Choosing a Topstitch Style for Your Zipper Pouch

This tutorial is part of the โ€œBuild a Zip Pouch Seriesโ€œ, giving you the skills you need to sew custom zip pouches in a variety of styles and sizes. Links will be added to the series homepage (here!) as new tutorials go live.


There are an endless number of ways to sew a zip pouch. Each one serves a purpose and suits a style, but it can be confusing to figure out what combo of insertion and top stitching will work best for your pouch! In my Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial, I inserted the zipper by first stitching back the zipper ends so they wouldn’t be sewn into the side seams. Some people prefer to skip tacking back the ends and sew the full length of the zipper along the full width of the fabric, as shown below. That works too!

Simply line the entire zipper up along the fabric, and sew into place!
Here’s what it looks like sandwiched between the exterior and lining pieces.

Whether you choose to sew back your tabs or use the full length of the zipper, you’ll have another choice to make when it comes to the topstitching step. It’s important to not skip topstitching, since this is what keeps the fabric from getting caught in the zipper when you use your pouch. You do have three options to choose from, though! Each of these topstitching methods work regardless of how you inserted your zipper. However, the photos below show how the topstitching looks specifically on zippers inserted as shown above (without the ends folded back).


Option 1 – Topstitch the Exterior Only

When topstitching just the exterior fabric, the stitching will only be visible on the exterior of your finished zip pouch.

Best used when:
1. Your lining fabric is stretchy
2. The exterior fabric isn’t overly bulky/heavy
3. You just like the look ๐Ÿ™‚

Topstitch:
1. Press the exterior fabric fold along the zipper edge with a hot iron (don’t touch the zipper teeth or they’ll melt!).
2. To sew the first side, flip the lining piece under the opposite side (as shown in the left photo below).
3. Sew through the exterior fabric fold 1/8″ away from the zipper edge, using a slightly longer stitch length.
4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3 with the other side.

Exterior fabric after topstitching just the exterior.
Lining fabric after topstitching just the exterior.

Assembly after topstitching:
*See the Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial for full assembly instructions.
1. Line the zipper sides up as shown below, with the zipper teeth towards the lining fabric. (Note: Just the exterior fabric will be folded over itself along the zipper.)
2. Make sure your zipper is halfway open!
3. Pin in place, then sew all the way around the zip pouch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1-2″ hole in the lining for turning.
4. Trim corners and seams as necessary, then turn right side out.


Option 2 – Topstitch the Lining Only

When topstitching just the lining fabric, the stitching will only be visible on the lining interior of your finished zip pouch.

Best used when:
1. Your lining fabric is not stretchy
2. The exterior fabric is bulky or heavy (i.e. heavy duty denim or a quilt block)
3. You just like the look ๐Ÿ™‚

Topstitch:
1. Press the lining fabric fold along the zipper edge with a hot iron (don’t touch the zipper teeth or they’ll melt!).
2. To sew the first side, flip the exterior piece under the opposite side (Note: The zip pouch in the photos has two different exterior fabrics, one is white and the other is bleached denim)
3. Sew through the lining fabric fold 1/8″ away from the zipper edge, using a slightly longer stitch length.
4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3 with the other side.

Exterior fabric after topstitching just the lining.
Lining fabric after topstitching just the lining.

Assembly after topstitching:
*See the Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial for full assembly instructions.
1. Line the zipper sides up as shown below, with the zipper teeth towards the lining fabric. (Note: The lining fabric will be folded back over itself at the zipper.)
2. Make sure your zipper is halfway open!
3. Pin in place, then sew all the way around the zip pouch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1-2″ hole in the lining for turning.
4. Trim corners and seams as necessary, then turn right side out.


Option 3 – Topstitch both the Lining and the Exterior

When topstitching both the lining and exterior fabrics, the stitching will be visible on both exterior and lining of your finished zip pouch. If your lining and exterior fabrics are different colors and you want to use matching thread, match the top thread to your exterior fabric and the bobbin thread to your lining fabric.

Best used when:
1. You’re worried about excess fabric getting caught in the zipper
2. The exterior fabric isn’t overly bulky/heavy and the lining isn’t stretchy
3. You just like the look ๐Ÿ™‚

Topstitch:
1. Press exterior and lining fabrics, wrong sides together along the zipper edge fold with a hot iron (don’t touch the zipper teeth or they’ll melt!).
2. To sew the first side, keep exterior and lining fabric wrong sides together. You’ll be sewing through 5 layers on each side (2 from a folded exterior, 2 from a folded lining, and 1 from the zipper tape).
3. Sew through the exterior fabric fold 1/8″ away from the zipper edge, using a slightly longer stitch length.
4. Go nice and s l o w l y with this method since you’ll see both sides of the stitching in your finished zip pouch!
5. Repeat Steps 2-4 with the other side.

Exterior fabric after topstitching both the lining and exterior.

Lining fabric after topstitching both the lining and exterior.

Assembly after topstitching:
*See the Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial for full assembly instructions.
1. Line the zipper sides up as shown below, with the zipper teeth pushed towards the lining fabric.
2. With this method, you will be sewing over more bulk at the zipper seam. Take it slowly and use a hump jumper if needed. (You can make your own “hump jumper” by using a folded piece of fabric or cardboard – no need to buy one!)
2. Make sure your zipper is halfway open.
3. Pin in place, then sew all the way around the zip pouch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1-2″ hole in the lining for turning.
4. Trim corners and seams as necessary, then turn right side out.



Here are all three options next to one another. Which do you like best? Is there one style you use the most in your sewing practice?


Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our days.


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4 thoughts on “Choosing a Topstitch Style for Your Zipper Pouch

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