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How to Sew a Zipper: Zipper Pouch Tutorial

Pile of Zippers

Pile of Zippers

Internet at the speed of light

Do an internet search for zipper pouch tutorials or zip pouch and you’ll get fast 2.8 million results in 0.6 seconds or less.  Most of the search results have some form of the word “Easy” prior to the word zip (Zip, the more efficient, British use of the word zipper)  in the title.  Easy, Simple, Painless, no word in the dictionary has squelched the fears created by the thought of installing zippers in projects in the mind of the home Semptress! Yep, that’s a real word!

(ˈsɛmpstrɪs)n

  1. (Knitting & Sewing) a rare word for seamstress
  2. (Professions) a rare word for seamstress

 

Let that word roll around in your mouth for a few minutes.  It’s just darn fun to say! Semptress. Now say it with a sultry voice! Now with a silly voice!  One more time, just for good measure!  It’s also a really entertaining word to use when meeting someone new when they say “What do you do for a living?” You look them in the eye and say “I’m a Semptress.”  Or you could say “I’m a sewer” but really?  Who wants to be associated with sewage?  EWWWWW.  But I digress.

Standing out from the crowd.

What makes this zipper pouch tutorial different that the other 2.8 million zipper tutorials out there?

Because I did it my way! (If you’re old enough, you should have a song running through your mind right about now)

 

First let’s examine what makes a zipper pouch difficult.

 

The anatomy of zipper installation for a pouch:

Blue Vinyl Zipper Half Being Stitched

Blue Vinyl Zipper Half Being Stitched

You open the zipper and sew one side to a piece of fabric

Blue Vinyl Zipper on Sewing Machine

Blue Vinyl Zipper on Sewing Machine

 

 

the other side to another piece of fabric. 

If the zipper is long enough, you can sew it with the pull out of the way. If it’s the exact length of the fabric, then you have to move the pull whilst sewing (Which is kinda of like packing your suitcase to head home after vacation. Not fun, not easy, but it can be done! ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frustrations suffered: 

A) the two pieces of fabric don’t line up.  Opps.

Scrubbie Bag

Scrubbie Bag

B) the zipper is wonky, like this: 

Next step in the zipper installation, you open the zipper most of the way and sew from the inside all the way around catching the zipper in the stitches.

C) the zipper twists and kinda looks like this:

Zipper Pinched side two

Zipper Pinched side two

Zipper Pinched side one

Zipper Pinched side one

Not ugly, but not as good as the ones you buy in the store. .  It’s ironic, the home Semptress often picks apart her work but never even looks closely at the factory manufactured items.

 

 

 

 

 

Solution to the frustrations: 

One solution is to put tabs or little pieces of fabric on the end of the zipper before installing like this:

Zipper Tab Highlight

Zipper Tab Highlight

Sew So Easy Trinity Bag

Click photo to see where I got this pattern.

Which actually works very nicely, and makes a clean zipper pouch. The only problem I’ve found with this technique is measuring, cutting and sewing the zipper.  The end results can have the zipper which is off center, or the tabs are not equal in size, adding to the frustration.

The Plan:

This is my way:   See the zipper? it’s not on the top, it’s on the side!

Diaper Wet Bag With side zip

Diaper Wet Bag

 

The Zipper Pouch Tutorial Begins:

Chose compatible fabric:

Since fabric should be chosen based on usage, consequently I choose this fabric as it is waterproof on both sides and easily wipes clean, great for a makeup pouch, but not a lot of fun to sew!

Close up of Blue Vinyl

Close up of Blue Vinyl

Blue Vinyl Both Sides

Blue Vinyl Both Sides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Vinyl Inside Showing Backing

Green Vinyl Inside Showing Backing

 

Vinyl usually has a cloth type backing such as this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the blue fabric may actually be a PUL which is Poly Urethane Laminate. It was on a roll that I picked up cheap at a yard sale, so your guess is as good as mine!

Choosing a Shape

This is my current makeup pouch, I wanted a different one just slightly larger, therefore I used the current one as a spring board.

Factgory Zipper Makeup Bag side

Factgory Zipper Makeup Bag side

Factgory Zipper Makeup Bag bottom

Factgory Zipper Makeup Bag bottom

Factgory Zipper Makeup Bag top

Factgory Zipper Makeup Bag top

Blue Vinyl Being Cut

Blue Vinyl Being Cut

After choosing your fabric and deciding your size (Make sure to add seam allowance) given these points, choose a zipper that is longer than the fabric is wide so you can in fact get that zipper pull out of the way.

blue vinyl half of zipper on

blue vinyl half of zipper on

 

 

 

Cutting and Construction:

 

 

 

Add double sided tape to each edge where the zipper shall reside. Seemingly, the 1/8” seems to work best. Some brands are specifically designed for sewing, and I’ve been told they don’t make the needle sticky and gummed up, but if the one you choose does, simply use alcohol prep pads available in any pharmacy. In brief, the alcohol will clean the gummy off nicely (works on finger bandage adhesive, and tape residue on your machine bed as well).

