Zippers Feed


I am busy sewing new samples for my Machine Finishing class and have taken an applique I did a while ago and turned it into a piped cushion with a hidden zip.

First I had to unpick the old pillow, unpicking is so boring.


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This is always a difficult set of techniques to master so I have been on the look out for another way of doing it, and although not simple, I think I have found a new better way.   I'm happy how this has turned out.  There are some improvements I think I can make to the process.

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And how the zipper worked.

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I am also beavering away at my cross stitch and am at the half way mark of stitching the design.

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I also have to go back and have another Covid test.  I'm not looking forward to standing in that line.

Another bag

I am off early tomorrow morning to spend the weekend in Toowoomba with friends.  Two days stitching and I hope to get my bunnies well under way in that time.


And I am still making bags.  I really like the shape of this bag.  I am now up to about the 10th version and still have some other ideas for it.

 If I don't piece the fabric but just use one piece for the outside and another for the lining I can cut it out and have it made up in 20 minutes.  So this is the 20 minute bag.  (I did have to rush to get it done in that time and there is a tutorial in a separate post.)

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I would prefer to take a little longer and get every bit accurate and I didn't top stitch the zipper opening in that time which I did with this version.

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It is a great sewing bag as my dressmaking scissors sit perfectly along with glasses and all those other odds and ends.   I have used a heavier lining in this one and am not sure it is the best choice.  It looks alright from a distance but top stitching the zipper was difficult and I couldn't achieve an even top stitch.  There were so many different weights of fabric in this bag and they were all fighting one another.  Shame It is a nice bag.

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Now I am about to attempt a re-purposed version.  I ironed the piece and have been looking at it all day.  I just CAN'T cut into it!!

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The heat

It is Sunday afternoon here and I am sitting flicking the remote between sports events. I thought it was hot here at 32 degrees C  which is about 90 degrees F but I looked up Sydney and it is 47 degrees C or 116 F down there.  Those poor men playing cricket out there in that heat.

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I thought I might watch the final of the Brisbane International Tennis but someone has been thinking and that doesn't start till 7pm tonight.  I bet it will be still hot and steamy.  I hope Kyrios can keep it together to win.

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In the mean time I am going to experiment with another small zippered bag.  I have so many zippers and I have just ordered another 100 because I don't have the right colour.  Lots of bags are now to be made!

Zippers 3

Zippers with fabric added to the seam opening.

This is a pattern that I used when teaching year 8 students.  It was quick and easy. Two tabs of fabric are added to cover the ends of the zipper these become part of the side seams.
This is not as simple are the previous zipper insertions and requires that you tack the zipper into position.
I have included a PDF, complete with spelling errors .

Download No 2 Pencil Case

You can use this same method for inserting a zipper at the top of the pouch as well.

That is enough about zippers for a while, I will be flying back to Brisbane today.  There are still a number of other methods but I will return to this theme next month.

Zippers 2 b - Part 3

This pouch was made using patchwork fabric and it was lined with the same fabric as the strip inserted on the front and back panels.  (The pouch was made the same as 2b part 1)DSC08492

Because the fabric is a lighter weight I added an iron on pelum to the lining making it the height of the top hem and fusing in position.

After sewing the lining it was slip stitched into position.

Lining a bag like this looks good on the inside,


But I find there is a slight bulge at the opening end even when you allow extra fabric to get around the end of the zipper.   I am probably being too critical as other say "what bulge."


Zippers 2 b - Part 2

The next 3 pouches are all lined.  Two have bias binding covering the seams, one woven fabric the next paper based fabric and the other has a separate lining slip stitched into position.  The different linings all have differing effects on how that zipper sits.


Inserting the zipper is the same for each of these pouches,  (See previous posts.) it is the finished achieved that is different.

Pink Check - The zipper was top stitched and I used a light weight patchwork fabric for the lining .  I then wrapped the seams in a bias strip.  You could use a commercial bias or make your own.  (This is a great little video tute on how to do that.)

I treat binding this seam the same way I would bind a quilt, only the seam is a lot smaller and the bias will stretch around the corners.  At the non opening end you will find that the bound seam sits well under the zipper.

 At the other end I trim the seam end on an angle before binding the seam.


Because the seam is sewn 1cm past the clips the zipper has a good finish.


The lining in the blue and white pouch was a sewable paper fabric.  This was the easiest to work with but I haven't been able to source it since.  (I should have bought more.) You don't have to cut the paper on the bias just use a strip, with no hem allowance and sew over that seam.  The paper doesn't have the nice appearence of the woven fabric but it does sit better.


Zippers 2 b - Part 1

Top Opening zipper

I was going to make one post for this but typepad doesn't want to save it so I will break it into sections.


The next four pouches are all very similar.  The zipper sits up proud above the top edge and each is inserted using the same method.  The difference lies in how they are finished.  The size has been dicated by the zipper that I am using and I have used a variety of fabric weighs.


As this zipper is meant to be seen the stitching is closer to the seam edge revealing more of the zipper.   This fabric is unlined so I have applied an iron on interfacing first. 

Place the main fabric and zipper edge, right sides together and stitch in position using a zipper foot.

Turn to the right side, press and top stitch along this edge.  Repeat for the other side. I use my zipper foot to do this so that I can stitch close to the edge of the fabric.  Because of the length of this zipper, one end will be closed so open the zip so that you can sew the top stitching.


