I love using up scrap fabric as much as I love a zipper pouch, so this project makes me very happy.
My daughter asked me to make her a zipper pencil pouch for the start of the school year. (Let’s pretend that it’s still January, when we start school here in Australia!) She wanted a cute pencil case, but larger than the last one I made her. Design requirements included an internal pocket for her calculator and the colour yellow (her favourite).
Due to time restraints, I suggested that HSTs would be a faster option than English Paper Piecing. I drew a sketch and she gave me the go-ahead.
I’m sure everyone has their own favourite zipper pouch tutorial so I won’t go through the minutia of sewing a lined pouch. But if you like the outer patchwork design, I have outlined my steps for this below.
To help get the project moving faster, my daughter sorted through my yellow scrap fabric and found a good variety of yellow prints in low, mid and saturated value.
The outer panels of the zipper pouch consist of HST units set on point. There was a bit of maths involved as we needed to reverse engineer the HST size required to give the panel size we wanted. I got my daughter to use Pythagoras’ Theorem to work that out for me (my tax dollars finally bearing fruit!)
Sewing the HST panels
To form the two panels I cut 45 squares 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″. From these squares I sewed 90 HST units, which were trimmed to 2″ squares.
I wanted to create a bit of a colour gradation across the zipper pouch. I made sure there was a good mix of light/light, light/mid, mid/dark, etc fabrics across all of the HSTs.
For the top and bottom edges of the panels I used plain 2″ squares (they are lopped off when squaring the panels). You’ll need 28 of the 2″ squares in total.
Shown below is the layout for the two panels. The HST units have dotted triangle lines, the plain 2″ squares are in yellow.
Once you’ve laid out your HSTs and squares in your preferred colour order, you can sew them together. Sew the diagonal rows together first and be sure to press rows in alternating directions so that the seams will nest.
With the patchwork panels sewn together it’s now time to quilt them. This is a great way to use up batting offcuts.
I like to quilt them fairly densely as it adds strength to your patchwork seams and also gives the pouch some body. I did a simple crosshatch quilting design, using the seams as a guide for my walking foot.
Once you’ve quilted both panels you can trim them back to give two identical rectangle pieces.
My two panels ended up being 8-3/4″ high by 13-1/2″ long.
The zipper pouch lining
As well as the two outer panels, you’ll need two fabric pieces for the lining. My daughter chose this cute birdy fabric from which I cut two rectangles 8-3/4″ x 13-1/4″.
With quilted pouches I like to reduce the lining panel width by a quarter inch to accommodate the bulky seam of the outer panels.
You may recall my daughter asked for an internal pocket in the lining to store her calculator. If you can talk your child out of this, do so now. Consider using chocolates, head scratches or a trip to Disneyland. The internal pocket was a pain to put in and you will regret it immensely if you agree to it.
I, unfortunately, did agree to it. Sigh.
I used this Youtube tutorial by Lisa from Andrie Designs to learn the process behind creating such a pocket. She uses a different sized bag for her tutorial so you won’t want to follow her fabric sizes. For my pocket I instead used another 8-3/4″ x 13-1/4″ rectangle as well as an 8″ x 11-1/2″ rectangle (as I didn’t want the pocket to go right to the bottom of the pouch). I used a 10″ zipper for the internal pocket.
I worked nice and slowly and paid extra attention to making sure my birds stayed right side up.
Eventually I had the pocket formed and was able to sew the lining and outer panels to the zipper. I used a 10″ zip here as well as it was all I had on hand, but I would have liked a 12″ or 14″ if given the choice.
And remember to always open the zipper before you sew around the edges of the lining and the outer panels. Otherwise it’s a nightmare trying to turn the thing right-sides-out again!
Phew, it was quite a journey, but I got there in the end.
I even learned a new skill.
I missed the start of school by over a month, but my daughter was very gracious as she knew I was sweating over that pocket. Best of all she loves her new cute pencil case, which has a spot for all her bits and pieces.
Thank goodness for that!