Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial

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.

A basic zip pouch pattern is great to master then use as a springboard into other custom pouches. At 8″ x 4.5″, this one is the perfect size for pencils, makeup brushes, or to organize smaller objects slipped into your purse. For a sturdy pouch, choose a midweight fabric for the exterior or quilting cotton weight fabric interfaced with a woven interfacing such as Pelon SF 101 (or another brand of a similar weight). Quilting cotton works well for the lining fabric.

Let’s get sewing.

Note: Looking for other sizes? Check out the Common Zip Pouch Sizes or Custom Zip Pouch Sizing posts for other dimensions!


Supplies.

Finished size: 8″ wide x 4.5″ tall

Exterior: (2) 9.25″ x 5″ pieces of midweight fabric (or lightweight fabric interfaced with Pelon SF101 if necessary)

Lining: (2) 9.25″ x 5″ pieces of light to midweight fabric

Zipper: 8″ zipper (zipper teeth will be 8″, but the full zipper tape should be approximately 9.25″ long)

Note: The goal is for the length of the zipper tape to be the same as the width of the fabric. If you have a different size zipper, simply cut your fabric pieces to be as wide as the zipper is long.


Process.

1.

Fold back all four ends of the zipper tape at approximately a 45 degree angle.  Use your machine to sew in place with a few stitches close to the edge of the tape (you may also hand baste).  *Note, you can choose to skip this step and leave the zipper full length, sewing the zipper ends into the pouch itself (see this post!).  However, I find that adding this step only makes for a cleaner corner after turning the zip pouch right side out at the end.

Here’s how I set up to sew this fiddly stitch to sew the ends down with my machine.

2.

The zipper will now be shorter than the exterior panel by approximately ¾”.  This leaves room to sew around the zip pouch later without having to sew over the zipper tapes ends!

3.

Place your front exterior piece right side up on your cutting surface.  Lay the zipper, pull to the left, right side down and centered on top of the fabric.  Baste in place, ⅛” away from the edge if desired.

4.

Lay one of the lining pieces right side down on top of the zipper (this makes the lining and exterior pieces right sides together). **I have the lining folded back here to show you how the layers should line up along the top edge.

Here’s how the “zipper sandwich” should look.

5.

Pin or clip in place along the edge.

6.

Using a zipper foot, sew through all three layers with a ¼” seam allowance.

7.

You will need to pause when you reach the zipper pull, lift up the presser foot, push the zipper pull back to open the zipper, then continue sewing to the end of the fabric.

8.

Open the fabric so both the right side of the lining and the right side of the exterior are face up.  With a hot iron, press the lining fabric down along the edge of the zipper tape.

9.

Fold the lining piece to the back side of the exterior so the wrong sides are together and the zipper tape pokes out the top. Using a hot iron, press along the top/folded edge of the exterior panel. Make sure not to touch and melt the zipper with the iron!

10.

Open the fabric zipper sandwich again (as in Step 8). Top stitch along the lining fabric, ⅛” away from the zipper tape.

Note: I top stitch only the lining when sewing zip pouches with quilted exteriors as the exterior fabric is too bulky for a decent top stitch.  Stitching the lining down keeps it from getting caught in the zipper.

11.

This is what the lining should look like after being top stitched into place.  Fold the exterior panel so lining and exterior are wrong sides together, as they appeared in Step 9. 

12.

Lay your back exterior piece right side up on the cutting surface.  Place your previously sewn zipper sandwich, zipper right side down on top.  Your exterior pieces will be right sides together at this point.

13.

Place your lining fabric right side down on top and pin or clip into place. 

14.

Sew through all three layers with a ¼” seam allowance as you did in Step 6 with the opposite side.

15.

Press the newly sewn lining piece into place and top stitch, as you did with the opposite side in Step 10.

Open the zipper halfway before continuing on the the next step!

16.

