Monday, June 29, 2015

My Basic Zipper Bag :: A Tutorial {Photo Heavy}

In this tutorial I will show you how I make a basic lined zipper bag with all raw edges concealed. You can adapt this idea to any bag so I am not providing specific measurements for my bag but I do detail how you need to measure your bag.

To start, you need two exterior bag pieces.

Side One

Side Two
Square up your exterior pieces if necessary and measure their size. You need to cut two lining pieces the exact same size. 

In addition to the two lining pieces, you need to cut one more piece from your lining fabric that is 1.25" by 4" to be used for zipper tabs.

Start with the 1.25" by 4" piece, fold it in half lengthwise and press it. Then open it back out and press each long raw edge in to the fold.

Then press this in half again on the first fold.

You should end up with a piece that is 4" long by a little more than a 1/4" wide. This is your zipper tab.

Now take your zipper. I use a zipper that is longer than the top opening of my bag. I only use ones with plastic zipper teeth. This technique does not work well for metal zippers because you have to cut the zipper to size and you have to sew over the zipper teeth. Open up the zipper a little ways and sew across the teeth a little ways in toward the pull from the zipper stop.

Cut the zipper off about an 1/8" on the stop side of your sewn line.

Take the zipper tab and slip the cut end of the zipper into the tab and topstitch the tab over the cut end of the zipper.

Cut the tab fabric off even with the edge of the zipper. Keep the remaining tab for the other end of the zipper.

Cut your zipper so that it measures 1" less than the top edge of the lining fabric.

Sew the other part of the zipper tab to the second cut end of the zipper and trim it even with the edge of the zipper.

To reiterate: your zipper is 1" shorter than the top edge measurement of your lining fabric. For me, the top edge of the lining fabric measures 9.75", so my zipper is 8.75". 

Now you need one of your exterior bag pieces and your zipper with tabs. Place the zipper right sides together with your bag exterior along the top edge of the bag. Note: the right side of the zipper is the side with the zipper pull. You need to center the zipper on the top edge of the bag. It should be about 1/2" short on either side of the bag exterior.

Baste the zipper in place using an 1/8" seam allowance. As with most zipper installations, you will need to open the zipper up to start. Stop with your needle down, lift your presser foot and close the zipper, then continue sewing. You will need to do this every time you sew along the zipper.

This basting seam doesn't need to be pretty or even straight, as long as the seam is less than 1/4". This is an extra step and one that I haven't seen in very many bag patterns. Most patterns tell you to pin your zipper between the exterior and lining pieces. No matter how carefully I pin, my zipper always slips somewhere which irritates me. So I take this extra step to baste the zipper in place so it won't slip.

Now put one of the lining pieces on top, right sides together with the exterior bag piece. In the photo below, I have pulled back one corner so you can see what is underneath. I also use Clover Wonder Clips instead of pins for most of my bags. These clips hold things very securely without distorting my pieces like pins do. In addition, they don't poke me, but you can't sew over the clips!

Sew again along the top edge using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Flip the lining around to the back side of the exterior bag piece and iron everything nice. The zipper should be sticking up and the exterior and lining pieces should be wrong sides together. Then topstitch along the edge of the zipper on the exterior bag piece.

Front View: zipper attached to one side and topstitched

Back View: zipper attached to one side and topstitched
You need to repeat the process with the other exterior piece and lining piece. Start by laying the second exterior bag piece right side up. The lay the zipper, right sides down on top. Be sure to line up your bag pieces so that they are even along the edges. Notice that the zipper is about 1/2" in from each edge.

Again, baste the zipper to the exterior bag piece using an 1/8" seam allowance.

In the photo above, I opened the zipper so you can see the exterior piece underneath. The next step is to place the lining fabric on top of this. The two lining fabric pieces should be right sides together.

Again, I pulled back a corner so you can see the underneath piece.

Sew again with a 1/4" seam allowance along the top edge of the bag.

Just like on the other side, flip the lining fabric back so that it is wrong sides together with the exterior bag piece. Topstitch along the zipper.

Your bag should now look like this.

Front View: two bag pieces with zipper in between

Back View: two bag pieces with zipper in between
Now that the zipper is in place it is time to sew up the sides and bottom. Before you go any further, open the zipper a little more than halfway. With the zipper opened, pin the lining pieces together, right sides together and the exterior bag pieces together, right sides together.

Notice that I used pins on the lining part because this is just two pieces of cotton fabric. On the exterior part I used my Wonder Clips because these are two pieces of quilted wool (i.e. pretty thick). In the photo above I put a double arrow between the two pins I placed along the right hand side (which will be the bottom of the bag interior). Leave this area open for turning.

Using a 1/4" seam allowance, I start sewing at the bottom pin in the photo above and backstitch. Sew all the way around the bag stopping at the top pin and backstitching. When you get to the transition between the lining fabric and exterior fabric (the top of the bag) things can get tricky because the lining side is much thinner than the exterior side. Just do the best you can.

Notice the circled area in the photo above. What I ended up doing for this bag was to start sewing on the lining at the bottom pin, like I described above. When I got to the zipper part, the bag top, where the fabric transitioned from the lining to the exterior, I got as close as I could to the bag top and then backstitched and cut my thread. Then I started on the other side of the bag top an inch away from the zipper part and back stitched back toward the bag top as far as my machine would go. Then continued around to the other side. Again when I got to the bag top, I backstitched and cut my thread. Moved to the lining fabric again, started about an inch from the bag top and backstitched back toward the zipper. You can see in the circled area in the photo above that there is a small area at the bag top that isn't stitched because my machine simply said no. If your machine doesn't want to sew over this area either then don't force it. Everything will be fine in the end.

If you want to box the bottom of your bag, you need to do that now. If you don't, then you can skip down to the turning the bag right side out part.

There are several ways to box the bottom of a bag, this is way I do it. Start with one of the lining corners. Separate the two lining pieces a bit so that you can line up the side edge seam with the bottom seam. Then draw a line on the lining however far in you need to make your bottom. For my bag, I measured down 1.25" from the corner and drew my line. This makes a 2.5" bottom.

I like to put a pin in there to hold things in place. Mark all four corners this way, then sew on the drawn line. I usually backstitch at the beginning and ending, but I'm not convinced this is necessary.

Cut off the corners 1/4" away from your sewn line on the corner side of the line.

You need to turn your bag right side out through the hole you left in the bottom.

Just stick your fingers in the hole as far as you can and start pulling. It might take a bit of tugging and fiddling, but take your time and all will be fine. Some folks call this "birthing your bag." If you've ever given birth to a child or seen a child or animal being born you will understand.

Poke your corners out nicely, then fold the raw edges of the opening in the lining inside and sew the opening shut. You can do this by hand or machine. I usually do it by machine with thread that matches my lining fabric.

Poke the lining into the bag.

Zip it up and enjoy your new bag!

Remember that part that my machine wouldn't sew over? Here is what it looks like on the finished bag.

I told you it would be fine.

Now you can make a simple zipper bag of your own. 

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments. If you are a no-reply blogger then leave your email address in your comment if you want me to respond to you directly or I will respond to your question with another comment. 


Tanya Quilts in CO said...

Great tutorial! I have made many zippered pouches, but need to make one out of wool. Thanks for the inspiration!

West Michigan Quilter said...

Great tutorial. I'm going to link to it. Since I believe that a lady can't have too many bags, I want to use this tutorial and make it first. I'll use cottons though and and add the applique. Your bag is so cute!

Gene Black said...

I really like the idea of basting the zipper. I have never seen that suggested before but it does seem it would save some frustration.