Thursday, June 19, 2008

Recessed Zipper How-To

I've had a few questions about how to install a recessed zipper closure on a handbag. This has to be the longest tutorial written in the history of tutorials! I did my best to explain, but please let me know if anything is unclear.

You Will Need:

- (1) 14" zipper
- (2) 15.5" x 2.5" inside upper fabric
- (2) 15.5" x 16" inside lower fabric (I demonstrate using my own pattern, feel free to experiment!)
- (2) 15.5" x 18.25" outer fabric (or your own pattern)
    * If you use your own tote pattern, be sure to alter your lining pattern to account for the extra fabric above the zipper - you want your outer and inner pieces to match after you install the zipper. I'll address this a little more later.
    * I interface all my fabric for sturdiness and I've found it also keeps the lining fabric from creeping up while you're trying to close the zipper. It's really up to your personal preference, though.

1. Take one 15.5" x 2.5" piece of fabric. Pin the zipper as shown, zipper pull facing down, centered based on the zipper, not the webbing.

2. Sew using your zipper foot and 1/4" seam allowance. When you get close to the zipper pull, leave the needle down and raise the machine foot, pivoting the fabric so you can move the pull to the other side of the needle. Finish sewing.

Lift the presser foot and pull the zipper to the other side of the foot. May take some wiggling.

Back stitch at the beginning and end, by the zipper stops.

3. Take one 15.5" x 16" inside fabric and place the zipper face down on the top edge, sandwiching the zipper between two layers of fabric.

4. Sew as in Step 2, following your first sewn line as close as possible.

5. Repeat with the other pieces of inside fabric (see photos). Be sure the small lining pieces are on the same side of the zipper.

Center the 2nd top strip along the zipper and sew.

Place last bare side of zipper face down on last lining piece and sew.

6. Your lining is finished. Now is a good time to check if the lining and outer pieces are the same size. Trim if needed.

7. Unzip the zipper about halfway. Match one outer piece to the inner piece, right sides together, along the 15.5" edge. This is when you'd insert your straps if you want them at the top of the bag - mine are attached in a lower seam. Sew with 1/2" seam allowance, backstitching at beginning and end to secure.

8. Repeat Step 7 with the other outer piece.

You should be getting an idea of your finished bag!

9. Now it's time to finish the bag. Open the zipper almost all the way (so you'll be able to turn your bag right side out). Match the outer pieces, right sides together, and pin.

10. Match the lining pieces, right sides together, and pin.

11. Starting in the middle of an edge on the outer pieces, sew one direction as close as you can get to the zipper, backstitching to secure.

Fold the zipper towards you to help get the needle closer to the zipper.

You can see I don't always get super close to the zipper - it won't matter!

12. Go back to where you started in Step 11, and sew the other direction, overlapping your first stitches for a few inches. Sew as close as you can get to the zipper, backstitching to secure.

13. Repeat Step 11 with the inner pieces.

14. Repeat Step 12, except leave ~6" open to turn your bag right side out. Back stitch each side of this opening to it won't rip when you're shoving the bag through while turning.

15. Your bag should be sewn completely except for your opening in the lining.

16. Using pinking shears, trim the seams where the outer meets the lining to reduce bulk at these intersections.

17. Pull the bag right side out.

18. Close the opening in the lining, either by hand-stitching or carefully sewing with your machine.

19. Top stitch if desired.

20. Admire your bag!

I hope that made sense! It took a lot of photos and explanation, but it's basically like a glorified zipper pouch. Please let me know if anything is unclear - or if you figure out an easier way to do something!

P.S. This is the bag for the winner of my Relay for Life raffle - it'll go in the mail soon, Megan, I hope you like it!

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