October 18, 2016

The Blog Revival - Zipper Bags without a Zipper Foot

HELLO? Is anyone still there?  I abandoned this blog back in January with a 2015 wrap-up and then was not inspired to carry on. BUT, today I decided the give it another chance as I was stitching up some samples for my Etsy shop.  After making several hundred of these bags, I have developed a few tricks. Maybe I'm not the first to do these but I didn't see them anywhere else.

#1. No Zipper Foot Required

In this photo you can see that I am attaching the nylon coil zipper with the regular foot that came attached to the machine (Janome Memory Craft 9900). The foot is about 3/4 inch wide and clear plastic. Yours may be different but should still work. I lay the zipper down and simply stitch on that slightly raised line that appears on most zippers. I only use YKK.

Here I am attaching the other side of the zipper to the other side of the zipper bag.

Helpful Hint: Always start with the zipper halfway open and when you get to the zipper pull STOP, raise the presser foot and move the pull to the back and away from your stitching line.

This is the outside of the bag. Now attach the lining pieces on the other side of the zipper.

 My exterior pieces have been lined with a fusible batting and pre-quilted.  The lining piece is underneath and I stitch over the line I created when I sewed on the exterior fabric. I find this much easier than trying to align the two fabrics and the zipper all together.

AGAINAlways start with the zipper halfway open.

 Here is the lining AFTER I had opened it out and stitched lining the  edge of presser foot up with the nylon coil.  I only stitch through the lining fabric and the edge of the zipper. I do not stitch through the exterior fabric. This helps hold the lining fabric out of the way of the zipper.

#2. Use Grosgrain Ribbon for the Zipper Tabs

I really like the method of creating tabs on the ends of the zippers, but find it fidgety to cut little pieces of fabric and fold them to create a tab. I use 7/8 inch wide grosgrain ribbon which I have lots of since I use it on my jewelry rolls.  

Stitch a two inch piece of ribbon at each end of the zipper lining up with the exact length you want. I make my zippers 1 inch shorter than the top edge of the fabric I am using.

I know these photos are bad but didn't see that until it was too late. The zippers shown are the peach color used in the bag. I have no idea why they show up as PINK!!

Unfortunately, this photo is blurry but should still show how I fold and press each end to create the tab. I DO NOT stitch over this as the ribbon will be held in place when it is sewn into the bag.

Open that zipper halfway !!!
before this step.  With the right sides to right sides sew all around the perimeter of the exterior and interior fabrics leaving an opening in the bottom of the lining fabric.

Another Hint:
I sew a slightly larger seam allowance on the lining fabric than the exterior fabric because when it is turned and put inside the lining has a tendency to feel too big.
 When sewing over the transition from the exterior to the interior try to go just up to the edge, but not over that ribbon tab that you made.

 A boxed bottom is created with those corner cuts I use.  Simply open them out and match the seams up and stitch across. Again, I make the interior seams a bit wider than the exterior ones. And here is how they look from the top. A bit of ribbon through the zipper tab makes them look less naked.
So, let me know if this helps you in any way. If you don't care because you don't sew you can visit these bags and more at CherylThimbleFingers on Etsy.


  1. I don't understand most of it, but I like the bags! It's hard to get people back right away. Keop at it and they will, or other people will.

  2. Very clear instructions
    I will use this in the future
    Thank you

  3. Hi, Cheryl. I might just try to sew in a zipper after seeing your excellent instructions. Never done one before. Nice to see your eautiful work. Your mother would be proud.

    1. Thanks! Haven't heard from you in ages and then you comment here!

    2. Still here in the UP looking at beautiful fall colors and watching the temperature slowly cool down. All is well with us. Playing lots of bridge.

  4. Love the ribbon idea! Thanks for the tips!