We’re back with more of our Adventures in Sashiko Style Stitching! Previously on the program, we described our tested tips and tricks for creating a boxy zippered case embellished completely with Sashiko style straight stitching, which can be done on any machine featuring a Triple Stitch or a named Sashiko Stitch. You can find this first project by clicking here.
The story continues with the same case pattern, but this time, we’ve adorned it with Sashiko style machine embroidery plus some straight stitching. Like picking your favorite child or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor, it’s hard to decide which case we like best. They are both uniquely beautiful and both were equally fun to put together. The best solution in this situation is to try them both!
Our thanks to Janome America for sponsoring Adventures in Sashiko! We were able to work with both Janome’s Memory Craft Horizon Quilt Maker 15000 as well as the Skyline S9 as we test-stitched our way through a stack of gorgeous linen panels. They have been very patient and helpful as we we explored, and we are thrilled to be able to bring you the results so you can embark on your own adventures.
As a Japanese company, Janome was one of the first to incorporate Sashiko stitching options into their sewing and embroidery machines. Sashiko, which literally means “little stabs” is a traditional Japanese folk art that dates to the Edo period in Japan. The repetitive and interlocking stitching allowed villagers in rural farming and fishing communities to reinforce and reuse old garments and bedding at a time when people couldn’t afford to throw out even the smallest scraps of fabric. These layers of fabric held together with the Sashiko stitching provided warm and lasting protection from the elements.
Indigo Niche, a Brisbane, Australia based supplier of Japanese textiles and quilting supplies has a lovely history of Sashiko as well as interesting background on the evolution from the ordinary running stitch to the most popular and enduring patterns we see in current Sashiko art.
“The very fact that Sashiko stitching was a peasant craft requiring expediency to get its meaning across ensured an elegant simplicity to the designs. A distinctive element in all Sashiko patterns is the use of blank or ‘negative’ space as an integral part of the overall pattern. Many of the popular Sashiko patterns are actually simplified representations of things found in nature, such as plants, birds, animals, or natural phenomena such as clouds or rising steam.”
The pattern we chose for our case is called Shippo-Tsunagi or Seven Treasures. The geometric design combines four ellipses in a circle in such a way that the lines inside make more circles. The interlocking design is most often said to symbolize endless peace and happiness. This pattern is one of the 11 built-in Sashiko style designs on the Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000.
We executed the design in a 30wt pure black thread against a gorgeous blush pink linen: Robert Kaufman Essex Cotton/Linen blend in Rose from Fat Quarter Shop. This is just one of a wide variety of gorgeous colors from which to choose at FQS. The linen is layered with a firm tearaway stabilizer. After stitching, a layer of fusible fleece was adhered to soften the look and add extra structure.
If you explored our first case with Sashiko style straight stitching, we emphasized three main things to remember: 1) use a fine thread in the bobbin – we used 60wt bobbin thread, 2) use a clear monofilament thread in the top, and 3) use a size 16 needle, often referred to as a jeans or denim needle. This is the combination that, when combined with the correct stitch, will give you the look of Sashiko. Janome also recommends changing out the bobbin case if possible to their Blue Dot Bobbin Case in order to get the best tension results
By contrast, Sashiko style machine embroidery is set up and stitched like any embroidery design. The only change we made was to adjust the thread weight. Rather than the more traditional 40wt embroidery thread, we bumped up to a 30wt in the top (keeping standard bobbin thread in the bobbin) in order to give the stitching a bit more thickness to better simulate the look of hand stitching.
The Seven Treasures pattern we chose was a favorite of ours, but there are many others to try. You can see from the photo below that we do follow our own top recommendation when learning a new technique: test, test, test… and test! The collage below shows you just a few of the Sashiko style designs we played with from both the MC15000 as well as the S9. As mentioned above, the MC15000 has 11 built-in Sashiko style designs; the S9 has 10.
