Zipper pockets are amazing. It’s a little spot to pop your keys, phone, or little odds and ends that you need to reach without having to do a one-handed deep dive through the purse. Likewise, it provides a secure place to store items such as credit cards and money.

You can easily add a zipper pocket to any purse pattern and position it either on the inside or the outside of your purse. Learning how to sew a zipper pocket in a purse is not challenging and only requires a little planning to design. And one of the things you’ll love about it is that you can use a contrasting fabric lining for the pocket to add a surprise pop of color when you open it.

Step 1: Pick A Lining For Your Bag

The first thing you need to do is to choose a lining for your bag. Then, cut this out to make it suitable for the interior of your new bag pattern. The dimensions for this will depend on the bag design you are sewing.

Next, fold the lining fabric in half and press along the crease. Open the lining fabric and cut it in half using the crease as a cutting guide.

These two pieces will become the front and back of your bag lining.

Step 2: Base Panel For The Lining

Mark the baseline of your bag panel onto your fabric 4 inches or 10cm up from the bottom of the lining. The allowance required will depend on the size of your bag’s full base. Usually, a bag with a full base of 7 inches wide or 18cm requires a 4-inch allowance, allowing for a 1/2 inch or 12mm seam allowance.

Place the front of your bag on top of the lining so the bottom of it is lined up with the line you just marked.

This additional part of the fabric will become your base panel for the lining.

Step 3: Cut The Lining

Draw a line down both sides of your bag panel that continues down to the bottom edge of the fabric. The section of the line extending down from the bag panel should be straight not angled.

Cut your lining fabric along the straight lines you drew and then use your bag panel as the rest of the pattern to cut your lining. Keep in mind that these are two pieces of fabric that will make the full lining of your bag.

If there are curves on the shape of your bag, use a mini rotary cutter to make cutting around those easy, quick, and minimize moving your project.

If you do need to rotate your panel, use a pin, clip, or washi tape to attach your panel to the lining. This will ensure that you do not lose or shift your lining from your panel.

Once you have cut around the front of your bag, you have cut out both sides of your bag lining.

Step 4: Sew Your Lining

It’s time to head on to your sewing machine to work.

First, take one side of your lining and find the center of the piece. You can do this by simply folding the top of the lining (the opening of the bag) and folding it in half and then into quarters. Then, finger-crease your lining piece and mark this with a washable or fadeout pen.

Next, create a mark from the opening of the bag along the vertical center crease.

Then using this mark as your depth, draw a straight horizontal line, depending on how wide you would like your zipper. Ensure that this horizontal line is parallel with the horizontal crease you made earlier.

The depth and width for your zipper will depend on the size of your bag.

Step 5: Interfacing

When you have drawn the placement line for your zipper, you must cut a piece of interfacing under the zipper. Doing so will provide some extra support for the zipper in the lining.

Cut the interfacing the length of your zipper plus an additional 1/2 inch at both ends. The width of the interfacing should be about 2 inches wide.

Once you have your interfacing cut, fold your lining along the horizontal zipper placement line you drew earlier. Finger press along the length of your zipper placement line. Next, turn over your fabric so it is the wrong side up and place your interfacing over the zipper crease.

Doing a quick finger press will ensure you can see precisely where you want to place your interfacing on the wrong side of your fabric.

Center the interfacing over the marked line and press it onto the lining using an iron.

Step 6: Time To Work On The Zipper

Once you have your interfacing ironed onto your lining fabric, put your lining to the side and get to work on your zipper.

  • Use a piece of fabric that’s generally 1 inch longer than your zipper. 
  • For additional support, iron another strip of interfacing onto the back of the piece of fabric. Fold both sides of the length of the fabric into the center of the fabric and press.
  • On your pressed fabric, mark the length of your zipper. Then, draw a line at each mark across the width of the fabric. It is vital to ensure that the lines you draw are square to the length of the fabric.
  • Pin or washi tape the fabric to the right side of your bag lining, with the open seam facing up. 
  • Center the fabric on top of the horizontal crease in the bag lining.
  • Next, stitch a rectangle around the edge of this fabric.
  • Sew right around the outside of your folded fabric about 1/4 inch from the edge. The ends of your rectangle should be stitched on top of the two end lines you drew earlier.
  • Now that you have this stitched in place, remove your pins or washi tape. Check the wrong side of your lining to ensure that the rectangular stitching looks symmetrical and square.
  • Cut the fabric so you can open your zipper.
  • Pinch your sewn rectangle in half and cut the fabric between those two raw edges.
  • Cut the fabric up the center for your zipper, stopping short around 9.5mm from the end, and cut a V into the end corners.
  • Repeat for both ends of your zipper.
  • Turn your folded cut fabric through to the wrong side of your panel.
  • Give each end a quick press of the iron to keep the ends down and the right side edges even.
  • Repeat at both ends.

To hold these zipper pocket edges in place, do a quick stitch on each side of these turned edges. Sewing three quick rows back and forth at each end are enough to hold these in place and keep them firmly in place in your bag.

Step 7: Add The Zipper

  • Close the sides of your zipper pocket edge fabric together, on the right side of your bag panel. 
  • Use some tape to keep the edges in place. You can also pin or do a very wide zigzag stitch if you like.
  • Ensure that both edges of your pocket edge fabrics are touching on the wrong side of your panel. You do not want any gaps, because when this is done you don’t want to see any of the zippers.
  • Find a zip you like that should be much longer than your pocket.
  • Lay your zip onto the wrong side of your fabric face down so that the stopper and zip are laying facing the wrong side of the lining.
  • Using pins or clips attach your zipper to the seam of your pocket edge fabric.
  • Once this is secure, you need to sew the zipper to the seam of the pocket edge. Pick your work up and put it so as the zipper is placed on top of the sewing table.
  • Stitch just to the right-hand side of the original stitching.
  • Repeat this along both sides/lengths of the zip.

Step 8: Stitch The Pocket Of Your Purse 

  • Cut a piece of fabric for your pocket. This piece of fabric needs to be as wide as the length of your zipper and twice the depth you prefer for your pocket.
  • Place your bag lining onto your work surface with the wrong side up and the base of the bag lining closest to you.
  • Place your pocket wrong side up on top of the zipper with the lower raw edge (width) of the pocket meets the lower raw edge of your zipper.
  • Pin or clip your pocket onto the zipper and the same seam you stitched the zipper to earlier. Once again you will sew the pocket to the zipper and the seam but NOT to the lining.
  • Sew this just like you did when attaching your zip.
  • Fold your pocket fabric down and press in place.
  • Fold the pocket fabric up now so the other raw end of your pocket fabric goes on top of the zip and you can clip or pin this to the zipper and the seam.
  • Once again sew your pocket along the length of your zip attaching the pocket to the zip and the seam but NOT to the lining.
  • Now, grab the zip puller/runner and open your zipper about halfway. It should be visible on the right side of the bag panel.
  • Trim both ends off your zip.
  • Now you need to sew around the pocket bag. Place the pocket bag against the table. Stitch about 1/2 inch around the edge of your pocket bag.

That’s it! Your zipper pocket in purse lining is done!