Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Stuffy – a wee zipper pouch tutorial

I really like these small zipper pouches. I am not sure where I first saw a tutorial for these some time ago but I am certain there is one like this out there somewhere in cyberspace. I couldn't find it again so I thought I'd do a tutorial for this little pouch and share it with you. This pouch uses encased/ French seams and has the zipper in the middle of the pouch. I call it a Stuffy as it's really handy for stuffing little bits and bobs into.

You can make them as big or as small as you like and 1 fat quarter would probably do just fine if you’re not making it too big. So, what do you need? You’ll need the following:

• 1 zip which is roughly 7 - 9 inches long or thereabouts (depends on how big a pouch you’re making)
• Some fabric – 1 fat quarter or any amount you might have. It should be large enough for you to cut 4 pieces of fabric of the same size
• Thread to match or if you prefer, contrasting thread.
• A short length of grosgrain ribbon or a 2 x 3 inch piece of fabric (optional)
• A split ring or a swivel bolt snap (optional)

You can if you wish to, interface the pieces to give your stuffy a bit of body. That's optional.

First you’ll need to cut 4 pieces of fabric of the same size. You can do 5 x 7 inches, or maybe 4 x 6 inches, or for a teeny stuffy, 3 x 5 inches. My pieces here are 4 x 6 inches. Whatever size you go for, the pieces must be shorter than your zip. My zip is ridiculously long! It was the only black one I had left!

Once you have your 4 pieces of fabric, take two of the pieces and fold them in half lengthways wrong sides together. So for example, if you were making a 4 x 6 inch stuffy, you’d fold it so you would end up with 2 pieces which are 2 x 6 inches. Press the folded edges of these two pieces.

You’ll need your zipper foot now. Using your machine’s zipper foot, sew the 2 pieces onto either side of your zip, close to the teeth. Like this ….

I did 2 lines of stitching on each side.

Here’s what it looks like on the reverse side.

Take your two remaining pieces of fabric and place them wrong sides together, long sides together and short sides together.

Now you want to place the zipper piece on top of these two pieces so that you effectively have a stack of pieces. The zipper should be right side up.

Line the edges up neatly and pin in place.

Now turn the piece so that one of the long edges faces you and the zip is running perpendicular to you. You don’t need your zipper foot any more for this project so set it aside and stick your regular sewing foot back on your machine. Put your stack under the foot like this …

Starting at the end with the zip pull, stitch from one side of fabric (do not stitch over the end of the zip where the pull is) and go all the way around, ending just before the zip teeth across from where you first started sewing. See my sketch below. Sew using a really small seam allowance – the smallest you can manage – but do make sure you catch the layers at the back.

Clip your corners and trim the edges as close as you can to the line of stitching. Cut off the end of the zip – this is the end of the zip which you sewed over (opposite end to the zip pull).

Now make sure you do this next step - pull the zip down to about 1 to 1.5 inches below the edge of your fabric. After you've pulled the zip end down, you can cut the remaining ends off.

Turn your stuffy inside out so the outside is in and the inside is facing out. Using a chopstick or a pencil, gently poke the corners out neatly. It helps if you now press the pouch. Make sure that your zip is open at least halfway.

At this stage, if you want to make a loop from which to hang your split ring or snap hook, you’ll need to either cut a short length of grosgrain ribbon (use one which is at least half an inch wide) or use your 2 x 3 inch piece of fabric to make a loop. If you are using a fabric loop, you’ll need to press your little piece of fabric in half lengthways. Open it up and press each side in half lengthways again.

Then fold it up so you get a folded strip which is half an inch wide and 3 inches long. Kind of like a piece of folded bias tape.

Stitch down each long side.

Now fold the strip in half and baste along the raw ends. You now have your fabric loop. By the way, if you are using a swivel snap hook, you’ll need to put it onto the strip before you fold it in half to baste the raw ends.

Insert the fabric loop or ribbon into the pouch, placing it at the open end of the pouch where the zip is. Pin it in place.

Now using a 3/8th inch seam allowance, sew all around the pouch. This will ensure that all your raw fabric edges are caught in the French seam. For strength, sew back and forth a few times over the zip ends.

Now carefully cut the corners off. As these are being cut on the bias, these raw edges will not fray.

Turn your Stuffy the right way out and carefully push out the corners with your preferred pointy object.

If you’re not using a swivel snap hook, you can put a split ring onto the loop. Now hang your stuffy onto your keys and stuff whatever bits you want into it.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial easy to understand and will have a go at making your own little stuffies. If you do make one or a few Stuffies, will you take some photos and share them in this Flickr group here? Thanks so much!

I hope you're having a great weekend!


  1. Thanks Ady. That looks like a great tutorial. I can see this being a good way to use up some fabric remnants.... even using different fabrics say for front and back (I've been looking through my small remnant pile and there isn't much that I could find 4 same size rectangular pieces of ... but with combinations of other fabrics, no problem!).

  2. Holy, moly lady! You do fabulous tutorial - all those pics must have taken a forever. Thank you!

  3. Thanks Fiona. I think it would look nice if you pieced bits of fabrics together before cutting your 4 pieces out.

    Tania - glad you like it. I'm working on another tutorial at the moment which is twice as long and has maybe twice as many photos!! The problem is remembering to take the photos when making the item!

  4. Great tutorial and great bags! I really like the zip tote...I think you should definately do a tutorial on that!
    Keep up the great work.

  5. Thanks Angela - that's the next tutorial I'm working on!

  6. Awesome! Thank you so much!!!

  7. Just fabulous...I love little pouches & stuff that sew up quickly like this. Thanks for sharing the tutorial!!

  8. Fantastic tute! Thank you so much, I love the seam hiding bit....very smart!

  9. This looks really cute! Thanks Ady!!

  10. Bellissimo tutorial! Thanks!!!Ciao pia

  11. Love this tutorial!! I am now a follower of your blog! :)

  12. Fantastic tutorial, very clear and good photos.

    Thank you for sharing and I will one day try one of these.


  13. great tutorial, great photos!

  14. My pouch based on your tutorial:

    Thanks really a lot for sharing it! I added a picture to your Flickr group too.

  15. great tutorial and nice steps by step instructions.

  16. Thanks all!

    Debbie - I saw your pouch! Love the B&W prints!

  17. Very good tute..easy to follow, just the right size! I've been sittingn on this for awhile and I think today might just be the day! Thanks a million. ~karen

  18. I'm baack, and so soon! That was the easiest tutorial I ever followed and it included putting in a ZIPPER!! It was easier than trying to post this comment! ~karen

  19. That was a great tutorial! I really enjoyed making my little stuffy!


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