Sewn: Adorned Zippered Pouches

Isn’t “adorned” a lovely word? My husband is away again this week, so I set my sewing machine up on the dining room table and set the goal of sewing together the pouches I began adorning a couple of weeks ago. I was trying out various ideas here. I like some of these ideas better than others.

zippered pouches2 at

These first three have decoration on only one side. The top left is printed with a hand-carved stamp on linen. The top right is embroidered, and the bottom one is a combination of the two.

Embroidery inspired by faience design.

Embroidery inspired by faience design.

The embroidery on this pouch was inspired by designs on faience, such as on this bowl. I tried to match the fabric to the color of faience, but this fabric is hard to photograph correctly. I’m not sure I like it as the entire pouch, actually. (I’ll show you another pouch further down that uses the turquoise fabric more sparingly, to better effect, I think.)

The tree pouch is a favorite size of mine–it uses a 5″ zipper and is just the right size to hold money and credit cards, or a cell phone. I have two pouches this size in my bag and I use them for exactly those items.

The perfect size for my cell phone.

The perfect size for my cell phone.

The buds are French knots, and the tree itself is stamped with a hand-carved stamp. I’m pleased with this design. I don’t think I’d change it. Most of these pouches, by the way, are lined with a simple sturdy woven cotton, thicker than quilting cotton. It gives the bag some structure, and it was serviceable for this trying out of ideas.

These next bags are decorated on both sides.

zip pouches front at

On the top one, I kept the outside fabric as one piece because I wanted to experiment with having the embroidery wrap right around. I do like that effect, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra fiddling–it makes it much harder to sew the zipper onto the second side, because it creates a tube. Top-stitching was tricky. (I like to top-stitch along the zipper edge so no fabric gets caught in the zipper teeth–you can see the line of blue stitching in the bottom pouch above.) And I’m not sure the lining sits perfectly. I am a stickler for perfection; I see so many flaws in these that I’m not sure I should consider selling anything ever. It bothers me to no end that I can’t figure a reliable way to get the zipper edges to line up exactly right on the sides. They always seem to shift a little.

That said, I will say that the embroidery on this pouch is beautiful, interesting, and unique.

Embroidery detail, inspired by Haeckel's radiolarians.

Embroidery detail, inspired by Haeckel’s radiolarians.

The bottom pouch in the photo above is decorated with prints of hand-carved stamps, again inspired by faience designs (from this hippo). I much prefer the turquoise sewn onto the linen like this, and the inside of that pouch is lined with the turquoise fabric. I find it much more balanced, and I love the patch effect.

Here’s the other side of these two pouches.

zip pouches back at

And a detail of the embroidery on this side of the larger pouch.

Embroidery detail on zippered pouch, inspired by Haeckel's radiolarians.

Embroidery detail on zippered pouch, inspired by Haeckel’s radiolarians.

Finally, a word on the size. I made the larger pouches deeper than I have in the past, mostly to give myself a larger canvas to work with. But I tend to like a shallower pouch with this length zipper. In the photo below, you can see the difference. I keep my sketching pencils in the bag on the right.

Size comparison of two pouches.

Size comparison of two pouches.

I’m not sure what the best use of a deeper bag with this length zipper might be. Is there one?

So, I’m curious. What size do you like best in a zippered pouch? Pencil size, or bigger? Which of these do you like best? Least? I like the look of anything on linen, so I like the stamped and embroidered linen bags quite a bit. I’m a little overwhelmed by an entirely faience-colored bag, but I like it as one element in the design–I really like how the patches came out on the smaller bag. I also like that these bags have a story–they are inspired by something in particular and are all unique. Each design began with a drawing of mine, translated into either a stamp or a piece of embroidery. If I were to work these into something to sell, I’d want to include the inspiration story with each piece.

