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sew a zippered wristlet (tutorial)

1 June 2007 146,936 views 49 Comments

zippered wristlet

I’ve been making wristlets for ages now and I thought I’d share my recipe since they’re appearing with less frequency in the Splityarn shop (that’ll happen after you make 80 gazillion of something.) I wasn’t really thinking about it when I started, but choosing (notoriously hard to photograph) red as a key component to the project made for some challenging photo edits. My apologies that the pics aren’t quite up to snuff. I’m only posting the basic pictures here, but there’s more detailed photos and notes in the accompanying flickr tutorial set.

For this project you’ll need:
7″ zipper
2 pieces of fabric (an outer fabric and one for the lining)
zipper foot (optional, but worth the investment)
1″ bias tape maker (optional)

From the outer fabric cut 2 pieces 8″ x 6.5″ and one piece 10.5″ x 1.25″
From the inner fabric cut 2 pieces 8″ x 6.5″

wristlet tute 1

1.  Starting with the lining, pin the zipper to one of the lining pieces both with right sides up.

wristlet tute 2

Stitch across the top from end to end, fairly close to the zipper (if you have a zipper foot, now is a good time to use it.) when you’re approaching the slider and pull tab, stop with the needle down, lift the presser foot and open the zipper past the foot up into where you’ve already sewn. This is key to getting a nice, straight line.

wristlet tute 4

Repeat with the 2nd piece of lining and the other half of the zipper. I don’t usually bother with pressing until after the next step.

wristlet tute 3

wristlet tute 5

2.  To sew the outer pieces to the zipper and lining, place the right side of the zipper on top of the right side of an outer piece and pin. With a pencil or chalk mark in about .5″ from the edge (right about where the metal pieces at the end of the zipper are). This time you’re not going to sew all the way across. You’re going to sew over top of the previous stitching but between the two points you just marked. Repeat with the remaining outer piece.

wristlet tute 7

3.  Press the fabric away from the zipper, just like how it will be when it’s finished. Press! Press! Press! This is critical to a nice looking piece. This is the difference between homemade and handmade. You won’t get a chance to redo it after you stitch it down, so please take take time to do it right.

wristlet tute 8

4.  Now you’re going to top stitch the zipper down. When I do this I like to top stitch only the outer piece down onto the zipper, keeping the lining out of the way. I also like to double my thread when I top stitch in a contrasting colour; it makes the stitching pop a little more and look deliberate. Just thread your machine like you normally would, but use two pieces of thread for your needle.

wristlet tute 9

Leave the zipper foot on and stitch between the metal ends of the zipper. Do this on both pieces.

wristlet tute 10

5.  Next up is the wrist strap. Run the long skinny strip through your bias tape maker and press the whole thing lengthwise again. If you don’t have a bias tape maker, you can simply press the edges in towards the middle, then fold in half again and press. Top stitch along the length of the strap to close it (about an eighth of an inch seam allowance)

wristlet tute 11

6.  Open up the zipper at least 2/3rds of the way and flip both pieces of the lining out of the way to sew later. Fold the wrist strap in half pin it to itself, then pin it onto one side of one of the outer pieces, about .5″ down, raw edges together, parallel to the zipper.  Pin the outer pieces right sides together and sew from the top edge of the outer piece around 3 sides to the other top edge (1/3 – 1/2″ seam allowance.) Be careful not to catch the lining in the seam. The half inch you left unsewn when installing the zipper allows you to fold the lining out of the way.

wristlet tute 14

wristlet tute 15

7.  Pin the right sides of the lining pieces together. Mark off an opening of at least 2 inches. I like to do this along one of the sides so when I close the seam at the end it’s less noticeable. Sew the lining together all the way around the three sides, leaving the opening (of course)  This time you’ll catch a little of the tops of the outer pieces as you start and finish.

wristlet tute 16

8.  Clip your corners and turn right side out through the opening you left in the lining. Wiggle the corners out and then all that’s left is to close up the hole in the lining. You can do this by hand, but I detest hand-sewing anything so I do it by machine. It leaves a wee ridge, but because it’s on the inside, you won’t really notice it.

wristlet tute 17

wristlet tute 18

wristlet tute 20

9.  The very last thing is, you guessed it…
Press! Press! press!

You can vary the size easily if you have a different length of zipper. Simply measure the full length of the zipper tape and that’s how long to cut out your fabric. (A 7″ zipper usually has 8″ of tape.)

