If you want to see the finished bag that features this zipper here it is.
This is a tutorial for a nifty bag zipper. What is nifty about this bag zipper is that it makes bags look neat and professional. This is because the zipper is inserted 1" (2.5cm) or more down from the top edge of the bag. Another benefit of this zipper is that it adds volume to the top edge of the bag in that the top of the bag has a slightly boxy opening...you'll see what I mean in a minute.
So this is the kind of zipper I'm gonna show you; see what I mean when I say that this type of zipper gives the top edge of the bag a slightly boxy opening? It adds a bit more room to top of the bag and I think the zipper with it's fabric casing looks quite nice too.
Righty, this zipper is inserted into the bag lining. So the time to insert this zipper is BEFORE we assemble our bag lining. If you want to sew any pockets into the lining do it now before you sew this zipper. Set lining pieces aside whilst we get to work on the zipper.
Notes on choosing your zipper length: Use a nylon/plastic all-purpose zip. I like this zipper to be shorter than the width of the bag itself. I think that a zip that is 3" (7.5cm) shorter than the overall width of your pattern pieces works well because this gives you enough clearance either side of the zip for getting your fingers on the ends of the zip (so you can pull the zip back and forth). In other words, take a zipper and lay it onto your pattern piece and measure and mark the zipper so that there is 1" (2.5cm) clearance between each end of the zipper and the side seam line (and NOT to the edge of the pattern because we are NOT including the seam allowance). If the zipper is too long that's fine because we can trim it later.
1. Take the zipper apart - you need to break the zipper up into 4 separate parts as shown below.
- The Metal Cap/stopper - at one end of the zipper you'll see a metal cap that prevents the zip from running off into oblivion. The metal cap is to the left of the zip (in the picture), NOT to be mistaken with the small metal tabs at the right hand side of the zip; they are staying put). On the wrong side of the zipper you'll see that the metal cap is secured to the zipper with pointy teeth; take a fine pointy tool to prise up those teeth and ease the metal cap off from the zipper. Take your time because we need the cap to remain intact for later.
- The zipper pull - when the cap is off (and after you've probably said some naughty words, just kidding it's not that bad) pull the zipper pull off the zipper.
- Zipper half - the right side of the zipper half has the raised zipper teeth uppermost and the wrong side of the zipper half is smooth and flat (with no teeth showing). This is important for later on.
- The other zipper half.
Now to prevent much gnashing of teeth and turning room upside down put the metal cap and the zipper pull somewhere safe for later on.
2. Make up a casing for each of the 2 zipper halves - you want your casing fabric pieces to be 1" (2.5cm) longer than your zipper (measure your zipper fabric end to fabric end). You can make casing as wide as desired, but I think a finished width of 1" per casing for medium to large bags looks good.
So, both my casing fabric pieces are 14' x 4" because my zipper is 13" long and I want a finished width of 1" for each of my casings.
Fold the casing pieces as shown below:
3. Pin the zipper half into the casing - determine which is the right side and the wrong side of the zipper half. Take one of the zipper halves and place it into one of the casing pieces as shown below:
The casing is unfolded and the zipper is wrong side up (the smooth side). Fold the end of the zipper half with the small metal tab uppermost as shown in the picture (you can just see on the metal tab in top right hand corner). Folding the zipper half like this will conceal the raw edge of the zipper inside the casing. Pin the zipper half 2mms from the folded edge of the casing.
VERY IMPORTANT: The other end of the zipper should be flush with the end of the casing, do not fold over the zip edge as before (see picture for step 5 to see what I mean). If the other zipper end is too long for the casing just trim to size with scissors.
4. Stitch zipper half into casing - the zipper is stitched into the zipper in 2 stages as shown in the pics below:
(For anyone who might be wondering; I have changed the colour of the pins in this step. I thought the yellow was prettier). Attach your zipper foot and baste (on the right side of the casing) the zipper half to the edge of the casing as shown in the pic. and then...
...fold the casing in half and top stitch all around the open edges of the casing trapping the zipper half inside the casing. Repeat with the other zipper half and casing. The result should look like the pic below...
This should be the result. Notice how the zipper metal tabs are of equal height in their casings? This is not only important to for neatness, but it will also ensure the zipper will work smoothly.
5. Test zipper and pin zipper halves to bag lining fabric pieces - take your zip and slide it onto your zipper (now snug inside it's new casing) to test it.
Oh! so that why this end of the zipper needs to be flush with the casing...getting the zip onto the zipper would've been impossible otherwise! Ease the zipper pull onto the zip ends to test that all is well - it's quite satisfying playing with the zip like this...or maybe it's just me :)
6. Pin and stitch zipper halves to bag lining fabric pieces - measure and mark the centre of your zipper half and the centre of your bag lining piece. For a medium to large sized bag I like the zipper to be 1.5" (4cm) down from the finished top edge of the bag so (after adding on my preferred seam allowance of 1cm) I have positioned my casing 5cm down from the top edge of my bag lining piece.
Repeat with the other casing and bag lining fabric piece - be as accurate/symmetrical as possible with positioning the other casing onto the other lining piece otherwise the bag lining will be out of whack and the zipper will look crappy.
7. Reassemble the zipper - bring the two lining pieces (with their zipper halves in casing) together and slide the zipper pull onto the zipper about half way up the zipper. Get yourself a strong clip and use it the clamp the casing halves together so you can perform some delicate zipper surgery...I'd also have the swear jar handy...
OK so this is going to be a little bit fiddly. Using a clip on the ends of the zipper will prevent the halves from separating whilst you try your dardnest to get the little metal bugger cap back onto the zipper. Use tools like jewelry pliers or even tweezers to hook the metal cap onto the zipper. Ensure the metal cap is placed firmly back on - you don't want the zipper to go flying off your bag whilst in the shop!
Ta dah! You have tamed yet another zipper! And this should be the result. Metal cap is placed firmly back onto the zipper and your lining bag is now ready to be sewn up. Make the lining bag and your exterior bag in the usual way. As you sew the lining bag and the exterior bag together the zipper will get in the way, but only a little bit (it's not even swear-worthy...)
Right so I hope that all made sense. I would love to see all your new and shiny concealed top edge bag zippers in the Tutorial Flickr, things like that make my day :)