How to Sew a Zipper Opening in Your Purse or Handbag - A Tutorial4/28/2012 07:18:00 AM
Time for another tutorial! I've just finished adding instructions for a zipper opening into my Teardrop Bag pattern, and thought - Hey, what the heck, I should post this as a tutorial as well so that you fabulous sewers can add one to a bag of your own. I hope you like it, please leave a comment if you do! The pics were a bit wide for this blog so I couldn't use them full size, so you will have to click them to zoom in.
This is a zipper opening that is made in a gusset, that is open at each end. Meaning, the ends of the zipper are not sewn right into the side seams of your bag. This is suitable when you have a bag without side gussets, like a hobo bag or sling bag - or my Teardrop bag. It's great for a bag you want with a wide opening that's easy to get into. I'll try to provide tutorials for a few other zipper opening types - but first we will start with this one.
Decide how wide you want your zipper gusset to be; mine is about 3" so I've cut the strips on either side 2" (5 cm) wide to allow for seam allowances. The length of my gusset is going to be 14" (35.5 cm). You will need a zipper that is longer than the gusset strips so that it hangs past the end of the gusset. The zipper should measure longer than the strips by about the same as the width of the gusset. This sounds confusing! Let me explain: my gusset width (the width of my side strips and zipper) will be about 3 inches so I want my zipper length, not counting the fabric tails, to be about 3 inches longer than that. In this case, my gusset strips will work out to be 14" so my zipper length should be 16" to 17" long. The longer zipper makes your bag open up nice and wide so that your opening isn't restricting. Ok, to summarize... I've got to cut my zipper gusset strips 2" x 14.5" wide, my zipper should be 16 to 17" long (40 - 43 cm). You can use a longer zipper and cut it down if you like.
Now that we've figured out how to measure your zipper and gusset strips (I hate the word gusset by the way - and I am so SICK of saying it! It reminds me of the gusset in your underwear. Yes, I just said underwear, but thank heavens I didn't say panties.) I digress.... we have to cut your bag lining. Assuming you already have your lining from whichever pattern you are using, you have to cut it so you have a top and a bottom. Fold your lining pattern (or a copy of it) in half to find the center, and draw a line perpendicular to this as far down from the top as you want your zipper (about 1.5" to 2" (4-5 cm) works good). Cut along this line to slice your pattern piece in half, creating a top and bottom. Pin your pieces to fabric, or tape them to paper and add a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance to each piece. See the photos below:
|Click to Zoom - Make your lining pieces.|
1) Fuse interfacing to wrong side of the gusset pieces, leaving ¼” (6mm) at each end without interfacing.
the gusset pieces to the top side.
3) Lay down one gusset piece, right side up.
Hint: You will have to move the zipper pull out of the way when you get to it. When you reach the zipper pull, drop the needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot, and slide the zipper back behind the foot and out of the way.
5) Trim off zipper tail and corner to ease turning. Turn gusset so right sides are out, pushing out corner. Press ¼” seam allowance on open end under. Topstitch across short ends and along zipper using your zipper foot. Sew close to the zipper!
|Click to zoom|
|Click to zoom|
7) Now we have to make the little fabric tab to cover the end of the zipper so it looks pretty. With right sides together, fold 3” x 2” piece in half, meeting the shorter (2”) ends together and folding the 3” length in half. Stitch the sides, leaving one end open. Clip corners and turn. Press the raw edge into the inside about ¼” and press the whole square flat. Slide the zipper end into the little square and stitch a box around the edges to secure the zipper into the tab.
8) And now to add your really fabulous zipper opening to your lining pieces! Place a top part of the bag lining
right side up. With zipper pull on left, center gusset piece right side facing down on top piece. (An easy way to center the lining and zipper gusset is to fold them in half and make center creases and then match the creases.) Center bottom lining piece over both of these, with right sides down. Pin, Stitch through all layers, enclosing the edge of the zipper gusset into the lining. Press seams, towards bottom. Top stitch next to seam, anchoring seam allowance to bottom piece. Repeat for other side, keeping the first lining side out of the way as you sew.
9) Open zipper all the way so lining is easy to work with and add slip pockets and internal zipper pockets. ( You can add these before you put this together too. Look for my pocket tutorials here on my blog. When the pockets are in place, put lining pieces right sides together, lining up corners and seams. Pin. Sew around bag leaving a 6” (15 cm) opening at center bottom for turning. Press side seams open, and attach to your bag exterior in the usual way.
Thank you so much for reading.
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