Place both exterior pieces right sides together and both lining pieces right sides together, zipper teeth towards the exterior fabric.  Line up the seams at the zipper.

17.

Pin or clip in place where the seams meet.

18.

Continue clipping around all four sides.

19.

Starting halfway along the bottom edge of the lining, backstitch, then continue sewing around the entire perimeter with a liberal ¼” seam allowance.  Stop stitching 2-3” from your starting point, leaving a hole for turning at the bottom edge of the lining.

20.

Trim your corners and seam allowance.

21.

Pull the zip pouch right side out through the lining hole.  Poke each corner out with a turning tool (or chopstick). You can stick your hand into the lining to make this part easier. 

22.

Pin or clip the turning hole closed and press into place.

23.

Sew the turning hole closed by stitching ⅛” away from the edge.

24.

Tuck the lining inside the zip pouch. You’re all done!


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Feed Sack Apron

I was thrilled last summer when my dad passed some old feed sacks on to me from the farm where he grew up. As is custom in my sewing practice, the sacks sat for a bit while I contemplated how best to use them.

Side note: Finding the best, functional use of a vintage or heirloom textile is important to me. Maybe some day I’ll share a list of of the questions I consider during the “pondering process”!

I settled on an apron for my brother for Christmas. He’s a baker, building beautiful breads from yeast he gathered himself, so I thought a sturdy apron that reminded him of his roots (and our potato roll baking grandma) would be a perfect mix of useful and sentimental.

Turns out feed sacks are just the right fit for an apron pattern!


Project Notes on Feed Sack Apron:

Pattern:

  • 1 Yard Magic Apron pattern, free from Sew Can She.
    • I’ve used variations of this pattern for at least a dozen aprons, so I knew I could modify as needed to make it a good fit for this project. You can always just trace an apron that works well for you and avoid printing out a pattern!

Materials:

  • Vintage feed sack (thanks Dad!)
  • Ticking (backing material) from a local antique shop
Faded feedsacks, but still in great condition. Yay!
My grandma mended this by hand many years ago! Swoon.

Method:

  • Examine and iron the feed sack as thoroughly as possible first. This will help you decide whether it will be a good fit for turning into an apron. Note holes and stains you’ll need to avoid.
  • To center the pattern on the front of the sack on the finished apron, cut directly down the middle of the back side of the feed sack and along the bottom hem to open it into a long rectangle of fabric.
  • Fold in half, centering the fold in the center of the logo/design, and place your apron pattern piece on top to check for placement before cutting. You can always make your apron longer or shorter depending on how much of the logo you’d like showing in the end.
  • Use the excess feed sack material as fabric for your ties as directed in the 1 Yard Magic Apron pattern. They’re nice and sturdy when folded bias tape style!
  • You can hem the feed sack as directed in the pattern if you feel your material is thick enough to be a functional apron on its own. I chose to use a backing piece instead and modify the pattern as follows:
    • Cut a backing piece the same size as the apron pattern.
    • With the feed sack pattern piece right side up, baste the apron ties in place and lay them towards the center of the fabric.
    • Place your backing material right side down on top of the feed sack piece and ties. Pin in place along all edges.
    • Sew around the perimeter with a 1/4″ – 1/2″ seam allowance, backstitching a couple of times over each tie piece. Make sure to leave a turning hole!
    • Trim the seam allowance as you’d like, then turn right side out. Iron the seams before topstitching all the way around, closing the turning hole as you stitch over it.

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Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow – Project Notes

When my mom called to ask if I’d like some lace tablecloths and doilies from my great aunt, I was thrilled! The origins of each specific piece are unknown, but some are rumored to have come over from Germany on the boat with my great grandma. Textiles with family history? Count me in!

I’m a big believer that heirlooms don’t do any good shut up in a box in the basement. Not each piece of history needs to be kept, but at least some of the ones that are should be proudly displayed or even made to be functional in a modern sense if possible. I set about deciding what to do with my “new” treasures.

