Serger Zippered Pouch Tutorial

Have you ever considered putting in a zipper with your serger?  This is actually my favorite way to insert a zipper, and I know lots of ways to do so.  Although using a serger to insert a zipper has its limitations, when it’s appropriate to use this technique, it’s amazingly quick and easy to do.


imageI want to thank K&CSupplies for providing the zipper used in this tutorial.  This pouch uses a handbag zipper, as opposed to a clothing zipper, and you will note the larger, sturdier zipper pull. K&CSupplies blog has a terrific blog post comparing handbag zippers to clothing zippers and explaining the differences. It’s definitely worth a read if you like making pouches, totes, and bags.  This was also my first time ordering from K and C Supplies, and I have already placed a second order with them, I had such a great experience.  I had a great time looking at their supper zipper selection, plus their service was tremendous. They have reasonable shipping charges, even to Alaska, which means so much to me, and they shipped my order promptly.  Please check them out!

Now, on to our zippered bag…

1/3 yard (or fat quarter) main fabric
1/3 yard (or fat quarter) lining fabric 9″ x 11″ thin fusible fleece or lightweight interfacing
6″ of 3/4″ wide ribbon
16″ nylon zipper – must be at least 4″ longer than needed in project.
Glue (I use Scotch Permanent Glue Stick. It’s permanent on paper, but water soluble on fabric.)
Cording/Piping foot for serger


Comments on materials:
You may choose to fuse a fusible fleece or a lightweight interfacing to give the main fabric more body. Be careful. Heavy or craft interfacing and many fusible fleeces will make the project too bulky with too many layers. I recommend using a lightweight interfacing on the back of a lightweight cotton fabric or use a more stable fabric, such as a suedecloth or heavier quilting cotton fabric with no interfacing. Another choice would be to use a firmer fabric for the lining and a lightweight to mediumweight cotton fabric for the outer main fabric.  If you use fusible fleece, cut it 1″ smaller in each direction and center it on the fabric to keep bulk out of the seam allowances.


I will give instructions for making zipper pull tabs from fabric, but if you use fusible fleece on your outer bag, do not use fabric tabs. Use ribbon to make the tabs to reduce bulk. Ribbon tabs are appropriate to pair with any fabric choices.

Cutting and Preparing:
Cut one piece each of your main fabric and of your lining fabric 10″ x 12″. Other dimensions are also possible.

If making fabric tabs, cut a strip of lining fabric 4″ x 10″

If using interfacing, fuse the interfacing to the back of the main fabric.

I used a directional fabric, so I cut two main fabric pieces 6.25″ x10″ and serged a lengthwise seam between these two pieces of fabric to make one 10″ x 12″ piece with the UP direction of the pieces facing away from each other. This way both sides of my bag would be facing the correct direction when the bag was finished. This is a good strategy for any fabrics with a definite direction or nap where you want the design to run parallel to the zipper.


For the fabric tabs:
Press the strip in half lengthwise. Open, then press each lengthwise edge of the strip to the center fold. Press the first fold again, making a strip 1″ wide.



Use a sewing machine to topstitch close to each long edge of this strip.


This could also be modified for serger. Cut the strip 2″ x 10″. Press the strip in half lengthwise. Place decorative threads in the serger loopers and serge a balanced narrow 3 thread overlock stitch down each long edge just skimming the edge with the knife, only trimming off stray threads.

Cut two 4″ lengths of the strip and fold these two pieces in half to form 2″ loops. Use glue stick in the seam allowance at the raw edges to hold the ends together for the loops. Pin or clip to hold and let dry. (Sorry, but I did this while visiting family and did not have glue with me, so I have no pictures of this step.)


Serger set-up:

4 thread overlock

Cutting width or stitch width:  widest setting

Stitch length: 2.5-3

Foot:  Cording or piping foot


1) Sandwich the zipper between the main fabric and the lining as follows.

Lay the main fabric right side up on the table.

Place the zipper face down along the 10″ edge of the fabric, aligning raw edge of fabric with edge of the zipper tape.  VERY IMPORTANT:  Center the zipper so that about 2 inches or more hangs off each end.