As with any new technique, practice makes everything go more smoothly. We recommend first playing with scrap fabric to get used to the stitching. You can then move on to some extra pieces of your chosen fabric to refine all the settings. In the supply list below, we’ve indicated extra amounts of the linen, interfacing, and stabilizer so you too can test, test, test… and test!
Our thanks to Janome America for introducing us to the joys of Sashiko style stitching and for sponsoring this project, including the free pattern download that contains all the pieces you need to create the zippered case.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing/Embroidery machine or Sewing Machine + Embroidery Only machine; we used the Janome Memory Craft Horizon Quilt Maker 15000 for the entire project: sewing construction, straight stitch Sashiko, and machine embroidery Sashiko
- BOBBIN CASE NOTES: As mentioned above, if you are using a Janome machine, switching out to the Blue Dot Bobbin Case is suggested for the best Sashiko style straight stitching – stay with the Yellow Dot case for embroidery – Red Dot case for standard construction
- Appropriate hoop for your chosen design; we used the GR Hoop on the MC15000
- Embroidery foot
- Zipper foot
- Satin Stitch foot
- Size 16 Denim needle – for Sashiko style straight stitching
- Embroidery needle – for, you guessed it, machine embroidery
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ – 1 yard of 44”+ wide mid-weight linen or similar for the exterior pieces; we used Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman Fabrics in Rose from Fat Quarter Shop
NOTE: The quantity above allows a bit extra for testing and perfecting your Sashiko style stitching, including enough to run more than one hooping of the design. If you’re a pro already, you can get away with ⅝ to ¾ of a yard.
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of coordinating mid-weight linen or similar for the pull tabs – you need just two 3” squares; we used Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman Fabrics in Black from Fat Quarter Shop
- ⅓ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining pieces; we used a coordinating quilting cotton from the S4H stash
- ⅓ yard of 45″+ wide one-sided fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- 1½ yards of 20”+ wide tear away stabilizer; we used Pellon EZ Stitch Tear Away
- 1½ yards of lightweight fusible interfacing for all the linen pieces; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
NOTE: As above with the linen fabric, the 1½ yards each of the interfacing and stabilizer gives you extra with which to practice your Sashiko style stitching.
- 1½ yards (ONE package) of standard packaged bias binding to finish the interior seams; we used Wrights Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape in Ivory – the binding should coordinate with your lining fabric.
NOTE: Should you choose to finish the interior seam allowances using a different method, this item can be eliminated
- 1⅝ yards of ⅛” cording for the piping
NOTE: We do strongly recommend making your own custom piping with cording and fabric for a perfect match of the piping to the panels. However, standard packaged piping can be substituted. One two-yard package of piping should be sufficient.
- ONE 12″ zipper; we recommend a chunky metallic zipper
NOTE: Longer zippers can be cut to fit, but finding a 12” zipper allows for the easiest construction. We used a 14” zipper that we cut to fit.
- All purpose thread to match fabric for construction
- 30wt cotton thread for the Sashiko style machine embroidery; we used black
- Bobbin thread for the Sashiko style machine embroidery
- Clear monofilament thread for the Sashiko style straight stitching
- 60wt – 80wt thread in a color to match the embroidery thread for Sashiko style straight stitching; we used black 60wt
- Scrap or approximately 6” of ⅜” ribbon, rat tail or similar for an optional zipper pull; we used black grosgrain
NOTE: The width of the ribbon may vary based on the opening in your chosen zipper pull.
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth; because you are working with monofilament thread, it’s best to protect your stitching with a pressing cloth
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins and/or clips
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT the FIVE pattern pieces: Front/Back, Base Panel (parts A and B), Zipper Panel (parts A and B), Pull Tab, and Piping (parts A, B, and C). These pattern pieces have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
NOTE: We recommend printing TWO COPIES of the pattern set. This will allow you to keep one set intact and trim back the second set to use to cut the fusible fleece. You will end up with un-needed second copies of the piping page and the pull tab page. These extra pages can be recycled or, when printing, set your print window to skip those pages on the second set.