My first thought was to make myself a Christmas tree skirt with one of the tablecloths and a stocking for myself. One of my kids caught me before I cut into the tablecloth, though, and her dismay at me repurposing it caused me to set the lacy fabric aside. I’ll ask her again in a couple of years if she still wants it when she grows up :).

I turned my attention, instead, to the doilies and my Christmas stocking plans. Never having sewn with doilies before, I wanted to try some out on a low risk project first- a simple throw pillow. Hopefully my “Heirloom Pillow” notes will help you tackle some lacy, doily projects of your own!


Project Notes on Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow:

Pattern:

  • 16″ square throw pillow with a covered zipper back (self drafted)
  • Zig zag applique method to attach doilies

Materials:

  • Faux suede remnant from Seattle Recreative
  • Ticking (backing material) from a local antique shop
  • Vintage doilies from my great aunt’s collection

Method:

  • If the doilies are crocheted, tatted, or otherwise stretchy, consider starting with a couple applications of spray starch for stabilization.
  • Once you decide on placement, use spray basing on the backside of each doily and affix to your fabric. This step makes a big difference when it comes to sewing! Since doilies have holes, just make sure to spray baste on a surface you don’t mind getting sticky. I used an old cardboard box.
  • It’s okay for the doilies to overlap if you’d like!
  • Sew the doilies to your fabric using a zig zag stitch. Go slowly, stopping to shift the fabric as necessary around the curves. If you use matching thread, you’ll be amazed at how the zig zag stitches disappear into the doily!
  • I used my open toe foot (that’s what I call it anyway!), so I could clearly see where the needle was going with each stitch. Because these doilies were large, I stitched around the outsides first, then did another round or two of stitching on the inner parts as well. When deciding where to stich the inner rounds, I chose the places that had the most yarn for my stitches to camouflage into.
  • You can see on the backside of the fabric below that I treated the doilies as one whole unit, stitching around all three, then adding more layers to make them extra secure on the pillow.
  • Once I was satisfied that the doilies would be secure on the throw pillow, I added a simple covered zipper on the backside and stuck an insert inside. This vintage ticking from a local antique shop was the perfect finishing touch.
  • Even if you look closely, you can barely see the zig zag stitching I used to attach the doilies. It really was that easy to nicely attach these lacy, stretch, heirlooms!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever used doilies in your crafting endeavors or if you have an heirloom stash waiting for a purpose like I did!


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Patiently Preparing – Suggestions for a Simple Advent

I love Advent. The build up of anticipation until Christmas finally comes. Remembering the darkness, so that we can fully appreciate when the light bursts through. Patiently preparing our hearts and homes for the Christ child.

Yep. I love Advent.

Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to lean into the Advent season rather than getting caught up in the world’s rush to Christmas Day.


Decorate Slowly and Thoughtfully

We decorate for Christmas over the entire month of December. The nativities go out sometime the week after Thanksgiving, our tree and lights a week later, then our ornaments Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful build up to the “big day” with less stress along the way.

Advent Calendars and Wreaths

A simple Advent calendar and accompanying devotions are a must for us. If my ideas get too big and involved (not that that ever happens 😉 ), we’re less likely to stick with them. Last year we discovered Jamie’s coloring Advent calendar at Pure Joy Creative. It was the perfect mix of simplicity and depth that we needed at this point in our family’s journey!

Advent wreaths are also important in our house. The ritual of lighting a candle each night, discussing it’s meaning, and fighting over whos turn it is to blow it out, is a meaningful one. You don’t need a fancy wreath, either. For the first several years of our marriage, I simply stuck candles in mugs! We also put up a paper Advent wreath in our windows, adding a flame each week. It’s a constant reminder to us and a glimpse to passersby of the Advent season.

Yes, we actually do put up a massive Advent “wreath” in our windows!

