Sometimes I think that every time I sew a pocket, I come up with a different way to do it! But it’s not just indecision. Its (usually) improvement or adjusting a design specifically for the need at hand. Like the lined zipper pocket that I made for the apron (with the secret earbud cord porthole). It was based on things I had learned about making an inset zipper pocket, based on ideas that were generated when I made some bags last year, then finally modified to work especially well for the apron.
A basic inset zipper pocket would not have been as strong as I wanted, and it would have been difficult to make the porthole behind it. I didn’t need quite the same level of sturdiness of the heavier duty zipper pockets in the bags, but I wanted my newest pocket to be completely lined. Thus was born the modified inset zipper pocket, which I think is easier than a regular inset pocket.
The first thing is to decide on a size for the pocket and drew a rectangle of those proportions. I wanted my pocket to comfortably hold a music player or phone; and I had a 4 inch zipper that was perfect. I cut the pocket so that the width was at least one inch wider on each side than the zipper opening would be. This leave room for seam allowances when sewing the lining on and room to more easily work on the zipper opening. A zipper can be cut to a custom length if the zipper teeth are sewn together securely to make a new open-end stop. Then, the extra zipper tape can be cut off. (click on any photo to enlarge)
I have a particular aversion to pointy corners on pockets, so I traced the curved edge of the pocket pattern for the apron to round all four corners. I could have just as easily used a cup or plate or anything with a curve.
The next thing is to cut a piece of lining the exact same shape and size as the main pocket front. These were sewn right sides together, except for leaving approximately 3 – 4 inches open on one side so I could turn it right side out. I only used a seam allowance of about 3/8 inch because that meant there was less to trim. I clipped the seam allowance on the corners so help it lay flat when it was turned.
After turning the pocket right side out, press it, folding in the edges of the opening. It worked for me to just wait to sew those together when I was sewing the whole pocket on the apron, but if the fabric is unreliable or it just helps ease your mind, sew their edges now.
Now, it’s time to decide exactly where on the pocket the zipper will go. Not too close to the top. Strictly horizontal is optional. Mostly, you need enough room at the top for the little bit of facing that will need to lay flat.
Cut the facing piece for the zipper opening out of a relatively light weight woven fabric, no longer than the width of the pocket and about 2.5 – 3 inches wide. Zigzag the raw edges and/or make a narrow hem, depending on how free of loose threads you want the inside of the pocket to be.
On the wrong side of the facing piece, along the center, mark a long narrow rectangle. This rectangle should be about 1/4 inch wide and long enough for the zipper to be able to open up. I don’t mind the end stop of the zipper showing and find it less trouble to sew the zipper in place if this also fits inside the opening, so I include that in the length. Of course, you want the pull tab to be easy to grab, too.
Inside of the rectangle, draw a line down the center, but ending about 1/4 inch before each end. (If you made the secret porthole, this is the same procedure here). Draw from the end of the line to the corners of the rectangle, forming small triangles. These are all the cutting lines once the facing is sewn onto the main fabric of the garment or whatever you are putting a pocket on.
Pin the facing to the right side of the pocket, that is the main fabric that will be showing when the pocket is finally put in place. Sew around the perimeter of the long narrow rectangle, preferably starting and stopping on a long side, and back stitching at the beginning and ending of the stitching.
Slash the inner lines now, cutting along the center line and clipping carefully into the corners without cutting into the stitching at all.
Finger press the seams some at the same time as turning the facing fabric to the back of the pocket. Then, use an iron to press it all flat.
You may want to sew the facing down, to keep it from folding into the zipper at some point. If you don’t want any stitching to show on the front of the pocket, use an invisible slip stitch to tack it around the edges to the lining of the pocket.
The zipper can be sewn into the opening now. It is probably best to pin it into place first, sticking the pins into the layers from the right side of the pocket. And use a zipper foot. From the right side, with the zipper under the opening, stitch all the way around the edge of the rectangle, going back and forth over the short ends a couple of times for extra strength. Again, back stitching at the beginning and ending of the stitching is recommended.
All that is left is to sew the pocket onto whatever you want it on. Be careful of the parts that were left open for turning if they were not previously sewn closed. The zipper is the only opening, so sew completely around the whole pocket. Voila! A fully lined zipper pocket! You can add them anywhere just for fun!