How To Sew A Pocket On Any Bag

See how to sew a pocket on any bag, either on the outer side or in the lining, using this easy sewing tutorial. It's a zipper pocket I used in my latest Sophia Fold-Over Clutch And Bag pattern (more here) and it is so practical! Grab the free PDF template here in the tutorial you can use to make it even easier!
how to sew a pocket
Pockets on bags are a must for me, and definitely an improvement. Here I'm showing you how to construct a bag with an additional zipper pocket into the outer shell or in the lining, even if your bag pattern does not include this option.

IMPORTANT! There's one rule to observe though: You will need to install the pocket before stitching the bag together. So make sure to add the pocket BEFORE you have assembled any bag pieces together.

how to sew a pocket
This is the pocket on my Sophia Bag.

This tutorial is merely an additional step in your bagmaking, and you'll end up with a better bag with a pro-looking zipper pocket!

Also, a note on interfacing. Most probably, your bag pattern will call for some type of interfacing to be added to the main bag pieces. Please note that the interfacing should already be applied to the bag pieces before you add the pocket.

You’ll need:

Finished Size

The template is for a finished pocket with a zipper opening of 6", and pocket lining height 6"  and pocket lining width 7 3/4". It can be adjusted to fit any other size. This is a slightly different dimension than the one I used in the Sophia Bag pattern, for your convenience (a bit wider).

Free PDF Template 

The free pocket sewing template is available in the subscriber-resource library for all newsletter subscribers - join the free newsletter here to get the password emailed once you subscribe - OR enter the Freebie LIBRARY here with the password that's provided in every newsletter)
get the free template
Join newsletter to get the free template.

If you’re already a subscriber, you can access the template with the password in each newsletter, in the resource library:
subscriber-exclusive freebie resources

How To Sew A Zipper Pocket - Tutorial

1) First, draw the rectangle (blue stitching line) and the inner cutting lines on the BACK side of the pocket lining piece: copy them from the free template that's available to all my newsletter subscribers with an exclusive password you get once you've confirmed your subscription (new subscribers: join here, existing subscribers: enter Freebie Library here with your password)

how to sew a pocket

And here's an alternative, if you don't want to use the template:

Mark the zip opening on the wrong side of the zipper pocket lining piece:

  • Measured from the TOP EDGE of ‘Front ZIP Pocket’ draw a horizontal line at 1" (2.5 cm) from the upper edge. This will be the top line.
  • Draw another horizontal line below the first one at a distance of 1/2" (1.3 cm)
  • Draw vertical lines on each side, making sure the rectangle stays centered on the pocket lining piece.
  • Dimensions of the rectangle in the image: 1/2" (1.3 cm) tall and 6" (15.2 cm) wide.

how to sew a pocket lining

You can either use tracing paper, or a shortcut:

The easiest way for me to do it is just placing the paper print (PDF pocket template) on top of the pocket lining fabric and pierce through the paper on 4 edges of the rectangle, using a sharpened pencil or fabric marker. It leaves 4 tiny marks, enough to draw the lines.


2)  Then place the zipper pocket lining on the 'bag MAIN piece'. This will be the main panel of the bag where you want your pocket. Here, I placed it on the outer side of a bag (calling it 'bag MAIN piece' from now on)
how to sew a pocket

With the right sides together, match the bag MAIN piece and zipper pocket lining, shifting the pocket lining down so the rectangle will be exactly where you want the pocket to open on the bag:

NOTE: Make sure to place the bag MAIN piece and the zipper pocket lining piece right sides together.

how to sew a pocket
3) Now, shorten the stitch length to approximately 15 stitches per inch (or 1.7 mm in metric). Stitch exactly on the stitching line of the rectangle you just drew.

zipper pocket on a bag

4)Cut along the inner line until the triangle. Then also cut into the corners into the V-shape, until very close to the stitching line. Make sure not to snip into any stitches!

zipper pocket on a bag
5) Then pull the pocket fabric through the window to the other side, so you get the pieces to be wrong-sides-together.
zipper pocket tutorial

zipper pocket tutorial
6) When you have the lining on the other side, you'll have to pull on the lining and finger-press the seam to get that lining part hardly visible from the front side.


zipper pocket tutorial
7) Now flip the piece so the back side, i.e. the zipper lining is on top. We'll work from here: place the zipper onto the opening. Zipper teeth should face the outer side (i.e. down). Center the zipper. Zipper pull should be in the opening, visible from the front side.
Metallic stoppers should not be visible from the front, nor should be in the way when stitching.

Pin in place or tape the zipper into the opening (Wonder Tape works great!)

zipper pocket tutorial
8) Keeping the zipper in place, edgestitch around the opening. Cut off any excess zipper tape.

how to sew a zipper pocket
9) Then fold the pocket lining upwards and pin in place.

how to sew a zipper pocket
10) Stitch around the 3 sides, only catching the pocket lining fabric (here blue).

Make sure you never catch any fabric other than this pocket lining. To just stitch the pocket lining, fold the bag MAIN piece out of the way.

how to sew a zipper pocket

Fold the sewn pocket out of the way, so you'll be able to continue with finalizing the bag - this might mean inserting a closure like magnetic snaps, or adding darts to the piece, or sewing the top zipper on (if any) - follow the pattern directions.

This is another of my bags with this type of zipper pocket:
how to sew a zipper pocket
So beautiful, but easy to sew with a little practice!

Get Your Free PDF Sewing Template:

Sign up for my free newsletter and get access to the free template in the Resource Library once you confirm your subscription: 

Get free template in the resource library.
Here's how to enter the Freebie Library.

Save this tutorial for later so you can use it on all your bags from now on:
how to sew a pocket on bag with free template


Want More Patterns+Tutorials?

Get email updates and never miss out on new patterns, printables and tutorials. If you sign up at THIS link, you'll also get the Fabric Hanging Basket Template for FREE, right now. A cute and easy-sew!

free pattern for a fabric hanging basket

Or, if you're wondering where to test your pocket sewing skills, check out one of my latest patterns, the Sophia Fold-Over Clutch And Crossbody Bag pattern in my pattern shop, HERE:
It already includes this type of pocket, and you'll be guided through the entire sewing process. Happy sewing!


  1. I remember the first time I inserted a zipper pocket like this - I had thought it would be so hard, and not so. Great instructions as always, Damjana. Showcased today.

  2. I need to get a new password, how can I do it? Thanks Jan

    1. Jan hi,
      I'm guessing you are talking about the shop. To make a purchase or get a free pattern from the shop, you'll need to register/log in here:
      If you have already registered before but have just forgotten the password, click on 'I've forgotten my password' and a password reset link will be emailed to you.

      (Don't forget to use your coupon from my weekly newsletter - it gives you quite a few patterns for free) See you in the shop!