Listen to Music and Read Books of the Season

One way we keep the season present in our minds is by playing Advent music in the background of our days. Lutheran Public Radio is a great resource for this! Being dulcimer owners, we also enjoy “Hark, the Glad Sound,” by Owl Mountain Music.

Reading about Christmas the whole month before the day, is a sweet way to connect as a family and stay present during what can be a hectic time. Read Aloud Revival has great resources to help you find the best Christmas books for all ages in your home! As an aside, I step back from social media each December, giving me even more time for snuggling and reading :).

Create Traditions that Work for You

No family is the same as another. Instead of trying out each tradition and wondering if you should be doing each thing you see another family doing, find what works for you. Perhaps create a list of all of the events and things you usually do during the Advent season, then pare back to just the most meaningful ones.

For example, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf here or Shepherd on the Hill (or whatever other ones there are), because I know the added stress on me of remembering to creatively reposition the figure each night and isn’t worth it for our family. Other moms thrive on it, and that’s great too! You get to decide what works for you.

We also opt to send Epiphany or New Year’s cards each year instead of Christmas cards. I love sending and receiving holiday cards, but found that the stress of getting them our before Christmas really ate away at being able to fully prepare my heart during the Advent season. Once I realized I could send the cards a different time, a burden was lifted!

Cultivate an Awareness of Others

An important part of Advent in our house is trying to create an awareness of others in our children. Jesus was born to save the world, and we try to walk in that love for our brothers and sisters. Outside of the home, we do this by the kids carefully choosing and creating gifts/cards for the special people in their lives. We also choose a charity to donate to as a family. I’m open to more suggestions here!

Within the home, we choose “Secret Santas” the day after Thanksgiving. There are 7 of us, so there are enough people to go around! Secret Santas do special things for the person whos name they drew throughout December. Someone might sneakily clean her room or complete his chore or leave a sweet note on her bed. The week of Christmas, each kid gets a mini shopping trip with Mom or Dad to fill their person’s stocking. It’s a definite highlight of both Advent and Christmas for our family!

Another idea was shared by a friend of mine. His mom put a dark piece of construction paper on the fridge each Advent. Every time she caught one of her kids doing something kind to another, she put a gold star on the paper. By Christmas Day, the paper had transformed from a blank night sky to one filled with stars (and hope)!

The Most Important Part

Most importantly, though, you don’t need much of anything to celebrate Advent. You don’t need to host an open house, use a fancy Christmas countdown, send elaborate presents to everyone in your life, make sure your kids look perfect for pictures, bake beautiful cookies, or even send Christmas cards. You don’t need to do any of this if you don’t want to or it feels overwhelming, because Jesus. Simply turn your heart to Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.


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Words for Hand Embroidery

When I started sewing mostly with denim rather than printed fabrics, I wanted to find some way to add a more personal touch to my creations. Hand embroidery turned out to be the perfect addition! I love to add a bit of beauty and encouragement to the zip pouches and tote bags I sew up.

In anticipation of the Barnabas Bag pattern being released next month, here are some of my favorite phrases sized to fit perfectly on the tote’s 5″ square pocket. There are two files, one with block lettering and one with script lettering. Each file has eight unique phrases. You can resize and use these embroidery patterns anywhere that could use a little boost!

Tips for Use

Transfer the words to fabric using your preferred method.

The easiest way to transfer an embroidery pattern to denim is to use Sulky Solvy Stabilizer (or another washaway embroidery stabilizer). Simply print the pattern onto the stabilizer, stick it on your fabric, stitch over the pattern, and then rinse away the sticker. Of course, traditional transfer paper and/or pencils work well too.

Embroider using a simple backstitch.

When embroidering on denim or another heavier weight fabric, I use all six strands of embroidery floss. This helps the stitching stand out better. Use shorter stitches when going around curves. For more depth when stitching in cursive, use two overlapping backstitches on the downstrokes.

Design your own.

If you’d rather write your own phrase, it’s easy to create a pattern. Open a word document and add a text box the size you desire. I’ve use Dancing Script (95pt) and Gadugi (72pt) in these patterns.


