Your favorite zipper bag pattern is here! This free sewing pattern uses cotton fabric and foam stabilizer to make the best boxy zipper bag ever. You’ll love my easy method for sewing in a zipper. I used less than 1/2 yard of one fabric print for the interior and less than 1/2 yard of another fabric print for the outside. This bag can also be a purse! Just add handles to make a handbag or d-rings to clip on a cross-body strap.
I have included a free printable template, but printing it is not necessary because I’ll show you an easier way to use a fabric pen and ruler to cut the bag shape more precisely.
The side pockets and pull tabs on this little pouch are totally optional, but you will love how I utilized quilted fabric scraps to make them, so there is very little waste! If you want to turn this zipper bag into a cross body purse, just add d-rings to the zipper tabs so you can attach the straps. I’ll show you how.
This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free Boxy Zipper Bag Pattern is included in the blog post below and is free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF pattern for $3 is optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library to access anytime you want? Check it out.
This particular boxy bag is approximately 8 1/2” wide and 7” tall, not including any handles or straps that you might add.
I have a very similar pattern for a smaller bag called the Boxy Zipper Pouch Pattern. It has the same cute shape and is just right for fat quarters!
Both bags are beautiful and professional looking thanks to flexible foam stabilizer that is sandwiched in between two layers of quilting cotton fabric before cutting it into the bag shape. The hardest part will be deciding which size to make so here’s a tip: make both!
There is easy binding (in straight lines only – no curves) that can be cut from leftover fabric from the fat quarters or from other scraps.
The zipper on this boxy bag is one of the easiest you’ll sew using the same insertion technique that I teach in my free Designer Zipper Bag video course. You will love how the zipper extends around the top of the pouch, making it open up wide to show you what’s inside.
Zipper and Bag Hardware Information
I highly recommend size 4.5 or 5 handbag zippers for this project. They are durable and wide and provide a more professional finish than regular dressmaking zippers. Regular dressmaking zippers may be substituted but will not provide the same look. Here are tips for using metal zippers
For my pink bag, I used size 5 zipper by the yard from Wawak. The zipper teeth only look metallic, they are actually made of nylon and easy to sew over. Metallic zipper pulls are sold separately. Here is a similar product on Amazon that includes both zipper by the yard and zipper pulls
For my black bag, I used another size 5 zipper by the yard product with cute zipper pulls that I purchased separately. Unfortunately, I can’t find that exact zipper pull anymore, but you may like:
- This cute sewing machine pull
- An assortment of cute rainbow zipper pulls
- More size 5 zipper pull choices to browse
As you may have guessed, I love shopping for zippers and zipper pulls and have a huge collection.
Size 4.5 zippers by the yard and zipper pulls will work great for this bag too, but there aren’t as many choices.
On my pink bag, I added handbag handles and d-rings so it can be used as a purse. Here are some ideas if you want to make a boxy purse or handbag:
- How to shop for cute bag handles and straps at the thrift store.
- How to sew Japanese Style Bag Handles
- How to make clip on bag handles
- See all my DIY Bag Handle Ideas
For this size zipper pouch, I think that 1 1/4” tabs look best, so I used matching gold 1 1/4” d-rings at the ends. I’ll share cutting instructions for making 1” wide tabs in case you’d like to use 1” d-rings instead.
Needle and Thread Tips
I recommend using a heavy-duty size 90/14 or 100/16 needle for this project because you will be sewing through many layers. My favorite needles are Superior Titanium Coated Topstitch Needles that can be found in your local quilt shop and on Amazon.
For bags and pouches, I always use polyester thread because it has a tiny bit of stretch, unlike cotton thread.
So are you ready? Let’s sew a boxy zipper bag or purse!
Boxy Zipper Bag or Purse Pattern
you will need:
- 1/2 yard of quilting cotton for the exterior
- 1/2 yard of quilting cotton for the interior
- a 12’’ x 40’’ piece of foam stabilizer, quilt batting, or fusible fleece (I used Soft and Stable foam stabilizer)
- 1 handbag zipper 13 1/2’’ or longer (please refer to zipper tips above)
- fabric pen or marker
- a safety pin for turning
- I have created an optional pattern template that you can download below. Print the template pieces, cut them out, and tape them together along the dotted lines. A small key and 1” square for reference are provided on the first page.
Initial Cutting and Quilting
1. From each piece of fabric, cut a 12” tall x 40” wide rectangle of fabric. Cut a piece of stabilizer the same size. I used Soft and Stable foam stabilizer because I love the shape and body that it gives my pouches. But you could substitute quilt batting or fusible fleece.
2. Smooth the first piece of fabric over your stabilizer (right side up) and baste all the way around 1/8’’ from the edge. Here’s a how-to blog post and video for this step.
