Welcome to the very first tutorial in the Zip A Bag series!
The purpose of the next few tutorials is to learn how to install zippers.
And since I promised that we'd begin at the very beginning, we will start by installing an unfaced zipper in an unlined pouch. Today's tutorial is to make a flat (2D) pouch with a zippered opening that is not along one of its natural edges.
Begin we begin, let's talk about two ideas:
1 Lining and Facing
A lining is an additional layer of fabric on the inside of a project. By definition, it extends throughout the entire project. It has many functions, including
- providing an extra layer of thickness and structure for thin fabrics
- providing an extra layer (in garments) for modesty in translucent or see-through fabrics
- providing extra weight (in garments) for drape, so that the garment hangs better on the wearer
- enclosing seam allowances and - sometimes - rendering a project subsequently reversible.
A facing is a piece of fabric that backs a particular area of a project. Being an additional layer itself, it also naturally lines that part of the project, but its main function is to reinforce seams in that area. It is called a "facing" because its literally lies against (faces) that part of the project.
Examples of facings are
- a neckline facing, sewn to and stabilizing the neckline (and any opening, in general)
- an armhole facing, sewn to and stabilizing the armhole
- a pocket facing, sewn to the pocket opening to create a double-layered pouch
- a zipper facing, sewn on the WS of the seam attaching the zipper, hiding the zipper tape.
Except in very, very rare instances, I always line my pouches and bags, and always face my zippers and, because those two features take care of all the hideous seam allowances, therefore never use the serger. There is nothing wrong with having an unlined bag with unfaced zippers, incidentally. It's just that I personally don't feel a bag is properly finished unless it is fully lined, and all the SA hidden from sight.
When then, are those aforementioned "very, very rare instances" that I might omit the lining, and leave the backs of zippers bare?
- non-commercial mass-producing e.g. for freebie favors for my kids' birthday parties, in which I don't want to take the time to cut out and assemble additional lining layers, and
- tutorials, for teaching purposes.
Here comes another idiosyncratic thing: unless there's good reason not to, I also always enclose the ends of my zippers with fabric stops. Sometimes I even remove the metal stops before enclosing the zipper ends in fabric. No reason other than to save my needle the risk of accidentally hitting the metal stops. Sometimes, however, the stops are so firmly wedged within the coils that I cannot remove them, in which case I will let them be.
Okay, so fabric stops. You can sandwich the ends of a zipper between two layers of fabric, so that both the RS and WS of the zipper are hidden. In the next chapter, we'll learn how (and when) to do this. But today we're going to cover only the RS of the zipper - the WS will remain exposed and untreated.
Today's tutorial, unfortunately, involves an unlined, unfaced zipper, with only one-sided fabric stops. Three less-than-ideal features in one project. Erk. Please don't do this if you can help it, okay?
Now, because I don't actually want you to learn to sew your pouches this way, I am deliberately going to skimp on the photos, and just speed through the process, saying just enough to convey how unfaced zippers are installed as a general practice.
Start with two pieces of fabric, each about the same width as the zipper tape. Fold each in half with RS out and lay their folded edges over (and hiding) the metal stops. The separation between the fabric stops should be slightly smaller than the finished opening. See the following pictures to visualize this.
Topstitch across the fabric pieces, through the zipper underneath, to hold them in place. I did two lines of topstitching.
The first is an edgestitch (i.e. very close to the fold line) to prevent the zipper pull from slipping underneath the fabric stop and getting accidentally stuck. In the next tutorial, we will attach the fabric stops a little differently, which automatically prevents this from happening.
The second is to further stabilize the fabric stop, and for aesthetic purposes.
The zipper is now ready to be installed. Notice the top stops of the zipper protruding way beyond the fabric square on the right? Ideally, if you always use zippers much, much longer than your opening, you will never need to remove the metal stops - they'll stick out so far that you can just cut off the excess zipper tape with them in it.
Back to the pouch now. The front piece of this pouch is cut into two pieces to create the opening.
We'll be inserting the zipper in the seam between these two separate pieces. Note that the separation between the fabric stops i.e. the usable length of zipper coil, is smaller than the finished opening.
Lay the zipper on one of the pouch pieces at its seam edge so that
- the RS of the zipper is touching the RS of the fabric
- the lower edge of the zipper tape is lined up with the lower edge of the fabric.
Stitch in place, using the zipper foot to get close to the zipper coils.
The RS of the zipper is against the first fabric piece, so flip that fabric piece (leave the zipper where it is) downward to expose the RS of the zipper. Lay the zipper, RS down on the seam edge of the second fabric piece so that
- the RS of the zipper is in contact with the RS of the fabric and
- the upper edge of the zipper is lined up with the upper edge of the fabric
Stitch in place, again using the zipper foot to get close to the coils.
Separate the two pieces of fabric, folding them back along the stitching lines to expose the zipper coils between them. Press the seam open and, on the RS of the fabric, edge-stitch through all layers, close to the folds to hold the fabric in place.
Trim off the excess bits of zipper tape on either side.
The (unlined) zippered front panel is now ready for assembling into a pouch.
All you need to do next is pair it with a similar-shaped back panel and stitch both pieces together around their outer edges, with RS together. Finish (serge, bind, zig-zag stitch, etc.) this outer edge and turn the pouch RS out through the zippered opening.
Incidentally, these were monster pencil cases I made for the girls to decorate for their teachers for Valentine's Day.
Like 10 months ago Valentine's Day.
That's how long ago I took these photos for this tutorial series. Cough.
As earlier mentioned, this is not at all an elegant method for installing zippers into pouches. However, if you can live with the internal messiness of the finish, it is very efficient for mass-producing.
Next up is a much more refined way to install a zipper in a pouch. See you back soon!