Friday, April 8, 2016

Summer Purse: Part 4, Zipper Choices and Preparing an Encased Zipper

The recessed zipper won't be sewn in place until the lining is complete. I like to prepare it in advance, though, because encasing the zipper is just about the right amount of work for one sewing session.

From your main fabric, cut the following:
 You will also need: 
  • one 12" x 13" piece of light to medium fusible interfacing
  • one 18" nylon zipper 

    What type of zipper should you choose for your bag? 

    I've discussed four types of nylon zippers in this post. Metal zippers have many wonderful uses and can be very decorative, but they are not my usual choice for purses and bags.

    Each of these four zippers is just right for some bags, but not the best choice for others. I'll go through them one by one starting at the top of the photo.

    1. A standard dressmaking zipper 

    These zippers are tremendously versatile and they are found in any shop that carries sewing goods. They have so many advantages. They are not very expensive, they come in every color under the sun, they can be easily cut and shortened, and you can stitch right over the top of the zipper teeth.

    A standard zipper can be used on any bag, but it isn't as sturdy or durable as the others shown. If your bag is fairly small, and the zipper isn't strained by overuse or overstuffing, the standard zipper is just fine. I use these zippers on small pouches and clutches, and for internal pockets on bags.

    2. A specialized zipper for purses

    I've shown two purse zippers in the photograph. The major difference between them is the type and number of zipper pulls. The YKK zipper has a single large zipper pull. I bought a number of these in bulk on eBay for a very reasonable price. The Coats purse zipper with two smaller zipper pulls is available in most fabric stores. Color choices for purse zippers are limited.

    Both of these zippers are very durable and will hold up through heavy use. Both zippers can be cut and shortened easily even though the teeth are larger than on a standard zipper. You can sew right over the teeth of the YKK zipper teeth just like you can on a standard zipper.  You will need to go more slowly over the Coats zipper, and your machine might skip a stitch of two over the zipper teeth. . Sometimes I'll sew right up to teeth on one side of the zipper, backstitch and cut my thread, then sew up to the zipper on the other side.

    The double pull zipper is especially nice for larger bags. You can open and close it from either end or from the middle.  It's an excellent choice when a zipper needs to go around squared or curved corners, as it might on a travel bag or a laptop case.

    3. A sports zipper

    This is the strongest of the nylon zippers, and not really needed for an everyday bag. It's wonderful for a really heavy duty bag, though. It would be the best choice for a duffle bag or a backpack. Cutting and shortening this type of zipper is not recommended. It's best to try to find the exact length of zipper you will need.

    Construction of the Encased Zipper

    Note: Although it isn't really essential, I always back my lining and zipper casing fabrics with interfacing. It adds an element of stability and strength to those pieces that I really like. Pockets are firmer and less likely to rip out, and everything seems to lie more smoothly. 

    Make the Zipper Casing

    1. Cut the interfacing into four pieces, 3" x 13" each. Iron one piece onto the wrong side of each of the casing strips. Fold the ends of the strips 1/2" under on either side and press.

    2.  Center the zipper on one section of casing. Lay the zipper on the right side of the casing strip. Align it along the edge of the fabric with the pull side facing down. Use a zipper foot to stitch close to the teeth of the zipper, but not so close that the stitching will interfere with opening and closing the zipper.  

    3. Lay the zipper, pull side down, on the right side of a second piece of casing strip exactly as you did in step 2. Take care that the folded edges of the two casing strips are exactly aligned and that the strip you attached first has been folded back out of the way. Sew close to the zipper teeth as before.

     The two casing strips will fan out to either side of the zipper. Top and bottom ends of the casing should line up perfectly with each other.

    4. Place the third zipper casing strip on one of the back sides of the zipper. The right side of the fabric will be against the back of the zipper this time. This piece will sandwich the zipper between two casing strips. Line the folded ends up with the first casing strip. Pin the two ends in place.

     5. Sew directly on the stitching line that was made when the first strip attached.

    A zipper sandwich

    6. Fold all three casing strips back out of the way. Sew the remaining strip to the opposite side of the zipper just as you did in step 5. Open the casings on both sides of the zipper and press smooth. 

     7. Line up the folds on the paired ends of the casings and top stitch together.

    8. Trim each side of the casing 2" from the seam next to the zipper.

    9. Sew the long sides of each pair of casing strips together close to the trimmed edges.

    Zipper End Pieces
    Make 2

    Note: I used heavy starch on these 3" x 4" end pieces. The creases need to be sharp and to hold their shape through several folds. This works so much better with the starch than it does without.

    1.  Fold each edge of the long (4") side in 1/2" and press .

    Note: The next step helps to determine the exact width the zipper end cover needs to be.

    2. Lay your zipper over the fabric with the folds on either end. Now, fold the raw edges over the zipper to encase it. Press

    3. Remove the zipper and press the folded fabric again so it will hold its shape.

    4. Now fold the cover in half. From the opening to the fold at the end the piece will be just over 1" long. Press.

    5. First add the end cover to the end of the zipper that does not have a zipper pull. Close the zipper. If you need to shorten it, measure about 3 1/2" from the end of the casing strips and cut the zipper off.

    6. Tuck the end into the top opening of the end piece. Slide it as far in as you can. 

    7. Fold the section firmly together. Pin to hold it in place. .

    8. Sew close to the edges around the two sides and on the top. Sew right across the zipper.

    Next you will add a cover to the end of the zipper that does have a zipper pull. 

    Note: If you need to shorten the zipper, be careful not to cut the zipper pull off! Been there and done that. Oh my goodnes what a mess! I completely destroyed my zipper and had to take it out and start from scratch. 

    9. To shorten the zipper: Open the zipper part way. Now cut about 3 1/2" from the casing as before.

    Do not close the zipper until it has been sewn in place. 

    10. If the zipper has been shortened, tuck the two open ends of the zipper into the end cover. If the zipper has not been shortened open the zipper a few inches so you can tuck the end into the cover. Pin in place and sew as you did with the other end of the zipper. Close the zipper.

    That's it! The zipper is ready install in the bag with the lining. 

    In the next session, I'll explain how to make the lining. 

    I hope you like pockets!

    I hope you like installing zippers, too, because
    there will be one more zipper - this one on the inside of the bag. 

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