Lay the lining fabric right side down, with the 10″ raw edge of the fabric aligned with the zipper tape edge.

Place a pin parallel to the edge of the fabric to hold the layers together.  This is just to hold things long enough to get them under the serger foot.  It should not be necessary to pin the whole seam.

NOTE:  If you are right handed, place the zipper pull to the left.  If you are left handed, place the zipper pull to the right.

2) Open the zipper and move the loose edge out of the way.

3) Place the sandwiched edge under the cording foot, placing the zipper coil in the groove of the presser foot.  Make sure the zipper pull is behind the foot and the leading edge of the fabric is in front of the foot or just under the front edge of the foot.


NOTE:  When putting in a zipper by serger you want a zipper that is at least 4 inches longer than your seam. You want to avoid having any of the metal zipper parts coming in contact with the knife or needles, so you need to keep them outside of the area to be serged. This also means you must use a nylon coil zipper. Do NOT use either a metal zipper or a zipper with “teeth.”

NOTE:  It is best to serge in a zipper with the zipper coils facing upwards, but since my top fabric had fused fleece, I serged with the lining side up.  Ideally you want a thin fabric on top of the zipper, with the coils facing up so the groove of the presser foot can easily ride along the coils, guiding the seam straight and true.  If your outer fabric is one layer, serge with the lining on the bottom and the outer fabric on top with the coils in the groove of the foot.  You will find this will go more smoothly than the other way around.

Serge the edge, running the groove of the foot along the coil of the zipper.

When you get to the end of the fabric, push the tail of the zipper out of the way to the left.


4) Close the zipper.

You may wish to topstitch the new seam to keep the fabric out of the zipper coils.  Pull the outer fabric and lining away from the zipper and topstitch on the outside about 1/8″ from the seam.


5) Lay the serged piece right side up on the table.  Pick up the raw edge of the main outer fabric opposite the zipper and pull it up to align the raw edge with the unserged edge of the zipper tape, aligning both side edges at the same time.  Put a pin in the raw edge to hold the layers together.


Turn the whole piece over.

Repeat the same procedure with the lining fabric, aligning the raw edge of the lining with the unserged edge to the zipper tape, sandwiching it between the lining and outer fabrics.  Use the pin to hold the three (3) layers together.


6) Open the zipper.  Place the layers in the serger with the zipper coil in the groove of the presser foot as before.  Serge the seam.


7) Turn the piece wrong side out.  Close the zipper part way so that the zipper pull is in the middle of the rectangle and middle of the fabric.


8) Flatten the rectangle so the zipper is along one long side.  Mark the opposite side with a small snip or pin.

9)  Flatten the rectangle the opposite way so that the zipper matches with the mark opposite it.  If you want, you can use a traditional sewing machine to zig zag over the open end of the zipper to hold the coils together at the seam line.

10) Place the fabric or ribbon loops between the zipper and the mark with the loop to the inside and the raw edges aligned with the fabric raw edges.  A spot of glue stick can help here to hold these in place.  Serge across both open ends of the rectangle.


NOTE:  You can cut the excess zipper off each end ahead, but you do not have to do so.  Your serger knife can cut through it as long as it is a lightweight nylon coil zipper.  BE SURE YOUR ZIPPER PULL IS IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR PROJECT, AND YOU ARE NOT CUTTTING IT OFF THE END!

NOTE: This is where bulk can be a problem.  As you approach the zipper serge slowly if you have extra bulk.  You may need to hand walk your serger through this area.  Hold the zipper coils together at the open end.   (You will see that my bulk pushed my fabric loop out of the way, since it wasn’t glued in place. I chose not to rip the seam out to reposition it, but I learned a lesson from that about keeping the layers thinner because this seam has so many layers in it.)

11) Box your corners:

Flatten each corner into a triangle so that the seam lies in the middle.  Serge across the triangle 1″ from the apex.  Finish off your serger thread ends.


12)  Turn your pouch right side out and admire!


I would love to see pictures of your finished projects, so please send them to me at and I will post them here and on my Facebook page.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn Brooks
    Jul 13, 2014 @ 05:48:27

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks for taking the time to put it together.


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