If you have any questions, please feel free to ping me. If you make one, be sure to send along a photo for the gallery!


  • jenny r said:

    Ok, yeah we do it basically the same way, except I shortcut in one of the steps. I bet you can figure out which step that is, too.

  • stacey said:

    Thank you so much for another fabulous tutorial – it may just help me get past my zipper-phobia – yay!!

  • s t a c i said:

    I have zipper-phobia, too! It really limits me with sewing and knitting!
    Thanks for the tutorial, Caro. I should practice with zippers on cute little things like this, then when I get to installing a zipper in a handknit, I’ll be more confident!
    That fabric is ahh-dorable.

  • Li_B said:

    No thank you, I’m allergic to zippers. It’s so cute, though,

  • Anita said:

    Ah lazy me. My heart leap into my throat hoping the photos I saw meant there would be more of these on your etsy page! Thank you for the tutorial, though! Since my sewing machine is lacking a zipper foot, I will keep holding out for etsy 😉

  • knittingphilistine said:

    I’m hoping some day I’ll be able to put this tutorial to good use. But first things first, I need one of those ol’ sewing machines.

  • Amanda said:

    Oh thank you for posting this! I’m going to have to add you to my flickr friends. I’ve been wanting to learn how to make these!

  • Anina said:

    Thanks! I was just about to look for the tutorial I used the previous time I made a zippered pouch, and there, as from heaven, appears yours.

  • Becka said:

    Nice tutorial, I shall have to sew one up. I always love little pouches, I like this one has a wrist strap on it. Great!

  • Stephanie said:

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  • Elisa said:

    I have ziper fobia too!! But today is a new day in my life… Just now I´m going to start sewing this wristlet… Will I survive? lol

  • SS said:

    Wow! I’m going to attempt this wristlet with some left over canvas from another project- this is really cute! And it will help me get over my zipper phobia, too!

  • Melissa said:

    Yeah! Great tutorial! I just made a travel bag for my make-up and it is the perfect size. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Kate said:

    I just wanted to let you know that I have added a link to your blog on mine, I really love the way that you explained this project, it really makes it easy to understand.

  • paula said:

    Oh, this is so cute. I forgot to tell you that I made one and posted a photo to my blog. Thanks for the tutorial!

  • michelle said:

    I also made one (and a variation) and posted them at my blog too. Thanks for the awesome instructions!

  • sonda said:

    Thanks so much. I tried following another tutorial but like your’s better – marking the length of the zipper seams for the outside fabric is crucial I think. Or at least I’m hoping if I follow your directions I’ll avoid the enormous, unsewable lump where the zipper goes. Thanks!

  • Janep said:

    I love your tutorial. I had ugly end bits of the zipper sticking out when I followed another zipper tutorial. When I followed your tutorial, the problem disappeared. Thanks a million. Check out my pouch/wristlet at

  • amanda panda said:

    Thanks for posting this great tutorial. I only just became interested in working with anything other than felt [because I was a little too scared to] and this made it so much easier. I posted a picture of my first zippered purse on my flickr if you’d like to see?

  • Toni said:

    I did this today – and it turned out so cute. Modified it a bit as I was using it for a stethoscope holder (I’m in nursing school – as is the giftee) – so it was longer and had some padding added to it. But it looks GREAT. Now I can’t wait to make a little one for me!

  • Charm said:

    Thank you! this tutorial is fantastic! i’m going to head to Savers on the weekend and pick up the bag of zippers thats be taunting me for the last month and give this a shot!

  • Haley said:

    I tried making this wristlet today and it worked out well. I put in a pocket in the inside and it worked out well. The pictures are on my blog here: http://haleyarden.blogspot.com/2008/08/i-made-this-pouchwristlet-today-with.html Thanks for the tutorial!!

  • Cris said:

    What a nice idea!

  • Shruti said:

    Awesome tutorial! quick question though — where do you get your labels from? I’ve looked everywhere, with no success.

  • sue said:

    I thought I was the only one in this world who has zipper fobia…LOL
    One little thing on my list I had accomplished. Thank you so much for this tutorial.

  • Jennifer Ann said:

    Zipper’s aren’t as hard as i thought they would be!!! Thank you so much for this!

  • Linda said:

    Somehow the photos have disappeared for this tutorial – will they be re-posted? Like many other commenters, I need zipper guidance too! Cheers and thanks!

