Friday, June 12, 2015

Zippered Tote Bag Tutorial

Recently my students have wanted to learn how to install a zipper on a tote bag and I have not found a simplified tutorial for a bag with a zipper and a lining.  So here is my version of a zippered tote bag and it would be very helpful if you have made one of the lined tote bags in my class but not essential. As always, if you see a mistake in the tutorial or have a question, please let me know!

Zippered Tote Bag

Materials Needed: 
½ yard woven fabric for exterior of bag
½ yard woven fabric for bag lining
¼ yard woven fabric for bag handles and zipper tabs
½ yard of 45” wide fusible fleece
18-20” all purpose zipper

Cutting Instructions:
Bag exterior: Cut 2 rectangles that are 18” long by 20” wide
Bag lining: Cut 2 rectangles that are 18” long by 20” wide
Bag handles:  Cut 2 strips that are 3” long by 30” wide
Zipper tabs:  Cut 2 - 2”x3” rectangles from whichever fabric you choose.  It will be seen only a little next to the zipper ends.
Cut 1” strips of fusible interfacing that, when put end to end, will add up to 60”

Some Things to Remember Before Sewing:

-       All seam allowances are ½” unless otherwise noted in a step.
-       Reverse stitch at the beginning and the end of all of your seams to reinforce your seams.
-       Trim off your threads as you sew your seams. 
-       Always measure twice before cutting just to be sure!

Preparing Your Fabric:

Fuse your interfacing to the wrong sides of the exterior bag pieces by placing the bumpy (glue) side of the fusible fleece towards the wrong side of the fabric.  Iron until the glue helps the fabric adhere to the fleece.  Don’t hold the iron in one spot for long as the fleece can melt.  We will fuse the fleece to the handles when we get to that step.

Making the Handles:

1.      Lay one of your handle pieces, with the wrong side up, on the ironing board.  Fold the strip of fabric in half the long way and iron.  The wrong sides of the fabric will be on the inside.

2.     Unfold the fabric.  Next, fold under the long edges of the fabric ¼” to the wrong side of the fabric.  Do this to both long sides.  Refold and iron.

3.      Place your strips of fusible fleece inside the folded handle pieces.  Lay them flat right up inside the folded edge of the handle. Lay them end-to-end so that it covers the entire handle.  Refold your handle and iron so that the fusible fleece adheres to the fabric

4.      Topstitch along both long edges of both your handles.  This will help to hold everything in place.  Lay aside your handle pieces for later.

Making the Zipper Tabs:

1.  Fold under the short edges of your zipper tabs ¼” to the wrong side of the fabric and iron.

2.  Fold the zipper tab in half (matching up the short ends with each other) and iron.  This piece should now measure 2” x 1¼”. (If it doesn’t measure this, you may need to fold the short edges under more or less).

3.  Take your zipper and trim off the extra zipper tape that extends beyond the top of the zipper.  Holding the two ends together, lay the zipper inside the zipper tab just past the short inside folded edge (see picture). 

4.  Fold the zipper tab over the end of the zipper.  You will need to hold the teeth together as you sew along the folded edges of the zipper tab.

5.  Lay your zipper across the 20” side of one of your exterior pieces. This will be the top of your bag.  Place the sewn zipper tab on the left side.

6.  Measure one inch from the right side of the bag edge and mark on the zipper.

7.  We are now going to make a new end to our zipper where it will stop.  With your sewing machine, sew across the teeth right on the mark.  Go back and forth using your reverse stitch button to secure off this spot on the zipper.  Trim off zipper just past this stitching.

8  8.  Go ahead and sew the other zipper tab onto this end of your zipper using the same method as in step 4.  Set your zipper aside for a few moments.

9.  Next we will sew the handles onto the bag.  Take one handle and one side of your bag and measure 5” in from each top corner of your bag.  Pin the edge of your handle at this spot.  Each end of your handles will be pinned 5” in from each top corner.  Make sure the handles are not twisted.  Sew across each edge of the handle to keep it in place.  

