How to Add Invisible Zippered Pocket to a Bag Pattern

Updated: Feb 7

Invisible zippers aren't just for garments. Sometimes, you want a bag that looks clean (no pockets, no zippers, no buckles), or you want to preserve the beauty of the bag's fabric print without interrupting it with unsightly zippers, but you also want the functionality of an exterior zippered pocket. If invisible zippers can serve this purpose in garments, it can certainly do the same for bags.



Note: This post illustrates how to add an invisible zippered pocket to the “DIY Basket Tote” pattern by Sew Can She. However, as long as you can grasp the concept behind this modification, it can be easily suited to any bag pattern.


My mother’s handbags have always had exterior zippered pockets. It is one of her top must-haves when she shops for a handbag. So, when I wanted to make her a bag for Mother’s Day, I knew I had to make sure it had exterior zippered pockets for her to have quick access to her mobile phone and tissue packets.


The “DIY Basket Tote” pattern by Sew Can See has a clean exterior. It was that clean look that attracted me to this pattern at the first place. In order not to ruin the clean look of this bag, while still be able to add a zippered pocket to its exterior, I used an invisible zipper. Read on to learn how to modify the a bag pattern and create the invisible zippered pocket.


Note: This can be done with a regular zipper foot (instead of an invisible zipper foot). You can see from the photo the result is still good.

An invisible zipper foot will make it a lot easier (and probably neater too), but it is not a must, especially for this bag pattern, where the fabrics were applied with hard interfacing and fusible felt, which hid flaws.

STEP 1: Modify Original Pattern


First, let us look at the original bag pattern pieces.


To create a pattern that has an invisible zipper opening, modify the original body piece pattern as follows:


To create the pocket lining pattern piece, modify the original body pattern piece as follows:


STEP 2: Cut Fabrics


Cut main exterior fabric according to the modified body piece pattern. Try to match the fabric print along the seam allowance lines as the two pieces of fabric meet at the zipper opening.

Exterior fabric pieces, ready for sewing.

And cut pocket lining fabric according to the pocket lining pattern.

Pocket lining fabric piece, ready for sewing.

STEP 3: Sew Invisible Zipper to Exterior Fabric


This step is the same as any invisible zipper installation process. Below are some illustrations that maintain continuity of the illustrations in this tutorial. For full details on how to sew invisible zippers, here is a good video tutorial by Angela Wolf.


Sew invisible zipper onto exterior fabric's seam allowances.

Fold exterior fabric along seam allowance lines. The invisible zipper tapes will naturally follow the seam allowances to the wrong side of the exterior fabric.

Right and wrong sides of the exterior fabric, after invisible zipper is installed. Ready for next step.

STEP 4: Isolate Seam Allowance of Long Flap


Unfold the long flap of exterior fabric as illustrated below. The aim is to isolate its seam allowance at the zipper attachment so that in the next step, the pocket lining can be sewed onto the seam allowance ONLY. Pin the layers in place.


Isolate the seam allowance of the long flap.


Long flap's seam allowance isolated (on the left), ready for next step.

STEP 5: Sew Pocket Lining onto One Side of Zipper Opening


Align and sew the pocket lining fabric to the isolated seam allowance of the long flap, as illustrated below. Use a zipper foot because you need to get close to the zipper teeth.



STEP 6: Fold Pocket Lining & Isolate Seam Allowance of Short Flap


First, fold the entire flap of pocket lining to its wrong side, along the stitch line (red dotted line).



Then, flip both the long and short flaps of the exterior fabric away from the short flap’s seam allowance. The aim is to isolate the short flap's seam allowance at the zipper attachment, so that in the next step, the pocket lining can be sewed onto the short flap’s seam allowance ONLY. Pin the layers in place.


Isolate short flap's seam allowance with only the pocket lining on top of it, ready for next step.

STEP 7: Sew Pocket Lining onto the Other Side of Zipper Opening


Sew the pocket lining fabric to the isolated seam allowance of the short flap, as illustrated below. Use a zipper foot because you need to get close to the zipper teeth.



STEP 8: Flip Short Flap Back into Original Position


Flip the short flap of the exterior fabric back into its original position, such that its curved edge meets the curved edge of the pocket lining (do not worry if they do not match up exactly – these will all be concealed under bias binding or the bag’s lining).



COMPLETE!


You have just completed the modified body piece with an invisible zippered pocket!


How the completed modified body piece should look like on the right and wrong sides.

Here are real life photos of my modified body piece with invisible zippered pocket. In these photos, I have already applied hard interfacing on the wrong side of the exterior fabric. Regardless of what type or how many layers of interfacing you are using, they should be applied directly onto the exterior fabric, without trapping any seam allowance or pocket lining in between.

Right side.

Wrong side.

Pocket lining's curved flap flipped down.

Pocket pleat flipped up.

The layers that make up the invisible zippered pocket.

The pocket opening. No stitch lines should be visible both inside and outside the pocket on the right side of the body piece.

Ready for assembly.

Proceed with the rest of the original basket tote tutorial using this modified body piece and you will eventually end up with a basket tote with an invisible zippered pocket!



For more details on this basket tote that I made, go to this post.

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