Are you still zipper-phobic? Well the best way to get over your fear is to keep trying until you find a way that works for you. Here’s a dropped zipper technique for you to try.
As you know, I’ve been doing a TON of sewing projects lately for a new book, and now that I’ve caught the bug, I simply cannot seem to stop! Most recently, I’ve gotten the urge to make all sorts of bags and pouches, and this has led to a fascination with zippers and all the different ways to insert them. My most recent discovery was this past weekend at my guild’s quilt retreat: I came up with a method of installing a dropped zipper.
A dropped zipper is simply a zipper that falls below the top edge of a pouch or bag. The distance depends on the size strips you work with. Of course, my sewing and quilting life just would not be complete if I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate a die-cutter into the mix, so of course this tutorial includes die-cutting instructions. (If you want to make the pouch shown in the photo, you’ll be able to see it on the Sizzix blog on Friday!)
Make a Zipper Casing
The first thing you need to do is make a casing for your zipper, and that starts with deciding how far you want the zipper to be from the top edge of your bag. Whatever this distance is, you want to double it and add a 1/2″ seam allowance (assuming that’s the seam allowance used to stitch your bag together!)
For example, the pouch in the photo above is 1-1/2″ from the top edge. If I double that and add a 1/2″, I would then cut my strip at 3-1/2″ (STR-3 in EDeN lingo.) There are many dies that cut a 3-1/2″ strip; the Sizzix 3-1/2″ strip die can be used on the Sizzix Big Shot, Big Shot Pro, and the AccuQuilt Studio. If you wanted the drop to be 3″, you would need a 6-1/2″ strip die (STR-6) instead. You can of course use any strip die that’s appropriate for your die cutter, or rotary cut them if that’s the way you roll.
Once you have cut your strips, you will need to cut two of them to the same length as the cut size of your bag exterior. This is very important to make sure your zipper fits properly! The zipper itself should be about 3″ shorter than the cut size of your bag exterior (so for a 12″ wide bag, you should use a 9″ zipper.)
On each edge of the casing strips, fold up a 1/4″ hem all the way around and press to the wrong side. Then, fold your strips in half lengthwise, matching all the hems, and press flat.
Insert each half of the zipper into the casing, pin it in a couple of places and stitch the three open sides to secure the zipper and enclose all the raw edges.
I love using contrasting zippers for a pop of color, but I highly recommend you use thread that matches your fabric when stitching in the zipper. You’ll really be happier with the results, especially if you’re still getting the hang of using your zipper foot. I’m using contrasting thread so you can see the stitching better. (Okay, I’ll admit that I just didn’t feel like changing the thread as I was stitching up this pouch, but it really works to your benefit!)
I posted a tutorial a little while back that gives some good tips on working with the zipper foot. If you’re working with a zipper, I think the number one tip that will help you is that zippers were not meant to be stitched without stopping. Sometimes you need to stop so you can move the zipper pull out of the way!
Inserting the Zipper into the Bag
Once you have your zipper in the casing, you want to work with one side of the zipper at a time. First, pin the zipper to the upper edge of the lining, matching the end of the zipper with the side seam of the bag.
Repeat for the other end of the zipper, then pin the rest of the zipper around. Baste the zipper to the top edge of the bag.
Now, repeat those same steps for the other half of the zipper. This will feel a bit awkward as you maneuver the zipper around, but you will get the hang of it once you do it. You might find it easier to do this with the zipper open, but that only helps you on one side. 🙂
Using matching thread, whipstitch the casings together along the side and top. This will close up the gaps in your zipper and help your bag keep all the contents inside! You don’t need to whipstitch through all layers; just pick the two that are nearest each other and stitch them together.
Now you can push the zipper casing back inside the bag, and you are ready to finish your pouch!
If you want to try this on a real pouch, look for this lovely bag on the Sizzix blog on Friday. It just happens to be part of our Thousand Pyramid Cut Along, so maybe it will give you an idea of what to do with the fabulous hand-dyed fabric from Vicki Welsh I’m giving away!