IMPORTANT: Each of the five pages within the PDF is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern along the solid line.
- Match up the A and B parts of the Base Panel and Zipper Panel using the printed arrows as your guide. Match up the A, B, and C parts of the piping pattern using the printed arrows as your guide. In all cases, butt together each pair and tape; do not overlap. The pull tab is a single pattern piece.
- From the fabric for the exterior pieces (the Rose Linen in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 16” wide x 13” high rectangle for the front and back panel embroidery
NOTE: This was the appropriate size to fit our Janome GR Hoop; should you select another design that requires a different hoop, adjust your cut size accordingly to best fit your hoop.
Using the assembled Piping pattern, cut TWO on the bias
NOTE: These are straight strips and so can certainly be cut without a pattern. Simply cut TWO 1½” x 26½” strips for the piping, on the bias.
Using the assembled Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- From the fabric for the pull tabs (the Black Linen in our sample), using the pattern, cut TWO.
- From the fabric for the lining pieces (the stash quilting cotton in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled Base Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 16” x 13” rectangle for the front and back panels
ONE 2” square for the pull tabs
Using the assembled Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- For the fusible fleece, first trim the pattern pieces along the dotted seam allowance line, then cut the following:
NOTE: When trimming the front/back panel, carefully cut out the oval shape, leaving an outer “frame” made up of just the ½” seam allowance. You’ll use this frame later to center and confirm the final cut line for the embroidered front/back panels.
Using the assembled and trimmed Base Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Zipper Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the trimmed Front/Back pattern, cut TWO
- The tear away stabilizer can be “cut wild” prior to stitching. This means you simply cut a piece a bit larger than the actual fabric with which you are working/stitching. It’s easiest to do this right before you stitch, but in general, you’ll need the following:
ONE apx. 18” square for the front and back panels
ONE rectangle to fit the base panel
Two strips to fit either side of the zipper panel
- Cut the thin cording into two 26½” lengths.
- Leave the optional bias tape intact. It will be cut to fit within the construction process.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Sashiko style machine embroidery
- Find the 16” x 13” panel for the front and back embroidery and the matching panel of lightweight interfacing. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the linen. The two layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Hoop the one 18” layer of tear away stabilizer in the embroidery hoop.
- Using the paper pattern, transfer the pattern shapes onto the front of the linen. Center the shapes side to side and stack one on top of the other. The two shapes should be nearly touching yet not overlapping.
NOTE: These initial drawn shapes are just for the overall sizing and centering within the hoop. The lines will be removed after the embroidery is complete, and the true cut lines will be re-drawn. So, as we always recommend, remember to use a marking tool that can be easily wiped away or that will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron. We like to use heat vanishing pens.
- Draw one additional vertical line through the center of the shapes. Again, this is just for centering and will be used to help align the fabric in the hoop.
- Lay the marked panel on top of the hooped stabilizer, again centering top to bottom and side to side within the hoop. Align the drawn vertical line on the fabric with the top and bottom centering marks on the hoop itself.
- Clamp the fabric in position.
- Set up the machine for embroidery: Yellow Dot bobbin case, embroidery needle, embroidery foot, 30wt thread in the top, bobbin thread in the bobbin.
- Select the design. We used Sashiko Design #2 on the Janome MC15000.
- Select the GR Hoop and move the design into the upper left quadrant.
- Copy, paste, and then drag the copy to the upper right quadrant.
- Copy, paste, and then drag the copy to the lower left quadrant
- Copy, paste, and then drag the copy to the lower right quadrant
- Select the design in the upper left. Using the arrow keys, bump the design towards the center (to the right) until the green outline is exactly on the vertical center grid line. Once at this center line, bump the designs back to the left 5 steps. Finally, bump it up 2 full grid squares from the horizontal center line.
