Most of the time you have a zipper welt pocket on a garment, it is a functional pocket, great for garments like jackets or hoodies where you want to add a fun hardware detail and also have a secure pocket for valuables. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to add a zippered pocket as a purely decorative detail. Without the pocket bag, this element is perfect for a chest pocket on knit tees, as it adds detail without any unnecessary bulk.
Note that unless you create a stitched stop behind the pull tab on the zipper, you will be able to open up the “pocket” on your shirt and see skin underneath. Given that this element is purely decorative I don’t think it’s necessary to prevent the zipper from opening though, unless you frequently have people unzipping the pockets of the garments you’re wearing.
Use an air or water soluble fabric pen or chalk to draw two parallel lines on your shirt. They need to be perfectly level and parallel to the ground. The length is personal preference. I would measure the location of your pocket on your body to decide on a length, but for a chest pocket, 3.5 – 4″ is a good starting off point. The distance between the two lines depends on the type of zipper you’re using. Measure the width of your zipper to make sure the opening in the shirt is wider than the zipper teeth but narrower than the zipper width. For lightweight zippers, I recommend 1/2″. In these examples, I used 5/8″ for my heavy weight zipper. I think metal zippers look great as a hardware detail, but a jeans zipper is a better option because it is lighter weight and flatter than the chunky jacket zipper I’m using.
Push pins through the ends of each line
Cut a piece of fusible interfacing big enough to cover the entire rectangular area delineated by the pins. On the wrong side of the garment, use the pins to position the interfacing and fuse it to the fabric.
Stitch over the two parallel lines, making sure you start and stop directly at the end of the lines so they remain the same length. Lock your stitches.
Cut directly between the two stitched lines, stopping about 3/4″ from the ends on each side. From that point, cut into the corners, just past the end of the stitch line (this cut should end where the next stitch would be located).
Press the four flaps that were created in step 5 to the wrong side, making sure the stitched lines are rolled slightly to the wrong side so they’re not visible from the front. If the ends of the lines are still visible on the front, cut a little deeper into the corner until you can turn them properly. Using matching thread will obviously produce a better result than you see here as well.
Place your zipper underneath the window in the fabric. If necessary, mark where the zipper needs to be shortened. Use this tutorial to remove the teeth from the tape beyond that point, but make sure the tape still extends at least 1/2″ beyond the edge of the window. It needs that tail so you can catch it with your top stitching. You will need to remove all the teeth up to that point, and then you can cut any excess tape and teeth that extend past that point.
You can pin the zipper to the garment at this point, but I find it easier to just use scotch tape to hold it in place. This way the pins aren’t distorting the fabric.
Edgestitch a rectangle around the window opening, catching the zipper tape underneath. As you approach the end with the pull tab, open the zipper so you can maintain an accurate edgestitch around that area. This picture is a good example of what happens when you don’t do that 😉 Note that I didn’t stitch the other short edge because I don’t want to shorten this zipper just for the purposes of this tutorial, but you should stitch the full rectangle. Whenever sewing any shape with corners, be sure to start and stop on a side, not a corner. You can also see how important it is to use matching thread for this stitch.
Give the entire area a good press from the wrong side of the garment. The zipper will cause some pulling in the fabric initially, but pressing it well will eliminate those lines.
If you’ve been around these parts for any length of time, you know that my wardrobe is very simple in design and color scheme, so my plain black Union St. Tee with a brass zipper is pretty fancy for me and I feel like it adds a lot of polish to my outfit when I want to look just a hair more dressed up 🙂
Kendrick Overalls (pants only) made with bull denim