#handsewpatchwork Zipper pouch tutorial (Japanese zakka handsewing technique)

Seriously, I was quite apprehensive to suggest hand sewing a zipper pouch for our #handsewpatchwork sew-a-long. The last time I entirely hand sew a zipper pouch was years ago. That was before I bought my first sewing machine. I always think whoever invented the sewing machine must be a genius. It's one of the best inventions ever. After buying a sewing machine, my life changed. I depended very much on it for all kinds of sewing, except hand quilting. It saved so much of my time and energy especially when I have three kids trotting around me everyday. So much so that I have forgotten the pleasure of hand sewing. It was quite a sad thing for me.

So when the week of making this tutorial finally arrived, I was in panic. There were so many WIP on my table and my days were occupied with the daily routine of chores and kids. Handsewing takes a great deal of time and patience (both which I lack for the past few years). I was so tempted to bring out the machine from the cupboard.

When I finally had the chance to sit down last week and think about my love for hand sewing, everything just fell into place. Once I picked up my needle, I couldn't stop sewing. I just could not stop at any stitch. My hand sewing mojo was back.

Well here I am, trying to tell everyone reading this blog that hand sewing is really something all of us should try at least once. When I say hand sewing, it doesn't mean just hemming the pants or sewing buttons on shirts. It's using the needle with your hand to make something you like or something you can use or admire. It's not tough at all to handsew. If you can use gadgets like sewing machine, hand sewing should be just second nature. And you don't have to worry about faulty machines or space constraint. Handsewing is just so easy and therapeutic. It makes you feel at peace and calm with every single stitch.

Now you think I might just store my sewing machine forever. Of course not. I need it when my fingers need a break or when I have other non-zakka kind of sewing.>.<


I am so in love with this pouch. Really.



It's spacious with a base. And a really pretty zipper too.



The hand quilting details are my favourite too. I drew leaves because the centre block is a flower.


And I added lace too just because I love lace.


I always use the same method to sew zipper pouches and I don't really make measurements. I just sew according to my needs and likings. There may be some variations for different pouches but the basics are the same:

- hand quilt three layers together (top, batting, lining)

- hand binding the raw edges of seam allowances

I call this the Japanese zakka technique, in my own way of saying.

Of course, if you think hand sewing the entire pouch sounds daunting, you may wish to use the sewing machine at some points.

Now let's start with the tutorial!

First, choose one of your #handsewpatchwork blocks to make your pouch. I chose block 8 Mayflower.


Next, choose your zipper. You can choose any length of zipper. If you choose a longer zipper like me, please add fabric borders to the patchwork block so that the zipper can be as long as the width of the patchwork. Feel free to add any embellishment like lace or buttons or appliqué. Then join a bigger piece of fabric to make you base and back of pouch. You may square up the sides. Choose lining fabric too.

Use short running stitches to join the fabric borders to the block just like how you sew any patchwork block.

Pin the three layers (top, batting, lining) together and hand quilt according to your desire pattern.

Zipper pouch measurement

Here's my measurements (cm) for the pouch. You can change to your desired size.

*It's important to learn how to hide your knots during hand sewing and quilting. After you tie a knot, poke the needle back into the same hole and out from another side (about 1-3cm) away from the hole. Give a tug to the thread so the knot will disappear into the hole. Then snip the thread close to the fabric.*

Now cut binding fabric. I always use single-fold binding since I don't wish to waste my precious fabrics. I cut two strips of 4cm width for the top and bottom and 4.5cm width for the sides. Why 4.5cm for the sides? It's because later on when we join the sides of the pouch, there will be six layers of fabric and batting together so we need a wider binding.



Handsew the 4cm width binding to the top and bottom using backstitch.


Next is the zipper. Many people are afraid of sewing zippers. I think they are way easier to hand sew than machine sew! Just take the zipper, line the teeth to the edge of the binding, pin in place, backstitch! It's really that simple! Then to sew down the lower side of zipper, you can choose to use blind stitch or X-stitches. I always use the latter because they are prettier.



This is how I do the X-stitching. I like to turn the pouch so the teeth of zipper faces me because it's less bulking to move around.


Now you have sewn the zipper, draw a 1cm seam allowance and join the sides of the pouch using backstitches and then sew the binding. OR if you are lazy like me, you can sew the 4.5cm width binding fabric at the same time you are joining the sides. The 1cm seam allowance is drawn on the binding fabric. In this way, you don't have to sew the same part twice.

**Always remember to make sure that the binding is about 2cm (1") longer at the tail-end because we need to wrap the tail-end to finish off the binding.**


You can see from the pictures that I didn't sew from the base of the pouch. Instead, my stitching starts about 2cm (1") from the base. This is because I have planned to make a 2cm base to the pouch and I don't wish to "waste" my stitches.





This is how you bind the tail-end. Clover wonder clips are amazing help to secure the folds in place.

Here comes the last part of sewing the pouch - to make a base. If you choose not to make a base, you can omit this step and sew all the way for the sides of the pouch.




Use a ruler to help you decide how wide you wish to sew the base. I decided on 2cm wide base. So place the ruler and find the centre, draw a line and snip off the tip after the 1cm seam allowance. Then use the binding fabric to bind the raw edges. Make sure to extend the binding fabric so that you can wrap up the sides.



That's it! Your zipper pouch is completed!

I promise you will feel a great sense of satisfaction once you finish the last stitch! It's just feels so good and so unbelievable! Spread the word of hand sewing to your friends and family! xxx

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Joeycraftworkz said...

pretty!! Will definately try now that I completed Mayflower. :)

Aematlak said...

I can't wait to try this - it's so pretty!

Elnora said...

Absolutely adorable, Wynn! As you know, I often hand quilt and sometimes hand piece and hand sew zippers, but I've never sewn a whole pouch by hand!!! I'm a bit daunted about sewing the sides by hand, but I'm definitely going to do it! Thanks for your wonderful example and instructions!

Anna said...

You don't show how to put binding on the zip? This tutorial seems to be missing instructions.