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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tote Bag Tutorial - Lesson 6: Zippered Extension

Just the thought of sewing a zipper into something is enough to turn a lot of people away from a project. But this tote bag zippered extension is not as bad as all that, I promise!

Shall we get started?

In case you missed the previous lessons, here are links to each one:

Lesson 1: Fabric
Lesson 2: Inside Lining and Pockets
Lesson 3: Handles
Lesson 4: Outside Shell Pockets and Trim
Lesson 5: Boxing the Corners, Combining Outside Shell and Lining

Zippered ExtensionTo install the zipper on this project, I first laid out one piece of the 21 x 7 inch Paisley extension fabric, right side up. Then I placed the zipper, also right side up, onto one long side of the Paisley fabric even with the raw edge of the fabric. Then I placed one piece of the Black extension fabric, wrong side up, over the zipper. This makes a sort of zipper sandwich, with the extension fabric and lining on either side with right sides together. Make sure the right side of the zipper is facing the right side of the Black fabric.

I pinned everything in place and then, using my zipper foot, I stitched a seam along the edge of the zipper.

Zippered ExtensionThen I opened up the sandwich and folded the extension pieces back to reveal the zipper. That wasn't so hard, was it?

Then I did the same with the other pieces of Black extension fabric and Paisley lining, sewing them to the other edge of the zipper.

Zippered ExtensionThis is what my extension piece looked like after both sides of the fabric were sewn onto the zipper. The far end is folded up over the top so you can see the lining and the other end of the zipper. Then I pressed the folded edges of the Black and Paisley along the zipper tape so they would be flat.

Zippered ExtensionI top stitched close to the folded edges through all layers of Black, zipper and Paisley.

Zippered ExtensionBefore this next step, sewing the side seams of the extension, I find it helpful to open the zipper just a few inches so the zipper pull doesn't get in the way of the sewing machine needle.

So next I folded the zipper in half and brought the right sides of the Paisley together and the right sides of the Black together. Then I pinned the short edges of the Paisley to each other and the short edges of the Black to each other on one side and then on the other. The zipper should be folded so that the teeth are towards the lining and the stitched edges are towards the Black. This will seem very awkward and a little bunchy, but it will work. It won't be completely flat at this point, but neither will it be when it is finished as you will see later. It will work out just fine though, so don't fret about it. The goal here is to sew the side seams of the extension.

Then I stitched the seam, being very careful when going over the teeth part of the zipper. I stop using my foot pedal just before the needle gets to the teeth, and I very carefully control the machine by hand, moving the fabric along so that the needle does not go down onto the teeth.

Zippered ExtensionNext I opened up the zipper and turned the Paisley lining to the inside of the Black and matched up the side seams. It is helpful to open up the seams to reduce bulk inside the lined extension.

Then I pinned around the raw edges and machine basted the two layers together all around.

Zippered ExtensionThis is what my zippered extension looked like from the zipper side once the raw edges were basted together. You can see on the right side of this picture how the end where the zipper pull is looks a little bunchy. That is from that awkward spot when the side seams were being stitched over the zipper. It's just the nature of the beast!

Zippered ExtensionAnd there is the finished zippered extension for this expandable tote bag project! That wasn't so difficult, was it?

The next lesson will show how to add the handles and the zippered extension to the tote bag, plus one other little extra that I added for my sister, and that will be the end! You will be a tote-bag-sewing professional. I just know it!

Make sure you sign up for my Whirl Into Winter Giveaway before January 15! Share it with your friends too so they won't be left out in the cold!

Happy Stitching!

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  • OOOOOOO...can you see I'm wearing my SCARED face when I look at the steps of doing this zipper??? The first part isn't so bad, but then I got a bit worried at the steps after that...the short sides, etc. I'm hoping when I am actually to the stage of DOING it, I will be fine with it, though.

    By Blogger Pat, At January 8, 2009 at 11:38 AM  

  • Thanks a bunch. This tutorial took the mystery out of putting the zipper in my little lined bags. I tried it and it worked great. Not being intimidated by zippers helps, but the previous method I was using made the bags look VERY handmade. lol. Thanks again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At July 11, 2009 at 4:18 AM  

  • Thanks so much for your tote tutorial! I've been sewing for about 2 years now and I've always wanted to make myself a bag with a top zipper closure. Your instructions and pictures are so helpful!
    Thank you :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 25, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

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