Tutorial: How to Make a Waxed Canvas Zippered Pouch

Today I'm going to share a tutorial on how to sew a waxed canvas zippered pouch with a boxed bottom. This waxed canvas zippered pouch is a perfect companion to your bigger waxed canvas tote such as the Chamomile Tote or Bramble Bag, or could sit happily on your bathroom counter next to its boxier counterpart, the Benjamin Dopp Kit. I love it for holding all of the random stuff that accumulates in my bag- hand sanitizer, lip balm, pens, lotion, etc. I also love it because it is a great way to use up scraps. And I LOVE using up scraps. It's like free fabric!

Zippered pouches are everywhere! You may be wondering if the world needs another zipper pouch tutorial. There are about a million great tutorials out there for lovely little zippered pouches like this one from Noodlehead and this one from Sew Mama Sew or this one from the Jedi Craft Girl (I'm mentioning all of these because they helped me on my zippered pouch tutorial journey, and they are all great resources!) Zippered pouches are pretty simple to make, but using waxed canvas introduces a little bit of a challenge because of its bulk. So in my opinion, the answer is yes, the world does need another zipper pouch tutorial, because we want to make zippered pouches from waxed canvas! 

Here you go!

Waxed Canvas Zippered Pouch Tutorial

Materials and Supplies:

Outer Body: 2 x pieces measuring 9 1/2" wide x 8" tall in waxed canvas, canvas, or heavy home dec fabric


A variety of waxed canvas scraps that are 9 1/2" wide x varying heights, sewn together until they reach 8" tall

For my demo pouch, I did strips measuring 2", 3", 2", 1" and 2" on one side, and 4", 1", and 4" on the other side, sewn together with a 1/4" seam allowance. I would suggest using the same color for both top pieces that will be adjacent to the zipper so that you don't have to have multiple colors of thread for the topstitching. 

Note: You can really do any kind of piecing you want for this pouch! It is a great opportunity to get creative and use up the scraps you have. I like horizontal stripes because they are easy and they look kind of like landscapes in the colors of waxed canvas that I have.

Zipper Tabs: 2 x pieces measuring 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" in waxed canvas, canvas, or heavy home dec fabric that matches the outer body fabric

Lining: 2 x pieces measuring 9 1/2" wide x 8" tall in twill, poplin, quilting cotton, or any other stable lightweight to medium weight fabric

1 x 7" closed-end zipper- I prefer a nice heavy duty nylon zipper here rather than the lightweight dress-type zipper. A metal zipper also looks great.

High quality thread

Denim needles


1) Prepare Outer Bodies, if Applicable: Do any piecing that you are planning and trim each piece so that the corners are square and the pieces are the same size as each other. They should end up being 9 1/2" wide by 8" tall, but if they turn out slightly different that's OK- just trim your lining pieces to match. Crease the seams well. Even though I generally don't recommend pressing waxed canvas, you can give it a little press here to get seams to lay flat-- just protect your work surface and iron with a press cloth!

2) Prepare the Zipper: This is the step where my tutorial differs a bit from what is out in the world already. Since waxed canvas is so bulky, we need to reduce the bulk at the side seams. On each zipper tab, fold two sides (opposite each other) in towards the center by 1/4".  Lay one of these folded edges on top of the zipper, lining up the folded edge right with the zipper stop. Topstitch in place using a zipper foot. Trim so that the zipper tape and zipper tab are the same width. Note: If your zipper is wider than 1 1/4", make the zipper tab wide enough to cover the whole width of the zipper. If it is narrower, trim the zipper tab so that they are the same width.

Flip the zipper over and trim the zipper tape down to about 1/4". Refold the zipper tab and stitch down. Repeat on the other end of the zipper. The finished zipper with tabs attached should measure 8 1/2". 

3) Attach Zipper to Outer Bodies and Lining: Make a little mark 1/2" in from each top edge of your Outer Body pieces on the wrong side. Lay one Outer Body right side up, and lay the zipper on top of it with right sides together (you will be looking at the backside of the zipper). There should be 1/2" of space on either side of the zipper. Ignore my thready mess on the back of one of my zipper tabs, please.

Lay the one Lining piece right side down on top of the zipper, aligning top edges. Use clips to secure the zipper in place. Using a zipper foot and sewing with the Outer Body on top, sew close to the zipper between the two 1/2" marks that you made previously. Whenever I sew waxed canvas to lining fabric, I sew with the waxed canvas on top to minimize stretching of the other fabric. 

