Instructions For Making Zippered Bags

I’m posting instructions for making zippered bags since I’ve received requests about how I make my bags.

I make zippered bags two ways – one using zipper tape which gives a very nice finish to the bag:

Zippered Bag Constructed Using Zipper Tape

I also make bags using zippers:

Zippered Bag Constructed Using A Zipper

The bags look similar, however, I prefer using zipper tape because it simplifies the process.

I purchase my zipper tape from The Zipper Lady who sells the tape by the yard in a gazillion colours – she also sells zipper pulls.

She has video demonstrating how to put the slides onto the tape.

Hope this helps you out.

More Small Zippered Bags

When I got home from my sewing weekend I showed my niece my stash of small zippered bags. Offered her one, she took two. She was going out that evening for dinner with a friend whose daughter was having a birthday – she took one for Fiona and another for her sister Dana. I took another and put a birthday gift in it for a friend of mine. Now I was down five bags from the collection intended to be for Christmas gifts.

My niece sees me put the gift in a bag and asks if I would make ten bags for her to use as gifts – she’ll pay me, she offers.

Can’t say no to a request like that, so after she left for Toronto the next day, I dug out what fabric I had left over from the original batch, prepared 10 more bags, sat down and stitched them up over the next two days.

Zippered Bags For Maxelle

Past Thursday, I packaged them up and sent them off to Toronto – as a gift for my niece. What am I going to charge her? $5 is too little and $10 is too much to ask her (although were I selling the bags at a craft fair I’d charge $10 for the smaller size, $12 for the larger ones). I was using leftover bits of fabric and batting, I buy zipper tape by the yard, so while I have an idea as to what my materials might cost there’s still nothing much to reimburse me for my time. Better a gift to my niece than try figuring out what to charge her.

She should get them next week. I told her to make sure she tells her friends where she got the bags! I’m sure whoever gets one will enjoy having it. You can’t have too many small zippered bags for carrying stuff, right?

Thinking About Christmas…

I haven’t posted a lot this past month but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. I began in earnest as soon as my cast came off on July 31.

In August I made:

  • Four pair of pants for myself – two in linen, one in a summer weight wool/poly blend, the fourth in a stretch twill. (Now I have to take four pairs of pants out of my closet!)
Wool/poly Pants
  • I remade a pair of jeans I bought at Costco (I had to lift the back pockets and create a teardrop dart down the centre back of each leg; resew the pockets).
  • In the end I made 30 sets of seat belt covers! (For the folks who chauffeured me while I couldn’t drive)
  • I improvised a set of zippered pockets which I attached to a blanket for a friend in a wheel chair. (I forgot to take a photo of the completed project)
  • I also made a new five-pocket zippered wallet for myself out of ripstop
Five Pocket Wallet

I sewed almost every day. I didn’t get any quilting or wall art started but I’m thinking about it.

I also managed to cut out fabric to make 30 zippered bags – in two sizes.  Two weeks ago at our knitting group I noticed the bags I had made a couple of years ago are being well used. I asked the gals whether anyone was interested in having another bag – silly question – you can’t have too many small zippered bags, for heaven’s sake. So I decided to get that organized.

I dug out the bright fabrics I had set aside to make bags and cut it into appropriate sizes (17″ x 6.25; 21″ x 7″). I cut batting scraps into similar sizes as well. Found suitable (dull) fabric in my stash to be lining for the bags. I went through my zipper tape and cut enough lengths to the correct size.

Fabric Prepared for Zippered Bags

To make a bag I need one outer piece (twice the width of the finished bag), one lining piece, a piece of similar size batting, one half of a zipper tape cut to length, a zipper slide, and a short piece of grosgrain ribbon.

Setting Up For A Bag

I make the bags this way because it allows me to create a zipper loop at the closed end which is much neater than trying to stitch over cut zipper ends.

Using Zipper Tape

I’ve made three bags so far – two larger (9.5″ x 6.25″), one smaller (7.5″ x 5.25″).

The First Bags – 2 sizes

Now I need to sew the remaining 27 bags! Each bag doesn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes were I to do each one completely, but I’ll do this factory style – I’ll add zipper tape to the outer fabric and batting, add lining and stitch to zipper on the second side, for all of the bags. Press. Next turn right sides outside and add the zipper pulls. Then turn right sides together with lining and outer fabric/batting separated to stitch the open side (remembering to insert the folded twill tape into the seam close to the zipper on the outer fabric side – fold toward the centre of the bag). The bottom of the outer fabric/batting is sewn next. Now the important thing to remember: open the zipper! If the bottom of the lining is sewn before the zipper is open, you can’t open the bag. Turn the bag right side out, sew the bottom of the lining (wrong sides together) then push it inside the bag.

It sounds complicated – I probably should take photos of each step along the way (I will try to remember to do that when I get started on production). But the process is fast and the finished bags are neat.

