Everyday Tote with exterior zipper pocket hack

Spoonflower’s new Lightweight Cotton Twill is an absolute dream to work with.  The weight is the perfect go-to for a multitude of projects, especially totes!  The combination of this easy to work with material and its tough weave will ensure that you’ll end up with something that will not just look amazing, but wear well. In this tutorial, Gia from the blog Sew Gratitude will to take you through a simple “hack” using the Lightweight Cotton Twill and an Everyday Tote project from Sprout Patterns


Another fun option for your Everyday Tote is to add an easily accessible outside zipper.  Today I’m going to walk you through creating an outside pocket with a contrast trim.  In this sweet boho mermaid fabric, (design by Nouveau Bohemian) the zipper will be perfectly complimented by a tasseled pull. This technique is a little more advanced, but worth tackling!  Just go slowly.

For this project, you’ll need the following additional items:
• one 10 inch coordinating zipper (or longer, you can easily shorten it)
• a disappearing marking pen (I am using a Frixon marker)
• an Exacto knife
• a glue stick
• a ruler
• a rotary cutter


Go ahead and cut out your bag as usual, again being careful not to cut into your extra chunk.  When designing this bag, you’ll see that I have two separate coordinating panels left!  I’m going to be working with the print that’s the opposite of the outside of my bag. Interface your bag with the interfacing of your choice, I always use SF101.

From the extra chunk, cut:
1 –  one 10 inch by 14 inch rectangle

Interface your pocket however you want, you might want to only interface the top due to the thickness of the twill, but it’s totally up to you!

Working with the pocket, fold it in half long ways and find the center. ON THE WRONG SIDE- from the top measure down about 1.5 inches and draw a long horizontal line.  Measure down from your first line about 3/8 of an inch and draw a parallel line.  Now, create a box that’s about 8 inches long centered.


Fold the front panel of your bag to mark the center.


Place the pocket along the front of your bag with the top about an inch down, centered, right sides together.  The rectangle you drew should be facing out.  Make sure everything is even and flat and pin this into place, leaving room around that rectangle to sew.


Now, sew this rectangle carefully.  I go very slow and shorten my stitches as I reach the corners.  Leave your needle down and turn the fabric to get a sharp corner.


Once sewn, carefully mark your rectangle as shown, these will be your cutting lines.


This is the tricky part, so be careful!  I use an Exacto knife and a cutting board to cut the corners, this makes sure that I can get as close as possible to the stitching so that when I flip all this around, the corners are sharp and exact.  Go slow and be as exact as you can.


Once you have your lines cut, flip this panel through the rectangle you just cut.  It’ll take a little finessing, don’t force it.  It’s super easy to create the contrast!  Instead of flipping the panel and pulling it all flat, go ahead and wiggle it so that there is a sliver of fabric on the outsides just under the seams, finger pressing it along.  The top and the bottom will lay flat, but the short edges might pucker.  Don’t worry, this will all flatten out and won’t make a difference on the front!


Iron this like crazy.  I place pins on the side to keep everything square.

Now we’ll add the zipper.  Your zipper should be longer than the rectangle on each side.


Open your zipper up a little bit and then run the glue stick along the edge of the zipper and then place so that the opening is just flush with the left of the rectangle and centered into the rectangle.  You can fuss with this some before the glue dries, so don’t panic.  Once I have it where I want it, I hit it with the iron to set the glue tight.  I put a few pins along the ends to hold the zipper center as I sew.


Now, carefully sew about 1/8 of an inch around the outside of the zippered rectangle on the front side, just outside the edge of the contrast.  This will sew your zipper into place.  For good measure, I always backtrack and sew over the short ends twice.  Flip it over and trim your zipper ends.


Fold the bottom of the pocket up to match the top and sew the edges!


Press everything very well! Finish up the bag following the directions supplied from Sprout!


Go ahead and attach your zipper pull!  I made mine, but there are so many amazing artists out there on Etsy you can support as well.


You could easily use the rest of the extra chunk to add an additional zippered pocket inside!

After over a decade working in an office, Gia was done with the commute.  She gave up a job in PR to work from home to take care of her family.  She became a certified and licensed aromatherapist and herbalist and launched her own organic skin care company.  After one too many unsuccessful searches for JUST the right Halloween costume for her now ten year old, she got out her aunt’s old Singer and taught herself to sew.  You can find her now in her villa in Italy amongst her cats and a growing hill of fabric, always ready for the next sewing challenge.  She blogs over at sewgratitude.com, when she remembers.



Something Handmade: Personalized Bridesmaids gifts with Sprout Patterns

DIY weddings are the cutest, and so is Jennifer Spanos – Spoonflower Operations team member and bride-to-be! Jennifer is a novice sewist, but decided to take on the Sprout Patterns Lined Zipper Pouch as the perfect handmade gift for her bridesmaids.

I work at Spoonflower and am constantly surrounded by fabric – so I knew I should finally learn how to sew. Spoonflower offers employees basic sewing classes and I jumped at the opportunity! I recently sewed up my first napkins and have plans to hem some tablecloths and signage for my wedding soon.

One of our engagement photos

I’m getting married next month in Asheville North Carolina. Although my fiance and I are both from Ohio (Go Cavs!) we wanted to bring our families down to explore the mountains (and amazing food) of North Carolina. Christopher and I met at summer camp so we thought an outdoor wedding would be perfect.

Some of my pouches, washed and dried – so happy with how bright the colors stayed!

I’ve never sewn a zipper before, but my coworkers convinced me I could do it. I decided to make each of my bridesmaids a Zipper Pouch from Sprout Patterns to include in their gifts for the wedding day.


I had so much fun looking through our marketplace to choose designs for my zipper pouches! I tend to “heart” everything I like and my favorites list gets longer everyday! I spent some time going over my favorites as well as searched some words that reminded me of my bridesmaids. All of the pouches have the same design on the outside (Ferns by Landpenguin) but the inside is personalized. I don’t know if my twin sister’s lining, Buried Bones by Alyssa Scott, or my cousin’s lining, Love all dogs by wideeyedtree, is my favorite lining! So cute!


My favorite part about Sprouting would have to be cutting out the pattern! It was immediate gratification to look down and have all of my pieces straight and ready to sew! The instructions were very clear and the pictures were super helpful!


Gifts.jpgSome of the other gifts for my bridesmaids – the zipper pouch fits in perfectly!

I am so happy to have finally used Sprout with a sewing project. I am really excited to give something to my girls that is personal and handmade! I hope to increase my sewing skills a bit because a dress project is calling my name.


Jennifer is on the Operations Team at Spoonflower and the co-chair of their Sustainability Committee. Her hobbies include snuggling with her three year old Plott hound Wenonah, watching scary movies and wedding planning (is that a hobby?). She would rather go out for breakfast than dinner and loves learning to cook any Greek recipe!