Click on the images below for the script or block lettering embroidery patterns and have fun sewing!


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Chit Chat Puppet Pattern Review

We have a special guest blogger today! My daughter spent the weekend making a puppet with the Chit Chat Puppet pattern by Abby Glassenberg. She’s here to share her thoughts on the pattern and process.

I love this puppet pattern by Abby Glassenberg Design!!! It is amazingly fun to do if you have spare time on your hands or just something for the grandkids if you run out of Christmas ideas 🙂 

I am twelve years old and made my puppet by myself (my mom only did one little thing!) and think that this pattern is all ages friendly. Of course five year olds would need a little more help than ten year olds- let’s be honest here- but after you are done, they are super fun to play with. You can finally talk to yourself without getting those “looks”!!

I did this in one day, it’s quick and easy like that, and ended with pretty much the exact version of the puppet I had thought of in my head. The pattern is easy to follow and very flexible. I could change her looks to anything I wanted to! I also found that if you zoom either in or out before printing, you could change the size of the pattern for either smaller or larger hands. 

I borrowed one of my sister’s doll dresses for my puppet. The more poof, the more it hides your hand!

My little sister asked for one for Christmas, my other sister said she was making one, and both my brothers just like her. (My puppet’s name is Charlotte.) I definitely think this pattern deserves a five-star review for all of the reasons stated above!!!

Talofa Kids Advent Wreath Pattern Notes

Last month, I had the opportunity to test Talofa Kids new Advent wreath pattern. The author, Britta Gandy, has been making these wreaths for years. I was thrilled when she put her creation into a pattern so that we can all sew them too!

Pattern Notes for the Talofa Kids Advent Wreath

Materials

  • I chose an old Army duffel for the wreath body. This is a heavier fabric than Britta suggests using, so it took a bit more effort to turn and doesn’t lay quite as flat as it would with the lighter fabric that’s supposed to be used.
  • Instead of sewing a hanging strap, I used a seam ripper to get the strap off of the duffel bag and used that. It wasn’t an easy task (seam ripping heavy fabric never is!), but it was well worth it.
  • For the leaves, I used scrap felt that a friend gave me. There were also a bunch of fall-looking colors in the bin, so I made the opposite side of the wreath with fall leaves.
  • I had hoped to stuff the wreath with fabric scraps, but the heavy canvas didn’t agree. Thankfully a friend had a bag of Poly-fil on hand.

Assembly

  • My kids helped with tracing and cutting out all of the leaves and candle pieces. It was nice to be able to involve them in a project they’ll be using for many years to come.
  • Britta offers instructions for both hand stitching the leaves or machine sewing. I machine sewed the green side, then opted to free motion quilt the autumn leaves. I’ve been wanting to learn free motion quilting, and this was the perfect project to try it on!
  • Even though I’ve never sewn a wreath, the pattern instructions were clear and easy to follow.

Thoughts

  • This Advent wreath pattern shows you how to make a heirloom quality project. The kids in your life will love the tactile and interactive nature of a new Advent tradition.
  • Making the wreath reversible was an easy way to be able to use the wreath even longer throughout the year. Plus, my son is always pestering me to decorate more for fall. Win win :).
  • There’s nothing quite like using reclaimed materials to make a project pointing to Christ. Meaningful sewing always make me smile!
  • Britta even includes devotions to use with your family during the Advent season. Such a thoughtful addition to the pattern.

2020 Handmade Holidays Shopping Guide

The 2020 Handmade Holidays Shopping Guide is here!

Two of my favorite things to do are encouraging other women and connecting more people to creative entrepreneurs. So I’ve gathered 12 of my favorite handmade stores into one place! You can browse and shop to your heart’s content, knowing that your purchase will be supporting a small business in a big way. There’s jewelry, art, hand lettering, clothing, baby items, cards, quilting, and more.

