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How to add a leather overlay to a zip pocket {Guest post by Maria}

Hi Eveyone

You might remember a few weeks ago I invited Maria – from my testing team – onto my blog to show us all how to add a tassel closure to our Hippo Hobo’s.  It was a great tutorial and so today I have invited Maria back to show us all how to add a leather (or faux leather – if you don’t mind raw edges) overlay to the external back zip pocket on your Hippo Hobo.

overlay guest post

So over to you Maria…

If you want to add a leather (or vinyl if you don’t mind the raw edges) overlay, you will need to add 1” to the width one of the Zip Pocket – G pieces, this will be for your external zip pocket on the back. If you miss this important step it’ll be very difficult to sew the pocket closed!



  • Leather scrap (at least 10 ½” x 1 ½”)
  • Quilting ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Pen
  • Textile glue



Follow all the instructions in the Hippo Hobo pattern to sew the outside back zipper pocket, until you have sewn in the zipper, but not sewn the pocket piece closed. (ie. Stop at the end of step 54 and do not complete step 55 just yet).


Start by measuring the zipper “window” final measurements. If you followed the pattern exactly the zipper “window” should be very close to 9” wide x 3/8” high.

Centred on your leather scrap, draw a rectangle of the same exact measurements of your zipper pocket “window” – do this on the wrong side of the leather/faux leather.


Now draw a second bigger rectangle by tracing parallel lines to the former rectangle. I traced the top and bottom lines to a ½” distance from those on the first rectangle and the side lines to 5/8”. Of course you can decide on your own measurements for the bigger rectangle depending on how big you want your overlay piece to be. If you want a much bigger overlay, remember you need to cut an accordingly wider pocket piece.


Once finished your tracing, you should have two centred rectangles, and the smaller one should be of the same measurements of your zipper “window”.

Use the ruler and cutter to cut the outside rectangle and only the long inner rectangle lines. Cut the short side lines with sharp scissors.

Grab something with a round shape and use it to trace the rounded corners. Cut.

Apply some textile glue to the back of the overlay piece.


Place the leather piece over the zipper opening. Try to align both the opening with the inner rectangle as better as possible. Press with your fingers. Let dry.


Top stitch along both the inner and outer rectangles edges using a 1/8” seam allowance. Remember:

  • You will need to sew the leather overlay in place using your walking/teflon/roller foot.
  • Make sure the zipper pocket piece lays flat under your machine foot and all fabric and leather/vinyl layers – you don’t want to accidently sew it!
  • Topstitching thread and longer stitches will provide a more professional looking finish.
  • DO NOT backstitch, not at the beginning, or at the end of any of the seams. Just make sure that your LAST stitch overlaps your first one on both seams AND leave long thread tails so you can make a knot easily.


Turn the main panel over so you can see the wrong side. Find the beginning and end bobbin thread tails (grey thread tails on the above photo).


Gently pull one of them until you see a small loop of your topstitching thread appear.


Then, with a pin pull that loop until all the thread tail is on the wrong side.


Repeat with all 3 remaining thread tails. Tie the thread tails in a knot. You can drop a little glue on the knots to secure them if you wish.

Then close the pocket as instructed in the pattern.


You now have a fancy leather overlay to add a professional touch to your Hippo Hobo!


Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial Maria – I can’t wait to see some Hippo Hobo bags with some leather overlay’s on their zip pockets soon 🙂

I would love to see any Hippo Hobo Bags you make, so please feel free to share them with me via FB, IG, or T 🙂 or just use the tag #hippohobo

If you would like to purchase the Hippo Hobo pattern, you can do so on Etsy or Craftsy.

If you do use this tutorial to add a leather overlay to your Hippo Hobo feel free to use the tag #tutorialsbyemkie:)

I would love to stay in touch with you, so please sign up for my newsletter here.

Happy sewing everyone!

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  • Reply
    Carol Faulkner
    May 25, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Your sign up is all messed up. Won’t take the birthday info and won’t forward without it.

    • Reply
      May 26, 2016 at 5:22 am

      I’m sorry, it seems to be working again if you would like to try? I have had a few people sign up today…thanks for letting me know 🙂

  • Reply
    Susanne from PatternPile.com
    July 11, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Very well done tutorial you!!

  • Reply
    2016 The Year that was…
    December 7, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    […] How to attach a leather overlay to a zip pocket […]

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