- Select the upper right design, repeat these steps but moving in the opposite direction. Using the arrow keys, bump the design towards the center (to the left) until the green outline is exactly on the vertical center grid line. Once at this center line, bump the designs back to the right 5 steps. Finally, bump it up 2 grid squares from the horizontal center line.
- Select the lower designs and repeat the same process: 5 steps out from vertical center and 2 grid squares down from horizontal center.
- When done, this re-positioning will yield a ¼” vertical space between each pair of designs – through which the Sashiko style straight stitching will run – and enough horizontal space between the upper and lower pairs to allow the panels to be to cut apart using the original paper pattern and maintaining the full ½” seam allowance.
- Place the hoop on the machine and start the embroidery.
- Let it run through all four designs.
- Remove the hoop from the machine and stitched panel from the hoop.
- Tear away the stabilizer just back to the edge of the stitching, leaving it in place behind the embroidery itself. This removes the bulk from the seam but leaves an additional firmness behind the stitching. Sashiko style stitching looks best when layered; it gives the individual stitches more depth and therefore more of the look of hand stitching.
- As mentioned above, remove the initial drawn lines – both the oval shapes as well as the center vertical line. We like to use the Frixion pens whose marks vanish with the heat of an iron.
- Find the front/back pattern “frame” that resulted when you trimmed the pattern to cut the fusible fleece. You’ll use it here to confirm the final cut line for your front and back panels.
- Place the frame over each pair of designs, centering the designs within the frame. Tape or simply hold the frame in place, and re-draw the perimeter cut lines.
- With the perimeter lines drawn, find the exact center point between the pairs and draw a vertical guide line. The pairs of designs should be ¼” apart and this vertical line should go through the exact center from top to bottom. You will use this guide line for the Sashiko style straight stitching.
Notes on Sashiko style straight stitching
- These notes are picked up from our original Sashiko Style Zipper Case project, which featured only Sashiko style straight stitching. You can certainly review this entire project, but the notes below are the most critical.
- As with any new technique, practice makes everything go more smoothly. We recommend first playing with scrap fabric to get used to the stitching process. You can then move on to some extra pieces of your chosen fabric to refine all the settings. As mentioned, we’ve indicated extra amounts of the linen, interfacing, and stabilizer so you have plenty with which to test.
- Thread the top with clear monofilament.
- If using a Janome machine, insert a Blue Dot Bobbin Case. This is not mandatory, but does make the Sashiko style stitching easier and cleaner.
- Attach a clear Satin Stitch foot or similar.
- Thread the bobbin with a 60wt – 80wt thread in a contrasting color. We used black 60wt.
- Select the proper stitch. Depending on your machine, this might be a Triple Stitch, likely found within your machine’s Utility stitches. If using a Janome model, open your Sewing Applications tab and look for either “Sashiko” or “Quilting – Hand Look.”
- We increased the tension setting to “5,” which was the upper limit allowed.
- We set our stitch length to 4.5.
- Do lots of testing to confirm your own stitch and settings. Much is based on personal preference so don’t be afraid to change things up until you get a look you’re happy with.
- The above adjustments and threading allow the bobbin thread to pull to the top though the larger hole made by the size 16 needle. The bobbin thread then becomes the most prominent part of the seam on the right side of the fabric. The clear monofilament is virtually invisible, leaving the thicker bobbin stitch to appear widely spaced, like a hand running stitch.
Add straight line Sashiko style stitching, trim front/back, add fusible fleece
- Re-set for straight Sashiko style stitching as indicated above: Blue Dot bobbin case, jeans needle, Satin Stitch foot, monofilament thread in the top, 60-80wt thread in the bobbin (we used black 60wt).
- Following the drawn guide line, add the vertical line of stitching between the pairs of designs for the front and back panels.
NOTE: Sashiko style stitching doesn’t look good with a traditional backstitch or locking stitch to secure the seam. The best way to avoid this is to simply stitch slightly beyond the drawn perimeter of the panel. When the panel is cut to size and all the pieces are sewn together, the Sashiko style stitching will be secured.
