Thursday, December 02, 2010

Pleated Pouch Sewing Tutorial

I originally posted this project in August and have been meaning to make it again to do a tutorial ever since.  This bag combines elements from a number of different tutorials and projects out there, I basically mixed and matched elements to come up with what I wanted. 

It has squared off bottom corners which give it a good amount of inside volume and a nice shape.  It can stand up (and would stand up even more if made with home dec weight fabric or using interfacing).  It would be great as a small makeup or jewelry bag, to hold knitting or sewing notions, or for whatever you want!  Also, this is clearly not a grocery bag, but in the spirit of the Green Grocery Bag Challenge, you could make these to use as "wrapping" for small holiday gifts.  See below for the tutorial and for a sneak preview of another project (and tutorial) coming soon!  If you make a pouch with this tutorial I would love to see how it turned out - you can share a photo in the Needle and Spatula Flickr group.

TERMS OF USE:  For personal, non-commercial use only.  If you are interested in making these pouches for small-scale commercial sales (eg craft fairs, etsy), please contact me and we can discuss a licensing agreement.

What you will need:
  • Two 2"x7" rectangles of fabric for top band on outside of bag
  • Two 5"x9" rectangles of fabric for bottom of outside of bag
  • Two pieces of fabric ~7"x9" for inside of bag
  • 9" or longer zipper in coordinating color
  • Mid- or light-weight fusible interfacing (if a stiffer bag is desired - I did not use)
  • Thread in a color that looks nice with your fabrics 
I used quilting weight cotton fabric, but you could also use home dec weight fabric for the outside, or interfacing on the outside pieces (which you would apply before the first step), to make a bag with a bit more body.  All seams are 1/4" unless noted otherwise.  Also, the bag has pleats on the outside but an unpleated lining - if you want to give the bag more inner volume, you could replace the lining pieces with another set of pleated pieces made the same as the outside.

First, on the bottom outside pieces, mark lightly at the top (long) edge of the rectangle at 3.5", 4.5"(middle), and 5.5" from the edge.  Mark just at the very top of the edge so that the markings will be hidden in the seam (I like to do this as extra insurance even if I use dissappearing ink).

Fold the two outer markings so each comes in to the center point and pin in place as shown below.  You will note that the sides are now flaring up slightly.  To get rid of this flare, lay a ruler on top of this piece at the same level as the center point (which is the lowest point on the top edge).  Mark a straight horizontal line across the top edge as shown below, and then cut off the two resulting triangles (which should be the same size).  Repeat for the other side.

 Pin the front bottom pieces to the top pieces and sew together (sorry these next two pics didn't turn out great - I was trying not to use my flash but they are kind of blurry, I think you can still tell what to do).

Iron open and topstitch along the bottom edge of the top piece, if desired.

Place your outside piece face down on the lining fabric and use it as a template to cut out the lining pieces.

Now you should have two finished outer pieces and two lining pieces.

I do my zippers a bit differently from most other folks... I like to use an extra long zipper (mine is longer than necessary in this pic, this is just the size I had on hand), and then sew with the zipper pull off to the side - this way you don't have to worry about sewing around the zipper pull or accidentally sewing on the metal stop bits.  If you want a neater look for your zipper ends, you could also use tabs like on Noodlehead's gathered clutch although then you would need to put the zipper pull in the middle from the start.

So, with the zipper facing up, sandwich the top edge of the zipper in between the outside and lining pieces for one side of the bag.  The outer fabric should be on top and the lining fabric should be on the bottom, and they should have right sides facing eachother.  Pin in place and sew to the zipper in about the middle of the zipper tape (1/8" to 3/16" from the edge).

Press both the outer and lining pieces to the opposite side.

Now repeat for the other side, making sure that the pieces are lined up centered above the other side.

Iron to the opposite side and unzip the zipper to the mid-point of bag. (Very important!)