Alcohol Prep pads on Cutting Mat

Alcohol Prep pads on Cutting Mat

Alcohol Prep pads on Sewing Machine

Alcohol Prep pads on Sewing Machine

All things considered, there are two equally basic ways to clean the needle, one is to open the package and use the enclosed swab, wiping down the needle the other is my lazy way and just remove the thread from the needle and sew right through the package. Warning, sewing through the package may dull the needle, but so will sewing vinyl, PUL, thick layers, thick fabrics never mind, sewing dulls the needle.

 

 

Again I digress.  Equally important is to add your double sided adhesive to both ends where the zipper will reside Déjà vu, I think I said that before!

blue vinyl zipper adhesive

blue vinyl zipper adhesive

Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine

Then remove the adhesive backing from one side only and place the zipper face down on the right side of fabric making sure the zipper pull goes beyond the edge of the fabric and using a zipper foot, stitch with a longer stitch.

 

On my machine a 4.0 works well.

 

 

Step By Step:

 

 

Blue Vinyl Zipper Half Being Stitched

Blue Vinyl Zipper Half Being Stitched

Similarly, remove the adhesive backing from the other side and again, place the zipper face down on the right side of the fabric, furthermore, making absolutely sure that the edges of the fabric  line up evenly. Stitch as before.

Blue Vinyl Zipper Half Being Stitched

Blue Vinyl Zipper Half Being Stitched

 

 

Generally speaking, you should have something that looks like this as shown below. For the most part, wrinkles are optional.

blue vinyl zipper both side sewn

blue vinyl zipper both side sewn

In a word, let’s get to top stitching this puppy!

This fabric is really sticky, so I choose to use paper under.  The tissue paper for gift wrapping works really great to say nothing of the fact the day after Christmas the store practically pays you to take it home it’s so cheap!

Unless you happen to have a Teflon zipper foot, something is necessary to make that zipper foot slide over the vinyl or PUL.   So good old fashioned office supply tape works great!  A little dab’ll do ya!

In a like manner, I’ve heard waxing the bottom of the foot works, but I’ve never tried it.

Remember the stitch length! 

As can be seen, increase your stitch length for the top stitching. In addition you can use a decorative or heavy thread. After all, it’s your project! Even with the paper under coupled with the tape on top, I still stitched very slowly not to mention keeping a bit of pressure on the fabric to keep it feeding evenly.

 

By and large, the paper should tear away fairly clean.

 

At this point, the faint of heart may just choose to make that a top zip, and that’s okay with me! It’s your project!

Zip that zip and you should have a tube.

The size of the project is the best way to decide how tall to make the “top” according to aesthetics, and the “Cause I wanna” factor.  There is no right or wrong, just make sure the sides are comparatively even. Of course, close is good enough!

Decisions Decisions:

One the purple diaper wet bag, in a a word, I folded it until it looked good. On this blue makeup pouch, similarly, I decided on 1” as can be seen, it is a convenient measurement on my cutting mat, as shown below. 

1 inch mark on the cutting mat, pouch taped down with regular office tape.

1 inch mark on the cutting mat, pouch taped down with regular office tape.

Tape is my friend.

Again with the tape you say! YES! As a matter of fact, tape is wonderful with these fabrics that can’t be pinned! What also works well is wonder clips, binder clips, hair clips, bulldog clips or potato clips, no wait, that’s potato chips! They don’t work, but I must be hungry! In the long run, anything that pinches will work in a pinch!

The pouch was taped to the mat (wrong side out) on one side whilst I made sure the other side was even steven in the same way. 

Sewing pouch shut, be sure zipper is open!

Sewing pouch shut, be sure zipper is open!

After the two top sides were taped to the mat, next the tape was folded over the top to hold it in place whilst sewing then the zipper was opened most of the way and wonder clips were used to hold the sides shut as shown above. 

Remember the stitch length! 

Set a longer stitch length

Set a longer stitch length

More tissue paper, moved the stitch length back to 4.0 and carefully stitch down one side.

All is not lost

If you forgot to unzip, it’s not too late!  Sew up the other side, then trim the excess zipper (you might want to use paper scissors for this, not your good fabric scissors or mom will be mad!) clip the corners next turn right side out and you are finished. In any event, if you would like to box the corners, be my guest, but lets reserve the  instructions  for another tutorial. Gotta keep ya coming back in the long run, not to mention boxing the corners, by and large deserves it’s own tutorial!

Use cheap or paper scissors to cut zipper

Use cheap or paper scissors to cut zipper

Inside of pouch with corners clipped

Inside of pouch with corners clipped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only slightly taller, and slightly wider, but  a nice,  clean, pretty zipper! Easy Peasy! ( For the most part!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finito!

That’s Italian for now I need a nap. LOL 

New compared to old pouch

New compared to old pouch

 

God Bless and keep that machine oiled!

Rochelle

 

 

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