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Zips and Zippers Part 2

I always think the easiest way to learn something new is to see it working in a situation you might use it. So we are going to be very hands on in part two of our zips tutorial and we are going to make a small bag, such as you might use for makeup or pencils. I'm not giving you sizes for the fabric because it's completely up to you. If you want to make a bag that is small enough to put a bit of makeup in your bag then make it small if you want to use it as a sleeve for your laptop then make sure it is big enough for your laptop.

I'm not joking when I say you can make this bag in less than half an hour, of course I am not counting the amount of time it might take me to find the fabric I want to use since that always takes me a while and I always change my mind several times

SA = seam allowance

RSU = right side up, so if the fabric is the right side up the pattern or pretty side is facing up, if the zip is RSU the slider and pull are on top.

RSD = right side down

RST = right sides together, with fabric the patterned side of the fabric is touching, if a zip and fabric then the slider is against the patterned or pretty side of the fabric.

What you will need:

2 pieces of fabric cut to the size you want your bag plus an inch for SA. (I'm not going to confuse you by getting super exact with the SA right now. I will explain it in another tutorial if anyone is interested) A thicker fabric like canvas or upholstery fabric, denim, works well you can add a bit of iron on interfacing to the back if you wish. I'm using cork which has a thin layer of fabric fused to the back.

1 zip that is slightly longer than the width of your fabric (I am using a #5 zip that is 1.25 wide)

Some thread that matches your fabric

Usual sewing implements like sewing machine, presser foot, scissors, pins

Iron for pressing.

  1. If you are using a single zipper with the slider already attached you can skip this step. I am using a roll of zipper tape and the slider and pull isn't attached so I will first need to cut a piece of zip off the roll and attach the pull. I'm using a fun white zip with rainbow zipper teeth and a pretty rainbow star pull. First cut the zipper tape to a couple of inches longer than the fabric width, then open the end of the tape a couple of inches by pulling the teeth apart. Cut one side of the tape so it is half an inch shorter than the other side. Take the rounded end of the slider and push it on the longer side of the tape and slide it so it's to the level of the shorter side. Carefully thread the shorter side of the tape into the other side of the slider and push firmly until it clicks and you can slide the zip up and down.

2. Place one piece of fabric RSU. Make sure your zip is closed and the pull to the left and align the edge of the zipper tape with the top edge of the fabric RST (the zip will be face down), the zip should over hang the fabric a little on both sides, clip or pin into place. Sew along the edge with a 3/8" SA. See tutorial 1 the bottom paragraph for help with choosing a presser foot to make this easier. Open the zip and fabric out to make sure it looks straight, there should be about a 1/4" of zipper tape showing on that side if you used a 1.25" wide zip. Because the zip is longer than the fabric the zip pull is out of the way off the end of the fabric and won't cause a problem.

3. Place the second piece of fabric RSU, place the other edge of the zip on top face down so they are RST as before except this time the pull will be on the right, and clip together. Sew with a 3/8" SA

4. Open out the fabric out, turn so the fabric is RSD, carefully press the SA away from the zipper teeth. Be careful not to touch the nylon zip teeth with the iron.

5. Turn the fabric back over and topstitch 1/8" from the edge of the fabric both sides of the zip. This will stop the fabric getting stuck in the zip teeth. For top stitching, use a slightly longer stitch. I like to sew this with a ditch quilting foot, it has a blade in the middle and I let the blade run against the edge of the fabric to guide me, move my needle a little to the side and I get a very neat topstitch. If you don't have a ditch foot you can use your standard foot, just go slowly and sew it as straight as you can.

6. Open up your zip half way, this is very important, do not forget.

7. Fold the fabric so it is RST, the most important part to get exact is by the zip, make sure the corners of the fabric by the zip are together on both sides and clip or pin into place first, then clip together around the rest of the sides.

8. Starting in a top corner by the zip sew around the three sides with a 1/2" SA, when you get to a corner, stop with the needle down, lift the presser foot, turn your fabric and lower your presser foot again and sew along the adjacent side. Backstitch at the beginning and end to set the stitches and make sure the zip is strongly attached.

9. Clip your corners, to do this cut a diagonal line from the corner near the stitches but be careful not to actually cut the stitches, slanting out towards the edge of the fabric. You can also trim your SA down to 1/4" and cut off the ends of the zip. This is so that the corners of your bag will not be pushed in and the seams won't be bulky.

10. Now we have to birth the bag, you will see why we call it birthing when you try it. All it means is turn the bag the right way out. First reach in and open the zip fully, then carefully turn the bag the right way out through the zip. I do not recommend using a point turner for pushing the corners out since we have only one layer of fabric a point turner might go through the fabric. Instead use something like a chopstick or a pencil with an eraser on the end and gently push the corners out so they are sharp.

Your bag is finished, and although the interior is not very professional many bags of this kind is done in this way and has the seams showing on the inside. Later on I will show you how to make a similar bag but with a lining and the seams hidden inside, perfect for adding padding for a tablet or laptop sleeve.

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Mar 09, 2023

Did this at school, way back in the mists of time.

Good to get a refresher course.

Got my machine up and running so hoping to do good things!

Thanks, Sarah! 😊


I am going to try this sarah thank you so much, very easy to understand instructions

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