  • Jelaine said:

    I’d love to see you your tutorial with the photos please. It looks great but I’m very new to sewing and am lost without them!

  • Lisa said:

    I really would like to make this!! But, as with the last 2 comments, do not see the pictures. Feels like a vital part of this one! lol.

    Many thanks,

  • Caro (author) said:

    Thanks guys! I know the photos aren’t appearing in this post, but they are still up on flickr as linked in the first paragraph.

  • Francine from Québec said:

    You do have the knack for tutorials. Your instructions and photos are
    made to make zipper sewing so easy. I will keep your site in my favorites. Thank you

  • Jen said:

    Just wanted to say that I’ve used this tutorial a stack of times and forwarded it to many friends and it is SO useful. It has totally helped me get over my zipper phobia and enabled me to make lots of cool things. So, thank you very much for sharing and for all the effort involved in taking photos and writing it all up!

  • Lauren said:

    I love the fabric you used! I made 5 of these this summer, they are so much fun! And so simple (I am completely sewing-challenged). Loved seeing your take and ideas for the pattern!

  • Hot Tin Roof said:

    What a great tutorial for a great little bag!

  • gigi said:

    I’m making a bunch of these this weekend for springtime gifts! Thanks for the great instrux…

  • ct N honey said:

    nice tutorial.i do for my kid,gifts for teacher day

  • Susan said:

    Your tute is very easy to follow….I am trying to learn to sew and zippers confuse me. What do you suggest, if my zipper is too long? Can I just chop it off to the right size????
    Thanks for your help!


  • Ruth Michaels said:

    Great tutorial! I’m a sewer, but have never made a purse which required a zipper. (I have a sewing pal who recently inserted the zipper for me for a tapestry bag/tote I made. Had I seen your tutorial I might have tried to do it myself!) Now I will. I have the material and will definitely make at least one wristlet, if not more than one. It will be so convenient not having to lug around a heavy shoulder bag. I can see it in denum and, perhaps, even something sparkly for evening wear. Uses and fabrics are limitless. Thanks again.

  • Cecily said:


    I loved this tutorial and conquered my zipper fear with your help, thanks! I just wanted to let you know that I included a link to this tutorial on my blog @ http://crafty-box.blogspot.com/2011/07/bzzz-goes-bee-and-other-zippy-matters.html. Thanks again and take care!


  • Angela said:

    Ok, so here I am, four years later, finally seeing this post from you and it’s an excellent. Thanks for posting! Wil totally be making one (or ten) this weekend!

  • Kivy said:

    FYI – I just used this tutorial to help me make a wet bag. Not nearly as polished as your little bag, but it works and saved me a ton of $$$ by making it myself. Thank you :)

  • Sharon said:

    I was thinking of buying one of these, but found your tutorial. The bag came out awesome! The only step that I temporarily messed up on was the placement of the strap. For spatially inept people, you may want to spell out how to put the strap between the right sides.

  • garden girl said:

    Yeah, just made one! I love it! Thanks to your tutorial, I will be making many more.

    Here is my creation.


  • momajo said:

    Thank you so much for your posting. I have bee downloading and looking at how to do zipper in these lil purses, and I was so confused with it. I couldn’t figure out how you put the lining and the to fabrics together, you did them seperatly and now I see how it goes. Thank you so much.

  • Mel said:

    Hi, thank you for posting such an amazing tutorial with very clear pictures. I have linked you on my blog: http://mel-allwrappedup.blogspot.com.au/p/link-love-to-amazing-free-craft.html.


  • lindsey said:


    i loved this tutorial so much! thanks for creating it!
    i’ve been afriad of zips for ages, but i’ve made 4 now and they’ve all turned out great! i’m going to try the quilting 4 patch next….

    thanks again!!

    Lindsey xxxx

  • Andrea said:

    Hi, I tried your version because I’ve had trouble making clean corners at the top of zipper pouches, and your construction is different and sounded like it might make a better corner. Which it did. Thanks! But I cannot for the life of me figure out what “stitch between the metal ends of the zipper” means. What surface am I sewing on?

    Other than that it turned out lovely.


  • Stephanina said:

    Great tutorial! Thank you.

    I’ve just made this, but ended up with the wrist strap on the inside somehow! Never mind, still looks nice, will just have to have another go!

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