Sewing the Zipper Into the Bag:

1.  For these next few steps, you will need to change the presser foot on your sewing machine to your zipper foot.  Put your zipper foot on so that the needle is on the left.  If you are not sure how to do that, please refer to your sewing machine manual.  This zipper foot is a common one for most sewing machines:

2.  Place your zipper face down on the right side (pretty side) of one of your bag sides.  Lay it along the top edge matching the edge of the zipper tape with the top of your bag.  The zipper stops should line up with the edges of your bag.  It is okay if the zipper tabs hang off the edge of the top of the bag.  The zipper will lay over top of your handle.

3.  Pin the zipper in place.  Sew along the right side of the zipper teeth.  Your zipper foot is made to do this.  Make sure your needle is going down through the hole in the zipper foot otherwise you will break a needle by hitting the teeth (to do this, make sure your needle is in the center position).  I like to open up my zipper to get the zipper pull out of the way when I begin sewing.  To get past the pull, put the needle down into the fabric, lift the presser foot up and then move the pull past the foot (zip up the zipper).  Sew all the way across the top of your bag along the zipper.

4.  Lay the piece you just sewed on a table and then take one of your lining pieces and place it on top of the outside of your bag with the pretty sides of the fabric facing each other. Pin the top of the edges together.

5.  At this point, I like to flip my bag over so that I am sewing on the fusible fleece side where you can see the stitches that you sewed when you put in the zipper.  Just follow that stitching line again with your zipper foot while sewing in your lining piece.  Make sure the edges of your fabric stay together while you sew.

6.  Fold the fabric pieces back away from the zipper and iron them back.  I like to do this on both sides to make sure the fabric doesn't get caught in the zipper.  I even open and close the zipper a couple of times to make sure they are out of the way after ironing.

7.  You will now topstitch these layers in place so that the fabric stays back away from the zipper.  You may need to move your zipper foot over to the other side of the needle like I did.  Stitch right along the folded edge of the fabric that is next to the zipper.  Make sure that the handles are not sewn over in this step.

8.  We will now do the same process to the other side of the bag and the other side of the zipper.  Lay the other outside bag piece on the table with the pretty sides up.  Next take the unsewn side of the zipper and place it face down along the top of this bag piece.  The handles should be on the inside laying on top of each other.  Make sure the top and side edges of the bag match up.  Pin.

9.  Sew this side of the zipper in place as we did in step #3 of this section.

10.  Now lay the other lining piece on top of side of the zipper you just sewed.  Again, match up all of your edges and pin in place.  Flip this piece over and sew on the fleece side following your previous zipper stitching line as we did in step #5.

11.    Lastly, fold the outside and lining bag pieces away from the zipper and iron.  Topstitch along the zipper to hold these pieces in place.  Your bag should now look something like this.

Finishing the Bag:

1.  Take your outside bag pieces and lay them on top of each other with the handles and pretty side of the fabric on the inside.  Do the same for the lining pieces.  

2.  Pin around the sides of your bag.  On the lining pieces, make two marks with a fabric pen/pencil on the long side where you will leave an opening so that you can turn the bag right side out in the end.  You will not sew in between those two marks.  

3.  Before you begin to sew, make sure your zipper is open.  This will help you in turning the bag right side out later.  Starting at the two marks on the lining, sew around the bag using a 1/2" seam allowance.

4.  If you have made the lined tote bag in my sewing class that I teach for adult beginners, you will remember this next step.  We are going to square off the bottom corners of the bag to give the bag some depth.  You will do this to all 4 corners (bag and lining) before turning it right side out.  

5.  Take one of your corners and shape it into a triangle.  The bottom seam of the bag/lining will be right on top of the side seam of the bag/lining.  

6.  Measure 5" across the bottom of this triangle (the seams should hit at about 2.5").  Draw a line with your fabric pen/pencil.  Do this to all 4 bottom corners of the bag and lining.  Sew right on this line.

7.  Trim off the extra fabric past the line that you just sewed.  Leave 1/2" of fabric outside of your seam line.

8.  Now you will turn your bag right side out through the opening that you left in your lining.  Be patient and will all come through. 

9. Once you have the bag turned right side out, put your hand inside of the bag and make sure all of your corners are turned and smoothed out.   Here is what the bottom corners look like finished.

10.  Your very LAST STEP is to pull out the lining and sew the opening closed in the lining.  I sewed it with my sewing machine by topstitching very close to the edge that I folded in at the opening.  You could also hand sew the opening closed.

11. And you are done!  Enjoy your new bag and the compliments you will receive on it!

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