- Following the drawn outline (made above with the pattern “frame”), cut out the front and back
- Find the front/back fusible fleece panels. Center one fleece panel on the wrong side of each exterior panel, centering the fleece so there is ½” of exterior panel showing beyond the fleece all around. Following manufacturers instructions, fuse in place.
Stitching the base panel
- Continue with the machine set-up for straight Sashiko style stitching.
- Find the linen base panel and the matching panel of lightweight interfacing. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the linen. The two layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Using the paper pattern, transfer the stitching guide lines to your fabric.
- Draw in full lines to follow across the panel.
- Add a layer of tear away stabilizer against the back of the linen, and as above, stitch along each drawn line.
- Tear away the tear-away back to the seam allowance line all around.
- As you did above with the front and back panels, find the coordinating fusible fleece panel and center it on the wrong side of the stitched base panel. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create the zipper panel with its Sashiko style stitching
- Set up the machine for standard sewing: Red Dot bobbin case, Universal needle, Standard presser foot (unless noted below), all purpose thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Find the linen zipper panel and the matching panel of lightweight interfacing. As you’ve done above, place the interfacing on the wrong side of the linen. The two layers should be flush on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Find the zipper panel’s lining piece. Layer the lining panel and the fused exterior panel with all raw edges flush.
- Slice the zipper section exactly in half lengthwise so you have TWO linen strips and TWO lining strips
- Find the zipper.
- Place one exterior strip right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the zipper right side down on top to the exterior strip. The zipper should be centered side to side and the edge of the zipper tape should be flush with the raw edge of the strip. Pin along the top of the zipper tape through both layers. Open the zipper about half way.
NOTE: Remember, our zipper was longer than the opening so you may see the tail end of the zipper extending beyond the fabric in our photos. We will trim it flush prior to attaching the zipper panel to the base panel.
- Attach a Zipper foot and stitch the length of the strip.
NOTE: The zipper should be about half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you’re approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly in order to access the zipper pull and carefully close the zipper, moving the pull out of the way of the foot. Re-position the fabric, drop the presser foot, and finish sewing to the end.
- Press the fabric strip away from the zipper teeth.
- Repeat to attach the remaining exterior strip to the opposite free edge of the zipper
- Press flat so there is a strip to either side of the center zipper.
- Find your base panel, which should already have its pretty Sashiko style straight stitching finished. Align one end of base panel with one end of the zipper panel. Use the Sashiko style stitching on the base panel as your guide to mark the stitching lines on the zipper panel. There should be four guide lines to each side of the zipper.
- Mark both ends of the zipper panel.
- Then, draw in the full guide lines to either side of the zipper
- Set aside the base panel.
- Cut strips of the tear away stabilizer to fit beneath the linen strips to either side of the zipper. Lightly pin in place.
- Re-set the machine for Sashiko style straight stitching and stitch along each drawn line as you did above. This includes re-attaching the Satin Stitch foot.
- Stitch all the lines on one side of the zipper, then re-position to stitch the opposite side, opening and closing the zipper as necessary to keep the pull out of the way.
- As you did above with the front and back panels and the base panel, find the coordinating fusible fleece panel, slice it down the middle and center it on the wrong side of each stitched linen strip. Then, tear away the tear-away back to the fleece line all around.
- When done with the Sashiko style straight stitching, once again re-set the machine for standard sewing with construction thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Don’t forget to re-attach the Zipper foot.
- Un-zip the zipper all the way. With the zipper unit right side up, fold one side the zipper unit – one stitched exterior strip – back over the zipper, revealing its original seam allowance.
- Flip over the zipper unit.
- Find one lining strip. Place the lining strip right sides together against the exterior strip, sandwiching the zipping between the layers. All the raw edges of the exterior and lining strips should be flush. Pin through all the layers.
