If a zipper doesn’t zip, is it still a zipper? Certainly a question for the ages, don’t you think? And we have the answer! A zipper that doesn’t zip is Zipper Tape. We’ve used this very unique trim as a substitute for piping as well as a stand-in for ribbon on our very clever bucket purse. This smashing design is the perfect synergy of unique trims and dramatic fabric. If we do say so ourselves, the end results are stunning! But more than that, it’s also a wonderful exercise in how to blend trims and fabrics to achieve a designer look. Our goal is to show you how to look at combinations from a new angle, how to mix textures, how to look for unexpected pairings, how to think out of the box. Whip it up… or should I say ZIP it up, today.

The original Waverly fabric we selected is no longer readily available. So, we selected an amazing Premier Prints option, that we like just as much… maybe even better: Premier Prints Gotcha Twill in Storm from Fabric.com. In fact, there are a number of of wonderful Premier Prints options in this same gray palette – any of which would allow you to maintain the minimalist black, gray and white of our sample. information, as well as lovely step-by-step photos, describing this and other specialty metal trim techniques in our tutorial: Working With Metal Trims.

The purse finishes at approximately 10″ x 10″  x 2″.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Zipper Bag Corner Template.
    IMPORTANT: This pattern consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. From the fabric for the bag exterior, cut the following:
    TWO 23″ x 11″ rectangles
    ONE 11″ x 3″ rectangle
    ONE 5″ x 19″ rectangle
    NOTE: If you choose a directional motif as we did, take care to insure the fabric is oriented in the same direction for each piece.
  3. From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
    TWO 23″ x 11″ rectangles
    ONE 21″ x 3″ rectangle
  4. From the heavyweight interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 23″ x 11″ rectangles
    ONE 11″ x 3″ rectangle
    ONE 5″ x 19″ rectangle
  5. From the plastic canvas, cut ONE 2″ x 10″ rectangle
  6. From the zipper tape, cut the following:
    THREE 36″ lengths
    TWO 24″ lengths
    THREE 18″ lengths

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Preparing the main panels

  1. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the four interfacing pieces to the wrong side of the corresponding four exterior fabric pieces. You’ll start with the two large panels; set the other two smaller fused strips aside.
  2. Using the Zipper Bag Corner Template, trim the upper corners of both 23″ x 11″ fused exterior panels.
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  3. Trim the upper corners of the two lining 23″ x 11″ panels in the same manner.
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  4. Measure 4½” up from both bottom corners on each of the exterior curved panels. Mark each point with a pin or marking pen/pencil. These are the start/stop points for the zipper trim.
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  5. Measure 10½” in from each side on each of the exterior curved panels. Using a fabric pen/pencil (be sure it is water or air soluble), draw a vertical line. These are the bag’s fold lines. If you are unsure your fabric pen/pencil is erasable, you can also simply mark the line with pins. The diagram below shows you the configuration of the fold lines as well as the upper curved corners.
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  6. Pin the Zipper Tape to the right side of each exterior panel along the curved upper edge, starting and stopping at the 4½” marks you made. The edge of the tape should be flush with the edge of the fabric.
  7. Fold back each end of the Zipper Tape at a 90° angle. This will allow the ends of the tape to disappear into the seam.
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  8. Stitch the Zipper Tape to the panel, staying about ⅛” away from the metal teeth. This can be done by moving the needle position of your machine and using a standard presser foot (as we show below), or by using a zipper foot.
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Preparing and inserting the strap

  1. Find the 5″ x 19″ fused strap piece.
  2. Fold back each 19″ side ½” along the entire length and press well.
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  3. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, aligning the two folded edges. Pin in place.
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  4. Edgestitch along the pinned side.
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  5. Flip the strap over and run a matching line of edgestitching along the folded edge of the opposite side.
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  6. Place one end of the strap between the marked fold lines on the upper edge of one of the panels, matching the raw edges. The panel should be right side up. Pin in place. Place the pinned pieces flat on your work surface.
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  7. Place the other panel, also right side up, on top of the first panel so their bottom edges overlap.  Slide this new panel underneath the strap, maneuvering it until the raw edge of the strap is aligned with the marked fold lines on the upper edge of the second panel. Pin this end of the strap in place, between the marked fold lines, on the second panel. The one strap is now attached to both panels.
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  8. Place a lining panel over one exterior panel, with the strap sandwiched between the layers. Pin in place.
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  9. Sew along the sides and across the curved upper edge, following the line of stitching you used for applying the Zipper Tape.
  10. Turn right side out through the bottom opening. Press well.
  11. Repeat with the remaining lining and exterior panels. You now have two finished flat panels connected with the strap.
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  12. When both panels are stitched, turned and pressed, edgestitch around each panel along the sides and across the curved upper edge; you are following the seam you just made.
  13. Machine baste across the lower edge of each panel, through both layers, using a ½” seam allowance.

