Friday, May 1, 2015

How to Make Any Size Boxy Zipper Pouch

(Warning: it's about to get mathy up in here!)

But, before we go there, have I mentioned how much I enjoy sewing custom orders? I love the challenge of figuring out a new type of project that I haven't tackled before. I get to add some new skills to my sewing toolbox, and I get to (hopefully) make someone happy at the same time... win-win, in my books.

This time, a friend asked me to sew a zipper pouch to hold her essential oil droppers and roller bottles. She gave me the dimensions of her bottles, asked only that the pouch be pretty and close with either a zipper or a fold, and include some sort of insert to keep the glass bottles separated and protected when she throws them in her purse.

I found excellent tutorials for fully-lined boxy zipper pouches at Pretty Modern and Pink Stitches. I flipped back and forth between them while sewing this one, just because I found it useful to have different photos and descriptions of the steps as I went along. The only trouble I had was with figuring out how to construct the bag so that it ended up the size I wanted it to be (the tutorials were for slightly bigger pouches than I needed). After doing lots of math and sketching and reading, I came across the Magic Formula for Boxy Zip Pouches posted deep in the comments of Pretty Modern's tutorial. So, without further ado, the "magic" formula for making a boxy zipper pouch any size is:

Is that confusing enough? Ha. The graphic is a bit of a mess, but I wanted to share it since it took me the better part of an hour to track down the formula and then figure out how to use it to get the size of pouch I was after. Now, hopefully, you won't have to (as long as it doesn't take you an hour to figure out what I'm talking about!). Here's how I did my calculations:

I wanted my finished pouch to measure 7"(L) x 3"(W) x 4"(H), and I'd use a seam allowance of 1/2".

So, I cut my two outer and two lining pieces 12" x 8", which I calculated as follows:

= L + H + 2 x seam allowance
= 7" + 4" + (2 x 1/2")
= 12"

= H + W + 2 x seam allowance
= 4" + 3" + (2 x 1/2")
= 8"

Box Corners
= 1/2 H
= 1/2 (4")
= 2" up from corner point

Once you have your pieces cut out, you just have to follow one of many great tutorials out there for sewing a lined boxy zipper pouch, remembering to box the corners using the measurement you worked out for your size of pouch.

The "magic formula" worked like a charm for me. My finished pouch measures approximately 7" long x 3" wide x 4" high, just what I was aiming for. I used a little piece of leather as a zipper pull accent, which I love alongside the Cotton + Steel fabric I used for the outside and lining of the bag. I also made three little inserts to hold the essential oil bottles, which should work well (and look cute, too). 

I listed it in my Etsy shop for her to buy - my first Etsy listing, and my first sale! I'm aiming to get a few more things listed in the coming weeks, so hopefully it's just the first of many. Next on the learning list - product photography...


  1. Hi, I saw your friend share about this and had to find out more. Love it and Is love one too. Be in touch with email or I messaged you on Etsy as well.

    1. Thanks Cindy! I'm glad you got in touch via Etsy. Looking forward to making you a custom bag of your own. :)


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