- Stitch along the original seam line through all the layers. As above, start with the zipper about half way open, then move the zipper pull as needed.
- Press both strips away from the zipper teeth so they are now wrong sides together.
- Repeat to add the remaining lining strip to the other side of the zipper in the same manner.
- Because of the beautiful Sashiko style stitching, you do not want edgestitching to show on the right side (the linen side) of the zipper unit, but you do still need to secure the layers so the zipper unit will lay nice and flat.
- With the “wings” of the zipper unit wrong sides together to either side (exterior and lining are wrong sides together to either side of the zipper), start with the zipper unit lining side up. Sweep just the exterior strip back under the zipper so the two exterior strips are right sides together, leaving just the one lining strip extending to the right.
- Edgestitch the lining to the zipper tape. Repeat on the other side.
- The zipper unit is now secure from the lining side …
- … without any edgestitchimg on the exterior side.
- See those pull tabs in the photo above? We’re making them next :-).
Make the pull tabs
- Find the two 3” linen squares and the one 2” interfacing square.
- Center the interfacing square on the wrong side of one of the linen squares so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Re-thread the machine with construction thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Place the two squares right sides together. All raw edges should be flush.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides of the square, pivoting at each corner.
- Slice the sewn square in half along the diagonal.
- Clip the corners and trim back the seam allowance to about ¼”.
- Turn each triangle right side out through the open diagonal edge. Use your finger or a blunt tool to gently push out the point so it is nice and sharp. Press flat.
Make the piping
- Find the two 26½” bias strips and the two matching lengths of thin cording.
- Place each strip wrong side up on your work surface.
- Place a length of cording down the center of each strip.
- Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. The raw edges of the strip should be flush. Lightly pin close to the cord to hold the fabric in place.
- Lengthen the stitch to its maximum for basting. Attach a Zipper foot.
- Stitch close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping.
NOTE: These steps are summarized for space. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How to Make and Attach Your Own Piping.
Layer the front and back panels and add the piping
- Find the back panel, the front panel, the two main lining panels, and the two lengths of piping.
NOTE: The photo below also shows the base panel, zipper panel, and pull tabs. Hang on to those; you’ll put them together in the next section.
- Layer a lining panel wrong sides together with each exterior panel.
- Pin the piping on the right side of each exterior panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the panel and starting/ending at a center point of each panel. If necessary, you can clip the piping to better allow it to curve around the corners.
- When you are about 1” from your starting point, lay the piping against the fabric so it is flat and smooth at the joining point.
- With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric on the tail to expose the cording underneath. Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly butts together with the head of the cording.
- Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge. Trim away excess fabric if necessary. Lap the folded end over the head of the piping to conceal the joint. Finish pinning.
- Still using a Zipper foot, machine baste all the way around through all the layers on both the front and back panels, running the seam close to the piping cord.
NOTE: As above, these piping steps are summarized for space. If this is your first time attaching and finishing piping, see our tutorial, How to Make and Attach Your Own Piping.
Assemble the outer ring/side loop, adding the pull tabs
- Find the exterior base panel, which should already have its Sashiko style stitching in place, and the base panel lining. As you did above with the front and back panels, layer the exterior base section with its lining panel, wrong sides together.
- Find the zipper unit and the two pull tabs. As shown in the photo above, pin a pull tab to each end of the zipper unit on the right side. The raw edge of each pull tab should be flush with the raw end of the zipper unit with the point of the triangle centered on the zipper teeth.
- You are still using construction thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin and a standard straight stitch. We continued to use our Zipper foot for the best control. With a ½” seam allowance, stitch each tab in place.
- If, as we did, you used a longer zipper, now is the time to cut it flush with the end of the zipper unit. Remember to use your craft scissors for this step – not your good sewing scissors. Clip through the zipper tape then pry away just enough teeth to cut flush. Sometimes you can simply use your fingers to work off the individual teeth. If you’re having trouble, try a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the teeth.
