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Easy Zip Pouch Tutorial

OLFA is celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year and has teamed up with Aurifil to create the Slice and Stitch Challenge! I was asked to be part of the challenge, and I’m so excited to included in this talented group of makers, showing you how to use handy tools to create things you’ll love :). I don’t know about you, but if you sneak into my sewing room, you’re sure to find several OLFA tools (and cutting mats) and LOTS of yummy Aurifil thread. Some of my favorite (and quite possibly underappreciated) tools are specialty rotary cutter blades. You can (carefully) pop one of these blades into your regular rotary cutter and quickly achieve a decorative finish that will look like it took you forever to cut…but that can be our little secret! I also just LOVE the new OLFA RUBY rotary cutter…I use it daily (photos below are from OLFA’s website). For the Slice and Stitch challenge, I saw those decorative blades paired with Aurifloss and knew immediately I just had to make a zip pouch!

You can see the dreamy Aurifloss colors I chose for the hand quilting on my zip pouch. Love those blues with a punch of bright colors! Let’s get moving and start sewing up your own zip pouch!

Exact Aurifloss colors are listed below

Supplies needed:

  • Zip pouch template, printed at 100%
  • 10″ zipper
  • Aurifloss in your favorite colors (I used #1320 Bright teal, 2225 Salmon, 2220 Light salmon, 4020 Fucshia, 5005 Bright turquoise, 2735 Medium blue, 1147 Leaf green, and 4644 Smoke blue)
  • OLFA 45 mm Wave rotary blade and OLFA 45 mm Deluxe Handle Rotary Cutter
  • (2) 2.5″ x 9.5″ pieces of cork leather
  • Hand quilting needle
  • 1 FQ lining fabric, sub cut into
    • (2) 6.5″ x 9.5″
  • 1 FQ Solid fabric for the exterior, sub cut into
    • (2) 6.5″ x 9.5″
  • (2) 8″ x 11″ pieces of batting
  • Binding Clips
  • Turning tool (optional)
  • Basting spray/safety pins
  • Chalk marker or Hera marker
  • Zipper foot, sewing machine
  • Thread for piecing and basic sewing supplies
  • Iron and pressing mat

Hand Quilt it!

To begin, you’ll need to take the two exterior pieces of fabric cut at 6.5″ x 9.5″ and center each one on top of a piece of batting. Use a Hera marker or chalk pencil to mark your hand quilting lines, then hand quilt a pattern or random stitches onto each exterior piece. I like to make my stitches about 1/4″ in length, and spaced the same distance apart.

Grab your template:

Now you’ll take the cork pieces, and the bottom portion of the template printed from your supply list and line the template up along the bottom 9.5″ of the cork. Use a standard OLFA 45 mm Rotary blade to trim along the curved edge. I used my OLFA Ruby Rotary Cutter for this part. Once you’ve trimmed the curved portion, take the Wave Rotary blade and trim just along the curved edge to leave a cute wavy edge.

Take one of the quilted exterior pieces and place the decorative cork on the bottom 9.5″ edge. Use clips to hold in place, or use some wash away hem tape to secure. At this point, I like to take an air erasable marker and echo the line of the wave just below the wavy edge of the cork – about 1/8″ from the curvy edge – as a stitching guide. Take this piece to the sewing machine and topstitch along the guideline you drew with a coordinating thread. Then stitch around the remaining edges of the cork, about 1/8″ away from the raw edge to secure it in place. Don’t worry — the cork won’t fray, so it’s great for special decorative finishes with the OLFA rotary cutter!

Take your zipper and place it lined up with the top edge of one exterior, as shown in the picture below. Mark the end of the zipper (the end with the metal stopper) where it meets the end of the right side of the fabric, then mark about 1/4″ in from that mark as well. Take the zipper to the sewing machine and use a zig zag stitch to sew a new zipper stop on the mark furthest in. Trim away the rest of the zipper on the outermost mark.

Install the zipper

Take the newly trimmed down zipper and place it RSD on top of one side of the hand quilted exterior. Use binding clips to clip the zipper in place. Take one of the lining pieces and place it RSD on top of the zipper, the replace the clips to include all three layers. Use a zipper foot to sew through the three layers with a 1/4″ seam allowance, beginning at one end of the fabric and sewing to the opposite end, all the way to the edge of the fabric.

Press the lining and exterior away from the zipper with your iron, and topstitch 1/8″ away from the folded edge of the fabric.

Repeat the steps above with the remaining exterior and lining pieces.

Assembling the zip pouch

Open the zipper part way, then match the exteriors, placing them right sides together. Pull the linings together and match them, right sides together. Pin or clip in place, and mark about a 5″ opening along the bottom center of the lining to leave open in the next step. Pull the zipper pieces towards the lining, as shown below.

