How to Add a Zipper Pocket

Adding a pocket to your plushie is a super fun element!  The pocket can hold little goodies, treasures, keepsakes and yes…even a fart machine!  I wanted to add a remote controlled fart machine to my hippopotamus as part of a gag gift…but this gag gift is also a keepsake.  Regardless of what you want the pocket for, I’ll walk you through how I added mine.

Keep in mind, I have only put in zippers a handful of times and it has been in bags and clothing. I learned this method somewhere along the line, but there are other methods for installing zippers.  Use whatever method you prefer and please review other tutorials for zipper installation. 

Shannon Fabrics has a tutorial on their YouTube channel specifically for sewing zippers to minky, which is also a very helpful tutorial.


What You'll Need:

  • The pattern for the plushie you’re making, I used my Hefty Hippo pattern
  • Fabric for your plushie, per your pattern materials list
  • Zipper in the correct size for your project, for the Hefty Hippo I used a 6 inch zipper, but 5 inch would have been better
  • Fabric for the pocket, in the size needed for your project
  • The item you want to place in the pocket, I used this Fart Machine
  • Notions
From here I will proceed with instructions for installation into the Hefty Hippo, modify as needed for your project.

Step 1: Be sure you have at least a half inch seam allowance.  For the Hefty Hippo, you will need to add 1/4 inch to the back center seam so that the seam allowance is 1/2 inch.

Step 2: Pin the back body panels together and sew along the center seam using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. A baste stitch is suitable here as you will be picking it out later.

Step 3: Iron the seam allowance open. Cut the zipper to the size needed.  Make sure the top of the zipper is about 1/2 inch away from the top edge of the body panels so leave room to sew the head in place. Align the zipper directly over the seam. Pin in place with plenty of pins, especially since this seam has a curve to it.

Step 4: Use a zipper foot on your sewing machine and sew the zipper in place, sewing right at the edge of the zipper itself. Tip: move the head of the zipper as you sew by stopping, lifting the presser foot, moving the zipper head up or down then  continue sewing.

Watching some video tutorials, such as the one linked above for Shannon Fabrics, will help you see this sewing process in action.

Step 5: Pick the stitches of the back seam, over the top of the zipper.  Pick carefully as to not damage your fabric. Test the zipper to make sure it can function properly.

Step 6: Cut the fabric for your pocket. Place the item you want to fit in the pocket over the fabric and trace around it, with one edge straight for attaching to the hippo.  Think of it like wrapping a package, the sides of the fabric need to be large enough to fold up to half the thickness of the item plus 1/4 inch for the seam allowance.  Cut two pocket panels, mirrored.

Step 7: Fold the straight edge of one pocket panel under about 1/4 inch and iron to hold the fold. Pin in place along the edge of the zipper. Sew along the folded straight edge to attach it to the back panel, move the zipper head as needed while sewing.  Repeat with the opposite pocket panel.

Step 8: Align the raw edges of the two pocket panels, right sides together.  Pin together and sew using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Since you aren’t turning the pocket right side out, there is not need to clip the curves.

Step 9: Make sure the item you want to place in the pocket fits and the zipper is functional after the pocket lining has been sewn in place.  

Step 10: sew the back panel to your project as instructed in the tutorial.

Step 11: When stuffing your plushie, place the item in the pocket to accommodate for space it will take up inside the plushie.  I wait until I have the head and neck stuffed then place it in the pocket when I’m stuffing the body.

Note: This Fart Machine fits inside the Hefty Hippo, it may not fit inside other plushies in the Pudgy Plushy Collection since the hippo is a bit more round and curvy.