’m ready to make my very own perfect make up bag.
    Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial for us.
    Have a nice and long life, Be happy and God bless you
    Nathalie

  11. Hi

    I just wanted to say thank very much for your tutorial I have had problems with zips for a long time and finally I have a little bag with a perfect tab end zip! I love the clear pictures it helped so much and yes I finally got the hang of the tabs only to find a small hole at the ends – it was disappointing – now I am happy to give my little bags to friends as gifts. Thank you!

  12. Genius!! love how you handled the zipper tabs. I just finished a zip bag and the zipper ends were so hard to sew through that my machine overheated. This will relieve the bulk sooooo much. Thank you. Know what I’m doing on the Holiday weekend!!

  13. Really good tutorial – I made it last night. Now, having looked at your picture in more detail, I want to make a zip pull!!

  14. I’ve figured out that if you want a straight edge on the sides, you can add those inches on the bottom of the fabrics as wide as you want to boxing to be. Say, if the top is 7 inches across and you want the bottom to be 2 inches wide, cut your pieces in a trapezoid shape with the bottom edge 2 inches wider than the top edge, so 9 inches. It seems to even out. I don’t know if it’s mathematically precise, but it looks right!

  15. ……MUCHAS GRACIAS POR TUS CORREOS!!!! SON MUY CLAROS Y ÚTILES,TAN SOLO CON MIRAR LAS IMAGENES ENTIENDO(NO HABLO INGLÉS) TODO Y COMO SE DEBE HACER.!!!!! INMENSAMENTE AGRADECIDA.!!!!!! DIOS TE BENDIGA!!!!!

  16. I can’t wait to try this. I have also been experimenting with zip ends, bunched-up-ness (not a word, I know) and the little hole you referred too. I made 11 gifts from Elm Street Life Bow Tute for Christmas, and I tweaked the zippers on each. Number 11 was definitely better than say number 2, but still looking for a good zip end solution, so was happy to see your tutorial on Pinterest. Can’t wait to give it a whirl. The other features of the little pouch are equally appealing to me as well! Great job!

    Holly

  17. ThAnks so much for posting this again. I’ve tried so many methods for zips ends but never get a consistently good result. I’ve been making them for presents to try and perfect it. Def going to give this a try. Love the idea of the flat bottom with straight sides.

  18. Great tutorial, thank you. Just made one of these for a friend’s birthday in the lovely Cottage Floral Flower Bird Pink fabric from Oriental Direct. It looks great, I have to make myself one now! 😀

  19. You are a genius. I have always struggled to sew zips neatly and it never even occurred to me to move the zip pull. Thank you!

  20. Is there a good way to print off the instructions without having to print pages and pages of it all? I really want to try to make this.

    1. Hi Sue – sorry, I haven’t got round to doing a pdf version of the pattern yet – I will though I promise. In the mean time, if you highlight the stuff you want to print, and then right click on the selection, and select print from the menu, you can then choose to just print the selected text and pictures, and you wont get all the sidebars etc. Hope this helps a bit.

  21. Thank yo so much for sharing this lovely bag. I have been trying to figure out exactly what you DID!!!! My daughter wants a makeup bag and this is absolutely perfect for that.

  22. Great tutorial Ali! You’ve gone to a lot of effort. The photos and instructions are really clear. I’ll definitely give this method a go when I make my next zipped pouch.
    Teresa x

  23. Wonderful tutorial and a lovely pouch! That fabric is the cutest! My husband has often tried to find fabrics for me in China, but without success.
    I just finished a version of your Mini Art Wrap, I still need to take some photo’s!

      1. ha ha, well, if you knew my husband… he always brings me the most fab fabrics from the US, so he’s a connaisseur! He even brought me a swatch book from a Shanghai market with all sorts of kimono fabrics, so no complaints here!

      2. Thanks for the link to the etsy shop. Gorgeous stuff! The fabrics may be sent from Beijing, but they are mostly from Japan, so I need to send my husband there!

  24. Looks great! I’ve tried this method before, but didn’t have my little ends long enough…thanks for the tips!

  25. Thank you Ali! A really a decent picture and explanation of how to fold the zippy bits before sewing. Thank you I have been stumped by this for so long with horrendously bumpy finished zip ends. An excellent tutorial which has been pinned to my “excellent tutorials” board, Rightly so!

    1. Oh thank you so much. I really hope it works out for you. I really struggled with zip ends so I sympathise hugely. I have now used this method 4 or 5 times and it has worked really well each time – hope it does for you too.

  26. Thanks for another brilliant tutorial, I am making a mini art wrap at the moment but the zippy pouch is on my list of future projects

  27. Looking forward to trying this, thanks for taking the time to write/photograph the tutorial x

      1. Fabulous tutorial. I’m on my second pouch now and planning more. One concern/question: is there any risk with using glue and getting it on your needle and stitch plate? I would think glue would be very bad for your sewing machine.

      2. Hi there Mira, thanks for your lovely comment. The key with the glue is to use the right kind. My preferred glue is the Sewline Glue Pen – it’s like a glue stick, so the glue goes on ‘dry’ and is tacky, rather than super sticky or gloopy. It is also washable, so will wipe off easily. I have been using it for 2 or 3 years now and never had any problem with it affecting my stitching or sewing machine. Collins and Clover also make fabric glue sticks, but I prefer the Sewline because it is much thinner so can be applied more accurately. Hope this is helpful!

  28. Your tutorial is great… however I hate to burst your bubble but I’ve been sewing in zippers on the top of pouches like this for years. Sorry!! nice fabric though!!

  29. What beautiful fabric! So cute. While I haven’t particularly had a problem with the way I cover the zip ends, this way is definitely better, so I’ll try it! I’m always intrigued, and somehow a little scared, by that way of doing the bottom corners… I am really happy boxing corners, but the thought of having pre-cut them is more daunting, as you really have to get it right. Still, I ought to give it a go!

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