Note: if you are using fusible fleece, you could press to fuse for this step instead of machine basting.
3. Smooth the second piece of fabric over the back of the stabilizer (right side up) and baste all the way around 1/8’’ from the edge.
4. Quilt the fabric and stabilizer together however you like. Easy straight line quilting is a good option if you’re in a hurry.
If you have a long-arm quilter, you can use up extra backing fabric at the bottom of your quilts by adding any stabilizer you like and other fabric. That is how I often make my quilted pieces of fabric and stabilizer.
Second Round of Cutting
1. From the quilted piece, cut two rectangles 10 3/4” tall and 19” wide.
If you are using the optional pattern template, pin the template to a 10 3/4” x 19” quilted piece and cut out the template shape. Repeat for the second piece also.
I find it more accurate, faster, and easier to use a fabric marking pen and ruler to cut out the shape.
2. Use the fabric marking pen to draw two horizontal lines on one side of a 10 3/4” x 19” quilted piece. If you are planning to add handles to your bag, I suggest using a heat-erasable pen and placing these markings on the exterior side. This will help with handle placement later.
- 1 line that is 2 1/2” away from the bottom edge
- 1 line that is 2 1/4” away from the top edge.
Connect these two lines with vertical lines that are 4 3/4” away from the side edges.
3. Use sharp scissors to cut out the rectangles drawn on the sides of the piece.
4. Then measure and cut 3” pieces from the top edge. The top edge should now measure 13” wide. The bottom edge should still be 19” wide.
Repeat to cut the other quilted boxy bag piece this same way.
5. Use a long basting stitch to sew all the way around the quilted pouch side pieces to seal the edges. Baste 1/8” away from the cut edges.
6. From the rectangles of quilted fabric that are leftover, cut:
- 2 strips 1 1/4” x 3 1/4” (for 1 1/4” wide tab pieces)*
- 2 squares 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” (side pockets)
* If you would rather have tabs that are 1” wide, cut 2 pieces that are only 1” x 3 1/4”.
Use leftover fabric (not quilted fabric) to cut the following binding pieces. You can use fabric from either fabric print.
- 2 rectangles 2 3/4’’ x 3 1/4’’ for binding the 1 1/4” wide tabs*
- 4 rectangles 2 1/4’’ x 4 1/2’’ for binding the pockets and interior short seams
- 1 rectangle 2 1/4’’ x 19’’ for binding the interior long seam
* If you would rather have tabs that are 1” wide, cut 2 pieces that are only 2 1/2” x 3 1/4”.
Use a 1/4” seam allowance throughout this boxy pouch pattern.
In the tutorial photos below, I’m making the pink boxy bag with handbag handles and d-rings. The interior of that bag is black fabric with pink quilting thread. Adding handbag handles and d-rings is optional.
Sew Binding to the Tabs
The tab binding uses a different technique than the pockets and interior seam binding.
1. Place a 2 3/4” x 3 1/4” rectangle right sides together with a 1 1/4” x 3 1/4” quilted tab piece (the exterior side of the tab against the right side of the binding fabric rectangle). Pin or clip the long edges together.
2. Sew along the long edge with a 1/4” seam allowance.
3. Line up the remaining long edge of the fabric with the remaining long edge of the quilted tab piece. Pin or clip in place. Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance.
4. Attach a safety pin to the quilted tab piece at one end. Use the safety pin to turn the tab right side out through the tunnel made with the fabric rectangle. Press the tab piece flat.
Repeat to sew a binding piece around the remaining 1 1/4” x 3 1/4” tab piece.
Prepare the Pockets
1. Fold the 2 1/4’’ x 4 1/2’’ fabric rectangles in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
Pin or clip a binding piece to the top edge of the back (lining fabric) side of each pocket square.
2. Stitch with a 1/4’’ seam allowance. Flip the binding over to the front (right) side of the pocket and stitch close to the fold.
Repeat to bind the top edge of both pocket pieces.
3. Next, we’ll sew a 1/4” single hem at the bottom edge of the pockets. To make this easy, sew a straight line of stitching 1/4” away from the bottom edge. Use this stitching to help you fold the bottom edge under by 1/4”, press.
Sew along the folded bottom edge, 1/8” from the edge.
Repeat to hem the bottom edge of the other pocket. Set the pockets and tab pieces aside for now.
Attach the Zipper to the Bag Pieces
1. If you are using Zipper by the Yard from ByAnnie (or a different brand), add a zipper pull and cut a 13 1/2” long piece of zipper. Sew across the ends to prevent your zipper pull from accidentally coming off.
2. Center the zipper across the top edge of one pouch body piece, with the top of the zipper face down against the right side (exterior fabric) on the pouch piece.