Now, fold the outer sides and lining sides of the bag together, right sides facing.  Pin all the way around the bag but leave a 2-3" gap where you will not sew at the center of the bottom of the lining piece.  Fold the zipper pieces to one side or the other (with the top of the zipper facing the lining or facing the outside of the bag) and pin securely at the zippers, particularly the unzipped side.

Sew all the way around, leaving the gap at the bottom.  Be careful in going over the zippers, you are going through a lot of layers so your sewing maching may have issues (you may want to use a larger needle size for this step to make sure it is sturdy enough).  I usually sew back and forth over the zipper ends an extra time to secure them but this may not be necessary.  You can cut off the excess ends of the zippers now or at any point before you turn the bag inside out.

Iron the corners open so that the two seams lay on top of eachother and the corner forms a triangle.  Mark a line perpendicular to the seams that is 1" down from the point (should be 2" across) - as shown below.

Sew just below the marked line (closer to the main bag body) for each corner, then cut off the ends leaving 1/4" or slightly more seam allowance.  Once you cut them off you will see that the ends open up to be little squares.

Turn the bag inside out through the opening left in the bottom, then tuck the open edges inside the bag and press the edge to make it neat.  Pin across the open edge and stitch as close to the edge as you can to close the opening (or you can stitch by hand).

Congrats, you're done!  Enjoy your bag!

Here is a sneak preview of another project that I will post a tutorial for in the next few days - a card purse with a fabric covered button.  I just have to make it again and take photos this time!  But it is a quick project.


  1. Great tutorial! This is almost exactly how I make my clutches (sans the zipper).

    Excited to see the card holder tutorial!

  2. Love this tutorial. I made your bag last night and it turned out great. Your instructions were so easy to follow. Thanks!

  3. i loved this tutorial! it was just what i was looking for.
    i've just finished my own and i'm so happy with it!
    i've added my end product to your flickr group and featured the tutorial on my blog

    - liz/grazing goat

  4. I love making these cute little pouches and the pleated idea is fantastic. Thanks for the easy to follow tutorial... time to go make one myself!

    And I'm glad to find another crafter on the east coast! Hi from Delaware :)

  5. Thanks so much for this tutorial. I just made one (a little different, used some Velcro instead of a zipper, but it still worked wonderfully) to match the prom dress my grandma and I are making. It turned out wonderfully!! I can't wait to show it off!

  6. Ohh... thank you for this tutorial!! I will try to do it! I love the fabrics you use!


  7. i jst cant wait to make one really... i simply love this one...thanx a lot.

  8. Thanks for your very very great tutorial,Kate ! This is fantastic! My bags are ready ;o)

    Have a nice day..
    Many greetings from Germany ;o)


  9. I'm confused about this step:

    Iron the corners open so that the two seams lay on top of eachother and the corner forms a triangle. Mark a line perpendicular to the seams that is 1" down from the point (should be 2" across) - as shown below.

    I get stuck after the first sentence. Could you explain it another way maybe?

  10. Maybe if you think of it as pinching the seams together at the corner? Not sure how else to explain - hopefully the photo is helpful.

  11. I went to sleep and tried it again in the morning (though I wasn't up til 4:39... but 1/2:39 was plenty late enough). Anyway, I figured it out after being more level headed. Thank you for the response though :)

    It turned out adorable and I ended up buying more fabric to make another one that's a bigger version of it. It's a great pattern. Thank you so much for posting it! It was the first thing I've sewn in years, but you made it really easy to follow and it came out wonderfully.

    i made a flickr account so you can see, if you want.

  12. I just made a miniature version of this and it came out great. Thanks for a great tutorial. I have pinned it!

  13. Hi,

    This is really a beautiful and cute pouch which can be used to store some dry products. You have nicely shown the method of dong this amazing pouch. Thanks for this informative post.