Enough talking, I’m going to go start browsing for myself!




Patchworks of Grace + Mending Notes

What beauty there is in mending.

In having a tangible reminder of the work Christ does in us and for us every day.

And, even after the painstaking work has been done, knowing we’ll be going back for more when what was previously restored is torn apart once again.

Yes, we will never be fully renewed this side of heaven.

But each stitch can bring us closer to Him.

We are all walking patchworks of God’s grace.

Mending Session Notes:

These jeans were first mended several months ago by using patches on the interior and machine darning on the exterior. I didn’t have to worry about how they looked in the end because their function was simply for around the home. For this mending session, I opted for iron on patches on the outside, followed by machine darning. Here are my observations:

  • My machine doesn’t darn well through an iron-on patch. There was a lot of needle sticking and stitch skipping. I’m not sure if this is typical of all machines, though.
  • Making designs is fun! I’ll definitely be working on more free-motion stitching so I can add little designs in during the mending process. I added a messy looking bouquet of poppies on the left knee :).
  • Always start darning with a full bobbin. Or you might end up switching bobbins 3 times in half an hour like I did.

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Simple Block Printing on Fabric

History last week was about the Golden Age of China (thank you Story of the World!). After reading about the ancient Chinese form of block printing, the kids wanted to try it out for themselves. We gathered objects from around the house and outside that might make interesting shapes when dipped in acrylic paint. First we practiced on paper, then we added our favorite prints to pieces of canvas fabric to make these simple zip pouches.

Learn from our endeavors and do your own block printing at home!


Supplies

  • Scrap paper and/or light colored canvas fabric
  • Acrylic paint
  • Glue (optional)
  • Cardboard (optional)
  • Paintbrushes (optional)
  • Various objects you don’t mind getting paint on (we used twigs, leaves, old wine corks, and a bunch of stuff from our recycling bin)

Set Up

Start by gathering supplies you’d like to use for your stamps. Kids can get really creative here! We ended up with wine corks, bottle lids, sticks, pencils, chopsticks, toothpicks, medicine cups, leaves, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

Next, make your blocks/stamps if needed. You can simply use the object itself. Or, if it’s too small to get a good grip on (like a plastic water bottle cap), glue the object to a small square of cardboard. Make sure to glue down the side that you will not be printing with.

Here are some of the “stamps” we used. We didn’t have success with the glue patterns (the ridges weren’t high enough), but the rest worked really well!

Cover the surface you’ll be painting on.

Squirt out small amounts of the chosen acrylic paint colors.

You’re ready to go!


Printing

Note: If you will be printing on fabric, I recommend having the kids try out different designs and stamps on paper first.

Let the kids explore different stamping techniques. Some objects may work well being dipped into the paint, some may work better having the paint applied with a paint brush. You may end up with a kiddo that just wants to use the paintbrush to paint, like I did.

Encourage them to try different patterns, allowing paint to dry between changing colors if the patterns will be overlapping each other.

Change to printing on the fabric once everyone is comfortable with the block printing technique. Acrylic paint can go directly on the fabric! We used a duck cloth canvas fabric, which absorbed the paint well and makes for sturdy zip pouches in the next step. Plus I had scraps left from banner making, so it was a win-win.

Such a simple, fun artistic foray!


Using Printed Fabric

If you will be using the fabric for anything other than display, let it dry for 24 hours. Then iron the fabric to set the paint.

Put your iron on the setting required for your fabric type (mine was quite hot). Place a piece of scrap fabric or parchment paper on your ironing surface, then place your fabric paint side down on top. Iron on the non-printed side of the fabric for 2-5 minutes, moving the iron back and forth slowly to avoid scorching.

Iron on the back side of the fabric for several minutes to set the paint.

If you’re looking for a way to use your fabric, make some of these fun little zip pouches! The “Easiest Lined Zip Pouch” is even simple enough for an older child to sew with minimal help.



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