I’d love to hear your opinions, if you have any! And because today is Thursday (Dawn’s Making and Listening day), I’ll let you know that I mostly listened to the NCAA basketball tournament while I sewed these on the machine, and I watched Merlin while I hand-sewed the lining opening. I created a Mumford + Sons station on Pandora this week, but it dragged in all manner of depressing songs, including a strings-only instrumental of Eleanor Rigby. It’s probably not the best station for me right now…

15 thoughts on “Sewn: Adorned Zippered Pouches

  1. Dawn Suzette

    Happy you finally got pics! 🙂
    While I like the pencil case size bag I would also use the large size for some of my small project supplies, like the little knitted bracelets I make. The supplies for those are in a bag about that size.
    I love linen so I think those bags are great. I also really like the wrap around design but if it is a pain then it might not be worth it in terms of effort and time vs. $.
    Thanks for sharing! And ya… Give M + Sons the boot for now. 🙂

  2. Bells

    These are so great! They’re wonderful! My personal favourite is the tree but the one based on the bowl is also gorgeous. They all are.

    As for size, I have a small coin sized one I was given that is food for that but when I get around to making them for myself I’d keep maybe lipstick or the like in them, a few if they would fit. Stuff like that.

    1. amy Post author

      Thank you! The tree definitely got the most votes here and on twitter. It’s kind of nice considering my obsession with trees over the past year or so!

  3. Olivia

    These are lovely, and withthe embroidery, a lot of work! I hope you charge enough for them if you do sell them. Are you maybe being a tiny bit hard on yourself (‘stickler for perfection’ might be a giveaway) regarding the quality?

    1. amy Post author

      This made me laugh out loud Olivia because yes, just a tiny bit hard on myself. Except that’s a huge understatement, as I think you guessed!

    1. amy Post author

      I really am a fan of the radiolarians too. Perhaps slightly smaller radiolarians without the wrap-around effect would work out better, sewing-up wise… hmm…

  4. Elizabeth

    I know your concerned with structure of the pouches but as I saw the pictures before reading your text all I noticed was the lovely embroidery on linen and how great they were. I love the one with the stamped tree and embroidery and I’d have a hard time choosing between that tree and the ones with blue patches and stamped leaves. Since I’m not a maker of bags and pouches I didn’t even notice the zipper stuff. Lovely work Amy!

    1. amy Post author

      Yay, someone else who likes the patches! Those two bags you mentioned are my favorites too, Elizabeth. I really appreciate the feedback from everyone!

  5. Jen

    Amy, these are gorgeous! My favorite is the tree. I like the size differences & would probably use that size & the pencil case size the most. I have to say I don’t use many pouches….mainly because I’m lazy. My bag always has everything just thrown in & more times then I can count I am on the floor dumping the whole thing out to find what I need. (The worse times for that is when I’m in the parking lot doing it to find my keys).

    1. amy Post author

      Well geez Jen, I know who I’d target for my first customer. 😉 I have some more great upholstery fabric that I’d like to turn into more pencil pouches–they wouldn’t have the embellishments *but* the sturdier fabric is great for holding sketching pencils, colored pencils, drawing pens…. I’m *sure* you and Ree will need to have your art supplies ready for on-the-go purposes soon!

      Thank you for your feedback too! (and my keys are usually right in my left-hand jeans pocket, so when I’m wearing something without a pocket, I am always losing them!!)

  6. Karen

    I agree with you that the blue fabric is more effective as a patch than as the entire pouch. I adore your radiolarians, and the wrap around is certainly cool, but even just having one off center is a nice look. I’m a sucker for both trees and french knots, so that pouch is also a win. As for size – one always needs a variety! (and one can never have too many pouches) I’m at my sister’s in VA right now and you should see the number of pouches I used to pack.

  7. Cameron

    Oh Amy, these are all so lovely! My faves are the tree with French knots and the tube one with embroidery all around….I just love the colors and the blue zipper!

    I do like the turquoise square sewn to the linen better than all one color….
    As far as size goes, I think people will be drawn to the one they love most and find a use for it no matter the size 🙂

  8. frutabombastic

    Larger bags can be used as diaper satchels for those of us still needing diapers! I have one that I used a lot while traveling that is approximately 7.5″ deep (from zipper to bottom) and 9″ wide (the length of the zipper?).

    I too like the tree with french knots, as well as the labyrinth – I feel that the designs you picked for those two match the fabric that you made them out of better than some of the other more colorful embroidery and designs.

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