Pouches! And a sort-of tutorial.

Knitting and creating in general basically came to a screeching standstill while we moved house. Now that we're here and settled in a bit, the quilting bug has come back with a vengeance, and I've finished up a wall quilt that only needed some binding and a hanging sleeve, and yesterday I made up a couple of pouches intended to carry the little Garmin navigational systems that my brother got various family members for Christmas last year.

Quilted Pouch Tutorial

You will need:

Exterior fabric
Interior fabric (lining)
A sewing machine or mad hand-sewing skillz
Thread to match exterior, interior, both, or neither
A zipper (I used a polyester Coats one, which are ubiquitous at craft stores)
Cutting tools - I used a self-healing mat and rotary cutter, as well as two sewing rulers
A non-machine needle and passable hand-sewing skills (just for sewing the turning hole closed)

My goal was a pouch that would both keep the cord stored with the main piece as well as that would offer a little protection from bumps and scratches and theivery. To that end, I wanted to use batting rather than interfacing. (Pictured here is Warm & Natural batting, but I ended up using some leftover Heirloom (I think) batting, probably 100% cotton.

I didn't find a tutorial for exactly what I was looking for, so I based my creation off of this tutorial from Pin and Paper as well as a dash of this tutorial from Make it Modern and this one from Skip to My Lou. The sewing exterior parts together and interior parts together came from the first and last one, and the way of handling the bottom corners came from Make it Modern, for the record.

I found it very hard to wrap my brain around the construction -- which part is facing up, which is facing down, why, etc. If you also have a problem with this, it may be helpful to think of this as similar to the "envelope" construction used in some quilts, where you pile up the backing (face-up), then the front (face-down), then the batting (doesn't matter which side is which), sew around, then turn through a turning hole. You're not doing exactly that, because at no point do you sew the lining to the exterior, but when you're attaching everything to the zipper, this is sort of the model you follow.

My zippers were 7" long, so I went with pieces of fabric for the exterior and lining that were all 7 1/2"x7 1/2" (to include a 1/4" seam allowance). If you happen to want to make a carrier for a Garmin Nuvi 260W and its cord, you could probably get away with the pouch being 2" shorter. You can make just about any size you want, provided that your width isn't more than the real width of your zipper. (It's also easy to shorten a zipper, so if you want something smaller than your zipper, just follow the instructions that came with it on how to shorten it.)

I hesitate to write up official tutorials for things, because that implies that I think of myself as remotely qualified to advise people on how to do stuff with sewing. I really don't, so please understand that this is what I did and it worked for me without much fudging or cursing (although there was some cursing).

That said, because I was going off on my own in terms of the batting, I was pretty confident that overlapping 2 layers of batting would give me a lot of bulk at the seams that a) I didn't want and b) was probably unnecessary. So, I cut the original squares for batting to 7"x7", which, I figured, would result in approximate meeting of the batting pieces right at the seam. Then I placed each batting square on top of the wrong side of each exterior square, 1/4" from each side, and pinned them at the corners.

While ideally the whole pouch would be quilted (exterior, batting, and lining), the inside/outside construction process doesn't really allow for this. Short of covering the seams with something, as in this tutorial, I couldn't think of a way to quilt through everything and have the seams be neat or hidden. So I just quilted the outside to the batting, using a walking foot (because that's what happened to be on my machine at the time) and a whimsically not-exactly-straight back-and-forth quilting pattern. Because whimsy is very important. For each square, I started at what would become the upper-left edge, quilted to a bit before what would become the 1/4" seam allowance, turned 90 degrees, quilted for an inch-ish, and turned again to go back toward the other edge, thus making my way down the block.

Apparently I didn't take pictures of this middle part. (So helpful! Sorry. The tutorials I linked above have good pictures of how to sew each part to the zipper and then assemble the whole bag.)

Basically, what you do is put the lining face-up on the table, then put the zipper face-up on top of that. Then you place the batting/exterior on top of that, matching the top edges, and with the batting part facing up. You're going to sew all of these parts together 1/4" of an inch from the top, and you're actually working on the side of the zipper that's uppermost at this point. I used 4-5 pins across, and opened the zipper partway, then paused in my sewing to move the zipper out of the way when the foot got close to it but wasn't going over it yet. (You stop with the needle down, through all the layers -- that's very important -- then lift up the foot and push the zipper under it in whichever direction it needs to go. This was tricky sometimes - don't force it too much, because it's mostly about needing to find the angle that will get the zipper to move.)