Pin or clip in place.
3. Switch to the zipper foot on your sewing machine and sew the zipper to the pouch piece with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
3. Flip the piece over. Carefully trim 1/8’’ away from the seam allowance, cutting the fabric and foam only, not the zipper tape. I love my Gingher double curved embroidery scissors for this step (I have tried other brands and they are not as sharp).
Then fold the zipper away from the panel and finger press the zipper tape against the back of the panel, covering the trimmed seam allowance.
4. Topstitch on the right side, 1/8’’ away from the zipper.
Make sure the zipper tape underneath is flat against the back so the trimmed seam will be enclosed for a neat finish.
5. Place the piece face down (exterior fabrics right sides together) against the remaining pouch body piece. Pin or clip the remaining zipper tape to the top edge of the pouch piece underneath. Make sure that the pouch pieces are lined up with one another.
6. Stitch with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.
7. Trim the seam allowance and top stitch as before.
Add Optional Bag Handles or Straps
1. Now is the time to attach bag handles if you would like to use them.
The line that you drew 2 1/4” below the top edge of the bag piece is approximately the place where the side edge of the bag begins. The ends of your bag handles should be sewn below this line as shown.
I suggest placing your bag handles 1 1/2” away from the cut-out side edges.
Secure the handles in place with tape or hand basting stitches.
My bag handles had pre-punched holes for hand sewing, but I decided to use machine sewing instead. I first tested my stitches on scrap fabric until I liked the pattern and length. I chose a triple straight stitch pattern.
2. Securely attach the bag handle ends by machine or hand sewing.
Repeat to sew a handle to the other side of the bag too.
Sew and Bind the Boxy Zipper Bag Bottom Seam
1. With the bag pieces right sides facing, pin or clip the long bottom edges together.
2. Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance.
3. Fold the 2 1/4’’ x 19’’ binding strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
Pin or clip the binding to the raw edge of the seam.
4. Sew the binding strip to the bottom edge of the bag with a 1/4” seam allowance.
Flip the binding over to the other side of the seam and stitch close to the fold.
5. Press the bottom of the bag to flatten it and make the seam fold to one side. Sew across the ends to help the bound seam stay in the direction that it is pressed.
Add the Pull Tabs and Pockets
1. Keep the bag wrong side out so you can work on the ends that extend to the sides. We’ll refer to these as ‘flaps’ for now.
Fold a tab piece half, pretty side out, and press. Thread it through a D-ring, if desired.
Pin or clip the tab to a flap right over the seam. Make sure to pin or clip it to the exterior fabric on the flap with the raw edges together.
2. Sew across the end of the tab a scant 1/4” from the edge to secure it.
Repeat to attach a tab to the other side.
3. Slide a pocket piece underneath each tab. The bottom hemmed edge of the pocket should be lined up with the bottom of the flap that sticks out. The pockets may be a little wider than the flaps, but that’s fine.
Secure the pockets with clips or pins.
4. Sew across the bottom of each pocket, right on top of the hemstitching.
Sew the Bag Side Seams
- Finishing the rest of this boxy zipper pouch pattern may not be possible without a heavy duty needle.
- The width of the top of your bag (with a zipper) may not be exactly the same as the width of the bottom of your bag with the bound bottom seam (see the image above). This can be expected because of slightly varying seam allowances, bulky fabric, and the width of your zipper. Please make sure to match up the side seams as best you can, and don’t worry about slight differences in width. It will turn out great!
1. With the bag still turned inside out, pin or clip one of the top side edges of the pouch (with an end of the zipper) to the short straight edge of the flap on that side. Repeat on the other side.
2. Sew across each end with a 1/4” seam allowance.
Trim away any excess zipper and binding in the seam allowances.
3. Fold a remaining 2 1/4” x 4 1/2” binding piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Pin or clip it to the underside of the seam, against the bound seam on the bottom of the pouch.
Sew the binding to the seam with a 1/4” seam allowance.
4. Flip the binding over to the other side of the seam (against the bottom side of the zipper) and stitch close to the fold.
5. Pin or clip the side seams of the pouch together. If you included pockets, make sure that the pockets are lying flat against the bottom flap and not bunched up.
6. Sew each side seam with a 1/4” seam allowance. There are four side seams total, two on each side of the bag.
7. Finish the side seams with a zig zag stitch or with additional binding.
I do not feel that these seams will be very noticeable when using the bag, so I chose to trim away the extra threads and zig-zag stitch over the edges. My zig-zag was set to 5mm wide and a width setting of 1.
If you make this free boxy zipper bag sewing pattern or any of my other ones, I hope you show me by posting a picture to Instagram and tagging me @sewcanshe or #sewcanshe.
Make sure you check out my other free bag patterns too.
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