Monday, March 14, 2016

Zip A Bag Mid-Series Recap

Time for a mid-series recap and an intermission!

Well, maybe more like a three-quarter-way-through-the-series recap, because that's how far we've come. Although all we've done is only How To Put In A Zipper To Close A Pouch. Nothing truly fun, as far as what zippers can do in a bag. However, I know that many of us are still new to zippers, so I chose to spend extra time on those intro chapters and introduce you to as many different ways of Opening A Pouch/Bag as was reasonable . Two reasons:

  1. so everyone could have lots of practice doing the basic stuff and get really good at it, and 
  2. to visualize that there are really just a few main principles and base designs for pouches and bags, and most bags are just different manifestations of those concepts, or variations on those designs.

(But, really, I've just been dying to get to these next few chapters, because - FINALLY - this is where the fun begins.)

Before we do, however, here's a quick recap on where we've been.

We learned some ways in which zippers can be used to open and close bags and pouches, including flat central openings

openings along edges - in which the zipper pull remains within the (limited) dimensions of the opening, 

gussets - 


We also looked at how zippers can be used to open up the base of a container for flat storage,

and how they can split straps.

And we discussed the use of seam binding - both external

and internal -

to finish zippered pouches whose lining and outers we wanted to keep together as a single, composite layer rather than constructing them as separate layers. 

Finally, we looked at two other ways to install a zipper - in-seam

Now that you're able to install a zipper in any opening in any bag or pouch, it's time to move on!

In the next few posts, we'll be exploring how to use a zipper to change the shape and volume of a bag. We've already dabbled in a little bit of that when we made those collapsible bins and bags here and here. Let's talk about the principle behind this.

Up to this point, we've installed a zipper on either side of an opening. In this role, it simply closes the opening. On the surface, you see a straight line of zipper coils; underneath that is the hollow interior of the pouch or bag.

Here comes the principle:

If, instead of a gaping opening, you insert a zipper between layers, you can enclose one of those layers inside the other when you close the zipper. 

For instance, in the flat case below, we've added a lining layer, and inserted the zipper between those layers. 

When the case is zipped up, it encloses the lining inside the outer. 

Sometimes, enclosing one of those layers also requires compressing it, because that layer is very big. In the example below, the entire flat lining is replaced by the walls of a tote bag. When this case is zipped up, it compresses the tote bag inside.

We'll be looking at six examples of this principle, and each one orientates that layer differently. All of these six examples, however, have one thing in common: because it is installed between layers, the zipper compresses something when it is zipped up, and that "something" folds like a pleat.  I've shaded them green in the diagram below - see if you can visualize each of those pleats in action when the zipper (in purple) opens and closes.

We'll work through each of these examples in the next six posts.


  1. I'm LOVING this series. Understanding the principles/basics of construction is difficult when you're self-taught; I have piecemeal knowledge from sewing patterns, so I really appreciate your series' focus on specific construction skills.

  2. Thank you so much for this series, which must have taken ages to put tether. I have sewn for years but have never conceptualized techniques as you do. You are an amazing teacher.

  3. I don't comment often, especially this past year or so but I have to thank you for this series - it's been very illuminating and has helped me understand construction in a way that I was lacking. I've dabbled with zippers in my own original projects but have shied away from attempting more complex stuff. Bookmarked every page so far, both for reference for what I already know and inspiration for what I haven't gone for yet. Cheers!

  4. OMG!!!!!! I am soooooooo excited for the next 6 lessons!!!!! You are AMAZING to say the least.... There is no amount I wouldn't pay for a few days to pick your brain!!! Have you ever considered a " LiEr retreat " or something like that? Would be heaps of fun!!!

  5. Thanks for passing on your knowledge! This series (and all your series) are incredibly enlightening!

  6. Thank you again for this series. We will be in Singapore (first time ever) in the first week of April and I am going to keep my eyes peeled for you. My daughter and I are going to squeal and ask for an autograph /selfie if we do spot you :)

  7. You're terrific! This is so much more than a student could ever get in a class. Thank you so much for teaching us to THINK about what we are doing in addition to teaching us what to do.

  8. You are the best teacher of sewing!!! I love your series!!! Thanks, tanks for spending so much time for making this!!! (sorry for my english, is basic)


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