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Projects & Patterns

Quick to Make: Sew Fabric Pyramid Pouches

Threads magazine - 104 – Dec. 2002/Jan. 2003

For gift-giving with flair, sew a four-sided gift wrapper for everyone on your list. Use precious, witty, or themed fabrics and have fun adding trim.

When the Gift is the Gift Wrap

Call these textile tetrahedrons, perpetual gift wraps, soft boxes, or what you will. The fact is, you can use them in myriad ways: as you would Christmas stockings (to bear small gifts year after year), as part of a special present (picture a tidy bundle enclosing precious jewels), or as singular gifts for which the recipients choose an end use (perhaps just to hold postage stamps).

Make a large padded one for your cat to sleep in, or put on a handle and carry it like a purse. Hang one from the holiday tree. Make it green and decorate it like a tree, or fill it with potpourri or lavender. Once you get the knack of sewing these fabric containers (large or small), you’ll find they go together very quickly–with a nifty zipper trick.

Draftsmanship First

First make your pattern. Base it on an equilateral triangle, to form each of the four sides of the box. The triangle can be whatever size you choose, and you can base its dimensions on other factors, such as the amount of fabric you have for the project, the size of the tassel you plan to use, or the scale of the pattern on the fabric. Of course, the preferred size also depends on the intended purpose for the box.

Draw an equilateral triangle the desired size (you’ll need a protractor or a 60-degree drafting triangle): To begin, draw a baseline the length of the triangle side on a piece of pattern paper. At each end, draw a line at a 60-degree angle to the baseline, extending these lines until they meet, as shown below.

fabric pyramid how to sew

Here’s the Angle

After drafting the pattern, mark your fabric with the angle points, and connect the lines to guide the uncomplicated sewing.

Notice that you use only half of the zipper for a unique U-turn application.

At each triangle point on the baseline, draw a perpendicular line. At the top point of the triangle, draw a line parallel to the baseline, through these two lines, forming a rectangle. Mark the baseline “fold” and add a 5/8-inch seam allowance to the three other edges of the rectangle. Cut out the pattern.

Cut and Sew

Fold your fabric and, using your pattern, cut a rectangle. Unfold the fabric and back the wrong side with a heavyweight fusible interfacing.

Baste 5/8-inch from one long edge of the fabric, then turn the fabric right side up. Using your pattern, transfer the outline of the triangle to both halves of the fabric (see the illustration above). Fold the fabric along the triangle outlines, one edge at a time, and edgestitch from point to point.

Prepare a nylon zipper. It should be at least 2 inches longer than the long edge of the fabric. Pry the metal stops off the zipper’s top and bottom, opening the zipper, and removing the pull. Set the pull aside.

install folded nylon coil zipper

See this zipper technique in action.

How to Install a Nylon Zipper-Coil

Place the fabric right side up. Center one half of the zipper, right side down, on the basted edge, aligning the teeth with the stitches and the tape over the seam allowance. Sew the zipper tape to the fabric. (Do not stitch too closely to the teeth; a zipper foot is not necessary.) Fold the seam allowance and zipper to the wrong side along the basting line and topstitch through all the layers.

Referring to the illustration above, fold the fabric in half at the midpoint of the zipper. Bring the zipper ends together and ease them back into the zipper pull. Close the zipper and make sure the pull sits at the fabric fold.

Refold the fabric wrong side out. Sew the edges opposite the zipper together. Open the zipper halfway so you’ll be able to turn the box right side out later. Hold each unsewn edge at its midpoint and spread apart, refolding the fabric so the seam and zipper align. Sew the edges together, and turn the box right side out through the zipper.

Finishing Touches

There are many options for finishing your box. If it is large and the fabric is heavy, you may want to cut an extra backing from 1/2-inch-thick sheets of foam rubber, buckram, heavy felt, or heavier interfacing. These can be tacked to the seam allowances after the box is made or sewn in during construction. If you want to line the box, cut a lining the same shape as your pattern and sew it into the seam with the zipper. Complete the fabric box, treating the two layers as one. Tack the lining at the corners to keep it in place.

Lastly, decorate the zipper pull with tassels, ribbons, charms, beads, recycled jewelry, or hand-sewn gift tags.

Excerpted from Threads #104 (December/January 2003)

Photos and Drawing: Sloan Howard; Bob LaPointe


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  1. Sophia1952 | | #1

    They look nice but I can't really think of using them in any other way than a gift bag. Ideas?

  2. User avater
    eatsallinsects | | #2

    Since any size can be made, I have done several for evening purses.

  3. Lady_D | | #3

    @ Sophia1952 I remember reading this article or a similar one in Threads magazine. A photo there shows the pyramid being used as a tablet stand for an iPad. With pockets made of netting on the outside of two faces, you could also use it to store your pens, pencils etc on your desk. Small pieces of jewelry such as a broach, ear rings, etc could also be stored in or on the outside of one of these pyramids. Let your imagination run away with you...

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