This post is part of the series
We love bags with many pockets. Is there something better than a bag with many pockets? YES, a bag with many EXTERIOR pockets! I love to easily find what I need, without opening the bag.
Sometimes the pockets are part of the design and they are not only functional.
(see this bag and this bag and this bag).
No matter how many pockets I have on the front of the bag, I like to sew a zippered pocket on the back of my bags – for important things that I want to safely keep and that I use frequently.
Here is how to add a zippered pocket to the back panel of a bag.You have to do this before you assemble the front and back of the bag together.
First, some math!
- Decide the width of the pocket – let’s say you want a 7” pocket. You need then a zipper at least 7” long.
- Decide how deep the pocket should be. Let’s say 6”.
- For the lining of the pocket you need a piece 3” wider than the pocket width (7”+3”=10”).
- To find out the length of the lining, double the desired depth of the pocket (6”x2) and add 3”. The length of the lining will be 6”x2+3”= 15”.
Play with the numbers/size of the pocket as you want.
Turn the lining of the pocket wrong side up.
At 1.5″ from the top edge, mark a rectangle (centered width-wise) that is 7” long (the desired width of the pocket) and ½’’ wide (see the black lines).
A permanent marker is fine, mark with thin lines.
Mark the yellow lines too, as shown.
Pin the pocket lining to the bag back, 1½’’ away from the top edge, right sides together.
Stitch through all the layers along all sides of the black rectangle. Backstitch when you reach the corners, this will strengthen the corners.
Carefully cut down the center of the rectangle (cut on the yellow lines in the previous image) then clip toward the corners as close as you can without clipping the stitching.
Pull the lining though the hole to the wrong side of the back panel.
Use pins to keep the opening flat. Press with steam.
The lining fabric must be hidden when viewed from the front side.
This is how it looks from the right side…
…and from the wrong side of the bag back.
Position the zipper behind the opening. Baste in place. Then stitch all along the opening to secure the zipper in place (a zipper foot is helpful).
Here is the back.
If your zipper is longer, trim off the excess.
Fold the lining in half lengthwise, right sides together and stitch along the three sides- only through the lining.
The zippered pocket is done.
It is easier to sew and you will achieve better results if you fuse interfacing to the back of the lining and if the piece you want to add the pocket to is firm.
A quilted panel or a fabric interfaced with heavyweight interfacing are great.
Do you want more secure space in your bag ? Add a zippered pocket to the inside of the bag, on the lining!
Anna F. says
Thank you for this tip series on how to make better bags. You make it seem so simple and doable. Am I correct in assuming that in the final step when you sew around the three edges of the pocket piece you are only stitching through the two layers of the pocket piece?
Thank you again!
You are right, Anna, you stitch only through the lining layers.
My next bag will have a zipper! That's something I've always avoided in the past. Thanks for the tutorial!
Linda Swanekamp says
Do you have a pattern for the bags at the end of the post, the two bags, big and small? I love the shape and size. I looked on your site, but did not see them. I bought your pouch bag and love them, easy to make!
Linda, I don't have yet the patterns for those bags but they are the next in line!
Mdm Samm says
beautifully illustrated…such a classy quilter you are…
this great tutorial was also a part of the Amelie bag and believe me or not,that for the first time a made this kind of exterior zipper bag in no time. I have a question for the red and white little zippered bag? Is this cute bag also as a pattern available? Take care, Martina
Martina, the pattern for the red/white bag is on the "to do" list! Glad the instructions were easy to follow.
So good tips, thanks Geta! Yes, the pattern for that cute bags, please!
Gosia @ Quilts My Way says
This is absolutely fantastic idea, Geta. I love the practical tips like this.
Thank you for sharing.
These bags are gorgeous!
Great pictures and instructions. It was really easy to follow. Thank you for sharing.
Hi I love the metallic exterior pockets.. If I am using cotton batting for quilting the bag, then How to do such an exterior pocket.. Cutting through batting will not be smooth right.. Should th ebatting be eliminated form the exterior zip rectangle ?Please share tips
Geta Grama says
Diya, I use batting and backing when quilting the pieces for the bag. Here is a tutorial on how I quilt my bags.
But even without backing, you can sew the zipper without any problem.
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This was so helpful. Best tutorial I have found. Thanks!
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