Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Exposed Zipper Pocket Tutorial By Jessica from Running with Scissors

 I'm so excited to share a few tips I used on my Squadron Bomber Jacket!
Today I'll show you how to add an exposed zipper pocket.
In my case, I was making the entire jacket, and it was my first step.
But you can always purchase a hoodie, sweat shirt, pants, tote, or jacket and just add a zipper pocket!

-article of clothing 
I found mine at JoAnn they are "fashion zippers" and have the silver teeth and gray tape.  I used 5" zippers since they are going on a small chest, but you could use longer lengths.
-Pocket Fabric
I cut two rectangles: both 1.5" wider than your zipper (mine were 6.5" wide)

Determine how deep you want your pockets.  Add 1" to the height of  bottom piece for seam allowances.

Add 2" to top piece for seam allowances and room to go on top and around zipper tape
(so my pockets were only 3" deep so my pocket pieces were 4x6.5" {bottom} and 6x6.5" {top})

1. Draw stay stitch rectangle.
You need to determine where you want your zipper. 
I draw a line where the zipper will go first.  Make sure this line is as long as your zipper.
Add another line 1/4" above and below your first line.  This will make the total height of the hole 1/2" in the end.

2. Sew Stay Stitch Rectangle
It's important to pivot at the corners really precisely to have a nice clean finished corner in the end.

Once you've sewn around the outer rectangle, cut along the center line and cut the angles into the corners, making sure to cut close to the thread, but not through. 
4. Sew pocket fabric to Jacket
With the jacket facing up, you'll line up the pocket pieces, with your taller piece on top, or toward the head.

You'll want to make sure the pockets are face down so you have right sides together.  

Next you'll sew right on top of the stay stitch rectangle, but only on the long seams across, not up and down the ends.
It's actually easier to sew these pockets to the jacket if you flip it all upside down, so you can see the stay stitch rectangle you sewed earlier.  So the above step is the visual of how and where the pockets attach to the jacket, and below is the picture of what it actually looks like when I'm sewing the seam.

-wrong side of jacket is up, and you can look through the slit to line up the pocket fabric, right sides together to the open edge.  You'll sew right on top of the previous stitching with 1/4" seam allowance.

MAKE SURE YOU DON'T SEW BEYOND THE STITCHING ON EITHER BEGINNING OR END OF SEAM as this will make a pucker in the end.  So I sew slow and use a smaller stitch length so I don't overshoot the end of the seam, but you want to finish directly on top of the corner.

******This is the hardest part because you have to sew as precise as you can.
5. Flip and Press
Once both sides are sewn, you'll have each half of your pocket attached to your jacket.  Next you'll stuff the pocket fabric through the hole.  Press with an iron set at your fabric's settings both seams so they are flat.

Here is the back view with the pockets pulled through on the back/ wrong/ inside of jacket.
You'll also want to press the little triangles on each end under to the back, leaving you with a nice, clean pressed opening with finished edges. 
6. Sew on Zipper
With the zipper closed (zipped up) you'll pin it to the back of the jacket, lining up the teeth to be in the center of the hole.  Top stitch around your zipper 1/8" from folded fabric edge.
7. Sew Pocket Bottom
First you'll put the very top and very bottom raw edges together and sew across the seam, making the bottom of your pocket.
8. Sew Pocket Sides
I flip the jacket so the right side is up, and make sure the pocket behind/underneath is laying flat.
Roll up the side of the jacket, and you'll have the raw sides of the pocket exposed.
Sew down the edge of the pocket fabric creating a side seam for the pocket.
Repeat on other side of pocket.
Trim excess seam allowance.
You're finished!

TIP/ Easier Variation:
I made mine just as you would real welt pockets, but just added the zipper to the back.

But with hindsight I just thought I'd throw out there that you could make these same pockets, and it might be a little easier if you just cut one larger rectangle for the pocket, rather than having two smaller ones.
[pocket  rectangle width 1.5" wider than zipper]
[pocket rectangle height: pocket depth x2 + 2"]
so for a 3" deep pocket your finished rectangle would be 8" in height

The changes you would make to my above directions would be to draw the rectangle on the back of your jacket.  Slap on your big pocket fabric rectangle on the front of the jacket, right sides together, lining it up so your rectangle is 1" or so below the pocket piece center.  Then flip it over (sewing on the back/ wrong side of jacket) and sew around the entire rectangle, all 4 sides.  At this point you'll cut along the center slit and into the angled corners and stuff the whole piece through to the back.

Follow the instructions the same from there.

I didn't photograph it all again, but thought either way works, and you can use the above welt version photos for reference if needed.

Thanks and hope you enjoy adding these trendy exposed zipper pockets to lots of different clothing, pants, totes, etc!

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  1. Thanks for sharing this! I was so impressed with all your cute zipper pockets. I totally want to try this.

  2. this is such a fabulous tutorial! very well done

  3. Love this idea!! I have a constant sketchbook going of ideas to make my little guy's clothes a little more distinctive...and I totally love this. Thank you thank you!!

    Also, quick question - can you shorten a metal zipper the way you can a plastic one? I'm kind of thinking that would be a really good way to totally bork your scissors but maybe there's a trick I don't know?

    Thanks again for this, I really love it.


    1. for this I used them in their entirety, but with metal I cut the tape to the teeth with scissors, but I use a straight edged razor blade to cut off the metal, it will ruin scissors and you can't really get down between the teeth. I actually always use a razor blade to unpick too, I don't have a seam ripper.

  4. WOW! You made it look so easy! I am totally trying this.

  5. Great tutorial! Pinning to try later. :)

  6. That was a really amazing tutorial, thanks for all the clear pictures and details.

  7. What a great tutorial. The details and pictures were clear and perfect!

  8. Great tutorial, Jess! Also pinning for later...

  9. Love those exposed zipper pockets! Also, I can't believe you don't have a seam ripper. I don't think I could make it through a day without mine!!

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  12. could you make pants pockets that are already on the pants into these zipper pockets?

  13. Jessica this is genius. I've been trying to figure out my leather pockets and this is the ONLY tutorial I've found that explains exactly what i want to do! Thank you.


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