Folding the bag into a box and stitching the panels into pockets

  1. Fold the panels along the fold lines (our fold lines are marked with pins) and press.
  2. Unfold so pieces are again flat.
  3. Slide one half of the bag under the other half of the bag as pictured. The side edges should align with the closest fold lines, both on the inside and outside of the bag.
  4. Pin in place from the end of the zipper to the bottom edge of the bag.
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  5. Thread the machine with thread to match the exterior fabric in the top and thread to match the lining in the bobbin. Top stitch the outside edge in place, following along in the previous line of edgestitching.
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  6. Re-thread the machine with thread to match the lining in the top and thread to match the exterior fabric in the bobbin. Flip the panel over and stitch the inside edge in place, following along the previous line of edgestitching.
  7. These two short lines of stitching have created a clever curved pocket.
  8. Now, a bit of a tricky part because you are closing up the bag. The next two short seams will be a little hard to access.
  9. Overlap the back panels of the bag to match the front and pin in place as you did for the front overlap. The sides of the bag should be folded nicely along their fold lines. As an extra guide, you could use your fabric pen/pencil to draw in a stitch line to follow on the bag lining.
  10. The machine should still be threaded with thread to match the lining in the top and thread to match the exterior fabric in the bobbin. Will be be stitching with the inside facing up for BOTH of these seams.
  11. Flatten out the bag as best you can and slide the bottom of the bag under the presser foot; you will stitch each seam from the bottom edge up to the curve, stopping just below the zipper teeth. Secure the end of each seam, but be careful you don’t hit the teeth with your needle. Sorry – our photos were a bit blurry on this step.
  12. You should now have a cute narrow box, which is open at the bottom. There is a clever curved pocket on both the front and back.
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  13. Clip each of the four bottom corners. Cut right along the fold line at the bottom edge, going up no higher than ½”. Your guide should be that line of basting you made along the bottom edge of the panels just prior to folding the two panels together.
  14. Turn the bag inside out.
  15. Find the final fused exterior piece, the 3″ x 11″ strip. This is the bottom panel of the bag. With the bag inside out and upside down, place the bottom panel in position so it is right sides together with the bag and all the raw edges are aligned. Pin the panel in place along all four edges.
  16. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the bottom panel to the bag, starting and stopping at each corner, turning and repositioning the bag each time.
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  17. Turn the bag right side out and push the corners into place so they are square.
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The bottom of the bag insert

  1. Find the 3″ x 21″ lining piece.
  2. Fold the strip in half, matching the 3″ ends, so it is now 3″ x 10½”.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both the sides to form a tube.
  4. Turn the tube right side out and insert the 2″ x 10″ piece of plastic canvas.
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  5. Fold in the raw edges of the open end so both sides are flush and topstitch closed.
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  6. Insert the completed piece into the bottom of the bag. It will hide your seams and stabilize the bottom of the bag.

The zipper tape flowers

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  1. We used a wonderful tutorial from Riley Blake to create our Zipper Tape flowers because we liked the “flattened” look of the flowers and the center buttons.
  2. There are numerous tutorials out there for other “fluffier” options, including one from Simplicity.
  3. The flowers for the sample bag were made with one 36″ length of zipper, two 24″ lengths of zipper, and three 18″ lengths of zipper. Varying the size of the flowers and clustering them together in a random patterns will give you the most pleasing result.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we have more information, as well as lovely step-by-step photos, describing this and other trim techniques in our tutorial: Working With Metal Trims.
  4. Hand stitch the zipper tape flowers in place. We tacked down each one at about 8-10 points around the outermost “ruffle” of the flower.
  5. We were careful to only stitch through the exterior layer so our lining remained smooth and clean. Because the exterior fabric is a heavier weight, it was stable enough to hold the flowers on its own.
  6. However, the weight of the flowers will tend to pull the front pocket open. So, we added one heavy duty snap to help hold the pocket in place. We used a sew in snap and, as with the flowers, were careful to sew through just a single layer of fabric on each side.
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      Project Design: Alicia Thommas
      Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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