You can’t have too many zippered bags! I use them for so many different purposes: for jewelry, to store elastic bands,  spare change, specialty threads, sewing machine attachments, flash drives for my embroidery machine…. It looks like it’s going to be bags this Christmas.

Small Zippered Bags – Again

Three Different Fabrics

I made 40 small zippered bags before Christmas. During the holiday season I gave most of them away. Two days ago I went to my bag stash to pick out one to give a friend and realized I was down to just four bags. Time to make more!

Yesterday, I bought three half-meter pieces of bright fabric, raided my quilting fabric for a length I didn’t like any more to use as lining, cut batting from a large piece left over from a recent quilt, cut lengths of zipper tape, and 2 1/2″ pieces of grosgrain ribbon for a small tab on the side. An hour later I was set to go into business.

This morning I went into production – three hours later I had eighteen 6″ x 8″ bright zippered bags. 

I’m getting organized at this mass production thing – I resisted the temptation to do all the steps on individual bags; I completed each production step on all eighteen bags before moving on to the next. The whole job went quickly.

However most of my sewing/quilting is focused on unique constructions so what I’ve learned from bag production line isn’t much help for the other sewing I do.

Bendy Bag…

Bendy Bag

Bendy Bag

I know, I said I was finished making bags but there was just one more I wanted to try – Lazy Girl’s Bendy Bag. I found images of it while looking for something to make for Hillary and played around with paper folding and almost got it figured out on my own – what I missed were the cut corners which you fold and seam straight across at the zipper tab end to get the blunt end at the front of the bag. I gave up, rather than mess around further and bought the instructions. I was right about how to get the diagonal seam and the zipper application. I had to try one this morning so I could put this bag making to rest!

There I’m done (really). The last bag for a while. Now, I can see each triangular piece I cut from my rectangle on each side to get the diagonal seams on this bag are large enough to make a pod… I’ll save them for another time.

More Variations On A Theme

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I was curious to see if I could apply the half-zipper technique to my standard zippered bag construction – that meant figuring out a way to have the seams concealed between outer layer and lining. Turns out to be quite easy.

Instead of cutting two sides 6″ x 8″ I cut one piece 6″ x 16″ – I sewed the zipper to one long edge, added lining. Here’s the crucial difference – I didn’t top stitch the zipper, instead I steam pressed the zipper making sure both lining and outside were well pressed away from zipper edge. That allowed me to add the slide, fold the bag in half, separate the lining from the outside, sew the remaining side seam (from lining to outside with little tab inserted near the zipper) making sure zipper protruded on the lining side as I sewed. Next I made sure to open the zipper. Finally, I stitched the outside bottom, turned bag right side out pulling lining beyond the zipper, folded lining bottom seam allowance under and top stitched the lining bottom, pushed lining back inside bag, pressed.

I had a zippered bag with a “loop” zipper, and concealed seams.

I made six from four fat quarters which I had just bought so now I know exactly what my materials cost:

The fabric to make six 6″ x 8″ bags cost me $12; batting – I used large pieces leftover from a quilt (batting costs $26/m so say I used 1/16 m ) – $1.65, thread (can’t calculate), zipper (I buy zipper tape and slides from The Zipper Lady @ $36 for six yards (that includes exchange as well as shipping and handling), $10 for 40 slides (25¢/slide) – I get two bags from 1/2 yard so zipper costs me  $10.50/six bags (a bit less than if I’d bought zippers individually at the fabric store). Total for the materials: $25.65 for six bags = $4.27/bag. Labour: It took me 2 hr to make six bags – time per bag, ~20 min (that’s pressing the fabric, cutting fabric and zippers, sewing it all together, pressing again). At $20/h labour works out to $6.65/bag. Total costs: $4.27 + $6.65 = $10.92. Profit – 20% of costs = $2.19. Total cost of one 6″ x 8″ bag: $13.12!

People tell me I should sell them at the craft market – I’d be selling the bags at a loss if I charged $10/bag!

So even a small zippered bag is a gift of love.

That’s it for bag-making for now!

Variations On A Theme

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Experiments

It’s not a big stretch from a “sweetpea pod” to a “pyramid pod” – the pyramid is based on a similar idea – instead of sewing the two side seams in the same direction as I would for a flat bag, you sew one side seam (closed zipper end) with the zipper in the middle and the second (the open end) with the zipper at one end. I made this pyramid pod (on the left) with a double zipper tape but I still have to experiment to figure out how to construct it with a single zipper tape (the way I did the sweetpea pods).

The two bags on the right were sewn with a single zipper tape. To use this technique (with the zipper top stitched) I had to finished the seams within the bag, rather than concealed by the lining. However, if I don’t top stitch the zipper, it should be possible to make the bag with concealed seams – have to try that next.