The batting spread out a bit during quilting, but in general when you sew the pieces together at this part, you'll be working right along the edge of the batting.

Once you've sewn across this, flip the interior and exterior piece toward each other, revealing the zipper, and press them open -- I just finger-pressed -- then sew through all the layers along the zipper. I didn't use a 1/4 seam allowance for this - just stayed pretty close to the edge of the fabric.

Repeat this process for the other side - lining face-up, zipper, exterior face-down, then finger-press and sew that side along the zipper.

If you want to add a little handle, make it now. (I added a handle to one pouch.) Decide how wide/long you want it to be, then double the width and add 1/2" to both the width and length for seam allowance. (I wanted it to end up being about 1 1/4" across, and 7" long (halved, of course, once it's attached), so I cut a piece of exterior fabric 3"x7 1/2".) Fold this piece in half lengthwise, wrong side out, and sew along the long edge 1/4" in. I finger-pressed this seam open, then turned right-side-out and sewed two lines lengthwise 3/8" in from either side. My 7" long handle, once attached, is too little to go over my wrist, so if you want to make this a wristlet, make sure to measure to figure out how long it should be.

Then you flip the interiors together (wrong sides out) and the exteriors/battings together (wrong sides out). If you're adding a handle, fold it so that the sides of the handle you want facing out are currently facing out (i.e., the seam faces in or to the side, depending on your preference) and insert it between the exterior pieces before pinning everything. I matched the edges of the handle up with the edges of the exterior fabric, and placed it right at the top edge, just below the zipper.

Be sure that before you start pinning everything, the zipper is at least 3/4ths of the way open.

Pin all the way around the rectangle, half of which is your exterior and half of which is your interior. Leave about 2" of the bottom un-pinned (and un-sewn) so that you can turn this rectangle inside-out once you're done sewing.

I followed the tutorial's directions to pin the zipper toward the lining. This was hard to get my brain around, but I took it to mean that the edges of the zipper should be pinned against the lining rather than the exterior part.

When I sewed around the rectangle, I went very carefully over the zipper, because I've bent the crap out of a needle before when it hit an unyielding piece of zipper. I actually hand-walk the machine for these parts and go back and forth over them at least twice.

If you want your bag to stand up, don't do what I did on my first bag and get all excited that you're done with the hard part, turn everything right-side-out, and sew the turning hole closed. Now is the time to square off your corners.

For both the exterior parts and interior parts, you need to sew a seam perpendicular to the seams that are currently there in the corners. Some tutorials have you cut notches in the corners, but I prefer the mark-sew-cut way, which is described nicely in the Make it Modern tutorial linked above. Line up the bottom seam and the side seam, as in the photo, and use your ruler to determine where the corner is 2" across. Mark that line, then sew across it. Cut the corner off, leaving about a 1/4" allowance. Using pinking shears for this step is a good idea, if you have them.

Repeat this step for each bottom corner, two on the lining and two on the exterior. You may want to go a wee touch over 2" for the lining, so that it's just slightly smaller than the exterior. I didn't, though, and it worked just fine.

Now you're going to turn the whole shebang inside-out (or right-side-out, as the case may be) and using an itty-bitty whip stitch, sew the turning hole in the lining closed. Then push the lining down into the pouch and admire!

Here are my finished pouches -- the one on the left has the corners squared, and the one on the right doesn't.

Some gratuitous yay-I'm-done! shots:

I like this pouch because it says, "I am full of makeup and girlie things!" rather than "I am full of an expensive navigational device that you should steal!" And because I can leave it in the car, it prevents the Garmin cord from attacking me as I'm trying to get my wallet out at the grocery store. Win-win-win.

I will gladly answer questions about making this pouch, and if there are ways my tutorial could be clearer -- other than featuring pictures of the tricky parts (duhh) -- please feel free to contact me. I may not be so helpful, though, because generally I just wing stuff. If there is a great demand for pictures of the tricky parts, I'd be happy to make another pouch and actually document it. Just let me know. My e-mail is my Rav name at G mail.

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