- Place the completed zipper section right sides together with the base section, aligning each end of the zipper section with the ends of the base section to create a loop. The zipper should be just slightly open. Pin in place. Double check that the loop in not twisted anywhere along its length.
- Using an approximate ½” seam allowance, stitch the two short seams through all the layers. We say “approximate” because your goal is to stitch just beyond the zipper stops at the top and bottom, which might be slightly narrower or wider than ½”.
- This process yields a seam allowance that will be visible on the interior of bag. We recommend finishing these two short seam allowance with your favorite machine finishing stitch in matching thread, such as a zig zag stitch or an overcast stitch. When the pouch is completed, these seams are quite deep into the sidewall of the pouch and will not be very visible, however, a finished edge is recommended. We used a simple zig zag.
- You now have your main ring/side loop and your front and back panels completed and ready for final assembly.
Insert the front and back panels
- Find the back panel. Fold it in half and place a pin at each edge of the fold.
- Fold it in half in the opposite direction and place two additional pins. These pins should align with the vertical line of Sashiko style straight stitching. You now have pins at the quarter points of the panel, like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock.
- Repeat this process with the front panel.
- Then repeat the process once more with the side loop to mark quarter points along each of its raw edges.
- With the side loop wrong side out. Set the back exterior panel into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together.
- Align the quarter point pins of the front panel with the matching pins of the loop.
- Pin through all the layers at these points first, then fill in around the circle.
- Using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around the panel, running your seam as close to the piping as possible. If your machine allows you to adjust the needle position, move it all the way to the left.
- Here’s a shot looking down into the pouch with the first panel stitched in place.
- Repeat to add the front panel. We used clips on this side.
- This second panel will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present an initial challenge, go slowly and stop – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed.
NOTE: It can be helpful to go around more than once. A second – or even third – time around can help you get in even closer to the piping, which is the ultimate goal. You can do this when inserting both the front and back panels.
NOTE: This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. In this case, we simply have a narrow tube and our “circle” is more of an oval. If you are new to this process, check out our full step-by-step tutorial.
Finish the interior seam allowances
- To flatten the interior seam allowance and “stiffen” it so it is easier to bind, we suggest going around each seam one more time to finish the edge. We used a zig zag stitch.
- Stitch all the way around on both the front and back panel seam allowances.
- Find the double fold bias binding. Cut a length to fit around one complete panel seam allowance. Slip the binding over the seam allowance, encasing the raw edges to give the seam allowance a finished edge inside the pouch. Leave 1″ extra at the tail for an overlap. Pin in place all around… or simply slip the binding over the seam allowance and allow the presser foot to hold it in place. This option allows you to use your hand to stretch the binding slightly and wrap-as-you-go. A slight stretch or tautness to the binding can make it easier to curve around the corners.
- Stitch the bias binding to the seam allowance all around. The presser foot is your choice; we used a Satin Stitch Foot. Remember, you are stitching only through the seam allowance; do not stitch onto the main pouch itself. Repeat to bind the remaining seam allowance on the opposite side.
- Turn the pouch right side out and press.
NOTE: This was our chosen finish but it is not mandatory. You could also choose to use a simple machine sewn finish as you did above with the short joining seams of the side loop. A standard zig zag or an overcast stitch with the Overedge foot are both good options.
ONE MORE NOTE: The zipper pull tabs should be loose from the side of the pouch, which is what needs to happen so they can act as pulls to allow you to easily open and close the zipper. However, if you want them to sit more flat, you can use a hand needle and matching thread to very lightly tack them in the down position along the top of the triangle. Work from the inside of the pouch, hiding the stitch through just the back layer of each tab.
- We added a thin grosgrain ribbon to our zipper pull. Fold the ribbon in half, insert the center fold through the opening in the pull just enough to reveal a small loop, thread the tails through the loop, and pull down to secure. It’s the same way you might secure a price or gift tag.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever