Zipper Tutorial

Once upon a time, somebody asked how I do my zippers. Because I like to share knowledge, I decided I’d write up a little tutorial for my method (and probably the method of others, too). Because I am lazy busy, it’s taken me a long time, but I finally got round to it.
Some things: This is a tutorial for a zipped pouch, but you can use the same method on larger projects. If you put little ‘end caps’ on the ends of the zipper before sewing it into your project, you can have a zip that doesn’t go all the way across, as with this purse. Doing that can take some jiggery pokery to get it to work, but it’s not so difficult, really.
[Just a note: I’ve had to close the comments on this post, because it was starting to get pretty heavily spammed. Thank you to everybody who has used and enjoyed this tutorial!]
Right! With one piece of your lining fabric right-side-up, place the zipper, also right-side-up, like so:

Take one piece of your outer fabric and lay it down on top, right-side-down, creating a delicious zipper sandwich. Baste or pin everything together if you like, but I live on the edge and just go for it! Don’t be afraid — what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll repeatedly mess up and tear out the stitches until you’re left with a threadbare pile of scraps that you have to throw away? Pshaw! . . .Okay, maybe you should pin it.
Anyway, now that your pieces are laid out like the photo below, sew them all together. Go down the left edge (to the left of the zipper teeth) using a zipper foot. You really do need a zipper foot. Find one, use one, and then you’ll say, ‘No wonder I had so much trouble before!’

With your sewn zipper sandwich, fold back the two pieces of fabric so the wrong sides are together, like so:

Again, you can pin your pieces together or iron it flat, but I just can’t be bothered. Flatten everything out and topstitch about 1/8″ from the edge, where the fabric meets the zipper. You should catch all three layers (outside, ziper, lining) and squash everything right down. It will look like this (you may need to click to see the detail):

Repeat for the other side of the zipper, and you’ll wind up with something like the photo below. At this point, I took a moment to square everything up again — not pinning can take its toll! I’m not afraid.

Flip some fabric around until you’ve got both pieces of outer fabric on one side of the zipper and both pieces of lining fabric on the other. It’ll look like this:

Carefully line up the top edges of the outer fabric as in the photo below. Note how the zipper goes toward the lining. Now’s a good time for pinning.

Starting at the seam where everything meets (see below), sew straight down to the bottom. Flip the pouch over and repeat for the other side of outer fabric. With both sides sewn up, reach in through the bottom and unzip the zipper. Oooh, you’ll be so mad if you forget that part!

Line up the edges of the lining and sew down the sides, as you did with the outer fabric. Now you should be catching the ends of the zipper in the first few stitches.

Once you’ve finished both sides, you’ll have something resembling the photo below. I left the bottom of the lining completely open, because my outer fabric has interfacing on it (it makes it stiffer and more difficult to turn). If you’re using a lighter, friendlier fabric, you can sew up part of the bottom, leaving a smaller hole to turn the piece through.

Snip the excess fabric from the corners of the outer fabric. Then go ahead and turn the whole thing right-side-out. Turn under about 1/2″ of the bottom of the lining, press it flat, and sew it closed. No more raw edges!

Tuck the lining into the pouch, and it’s practically finished!

All you have to do is iron out any wrinkles and then admire your lovely new pouch with its perfect zip. Hooray!

89 thoughts on “Zipper Tutorial

  1. Even with a zipper foot I have always avoided sewing zippers because I couldn’t get them right. This tutorial is so clear, I will have no problem now. Thank you.

  2. How did I never work that out myself?!? That is brilliant in its simplicity. Neat-o finished product, too.
    Thanks for sharing, I feel my zipper anxiety slipping away…

  3. beyond the zipper stuff (which I will def. never get around to doing), I like the new banner. Puppies!

  4. Love the fabric. I have just made one of these but wanted to line it so this tutorial will be great for my next try.
    Thanks For Sharing

  5. now, i know you only live a few minutes down the river and all, but i did think you lived too far to hear my boyfriend laughing at me yesterday for having yet another zipper not live to serve its purpose as long as the rest of the garment. i thank you for this clear tutorial — and he will too! ♥

  6. Oh my! what a BRILLIANT plan! I’ve never done it the EASY way you describe and canNOT wait to do so!!! THANK YOU for the excellent tutorial!!!
    BLESS YOU!!!

  7. Great tutorial and the cutest banner ever. Wait, aren’t you supposed to be busy with the book? Blah. This is much more fun!

  8. I was gifted a pouch like this almost two years ago and I LOVE it! I always wondered how to make one myself, it looked so professional, and I’m not a sewer, but I think I have to give it a shot now! THANK YOU!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I have been trying to figure out zippered pouches for a while now! In my head of course, well of course, but I mean my sewing machine is still at the repair shop. I bookmarked this site. I am so very appreciative. So cute by the way!!

  10. Barbara — It was on half-price clearance at a little quilt shop in Buffalo, MN. It was completely different from anything else in the shop (hence the clearance?), so I snapped some up while I was there.

  11. I’ve been searching through many tutorials for the zippered pouch with lining and yours is by far the BEST! Thank you so much, I now feel confident in making my pouch!

  12. Wonderful tutorial! Now I can finally wrap my brain around how to do this! Makes so much sense! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  13. I love this tutorial. I’m going to make a little pouch this weekend. If successful, I’m going to make a several for Christmas presents. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Hi Anna,
    I just was checking some websites and got here. I can’t believe how easy this is. I hate to put zippers on anything now thanks to you I am going to start.
    Thanks again,

  15. well – that looks really easy – I have always avioded zips – but I think I could manage after that great tutorial – many many thanks

  16. Wow ^_^ Thanks so much for the tutorial. I always wanted to know how people do zippers too, and now I think I can do too. I love learning from other people. Thanks!

  17. Why couldn’t I figure this out on my own? Thanks for the tutorial, I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to work out how to get a zipper into a pouch without excessive cursing, screaming, and hair pulling. This looks great!

  18. Thank you so much for this tutorial. For such a long time I have planned to make a small pouch but always wondered how to put the zipper in. Now I can do/try it and maybe you have saved my plans for Christmas presents. Thanks a lot!

  19. I am about to buy a sewing machine and sew a huge dog bed for my labs. I am tired of begging people to help me all the time and back in home ed. I was number one guy sewer in the class so maybe 10 years later I still got it but have never sewn a zipper before. I will follow instructions to a T.

  20. Whoa! This tutorial was sooo awesome! I am a very beginner sewer, and the couple of little projects I’ve attempted never turned out quite right. After reading everyone’s comments on how easy this was, I thought, okay, I really should be able to do this if I try hard. So I oh-so-carefully followed these instructions, and although I did mess up quite a few times (the seam ripper is my friend), I finally got the hang of it. I’ve now made THREE perfect pouches with perfect zippers! Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. your really clear and simple with your tutorial instructions… any thought as the adding a tutorial for adding a banner to the top of your website. i have a blogger account and want to make it more personal. yours is super-CUTE!

  22. This is great, thank you. I could not get it to print until I cut and pasted it into MS Word, but had to do this a little at a time, otherwise it overwhelmed the program. Just a tip if you are trying to print and having problems.

  23. I had to flip to horizontal printing to get it to fit all the right hand side of the text. Just in case someone else is having this problem.

  24. Hi Anna!
    This is a God send. I have been searching high and low trying to look for a tutorial like this. FINALLY! I am just so happy. Thanks Anna this is so wonderful.

  25. Thanks so much! That was totally easy and the pictures really helped. I made little pouches for everyone this past Christmas. I have bookmarked your page so I can return for more tips later.

  26. Hi There,
    This is great! But, I’m having a little problem when it comes to sewing the side seams. When you start at the top where the zipper is, there is a lot of bulk (zipper and 4 layers of fabric) and my sewing machine foot doesn’t like it. It’s like it is up on the top of an ice berg and has to come down to get to work (does that make any sense at all?). Anyway,any suggetions?

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I took a class at Purl Patchwork in NYC, and we didn’t really get to the last few steps of our bags, you saved me from an almost finished peice living forever in a drawer.

  28. THANK YOU! I jumped up and down when I completed my zipper purse … I am not the neatest seamstress …. but now….
    Just one little question, how much smaller did you cut out your lining?
    a beautiful website, you’ve inspired me – ta x

  29. Thanks for sharing the tut. I just made my 1st little pouch using your help & it was easier & nicer than the Simplicity pouch pattern I recently bought. It didn’t even have a lining.

  30. Thank you for the tutorial on zippers. It was most informative and I’m keeping it with my bag patterns.

  31. This is the 4th set of instructions I have come across in regards to this method and this is by far the best as the photos are very clear and work well with your written instructions. It is far more easier than my method of attaching the zip to the outer fabric first then stitching the lining together separately and inserting the bag into the lining and sewing it to the zip. Even writing that was difficult! I have now downloaded it and will keep this with my bag making projects for future ventures. Thank you for your time and patience with your explanation. With blessings. Charlotte.

  32. please let me know where you got the fabric, i am looking at making a dress out of it, so that when i go to new york i will have something different. i’ve sat on the computer for ages trying to find comic strip fabric!!!

  33. thankyou for the excellent photos that go along with this, they are the best that I’ve seen for sewing online

  34. i’ve just made a right mess on my first attempt at a ‘make it up as i go along’ zipper pouch – now with your helpful tutorual i might actually get it right!

  35. I love the instructions I’m going to try to put one in a purse but I don’t know how to do the interfacing with it. Do I sew lining, outside and interface at the same tim e? Would love your help. This is the first time for me with a zipper and I’m really nervvvvooouussssssss. Any help would be a blessing Dadds8

  36. I really loooove this tuto, ’cause I looove zipper pouches!!!
    Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!!!

  37. Thank you for taking the time to put together this great tutorial. I made a cute little bag. First try with the zipper foot too!

  38. Thanks for the tutorial! I’m excited to try one. To me, zippers have always been intimidating – but the way you show and explain it, it seems like a piece of cake.

  39. Thank you for the tutorial. I had “learn how to put in a zipper” on my list of things to do this year. All is cost was a wasp bite. It landed on my knee while I was reading the instructions and I squashed it with my coffee cup.So it bit me!

  40. Woohoo! Thanks for the great tutorial. I just finished my first pouch with your directions. It makes much more sense than what I was trying before!

  41. what do you mean repeat for the otherside? i dont really get it:( anws! good job!

  42. Thank you so much. I just made 2 pouches in a row using this tutorial, and the results were great! (Why did I only have 2 zippers on hand?? Why was it so addictively fast and easy?)

  43. Ohh! Thank you! I’ve been wanting to make a big purse/bag with a zipper from some of those great IKEA fabrics and this is just what I needed to start the project!
    Thank you for taking the time to photo and share it with the world!

  44. Kisses! I just followed your tutorial. My lined pouch came out pretty darn good. Thank you so so much!!

  45. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I followed it step by step and WHAT DO YOU KNOW? I got a cute zipper pouch. However, I do have a question regarding the sides. Can you add a pic on how to get the zipper ends sewn in with the rest of the fabric? I kind of improvised and although it still turned out there has to be a “prettier” way to finish this. Thank you again! Rosemary

  46. THANKYOU!! This was awesome!! I had to google what a zipper foot looks like (I have all the feet, just no idea what theyre for?!!) but my purse turned out… ok. lol
    Great tutorial!!

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