Place both the front and back pieces right sides together and pin.  It you need to square up your fabric do it now.  Pin the zipper so that the top edges are parrellel to each other.


The side seam needs to cross the zipper teeth 1cm past the end of the teeth at both ends.  Sew the side seams starting at the bottom edge, reversing at the begining.  As  you near the zipper slow down you machine speed, stitch across the teeth, reverse back to just below the zipper.   Depending on how rough you are going to be with this zipper in opening and closing it you may want to reverse a couple of times to secure it firmly but make sure you finish you thread below the opening.

 So that this end of the zipper closes completely I fold the ends of the seam over and catch it in the zipper.  You have to be careful doing this as sometimes the fabric is just too thick and you end up with a bulge.  You have to decided between the buldge and not pushing the end of the zipper inside when you close it.


Trim back your seams and neaten.  Turn to the right side and iron. With this weight of fabric the zipper sits perfectly.




Zippers 2a

 Top opening zippers

I found this small piece of embroidery in an opportunity shop and thought I could use it as a pencil case.  That meant a top opening zipper with a lining.

The zipper was inserted the same way as No 1 a,b,c, but I didn't have room for error because of the size of the peice of embroidery. Also I find that some students do not feel confident enough to stitch the zipper between two pieces of fabric, the main fabric and the lining, so I have broken this down into easier steps.

Centre you zipper with the motive on the front, in this case the embroidery, and with right sides together stitch the zipper in position.


Pin the lining piece in position and turn your work over and stitch using you last row of machine stitching as your guide. Repeat these steps for the back.


Turn to the right side, iron flat.




At this point square up your piece , making sure your zipper in open a short way first.


Turn you piece to the wrong side, with the right sides of the main fabric together and the same with the lining.  Pin the ends of the zipper so that when you sew around the perimeter, leaving an opening at the base of the lining, the zipper ends match up. When you reach the zipper reverse stitch over the teeth to make sure the opening is secure.  (Remember that zipper should be partly open.)


Before you turn it through to the right side and stitch closed the opening in the lining, snip out the teeth of the plastic zipper up to the one before your stitching at the pull end.    This end has a lot of bulk and buckles when turned to the right side.  Removing these teeth will reduce this.


Press flat and attach a pull to the zipper for decoration.


Zippers - 1 c

I found that the PDFs I put up yesterday were not viewing very well in Firefox.  I could overcome this by viewing them with Adobe but thought I would post another variation on this zip insertion using two piece of fabric. 

Again this is a front opening zipper.  The front fabric is cut in two and the raw edges of the fabric were neatened first.


This zipper has been inserted (using a zipper foot on the machine)in about the same position as the other two,  that is lining up the edges of the right sides of the fabric and zipper and stitching in position.   You need to decide just how much of the colour at the sides of the zip you want to show.  Stitching up close will reveal a little, closer to the outer edge will reveal more. DSC08470

Turn to the right side and iron flat remembering that this is a nylon zipper and if the heat is too high it could melt the teeth, even steam can distort the teeth so be careful!

On the right side, top stitch close to the edge on both sides of the zipper.  This zipper was a little long for the opening so I have stitched across the teeth to secure it and will remove the metal clips before neating the edge.  (You can shorten any nylon zipper by sewing across the teeth.)


Place the right side of the back and front fabrics together and pin in position. At this point it is a good idea to square up your fabic. 

Using a 1.5cm seam allowance sew around the perimiter and then neaten.  If you are not sure how to use the sewing guides on you machine mark the seam allowances with a pencil or washout marker.   Make sure you open you zipper a little before you do this or it could lead to an episode of bad language.


Turn through to the right side and press flat.


NOTE: I have used a furnishing fabric which is heavier than patchwork fabric.  If using patchwork fabric apply an iron on interfacing first.

Zippers - 1a & b

One of the classes that I teach is "Machine Finishing" for embroiderers'.  We look at cords, lace insertion, edges etc.  But the thing I find that scares most people is putting in zippers.  This comes up time after time and really surprised me.  The comment that is highest on the list is;

"I had to do this at school and I hate it."

Putting in zippers can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  Let me point out at this point I am not talking about zipper insertion for dressmaking, that has a different set of rules.  No, this is for embroiderers' who want to make up their work.  Usually pouches, pillows and the like.

If you want to learn about zippers for dressmaking Crafsy has a great free set of lessons called Mastering Zipper Techniques. Including a run down on the different types of zippers and several ways of inseting them. 

With this in mind I have been experimenting with the ways to insert a zipper and thought I would share them.  I may get to the end of this process and then find some new ways to do this, so I have added a catagory in the side bar so that they can be accessed easily.

Zipper No 1

A front opening zipper (very easy)

Using this method the zipper is used as a design feature.  Meaning you can see it.  In the examples below the colour of the zip has been choosen to compliment the fabric but you could choose a colour that makes a statement.

I put up these tutorials back in 2009 and they are still popular.

These pouches are made with one piece of fabric.  The first is unlined and the second lined. Neither bag has top stitching on the zipper, rather, the zipper sits a little proud.

Download Zipper insertion 1 a

Download Zipper insertion 1 b

These samples are made with soft furnishing samples.  The one's that are in the sample books that the reps throw out or sell very cheaply.  They usually come with paper glued at the top but I have found you can get this paper off by either soaking it in water or putting it in the freezer depending on the glue used.