This tutorial is part of the “Build a Zip Pouch Series“, 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.
Once you start sewing, you quickly learn that not all fabrics are created equal. Some fabrics are better suited for quilts, some for bags, some for accessories, etc. etc. etc. Zip pouches can be sewn with a variety of fabrics, but extra care needs to be taken when that fabric is stretchy.
I’ll be honest. I generally try to avoid sewing zip pouches and bags with stretchy fabric. “Try” being the key word. Sometimes the perfect color of denim ends of having spandex in it or the logo I want to highlight is from a jersey shirt. Here are my best tips when having to sew a zip pouch with stretchy fabric.
Tips for Sewing a Zip Pouch with Stretchy Fabric
If you fabric is light enough, fuse some Pelon SF101 (or similar interfacing) onto the backside to lessen the stretch and provide stability. I don’t recommend using interfacing with already heavy denim, though, because it will add even more bulk to the seams.
Switch over to a ballpoint needle. This can make a big difference with skipping stitches and neat topstitching.
When I do use a stretchy fabric for a zip pouch, I try to make sure either the exterior or lining fabric is woven. Having only one part of the pouch with stretch helps keep the zipper sandwich sew up more nicely.
Also, while sewing your zipper sandwich, sew with the most stretchy fabric on the bottom (closer to the feed dogs) and the least stretchy fabric on top (directly under the presser foot).
Consider using double sided tape or a regular glue stick along the top edge of the fabric (instead of pins/clips) when making your zipper sandwich. Just make sure that the tape/glue stays within the seam allowance or it will show along the edge of the zipper when you flip it right sides out.
Trim, Trim, Trim
Sometimes no matter what you do, you’ll end up with the fabrics not quilt aligning after you sew a zipper into stretchy fabric. In that case, don’t be afraid to trim! After you insert and top stitch your zipper, close the zipper and press well. Lay the half finished pouch on your cutting surface with both of the exterior pieces right sides up. Trim along the edges to neaten them before finishing assembly.