Tips & Tricks

Finishing a Zip Up Tray Pouch

Today I’m sharing a few tips and tricks for finishing a Zip Up Tray Pouch – pattern by Aneela Hoey. 

I don’t proclaim to be an expert at all. But, I have made about a dozen of these pouches and here’s what works for me. 

Part of a clean binding depends on how you attach it to start. I like to use plenty of clips, and stitch just inside the fold line on my binding strip. This creates a clean look once the binding is folded over. Next, when you are working on the last machine sewing step where you sew down the sides, keep the edge as clean as you can. Again, I use plenty of clips and am very careful to line up the two raw edges as best I can. This step is a little tricky and I really smoosh the ends down as I am sewing so I can get as close as possible to both ends. In the end, you should have something that looks like this. 

Once you finish all the machine sewing the directions say to “sew the corners closed by hand.”  This step scared me to death the first time. But, it isn’t so bad.  The nice thing is that your hand stitching will be covered by the binding, so it doesn’t have to be perfect! I use a big thick needle to go through that stiff interfacing. I usually start on the outside, right where my machine stitching has ended. Make sure you push the corner in so the end of your tray is nice and flat. Using fairly small stitches, I make a running stitch in and out, which leaves gaps for every other stitch. Continue until you reach the other side that is machine stitched, then work your way back, filling in the gaps left by your first pass. Once I get back to where I started, I knot the thread a few times. Then, trim that little excess flap of fabric that is sticking up. Repeat on all four sides. 

Now, we’re ready to bind!  I find that binding clips are especially helpful for this step. I turn the binding down around an entire end and work it until it’s situated just right, using plenty of clips. The inner corners take a bit of wiggling and smoothing, but using bias binding definitely helps. Next prepare the ends. I usually trim so just under an inch or so of extra binding is sticking up. Next, open the binding up and fold the top down about 3/8 inch. Close up the binding, tucking the loose ends in as best you can and secure with another clip. Here’s another important step: use thread that matches your binding!  This will hide your stitches better. 

For attaching the binding, I use a smaller, but still on the larger size needle. I did attempt to use a curved one to see if the corners would be a little easier to manage, but I used a curved needle so infrequently, that it was just too awkward for me.  You might find it works well for you. 

Starting at the closed end of the binding (not as pictured – I did it backwards!) take a stitch from inside to hide your knot, then take small whip stitches across the top to finish the end of the binding off. You should end up closest to the tray end where you’re ready to start tacking the binding down. This is just like attaching a binding to a quilt. The only tricky thing, is that you want to catch only the fabric and not go all the way through the lining. I usually check the other side every few stitches or so to be sure I don’t see the thread showing on the other side. The next photo is what you don’t want to see. But, if you do… it’s an easy fix! Just pull out the stitches and try again.  Sometimes you get a little wrinkle in the fabric. Just use your needle to push as much of the little flap in, working it under as you go so it gets as smoothed out as possible. You might not be able to get it all tucked in, but get as much under the binding as possible. Keep going, moving the clips as needed until you get to the first corner.  Now, as you get to the rounded edge, push the corner and binding out away from you giving yourself room to make your stitches. You almost lay it out entirely flat as you take each stitch. I like to take a stitch or two, then let go to tighten them up and be sure the binding is laying nicely, working it into the corner a little bit if needed. Then, I push the corner back out, take a couple more stitches, and repeat.   Continueall the way around, finishing up by whipstitching  across the top edge of the binding as you did on the first side. 

Repeat all steps on the other side, and you have a completed Zip Up Tray Pouch!  As you can see, mine isn’t completely wrinkle free, but most imperfections are kind of hidden in the corners. Have fun sewing this clever and useful pouch!  I’d love to answer any further questions you have. 


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