Friday, June 17, 2011

Make It With Me - Wavy Top Tote: Part Three

OK! So between here and here we've got the outside of the bag all concocted. You can set that aside for now - put it where you can see it for inspiration and motivation, but don't stare at it too long - we've got work to do!

Today we're going to do zippers. Ugh, I know. But they're not that bad. I don't even use a zipper foot to put them in. But if you want to leave them out, then by all means do. They're not a critical part of the bag - you could just as easily put a simple slip-in pocket on the inside instead of a zipper pocket, and you could use a magnetic snap for the closure. It's your bag - go for it! But I promise - these zippers aren't hard at all and I do encourage you to try them. Enough blahblahblah; let's get sewing.

Inserting a Zipper Pocket
** If, way back at the beginning, you didn't fuse your interfacing to the lining pieces, do that now. I did not interface my lining (except across the top where the zipper will get stitched), but I wish I had. It's a do as I say, not as I do sort of thing.You're also going to need something to mark your fabric with and a ruler.

1. Center your pocket piece on the lining piece, right sides together (I'm using a solid so I have no wrong side in the photos). Place the top edge of the pocket piece about two inches down from the top center of the lining. Make sure it's centered and straight (mine is folded up in the photo as I was measuring from the bottom to make sure it was straight). Pop in a few pins to keep it from shifting.

2. Draw a line across the top of the pocket one inch from top edge, and starting/ending one inch from each side edge. Draw a parallel line 1/2 inch down from this first line. Draw some edges so you have a long skinny rectangle. Draw one more line cutting this rectangle in half longways.

Draw the little lines you see in the picture from each corner towards the middle line (they make the little triangles you see) - I make mine about 3/4 inch long. You don't need to be ultra-precise, but do your best to make them pretty even.

3. Stitch around the outside of the large rectangle.

4. Now we're going to cut a slit along that center line through both the pocket and the lining. I use a seam ripper to get started and then switch to nice sharp scissors. Cut from one triangle point to the other, and then clip your angled lines toward the corners, taking care not to cut the seam you sewed in step 3.

5. Pull the pocket piece (all of it) through the slit you just made. It will now be on the wrong side of the lining, and look quite messy. This is where you press it into submission so that you get some nice neat corners and a delightful rectangular slit. I always get a few little wrinkles on the back, but I don't get concerned with those--they get hidden in a bit.

6. OK, get your zipper - don't get nervous now, you already did the hard part :) Lay it down right side up and center the slit over it. If your zipper is going to need trimming later you need to make sure your pull is in the slit so you don't sew off access to it (not that I've ever done that). Put a few pins in to hold it in place - you want it to be centered between the top and bottom so that you're sure to grab the entire zipper tape.

7. Now stitch about 1/8 an inch from the edge. I don't use my zipper foot - I just put the zipper towards the left of my foot and sew, using the coils of the zipper itself as a seam guide. Pivot at the corners and keep going all the way around. You may need to move your zipper pull out of the way at some point. I only pin the top edge to get started - when I turn to come back along the bottom I keep everything positioned with my fingers because that works better than pins (for me) for this part at keeping things straight. Do what feels comfortable for you. If you like a zipper foot use it. If you like lots of pins, pin away.

Check the back to make sure you caught all of the zipper tape. If you missed anything restitch. This is on the inside and nobody sees it but you, so absolute neatness isn't critical - if you haven't made zip pockets before they get easier with practice - I promise. It took me a few tries to get them down just right so don't be discouraged if it's not as perfect as you like at first.

8. Fold the bottom edge of the pocket up to meet the top edge. Pin and stitch. Make sure you have the other parts tucked out of the way of the needle. Then pin and stitch the sides. Be careful of any metal zipper bits that might break a needle. Give it a final press (and then peek inside at your lovely new zipper pocket).

Make the Zipper Casing and End Tabs
1.  Take one of your zipper casing pieces. Fold and press in the short edges about 1/2 inch. Then fold the piece in half lengthwise. Unfold, and press the raw edges towards the center crease. Then fold in half again and press really well. Repeat for the other zipper casing piece - get them as close to even as you can or they'll look mismatched. You should be pretty good at this by now :)

2. Get your zipper for the main closure (I always use extra long because I'm weird like that). Lay the casing down on one side of the zipper, sandwiching the zipper tape. Don't get too close to the coils or your zipper might end up getting caught. Stitch, about 1/8 inch from the edge (again - no special foot needed). Repeat for the other casing piece.

3. Take your small zipper tab pieces. Fold in the short edges about 1/4 inch and press.

Then fold in half, right sides and short (folded) edges together. Stitch on each side with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Turn inside out, poke out the corners so they're nice and crisp, and press.

4. Take your zipper (with it's lovely casings stitched on), and mark a line about 2 1/2 inches from the edge of the casing - trim on this line. Do this on both sides. When you are working on the side where the zipper pull is, make sure it's pulled back far enough that you don't cut it off. If your zipper isn't crazy long and you don't need to trim, that's fine too - just be aware of where the pesky metal bits are).

5. Slip the ends of your zipper tape into the zipper tabs. Center, pin, and stitch across the end of the tab. You end up with this:

You can't see my zipper pull in this photo but I assure you I didn't cut it off (not this time, anyway, lol).

Inserting the Zipper Closure
1. Take one of your lining pieces and lay it down right side up. Lay your zipper (with its casing and tabs) right side up, one inch from the top center of the lining. Make sure it's centered and straight, and pin it in place. Then stitch, close to the edge - make sure you backstitch or it won't last too long :)

2. Position the other side of the zipper on your other lining piece - take care to match it up as best you can. This part is a little fiddly, but use as many pins as you need to. When you're finished you'll have two lining pieces connected by your zipper.

And that's that for now. The next time we meet we'll end up with a finished bag. See you Sunday!


  1. Wow! I've just read through your last two posts and I am so impressed with the detailed instructions and all those photos. Apart from the fact that it looks professional and really great, I just think that it must have taken you aaages to put these posts together. You certainly are more patient than me ;-) Wishing you a lovely weekend with hopefully more sunshine than we're expecting, Love from London xo

  2. I am a new follower and am planning to get caught up with your sew along. I read through your previous posts and couldn't help but make time to add this to my project list! You've made a few references to being new at're doing a great job so far!
    Keep it up! (btw, i love the look of the cream colored tote!)

  3. I am SO glad I found your blog! Thank you so much for the tutorials! I really needed this!



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