Tutorial: Flush or exposed zipper pocket

Tutorial: Flush or exposed zipper pocket

Tutorial time! yay!

(you can also download the tutorial as a printable: click here!)

After so long since I published my first tutorial, I’m back with an easy tutorial. It is easy but you need to put all your attention on details to have a neat Flush or exposed Zipper Pocket.

I confess I had no idea of the name of these kind of zipper pockets until not long ago (thank you Lisa for your wonderful book! and Nicole for yours!), even if they are certainly one of the most common types of Zipper Pockets.  Do you know those small helpful pockets on the back of the inside of your bag that seem to have popped out of the middle of the fabric? Yep, those!

So here we go. I recommend you to start with a small zipper and pieces of scrap fabric to practice. Assuming you have basic sewing skills, all you need is:


Fig. 1

  • your fabric pieces:
    • main fabric where the pocket will be attached
    • fabric for the pocket (double the size you want your pocket, then fold it in half)
  • scissors,
  • a seam ripper,
  • rulers,
  • sewing machine,
  • pins,
  • a marker (or a seamstress crayon, chalk or pencil),
  • zipper (at least 4 cms longer than the length you want for your zipper pocket opening – in this case is a 16 cm opening, zipper is 20cm long).



Fig. 2, Fig. 3, Fig. 4

Step 1:

First unfold the pocket piece and fold it lengthwise (fig.2).

If you want the pocket to be displayed on the center of the main fabric (outer fabric in this case), find the center by folding it in half, same as we did before.

If not, find the center spot -use your zipper as a guide- of where you want your zipper to be and mark it (fig. 3).

Then place the pocket fabric piece, aligning the center fold line with the line or center where you want your zipper to be.

VERY Important: the main fabric has to be right side up (as in photos), so the pocket piece is above the right side of the main fabric.

Measure 3 or 4 cm (1 or 1 1/2 inches) from the top  border of the pocket piece. Mark in place over the fold line for reference (fig.4).


Fig. 5, Fig. 6

Step 2

Place your zipper on top of the pocket piece and find its center, then mark on the pocket piece where you want your zipper to start and where to end. I always leave 2 cm (3/4 in) aprox. extra of zipper outside of the marks, to make it more secure and stable. These marks the length of the opening of your zipper pocket. In this case is a 16 cm zipper opening (fig. 5).

Draw a rectangle of around 1 cm (3/8 in) height and the length you marked before. Draw a line on the center lengthwise (0,5 cm / 3/16 in). Then draw a triangle on each short sides as pictured (fig.6 ).

Now you have sketched on the pocket fabric the opening of your zipper.


Fig. 7, Fig. 8

Step 3

With some pins, secure the pocket piece to the outer or main fabric piece.

Now let’s go to the sewing machine!

Stitch with a medium stitch length (3,5 or 4) all around the borders of our rectangular box.

Don’t forget to make a secure stitch on the beginning and after completing the box around. This will prevent any fraying in the future (fig. 7, 8).


Fig. 9, Fig. 10, Fig. 11

Step 4

Use your seam ripper to open a small gap, enough to introduce your scissors. Follow the center line you draw on the rectangle you just stitched securely around.

Be VERY careful to open just a small gap along the center line. You will be ripping open both fabrics, so be careful to avoid any accident! (fig. 9).

Now with your sharp scissors, cut along the center line, including the triangle, or diagonal lines (fig. 10).

Be extra-very-ultra careful not to cut through the stich on the corners of our main rectangle!

If by accident you do it, go back to the machine and sew some stitches back and forth to secure those very important corners! (fig. 11).


Fig. 12, Fig. 13

Step 5

Remove the pins securing the pocket piece to the main piece (fig. 12).

Open the center gap and introduce the pocket piece through it, then turn around the complete pocket piece (fig. 13)

This piece should now be facing the main fabric’s wrong side.

Once the pocket piece is on the wrong side of the main fabric, press with your fingers along the borders of the gap we’ve made. This is to help the fabric keep the fold.  Make sure to have the pocket piece fully extended. Keep in mind you need to stretch firm but carefully all along the sides of the gap.


Fig. 14

Step 6

Now use your iron and press flat all around the gap, start on the main fabric, to make sure you don’t leave any crease (fig. 14).

Then turn around and press flat the pocket piece.


Fig. 15, Fig. 16

Step 7

Get your zipper, if it needed, sew some stitches on the ends to keep it closed, this way both sides of the zipper will remain in place.

Now place the zipper below the gap, being careful to keep the pocket piece fully extended and stretched against the wrong side of the main fabric.

Decide to which side you want your zipper to open and place it accordingly.  Center the zipper on the gap and fix with pins on both short sides (fig. 15).

Now pin carefully around to fix the zipper securely to both fabrics. Try to keep an even space between the zipper teeth and the border of the gap (fig. 16).


Fig. 17

Step 8

Time to use our sewing machine zipper foot.

Change the foot of your sewing machine to the zipper foot. This is mine (Janome), but any sewing machine has one, and they look more or less the same (fig.17).


Fig. 18, Fig. 19, Fig. 20

Step 9

Let’s fix the zipper to our fabric pieces. To sew it,  use a straight medium stitch (3,5 – 4).

We’ll be sewing through the main fabric, the zipper and one layer of the pocket piece.

Begin on a corner with a secure or lock stitch, then continue slow and steady along the border. Leave around 2mm (1/16 in) space from the gap border (fig. 18).

When you reach the zipper pull, stop sewing, keeping your needle down. Lift the foot and slide the pull behind the sewing machine foot. Then continue sewing around the gap (fig.19).

Keep in mind you should sew slowly, this way you can make sure the stitches are neat and straight.

Finish with a secure or lock stitch.  Cut the remaining thread, not leaving any on the surface of the fabric (fig.20).


Fig. 21, Fig. 22

Step 10

Once your zipper is fixed to the fabrics, check everything is in order (fig. 21). Of course, you can always add more decorative stitches. Some people like to stitch an extra line around the main box. This it is a nice idea when sewing with thread in a contrasting color. It is up to you :)

Now let’s turn around our work. With the main fabric’s right side facing down, let’s close the pocket piece on the fold we made at the begining, aligning the top and bottom sides, creating, or closing the pocket piece (fig.22).


Fig. 23, Fig. 24

Step 11

Turn around and fold the main fabric so the borders of the pocket piece are visible and free. Secure the main fabric with a pin if needed (fig. 23).

Now secure with pins all around the pocket piece.

With your normal presser foot on your sewing machine, sew all around the open sides of the pocket piece (fig. 24).


Fig. 25, Fig. 26

Step 12

After finishing the stitches around, unfold and press open the main fabric. The stitches are highlighted by a red dashed line, the original stitches are barely visible on the image (fig. 25).

Now turn around your project and check your new flush pocket (fig.26).

Open and close the zipper, and check that no gaps were left when sewing around the pocket piece.

Congratulations! You’ve made your first Flush Zip Pocket!



Completed Flush Zip Pocket

(you can also download the tutorial as a printable: click here!)

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