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Pleated Pocket Madness

The grey & citrus bag I made last week at the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Sew-in was a quick and easy project. I started with a little zipper from my stash and pulled a couple fabrics to match.  It wasn’t until I finished it that I realized it was perfect for Ashlee – my Birdy-Girl!

As promised, here’s the tutorial for the bag. There are some terrific instructions available online for making zippered bags & pouches, including installing the zippers. I’m giving the measurements for the fabric pieces, and general instructions, but if you have any questions feel free to ask.

I started with 4 fabrics. 3 are included here (zipper ends & loop, top band and main fabric), with the 4th being the lining fabric you’ll see below. I like to use lighter fabrics for the inside of bags – while they can get a little smudged, at least you have a chance of seeing inside.


  • Fabric –  have fun! I used (4) different fabrics
  • 7″ zipper – that’s the length of the teeth, the tape is about 8″

Cut the following pieces:

  • (2) pieces 2″x2.5″, (1) piece 2″x5″  (Zipper ends and loop – red dots)
  • (2) pieces 2″x8″ (top band – stripe print)
  • (2) pieces 7″x10″ (main body – floral)
  • (2) pieces 8.5″x10″ (lining – see instructions for trimming below)

**All seam allowances are 1/4″ ~ just a habit from all the quilting. **

Fold the 2″x2.5″ pieces in half (matching the short ends) and press the crease. Open it up and place it at one end of the zipper, matching the ends.  Sew across the crease, making sure that the metal zipper stop is not directly under your needle. Fold the fabric back and press. Repeat for the other end.

The top band is 8″ wide, and the main body fabric is 10″ wide. The extra 2″ is for the pleats. Fold the main body fabric in half and press a small crease at the top. Open the fabric, bring the ends to the center and repeat for the left and right.  This will mark the location of (4) pleats. One on the left, one on the right, and two at the center. The pictures below show folding and pining the pleats before pining to the top band, but you could also pin the ends and the center point to the top band, then fold the pleats by taking up the ease.  Stitch the top band to the pleated panel. Repeat for the other side.

Form the loop by folding the 2″x5″ strip in half lengthwise and stitch down the long side. Turn right side out and press, centering the seam line on one side.

To prepare the lining, the pieces need to be tapered. Do this by trimming 1″ from the top, tapering to 0″ off each short end. After trimming, the lining will be 8.5″ tall, 8″ wide at the top and 10″ wide at the bottom.

Place the zipper face down on one of the outside pieces. Layer a lining piece on top (right sides together). Stitch across the top, close to the zipper teeth. I opened the zipper pull part-way and sewed up to it. I removed the pouch from the machine, closed the zipper, and then finished stitching. Repeat for the 2nd side.

Open the pouch out flat and press across zipper. Topstitch if you like. OPEN THE ZIPPER HALFWAY. Now match linings together and outside pieces together, matching the sides seams on the top band and pushing the zipper seam allowances towards the lining fabric. Pin the loop in half and insert on the side of the pouch closest to the zipper pull when closed. Stitch all the way around the bag, leaving a section open on the lining for turning.

To form the base of the pouch, pull the fabric apart on one corner of the lining. Match the seams, and then stitch straight across the corner about 1.5″ from the point. Repeat for the other side of the lining, and the outside corners. Trim.

Turn the bag rightside out through the opening in the lining. Sew up the opening, push the lining inside the bag, and you’re done!

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love zippy bags. The pleats are great. Might have to do a simple class.

    October 10, 2010
  2. Aponi #

    Thanks! I really should try this – I’ve been wanting to experiment with pleats!

    October 11, 2010
    • This would be an easy way to try them – I know you wouldn’t have any trouble with it!

      October 11, 2010
  3. giving it a whirl!

    June 3, 2012
    • Cool! You know where to find me if you need help ~

      June 3, 2012
  4. These are great! I need a small project (working on UFO’s), so I will try this. Thanks for the tutorial!

    February 12, 2013
  5. atreyu59 #

    pleates make the bag. I think I would add a shoulder strap & use as a purse to carry around; or one could use inside their larger bag for perhaps a make-up bag

    August 17, 2013
  6. Thanks for the tutorial. Love your fabrics!!

    November 13, 2013
  7. belíssimo!!!

    March 4, 2015

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