Repeat this whole process on the other side of the zipper. When you are done with this step, you'll have what I like to call a "zipper book", with the zipper in the middle of the two Outer Bodies on the right side and Lining Pieces on the wrong side. Using a press cloth between the layers of fabric and on top of the waxed canvas, press all pieces away from the zipper, getting as sharp of a crease as possible. Switch to a regular foot and topstitch along the zipper from the right side between the two 1/2" marks. 

4) Sew the Outer Bodies and Linings Together: OK. This is the step that was really messing me up with all of the other zipper pouches that I've tried, so I want to try and make this crystal clear. I think if you are using lighter fabrics for a zipper pouch, this part isn't nearly as important, but it is important when making a waxed canvas zipper pouch. 

First, open the zipper at least halfway.  Next, bring the Outer Bodies together, right sides together with bottom edges aligned, and clip to secure. At the zipper area, keep the top edges folded down, as they are already, and have the zipper tab bending away from the outer bodies and toward the lining. The zipper tab will not be stitched down in this or any other step. Here is how it should go (and I have marked where the stitching will go). 

Pouch Sewing outer bodies together-important step.jpg

Use a zipper foot to get your stitching right up next to that zipper tab. Again, you are only sewing the Outer Bodies, and not the zipper tab. Backstitch at the start of this line of stitching if it isn't too awkward, and continue sewing the Outer Bodies together all the way around with about 1/2" seam allowance. It might be helpful to sew one side and the bottom edge, then take the work out of the machine, flip it, and start sewing at the other top edge to make sure everything is aligned properly. 

Pouch sewing outer body together.jpg

Now it is time to basically do the same thing for your lining. I'm not going to lie, this gets kind of awkward. These next few pictures are not Instagram-worthy. But to be honest, it doesn't matter. These little awkward bits are hidden deep within the inside corners or the pouch- no one will ever see them!

Push that zipper tab back toward the Outer Body as much as you can (it will sort of be inside the Outer Bodies), and pinch those Lining pieces together with the top edges folded down, just as you did for the Outer Bodies. Still using a zipper foot, and doing the best you can, stitch the linings together, leaving a 4" gap along the bottom edge to turn the bag through. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this gap.  OK, this picture makes me cringe, but I want you to see what I'm talking about. 

So in the end, your edge will look like this, or maybe it will look a little less like garbage than mine. Hopefully you get the idea and can forgive the unnactractiveness of this picture.  This is sewing IRL .

At this point, you may want to take a nice sharp pair of embroidery scissors and just trim away any bulk at those side seams that you can get rid of.  The less material in this area, the better! Just don't trim your seam allowance so short that it compromises the strength of the seam.  Also, press the bottom seam of the Lining open, making sure to get a very crisp seam on each side of the gap. 

5) Box the Corners: There are two ways to box the corners of a bag. I usually use the cut-out-squares method (which you can see HERE), but on this pouch I used the other method...shall we call it the non-cut-out-squares method? On each corner of both the Linings and Outer Bodies, pinch the corner so that the side seam and bottom seam are aligned (you might need to reach into the bag to make this happen). Mark 1 1/4" in from the seam, and sew a line that runs perpendicular to the seam at that mark.  Trim seam allowance to 1/4". 

6) Flip the Bag and Finish: Gently gently turn the bag by pulling it through the gap you left in the lining.  Use a point turner or a chopstick to carefully poke out the corners of the bag. There will be a very tiny gap between the side seam of the bag and the zipper tab. I hope you don't mind it- I tried it several other ways to attach the zipper and this method resulted in the nicest looking corner. 

All that's left is sewing up the gap in the lining. You can do it by machine or by hand. If you want to do it by hand, see my video HERE. 

Before you go, would you like to make a BONUS Leather Zipper Pull? All you need is a small scrap of lightweight leather (you should be able to easily cut it with scissors). 

BONUS Leather Zipper Pull Tutorial:

Cut a piece of lightweight leather 1/2" wide x 3" long

Using scissors, round the corners of one end. At the rounded end use a seam ripper, leather punch, or sharp embroidery scissors to make a small hole in the center.

Use a ruler and rotary cutter to slice the other end into 4 little strips. 

Thread the end of the leather pull into the eye of the zipper pull, then thread the little leather strips through the hole in the end of the leather. Voila! The easiest little leather zipper pull ever.

I hope that you have fun making some waxed canvas pouches! You might find that once you start, you just can't stop! I already mentioned that you can do whatever you want with the piecing of this pouch, but I also should mention that you can play around with the size and shape as well! You can make bigger boxed corners to make a deeper pouch, or omit them for a flat pencil-case style pouch. You can also change the dimensions for a taller or shorter pouch. I would love to see what you make, so make sure to post your creations on Instagram and mention us at @redrabbitmercantile! You can also post your pictures on our Facebook Page. And don't forget to Pin this tutorial on Pinterest!