  14. Hi Kate - I'm Jen from Portland Oregon too! I came across this tutorial a few weeks ago and then couldn't find it again (you know clicking links on links...) so I'm so glad to see it here and I've bookmarked it now. I love the fabrics on the clutch - I'm very partial to Green anyway! I'm going to attempt to make the zippered clutch bag this weekend! I love making my own bags with my own choice of fabrics and colors. Wallets, Clutches, purses, totes, market bags, beach bags, etc. I'll never have to purchase another bag again! Thanks for the tutorial.

  15. Thank you for this tutorial! I just made one to match a Roll-up makeup brush case. Take a look at my new blog and join my site to follow me for more projects!

  16. This is so sweet! I'm hoping to make some as Christmas presents this year. I've added this to my 'To Do' list and pinned it.

  17. I made a couple of these and blogged about it here: I gave you credit for the pattern and linked back to your website. I just thought you might like to see how they turned out. Great tutorial!

  18. I just made this to go with a bag I made for my sister-in-law for Christmas. Looks great! Thank you soo much, I can't wait to give it to her :)

  19. Adorable! I am going to make two of these as babyshower hostess gifts. Thank you so much for posting!

  20. Just made your pouch today...great directions and cute little bag to boot!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  21. Hey Kate: I made your purse today, and it turned out great. My very first seeing project ever! Took me a while to figure out what you meant with the triangles on the corner, but once I got my head around it, it was super simple. Thanks for putting up this tutorial.

  22. I love how you used a longer zipper for this project! I have always done this, too, for I always have odd zippers on hand that are not exactly the length I need. I find them at yard/estate sales for little of nothing, as they are always good to have on hand for projects like these.

  23. I'm going to try this pattern! Thanks for posting this!

  24. I made a vintage one. So I can carry around my personal items at school. It's navy at the bottom with a maroon, creme, and blue floral band, I made red pleated trim and put that on one side with a bow and green ribbon and red pearls and rhinestones, and on the ther side just a green ribbon with pink pearls and matching rhinestones. For the lining I use he same floral fabric that I used for the band, and I used a gold zipper!!! I think it came oout good for a first timer/beginner sewer!!!

  25. I found this on pinterest and gave it a try. I was always scared of zippers, but this was easy peasy! Thanks for the great instructions. I was going to give it as a gift, but dang, that's going to be hard to do because it's so cute! :)

  26. I've had the tutorial pinned for a while and finally tried it today - I did it with home dec fabrics and it worked beautifully! I'm going to try enlarging it a bit (about an inch in height and an inch in width, I think) when I make it again - my fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be, so larger is easier for me :D

  27. So cute, I can't wait to make one! Great fabric.

    Your profile description sounds like the blog I just started (except for the vegetarian part!)

  28. Hello! I just love making this bag! How would measure out fabric for different sized versions?

    1. Glad you like the pattern! I don't have measurements for other sizes, but you could scale it up or down if you wanted. Good luck!

  29. Made my first one tonight. Quick as can be and very cute. Thanks for the tutorial and excellent instructions!

  30. thanks for posting this great tutorial!
    i finnest my purse.....lots of love from Holland

  31. Thank you for the easy-to-follow instructions! I modified it a bit by reversing the direction of the pleats and only used 1 fabric on the outside and it turned out good! Was very quick and easy (thanks to your instructions!). I've linked to your instructions on my blog
    Thank you!

  32. Just finished my bag. So cute, I want to make a few more.

  33. This is really cute. I would like to make it into a little purse for my daughter, but I'm not sure at what point would I add a strap? I'm one of those who doesn't like to deviate too much from a pattern (or recipe :) I'm just not too sure how adding a strap from one end to the other would work out. Any advice would be great!

    1. you should definitely be able to do that, here is a tutorial I found via google that seems like it would work -

      Or you could add it at the step where you pin and sew all the way around - similar to how this wristlet strap is added ( but you would add a longer strap and have it go from one side to the other (making sure the whole strap is tucked inside when you sew it, so that you don't catch it when you sew). Not sure if that makes sense, but hope it helps.

    2. Thanks so much! I will let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the tutorial to kick me off!


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