Box Pouch

I don’t know about you, but when I travel I rely on my trusty zip top plastic bag to control the chaos in my suitcase.  (It’s totally true!)  For my latest trip I decided to make the box pouch because I’ve wanted to give it a try for ages.  And, I thought maybe I could pass for a grownup if I looked the part!

I used Melanie’s tutorial http://melaniekham.com/easy-zippered-box-pouch-tutorial/  I mostly followed her directions, but I did play and experiment after my first pouch.  I listed the steps for everything I did below….

My practice pouch was from Black Essex Linen, because I thought my son could use one.  And since I’m being completely honest with you… if it didn’t turn out he wouldn’t feel bad because he didn’t know he was getting one! haha!

The first pouch was awesome!

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My daughter thought it was perfect and started looking for fabric so I could maker her a pouch too!  We found darling cactus fabric and made her a super sized pouch.  For the cactus pouch we increased the dimensions by two inches each direction.  I used a sixteen inch zipper I had on hand and it fit very well.  Inside the pouch is a lining fabric, in the picture below its gold polka dots.  We added a vinyl lining to the inside so it would be easier to clean.

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A note about the vinyl.  It comes in different thicknesses- called gauges, as well as different colors and patterns.  When it comes to pouches and lining for bags I find that 8 gauge is my favorite.  It is pliable and easy to work with, the thicker the gauge the stiffer it becomes.  When sewing a pouch, it is much easier to navigate tight corners if you can bend and manipulate the vinyl.

Vinyl sticks to the presser foot.  Your life will be much easier if you use a non stick sewing foot, or tissue paper when you are actually stitching the layers together.  If you have ever checked out the makeup bags at the store, sometimes there are bits of tissue paper inside the bag, they are left over from the assembly process.

The vinyl comes with a layer of tissue paper to prevent it from sticking to itself.  I use the paper that comes with the vinyl, but I have used tissue paper from my local store. When cutting the pieces I cut the vinyl AND the tissue paper at the same time.  Then before sewing, just layer the paper on top of the vinyl, as if it was another piece of fabric that needs stitching.  Stitch through everything and pull the paper off when your done.  In the case of the bag, I left the paper on until my bag was completed.  (See the next picture.)

This is when I trimmed the extra zipper length and the side seams.  All of the layers- the outside fabric, lining and vinyl.  I wanted a nice even clean edge.  At this point I also ran it through the serger to prevent fraying, but a zigzag stitch would work nicely too.

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Be aware that every time you stitch, you puncture the vinyl with your needle.  Your needles and pins make small holes that do not self heal or repair like your cutting mat.  I use Wonder clips to hold all my layers together.   All those seams and little holes prevent it from being completely waterproof.  However, it will be easier to clean and will mostly contain drips and spills from perfumes, lotions or wet toothbrushes.

My daughter wanted a larger handle, so we came up with a long fabric strip that goes horizontally between the side seams.   If you look closely you can see the black stitching next to the letter ‘K’ (below).  I wanted to reinforce the handle, because it can hold a lot of items.  In reality I would move it closer to the seam or even stitch in the ditch.  However, I wanted you to be able to easily see what I was talking about so it’s about 1/4 inch away from the seam.

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For the handle I cut a fabric strip 3 inches wide and one inch longer than the length between my side seams.  In the super size bag, the distance was just about 7 inches, so I cut the fabric strip 8 inches long.

To make the handle three are three choices:

Option one: I folded right sides together-  so it was still a nice long 8 inch strip of fabric.  The next step it to stitch a 1/4 inch seam, it will look like a long tube.  Turn it right side out.  I used my fingers and wiggled and jostled the fabric through the tube.

Option number two: attach a safety pin to one end and push it through the tube.

Option number three: fold the fabric in half the long way wrong sides together, iron, then fold and iron the seam allowances to the inside.  Last run a top stitch down the side to hold everything together.

The next part was a little tricky, but still easy.  I took the finished handle laid it exactly where I wanted it placed …but on the wrong side….  then on the side seam mark with a pen exactly how wide it was.

The next part seems kind of counter productive because the stitches that are under that handle need to be unpicked.  This just takes a minute, there aren’t very many.IMG_8099

Next go to the inside of the bag and slide the handle into that little hole you just created.  Make sure the handle is laying flat and either pin or hold it in place with your fingers.  Stitch the entire seam again.  I suggest doing some extra stitches directly over the handle.  I felt where the handle was located and I did an extra line of stitches over that one section.  Repeat for all the corners.

Trim and finish the seams with a serger or with a zig zag stitch.  Turn it right side out, remove the paper and go on vacation!IMG_8103

This project was so easy I didn’t have any ‘tester bags’ to discard.  Every single bag turned out perfectly…. even when I experimented.  Have fun making them your own!  I can’t wait to see what creative changes and improvements you implemented!

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There is one last tip I’ve heard through the grapevine, but I haven’t tried it and cannot guarantee the results.  Remove your presser foot and stick some clear tape to the bottom of the foot.  Then you can reattach the foot, and the vinyl is rumored to glide easily as you stitch.

Have fun!

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