Happy National Sewing Month! For my Basic Sewing Essentials post this week we are going to talk—zippers.
Zippers are an important and widely used type of fastener. It is amazing to me the number of sewist who avoid putting in a zipper like the plague. My own sister, Pat, an incredible sewist, confessed to me that she avoids zippers if she can help it. Installing a zipper is like any other skill—it takes practice.
For most of us zippers are a fact of life—they have always been around. But, in reality, they are a relatively new development in sewing. Gideon Sundback is credited with developing the modern zipper in 1913 from an earlier invention for a fastener that used hooks and eyes. The invention was first referred to by the name zipper in 1923 by the B.F. Goodrich Company. They initially used the zipper on their rain boots. The zipper didn’t catch on right away and for the next 20 or so years it was used primarily in rain boots and tobacco pouches. The fashion industry embraced the zipper in the 1930’s, replacing buttons, for use in children’s clothing and trouser flies. About the time of World War II the zipper achieved wide acceptance in the fashion industry. Today, zippers are used in clothing, outerwear, luggage, backpacks, automobiles, tents, and sleeping bags.
Zippers come in all types and sizes. The type of zipper used and the method of installation vary depending on the use. The method of putting a zipper in a garment is different from putting a zipper in a bag. I am going to share a simple way to put a zipper in a pouch.
Putting a zipper in is so much easier than you think.
To make this project you will need:
Zipper (your zipper needs to be a little bit longer than the pouch you’re making)
¼ yard quilted fabric (I was able to get two pouches from this)
Pins, scissors, and coordinating thread
Step one Cut you fabric to the desired size. My front and back panels are 9 X 10 inches. You will also need two tabs measuring 2 X 2-1/2 inches. You can use scrap fabric or you can separate the quilted fabric into separate layers and cut your tabs from one of the layers.
Step two Fold your tab pieces in half. Press. Fold each edge to the middle and then fold in half again. Press. You will end up with a tab 2 X 5/8 inch tab.
Now comes the scary part…
Step three Cut the bottom end of the zipper off just above the zipper stop. Slip this end into the middle of one of the tabs and stitch in place. Go slowly over the nylon teeth. I usually sew back and forth a total of three times to be sure it is secure.
Step four We are going to do the same to the top of the zipper. The zipper needs to be one inch shorter than the width of the pouch. Measure and cut the zipper off at this point. Make sure the zipper pull is inside the cutting lines. Now attach the other tab as you did before.
Step five Center the zipper on one of the panels. You should have about ½ inch less zipper on each side. Place the zipper face down on the right side of the fabric. Stitch in place. When you reach the place where the zipper head is, stop with the needle in the down position, raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric slightly in order to move the head out of the way of the foot. I like to top stitch the zipper in place at this point.
Step six Repeat this for the other panel. Top-stitch .
You have now installed your zipper. All we need to do now is sew up the pouch.
Step seven Open the zipper about half way. (This is important or you will not be able to turn your pouch right side out again. Fold the panels so the right side are together. Make sure the top where the zipper is matches correctly. Stitch the three sides using a ½ inch seam allowance. Trim the seams to about 1/4 inch.
You can turn the pouch right side out at this point but I like finish off the seams by zig zagging the raw edges. I think it just makes the insides look a little more finishes and professional.
With a pouch this size I also like to box the corners. At the bottom corners you will pinch the seams together aligning the seams in the middle. Stitch straight across the seam about 1 inch from the corner point. Repeat for the other corner.
Step eight Turn your pouch right side out and admire your success!
This is not the only way to install a zipper. It depends on the project, fabric, and use of the zipper.
Craftsy has a wonderful free class that shows you how to install a slot zipper, an invisible zipper, zippers in lined and faced garmets, and lapped zippers.. You can register for the mini class and watch it over and over again.
I’m also going to share my zipper resource with you. I purchase my zippers from the Etsy shop, Zipit. I buy my zippers in bulk (you can purchase as few as ten 14 inch zippers for $6.)
Installing a zipper is like everything else. It takes practice, practice, practice. I see lots of little pouches in your future.