Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Make Your Own Zippered Bonding Pouch

Here are the supplies you will need:
20 x 8 inch piece of fleece
6 x 4 inch plastic screen mesh
Rotary cutter and mat (or scissors)
Straight pins
Bias tape
6-inch zipper
24 inch Cord/rope (or longer if you want it to hang lower)

Step 1:
Cut the bias tape to go around outside of mesh. To make it easier, I cut each side individually and then sewed each in place. You can also run it around the outer edge in one piece but you will have to fold the corners as you sew. To do each side individually, you will need to cut two 7-inch pieces of bias tape, and two 5-inch pieces. When you lay bias tape out, you will notice that the outer edges are already folded inward.

To keep the ends from fraying you'll want to fold the ends in 1/2 inch on each end. That is why you cut the bias tape 1-inch longer than the length of your side (6 and 4 inch sides).

Step 2:
Lay the mesh edge on the center of the bias tape. Since it is already folded inward on the long outer edges, if you place the mesh in the middle, you can then fold the front edge up, sandwiching the mesh in between. Pin in place.

Step 3:
After you've pinned the bias tape to all outer edges of the mesh, sew in place. Hint: it helps to make sure all of your pins are going in the same direction so as you sew you can easily remove them. Be sure to clip all thread ends.

Step 4:
Now place the mesh on the top edge of the inside or wrong side of the material. Some fabrics look pretty much the same on both sides so this may not matter too much. If you have a strong pattern with a definite direction, meaning the pattern has to go a certain way or it's upside down, be sure to lay your window accordingly. Think about where the window should be when it is completed. Your pattern should be facing up and your mesh should go on that top edge. Clear as mud? Let me see if can explain that better. Say your fabric has a flower pattern and all the flowers go in one direction so there is a right side up and an upside down (I'm only referring to the pattern here, not the inside of the material or wrong side). You would want your flowers to be facing up like they will be on your finished product, and your mesh to be at the top of your bag, not the bottom, so you would lay your fabric with the flowers up and the mesh at to top edge.

Pin the mesh in place and sew. I sewed just inside the previous seam where I had added the bias tape to the mesh. Try to keep this stitching even and straight as it will show on the outside once you flip it over.

This is what it should look like when you flip your material over. This will be the front of your bag. Clip all loose thread ends.
Step 5:
Here comes the tricky part. It's not hard once you figure out how to do it, it's just difficult to explain in a way that makes sense. Fold your material in half, right sides together. This is where having a cutting mat with the inches laid out down the side comes in handy. As you can see, with my bag folded in half, the bottom edge is now at the number 10, and the top is at the 20 mark.
Fold your top layer downward until the fold reaches the number 11. Essentially, this creates a 1 inch fold above the original bottom edge (which is at number 10).
Now fold your top layer back up until the bottom edge reaches the number 10 again. Once again, this creates a 1-inch overlap. If you look closely at the top edges, you'll see they are no longer even. Now the front top edge is approximately 2 inches below the back top edge.
If you carefully lift the bottom edge, you'll see that you've made a small accordion like shape. This is what's going to create the pocket in the bottom of your pouch and give your babies a little more wiggle room.
Here's a side view so you can see the accordion shape a little better.
Pin your folds on each side so they don't come apart when we add the zipper, which comes next.

Step 6:
Carefully turn your fabric so the right sides of your pouch are facing outward. Try not to dislodge the pins holding the pleats you made in the previous step (which should now be on the inside). As you can see, the front top edge is still 2 inches below the bottom top edge. The pins should have helped you maintain this shape.

Next, place your zipper underneath the top front edge and pin in place.
Fold down the back edge to pin it to the other side of your zipper.

Now sew in place. Since you no longer have a nice flat piece to sew, you'll have to be careful not to catch sections of your bag in your line of sewing. I found it easier to sew if I unzipped the zipper, but I would wait until it is pinned on both edges before unzipping it. Just go slow and move the excess out of the way as you go. Clip all loose thread ends.

Step 7:
Carefully turn your piece of material so the right sides are together, and the wrong side of the fabric  is outside. Basically, you are turning it inside out again. Be careful not to displace the pins holding your pleats at the bottom.
Step 8:
Place your cord/rope inside your material so it is sandwiched in between the right sides of your fabric. Pull one end of the cord so that is even with the top outer corner and pin in place. Repeat for the other side. As you sew your sides, you will catch the cord, securing it in place. Pin along both outer edges to keep the fabric from moving.Hint: If you use parachute cord, be sure to use a lighter to burn the ends to keep them from unraveling.
Step 9:
Sew approximately 1/2 inch inside the outer edge. As you near the zipper, be sure to squeeze the edges together to keep them from spreading as you sew. This will prevent a large opening at the ends of the zipper. I don't know if it would be large enough to allow an escapee to make a getaway, but eliminating that possibility is easy enough to accomplish with some careful sewing. Clip all loose thread ends.
Step 10:
Now turn your pouch right side out. Almost finished! Looks like a pouch now and not a mess of fabric, mesh, and zippers.
Step 11:
Sorry this picture is so blurred. My camera is kind of hit or miss on good shots. I will try to replace this with a better picture when I make another pouch. Ok, so now you want to cut away the material over the mesh. Pinch the fleece and pull it upward so you can snip an opening. Just be careful not to cut through your mesh. Cut along the seam, being careful not to cut through it. I stayed about 1/8 inch away from the stitching. You can make this a little bigger (1/4 inch) if you're afraid of getting too close.
Step 12:
Tada! You've just made a zipper pouch. That wasn't so bad now was it.
Really fuzzy picture again, sorry. Be sure to check the hole size around your zipper.
If it's bigger than you're comfortable with or you have a little Houdini who can wiggle him/herself through impossibly small spaces, you can fix this by turning your bag inside out again and sewing a little closer to the zipper down both edges (maybe 3/4 inch instead of 1/2 inch).
All that fancy accordion folding should have left a nice little pocket in the bottom of your pouch, ensuring your babies can get comfy before going to sleep.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you've cut all loose thread ends. Check and double check. Any loose thread poses an amputation hazard for your glider's toes, fingers, and tails. It can also be a choking hazard if long enough.

If you have any questions/suggestion, please feel free to contact me at author_shannon_leigh @ hotmail.com (no spaces). Have something you want to make but don't have a clue where to begin, send me a picture and I'll see if I can make a tutorial for it.

Happy sewing!