How to add zippers to the Rigel Bomber pockets!


Today I’ve started working on my second Rigel Bomber, because, you know, it’s an awesome pattern and once you’ve made one, you want more! Since the making of my first Rigel, I’ve been madly pinning inspiration photos on my Pinterest board – there is something for everyone, from sequins to lace, from velvet to fur, and few of those bombers have zipper pockets. While I don’t think I would wear a sequined or lace jacket very frequently, I find the zippers very cute and useful – I often wish all my jackets had zipper pockets, so I’d be sure of not losing whatever I put in them.

I spent the afternoon figuring out how to add those zippers to the Rigel and this is how I did it. Mind you, I’m not a sewing pro, but this method worked for me so I thought it would be nice sharing it. If you have a better way of doing this, please do comment along and let me know, I’m always eager of improve my sewing skills, learning new techniques and happy of reading your thoughts.

Here we go!

I’ve cut the front panels and pocket bag pieces as per instructions and transferred the pocket markings onto the wrong side of front panels, but because the zipper is narrower than the welt, I’ve halved the high of the markings. The original markings were about 14.8 cm x 2 cm, while mine is now 14.8 cm x 1cm.

I then flipped the front panel to the right side, pinned a piece of interfacing where the markings are (I roughly cut a rectangle a bit bigger than the markings) and transferred again the markings on top of the interfacing. I’ve used light weigh iron on interfacing, placing it wrong side up, so when I’ll pull it over the back, the glue will stick to the wrong side of the front panel and it will nicely stay in place. Also I cut the interfacing edges with pinking sheers, so when I press it, it doesn’t show through the right side.

I stitched around the pocket markings and to make sure the short sides were exactly the same length, I’ve counted the number of stitches used to sew the first short side and done the same for the second one.

Then I cut through the interfacing and front panel, in the center of the two stitching lines, stopping about 1.5 cm before the ends and cutting a V on both ends, taking care not to cut through the stitch-line.

I’ve flipped the front panel to the wrong side and pulled the interfacing thought the opening, pressed and let the glue stick to the wrong side of the main fabric (as I said, I’m using iron on interfacing). Here is how it looked like.

Now it’s time to insert the zipper. I didn’t bother finding a proper pocket zipper, which has both ends closed, I’ve used instead a regular metal zipper, 15 cm long. To help the zipper lay flat and even, I’ve hand stitched it close, at the top, where the teeth end.

I’ve pinned the zipper in place, making sure it was centered and the tape evenly showing and then I’ve top stitched all around it. If you think pinning is not for your, you can either hand baste the zipper or use double sided sticky tape to temporary keep it in place and then sew. Boom, zip done, now for the pocket bags!

On the wrong side of the front panel, I’ve stitched pocket bags A and B, one at the time. I’ve started with piece A, aligning the straight long side of the pocket bag with the outer edge of the zipper tape, right side of pocket bag facing down, pinned and stitched in place. Then I’ve placed piece B on top of A, right side facing down, matching the raw edges all around and stitched B to the zipper tape. Because the construction on of this pocket opening is slightly different from the Rigel instructions, the top of pocket bag B (basically the side joined to the zipper tape) needs to be trimmed down about 1 cm and it can be easily done once the pocket is already sewn together, without changing the original pattern pieces.

As you can see in the photo above, I left myself with very little seam allowance to play with. It was pretty fiddly to stitch the pocket bags to the zipper tape and next time I’ll make sure a) I cut a slightly smaller pocket opening, just a couple of mm, or b) top-stitch the zipper a bit closer to the zipper itself resulting in more room on the wrong side for stitching the pocket bags. That said, in this case I really like the amount of black tape showing, it will match the ribbing and shoulder details.

Once both pocket bag pieces are sewn along the zipper tape, stitch them together along the edges, all the way around, sewing thought the zipper tape at each ends – but obviously taking care of not stitching thought the front panels! You can either finish the edges with a zig zag stitch or with your overlocker. I hope my pocket bags are gonna last for a while, I’m a bit worried about that teeny tiny seam allowance…fingers crossed.

And there you have it, a Rigel Bomber with zipper pockets!

8 thoughts on “How to add zippers to the Rigel Bomber pockets!

  1. Never even noticed that pocket zippers had both sides closed like that. Is there a name for this kind of zipper insertion? Like set-in or something?? In-set?

    1. This sort of pocket zippers, which are fastened together permanently at both ends, are the same used in making cushions. Never seen them around though and you can easily use regular zippers instead, as I’ve done.
      I think this kind of zipper insertion is called Enclosed Exposed Zipper or something like that!

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