Sew all the way around the perimeter of the zipper pouch, leaving the 5″ opening unsewn. Clip the corners for crisp turning. Turn the zipper pouch right side out through the opening in the lining. You can use a turning tool for crisper turning, if needed. Fold the opening of the lining in 1/4″ and press. Clip in place. Topstitch the opening closed, then push the lining down inside the pouch.

And you’re done! Fill this pretty pouch up with all the sewing things you need on the go 🙂

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Thread Matters

Why Thread Matters

Over the years, I’ve collected quite a bit of thread.  When I first started my sewing journey, I knew nothing about thread and considered it to all be equally delightful.  I was free motion quilting with embroidery thread, piecing my first quilts with really terrible quality cheap thread that was years old, and using heavy weight thread for machine embroidery.  If you’re just beginning your thread journey, you might be discovering that if you don’t use the right thread for the job, your results don’t quite turn out the way you hope.  (And that’s okay!)  But I hope after reading this post, you’ll realize just how much your thread matters.

Why Thread Matters
I’m a little nuts and like my longarm quilting thread organized by color…isn’t it pretty?

Sometimes, what you don’t know can be a great thing, and using threads that aren’t meant for the job you’re doing can have a great end result.  Ignorance can take away fear of trying new things when you just grab what you have and go for it.  I’ll share with you some of my biggest learning experiences as a self-taught beginner sewist…and how much your thread matters.

I bought a bunch of thread from an estate sale (I thought I was getting a great deal!!!).  Nothing wrong with that if it’s being used decoratively, like in a shadow box display.  This was all SUPER old thread–some of the price tags were still on the spools and most of them said 5/$1.00 and .29!  Most thread these days ranges from $6.00-12.00 a spool!  I’m going to wager that most of this thread was 20-30 years old.  Here’s the problem:  Most of this thread was dusty, had been stored in humid conditions, exposed to lots of daylight for long periods of time, etc.  Over time, the fibers in the thread can degrade.  Natural light can sun bleach the thread and weaken the fibers.  Damp conditions can do the same.  This thread, when run through your machine, can be extra linty, break easily, put lots of dust in your machine, and cause some really gross tension problems.  Now that I know about using old thread and the problems it can cause, I’ve gone back and stretched some of the thread out and tried to snap it in my hands.  Most of the thread broke very easily, without me having to exert much force at all.  Using thread that breaks so easily in a quilt is problematic because that means your seams aren’t going to be as strong, and your beautiful quilt won’t have as long of a life as it could if you’d used quality thread.  I still have all this old thread as a reminder to be wary of really cheap sewing supplies!  A lot of times, what you pay for is what you get.

Another thing I used to do a lot was buy super shiny Sulky thread that was meant for embroidery and use it to free motion quilt.  When I was just learning to sew in 2010, I was having all sorts of problems troubleshooting the thread tension on my very inexpensive Singer sewing machine.  Now that I’ve spent hours (probably adding up to weeks) experimenting with different threads, fiber contents, etc, I generally know what will work well for a project and what won’t.  The sewing machine I was using at the time was fickle (as was I!) and I have to say, my sewing would have been much better if I’d stuck with one brand and type and figured out my machine settings with that specific thread.  Here are some tips for troubleshooting thread problems:

Janome MC9400
Janome MC9400

  • Use the best quality machine you can afford
    • Clean it regularly and have a maintenance cleaning done annually.

needle type
Needle Type

  • Use high quality needles, appropriate for the type of sewing you are doing
    • size of the needle should match your project type (smaller needle for finer fabrics and larger needle for heavy weight fabrics
  • Purchase a good quality thread
    • use a thread weight that works well with your project
      • 40-50 weight is typical for most sewing
    • select a type of thread that compliments your project
      • If you’re sewing with cotton fabrics, use cotton thread
      • Poly or synthetic fabrics coordinate with polyester thread
      • Or select a decorative thread appropriate for your project
    • Brand does matter!

thread 1
Thread Matters

  • What are you using the thread for?
    • Piecing
      • use a slightly lighter weight thread than you would for standard sewing.  I recommend a 50 or 60 weight thread.  If you use a slightly lighter weight thread, your seams will lay flatter and look cleaner.
    • Quilting
      • Do you want a thread with a sheen?
        • Polyester or mercerized cotton
      • Reduce your lint
        • I’ve found that Glide threads (Hab + Dash) produce significantly less lint that other brands
        • Most cotton threads will produce at least a little lint
      • How bold do you want the quilting to be?
        • For quilting that blends, try a lighter weight thread
        • For bold quilting that really stands out
          • Glide 40 wt
          • A thread color that contrasts with the fabrics

blending thread
blending thread – thread matters!

Whew!  Well, I’ve gone on for a little longer than I originally intended, but that’s because thread is SO important.  I hope you find some of the things I’ve shared helpful and that you can find some peace with your piecing 🙂