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How To Sew A Zipper

Last month I made a cute little agenda bag for my great-niece to take to school for all her important papers and since I haven’t mailed it off to her yet I figured why not make a pencil case to go with it. Does everyone know how to sew a zipper because the case requires one and if you don’t I’m going to show you how it’s done easily on the Pfaff Passport 2.0.

It has been a while since I put a zipper in anything – the first being the pants I made to go with the blouse in grade 9 Home Ec and the second being a bag I made when I was living in Australia, and well the third, were some hidden pockets I put into our pants when we took a trip to South America a few years ago. So this is my fourth zipper attempt in my sewing career. I did watch my sister put a zipper in my new housecoat when she was here last month and she made it look so easy.

I’m ready to give it a go if you are.

Gathering Supplies

If you would like to follow along and make a pencil case as well, you will need:

1. A feature fabric for the front:  Cut 1 – 3½″ x 11″

2. A coordinating piece of fabric for the front:  Cut 1 – 3 ¾″ x 11″

3. A piece of fabric for the back: Cut 1 – 6 ¾″ x 11″

4. Two pieces of fabric for the lining: Cut 2 – 6 ¾″ x 11″

5. A 10 inch zipper to match fabric

6.Two pieces of fusible batting: Cut 2 – 6¼″ x 10″

7.Thread for piecing and topstitching

8. Pins

9. Seam ripper

Sewing On the Zipper

First off, sew the feature fabric to the coordinating fabric to create the front panel of the pencil case using a quarter inch seam. To attach the zipper to the front of the case pin it to the right side of the front panel centered at the top along the feature fabric. The zipper will be facing down on the fabric and will not be quite as long as the front panel.

Zipper pinned in place on front panel
Zipper pinned in place on front panel

 

 

Find the zipper foot that belongs to your machine in your accessory box. The zipper foot for the Passport 2.0 is #4 and looks like this.

The zipper foot for the Pfaff Passport 2.0
The zipper foot for the Pfaff Passport 2.0

 

 

Attach the zipper foot to the sewing machine. This zipper foot can be attached so that sewing is done either from the right or left of the foot. I chose to sew to the left of the foot. Check to make sure that the needle moves freely along the edge of the foot. This foot is also one that the IDT system can be engaged with which makes it much easier to move the layers of fabric through.

Zipper foot attached to machine
Zipper foot attached to machine

 

 

Place the fabric and zipper under the foot starting at either end by lining up the edge of the zipper foot with the edge of the zipper teeth.

Zipper and fabric in position ready to sew
Zipper and fabric in position ready to sew

 

 

Sew down the length of the zipper keeping the foot along the zipper teeth as a guide for an even seam allowance. There’s no need to back tack at either end of the stitching as the ends will be sewn in later.

Press the seam towards the front panel. One seam down, one to go.

One side of zipper sewn in place
One side of zipper sewn in place

 

 

Pin the zipper to the back panel centered along the top. Sew the zipper to the back panel in exactly the same manner as the front. Press the seam towards the back panel. I probably could have moved the zipper foot a bit closer to the teeth so that the fabric hid more of the zipper but I don’t think my 5 year old niece is going to be that much of a critic.

Wasn’t that easy? Now to attach the lining.

Zipper sewn between front panels
Zipper sewn between front panels

 

 

Sewing the Lining to the Zipper

Originally I was going to make the case so that the lining would hide all of the seams but changed my mind and went for the no hand sewing required option of adding the lining.

Pin a lining panel to the front panel with wrong sides of fabric together along the zipper.

Lining pinned to zipper
Lining pinned to zipper

 

 

Line up the zipper with the zipper foot as above and sew along the initial seam. This makes it very easy to know where to sew when there’s a line to guide you. I did open up the zipper near the end to make it easier to go around the zipper pull.

Sew along existing seam
Sew along existing seam

 

 

Repeat with the other piece of lining but make sure you have the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other otherwise you will be ripping out just like I did…

The lining is in place with the right side of the fabric facing up while the right side of the zipper faces down.

Lining sewn in place
Lining sewn in place

 

 

Securing the Fabric Edges

Since I ended up sewing the lining in differently than planned I then had to finish off the edges of the seams so that they wouldn’t fray. A nice close zigzag which I sewed twice along the edge of the fabric made for a very nice finish – very professional looking.

Zigzag stitch to prevent fraying
Zigzag stitch to prevent fraying

 

 

Join me tomorrow to finish off this little project with some topstitching and quilting. I figure knowing how to sew a zipper into a bag, garment, etc is probably a good skill to learn as you never know when you will need to add a zipper to something in your future sewing or quilting ventures.

Happy Quilting

Jennifer runs Quilts by Jen, a fantastic educational resource for quilters with many great free tutorials ranging from how to choose fabrics, understanding the value of fabrics, pressing, building Bargello runs, pinning, binding, sandwiching, couching, quilting, and much more. Check them out!

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