Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I have been playing around trying to get a good zipper finish for a purse. Here is a finished item.

This idea can be used with any size bag or purse the dimensions don't matter with the exception of the amount of fabric at the sides of the zipper.

For this tutorial I recommend that you use a zipper just the right size for the job.
1 Zipper - either matching or contrasting
Main Fabric
Pellon/Wadding (thin)/Batting
Lining Fabric - either matching or contrasting

Measure the zip. Cut the fabric, pellon and lining as follows: The depth is up to you. If you are boxing the bottom of the purse, then of course you will need a little extra depth. The width of the fabric is the measurement of the zip plus 1 inch. Place the pellon behind the main fabric, you will work with this as one layer.

Prepare the zipper - fold the tapes back on themselves to create a 45degree angle. Either sew on the machine (just a few stitches to hold in place until you are ready for construction) or horror of horrors - do a few stitches by hand.

At the open end of the zipper, again either by hand or by machine, join the two ends so that when the zipper is open it is no longer two separate pieces.

If you want to make tabs or handles, make them now so they are ready to place during construction.

Find the centre of the zip and the centre of the fabric - pin and repeat with the other side.

You should only sew from one metal stop to the other. With the zipper foot on the machine, stitch the right side of the fabric and the right side of the zipper together. Repeat for the other side.

Now stitch on the lining. This time you will stitch from end to end. Right side of lining facing wrong side of zip. Flip open and repeat for the other side.

Trim the pellon back to the stitching line. You may have to pull out the stitches that you put in to hold the ends of the zipper in place.

Fold back the second piece of lining, it should look like this.

Lay out flat with the right sides facing the pressing board. Press the lining so that it is away from the zipper. Turn over - you are now going to press the fabric so that it rolls in towards the zipper. Put a couple of pins through all the layers whilst you take the piece to the machine.

With the right sides facing you, topstitch along the zipper edge. You can either use the zipper foot for this or put the presser foot you would normally stitch with. (I found I had a little more control over the "straightness" of the topstitching with the sewing foot on). If your machine has the capability for changing needle position, make use of this feature. Throughout all of these steps, make sure you move the zipper up or down, to get it out of the way, BUT ALWAYS KEEP YOUR NEEDLE IN THE FABRIC to keep your stitches straight. Make sure you don't stitch too close to the zipper and that you are catching the lining so that it doesn't get caught in the zipper once in use.

Square up at this point if necessary - I like to trim the lining a little shorter at this point - usually just by 1/4inch.
With right sides together and pin, matching the edges.

I like to sew some of stitches crossing over from the main body to the lining. This way you can check if everything is lined up before sewing from edge to edge.

Once you are happy with how it looks, sew through from one side to the other .

I do not sew around the piece in one hit. I like to sew each side separately, making sure I sew in the same direction - either from lining to main, or main to lining. Sew across the bottom of the main fabric - BUT CHECK THE ZIPPER IS OPEN FIRST!!!! Now sew across the bottom of the lining, leaving a gap for turning. To reduce bulk, trim back where the main fabric and lining meet.

If you are going to box out the bottom of the bag, mark a square in each corner of the lining and the main.

Cut the corner out. Use scissors for this not the rotary cutter - one slip with the rotary cutter and you will either be starting again or making some design changes.

Pinch together the side and bottom seams. Make one seam lay one way and one the other, the actual seam line will match. Pin and again, sew a few stitches to check how it all lines up before final sewing.

Repeat for all four corners.

The pouch now quite possibly looks like a screwed up dish cloth! Grab the bottom of the main back through the gap you left in the lining, gently pull through. Slip stitch the opening in the lining.

Carefully press. Pouch finished.

I hope this tutorial is some help to those zipperly challenged.

Just to finish off, here are a couple of grocery bags - I digitized the designs myself and am quite pleased with the results.

There is a third one in the series, but I haven't had time to sew it out yet. These were done on the PR600.
I finally found the perfect use for my Sunbeam Mixmaster Professional. I was so excited the day I bought this home. It was red and shiny - a real stand out piece in my kitchen. And to think that was only 3 1/2 years ago. Needless to say, it has now been replaced with a Kitchenaid.

As the saying goes - they don't make 'em like they used to.......

And finally, the assistants hard at work.

Bye for now. Sue


  1. Stunning step-by-step photography, Sue. Even though I don't sew (gasp), I appreciate the beauty of, and the effort that goes into, what you make!

  2. Nice tutorial, why can't everyone make explaination that easy. BTW, beautiful feline family, striking creatures.

  3. genial j ai mis ton lien sur mon blog bisesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss


I would love to hear from you, just so I know I am not talking to myself - the cat is tired and so is the dog!