not sew perfect

DIY- Easy Lined Zipper Bags


 If you are like me, you can never have enough lined zipper pouches like these.  They are great for cosmetics, jewelry, accessories, traveling, you name it! These definitely keep the majority of my odds and ends from rattling around in my purse or luggage…Okay, so I originally thought that these were going to be pretty difficult considering I am normally terrible with zippers, but they turned out to be much simpler than I expected, once I had some clear directions to follow. When I decided to experiment with this project, I wanted to use the scrap fabric that I had left over from other projects and any extra zippers tucked away in the sewing supplies. Luckily, I had some funky faux crocodile and faux embossed leather from a project from last year. I love the look of the faux leather, but you can definitely use any heavier weight fabric, anything from upholstery fabrics to canvas or even layering with batting for a quilted look. The beauty of this project is in experimentation, try different sizes and shapes, colored zippers, and patterned fabrics.  You really can’t go wrong once you master sewing the zipper and lining in with the following steps…

Materials you will need:

  • 1/2 yard Heavier weight fabric (upholstery or faux leather works well)
  • 1/2 yard Lining fabric (simple quilters cotton or muslin)
  • Zippers- various sizes (I used Coats & Clark Polyester/Fashion Zippers, but try whatever works for you)
  • Good quality all-purpose polyester thread ( C&C Dual Duty XP All Purpose)
  • Heavier weight needle for your machine (Schmetz 100/16 jeans-denim needle works well)

Note:  Sewing with heavier weight fabrics can be difficult. Be sure to sew a small test swatch with your fabrics to determine stitch length and machine tension, which can vary wildly when using these heavier fabrics.

In addition, I use a zipper foot on my Janome machine, because its a lot easier than fighting with the regular presser foot. Usually the zipper foot is a standard attachment that comes with your machine, but if you don’t have one, you should seriously consider picking one up; it will make your life much easier!


Step 1.  You will need to decide what size bag you would like to make (I tried making various sizes based on how much fabric I had in my scrap bin!) I usually add 1 inch onto each dimension of the bag to accommodate 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides. So, if you have a 9 inch zipper, you would cut the width of the bag to be 10 inches to allow for your zipper to close nicely up to the edge of the bag. Cut two rectangles of the outer heavy weight fabric and two rectangles of the lining fabric, all the same size. Believe it or not, you really don’t need to stress out too much about the measurements, just makes sure that the width of your fabric is slightly narrower than the overall zipper by about 1/2 inch (at least). Longer zippers are often used as well, considering you can hide the extra length inside the lining of the bag or trim it off and hand stitch a new stop on the zipper.

Step 2. Once you have all the pieces ready, you will lay one piece of outer fabric right side up, lay the zipper along the top edge of the fabric and center it so that each end of the zipper still has the seam allowance on both sides.  Pin the zipper along the top edge of the fabric and unzip halfway.DIY

Step 3. Lay a piece of the lining fabric on top (wrong side up) so your sandwich will be right sides together with the zipper in between the two pieces of fabric.  Pin this together and sew along the top seam with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, being careful to avoid sewing into the zipper. When you get to the middle of the bag where your zipper is, put the needle down on your machine and pull the zipper to the end you just sewed.  This will ensure that you get a nice straight seam along the edge of your zipper and that your machine doesn’t get hung up on that pesky zipper handle (See Below).DIY1

Step 4. Unfold the seam you just sewed and repeat the same process on the other side of the zipper. Once you have both sides sewn on, you will need to topstitch along the edge you just created.  You don’t have to do this, but the bag will look much more finished if you sew along this seam; it will flatten it, help the bag retain its shape around the zipper, and make it much stronger once its filled with your odds and ends (See Below: Outside of bag topstitched,  Inside of bag topstitched).



Step 5.  Now you need to open your zipper about halfway on your bag and place right sides together with the outer fabric, pulling the lining up and away from the bag.  Pin along the edge of the bag making sure the zipper lays flat and the teeth are pointing upwards. Then repeat the process with the lining.  Sew completely around body of the bag with about a 1/2 inch seam allowance (outer fabric only).  Then sew each side of the lining with the same seam allowance, only stitching up to the zipper teeth, but not over them! Make sure you leave a 2-3 inch opening in the bottom of the lining so you can pull the whole bag right side out (See Below).


Step 6. Pull the whole bag right side out through the small opening you left in the lining.  (If you accidentally sewed the lining closed, it’s okay, just use a seam ripper to open a 2-3 inch opening in the center of the bottom seam. You’ll be sewing over this later anyway!) Once you have the bag turned right side out, smooth all the seams and pull the lining out.  Sew over the 2-3 inch opening with a simple straight seam (this is the bottom of the lining in the bag, so you wont see the seam at all).  Then push the lining back into the bag and voila! You have a great lined zipper bag ready to fill and toss into your purse or give as a gift to a friend.


If you are interested in an even more in depth tutorial that helped me learn how to do this project, visit Simple Lined Zipper Pouches at, or at Basic Zipper Pouch Tutorial by Try your hand at this project, and if you get stuck don’t be afraid to look on the internet for more tutorials. There are many versions of this simple sewing project out there…



Leave a Question or Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s