Friday, January 9, 2015

Zip zipper zipped

Zipper pouches are everywhere. Craft stalls, christmas markets, homemade shops... invariably there's a zipper pouch for sale. Cool patterns, cool coloured zips. Looking so easy to make. Sometimes lined, sometimes badly finished inside. But always instilling the "I could do that" feeling in me.
lovely examples on

Until I give it a try... and I am just not happy with the edges of the zip, or the general standard of finish.
So today, I tried to take it on myself to tackle the problem. To get top grips with the zips.
One of my Christmas presents, a book called Handmade Gifts includes instructions for an "Oilcloth Wash Bag". It suggests - as does a cushion tutorial I found - to add a little strip of fabric folded over on each end of the zip. I suppose my end result turned out fine... maybe I'm just being too picky.
I kept going and made another two zipped pouches:
I really like the fabric! It's an oilcloth I bought in Murphy Sheehy in Dublin. Oilcloth is usually meant as a tablecloth!
Only the largest purse of the three I made is lined. I used the same lining fabric for the end-strips at the zip ends (it's blue)... but would prefer in future to use fabric that matches the zip. Well... it would depend on the project I suppose but for the middle purse, I used a purple zip and purple fabric for the ends and I like how that turned out.
I like the purple zip but I think I was right to also use purple thread for it. I top-stitched that purse which I didn't do with the others, the machine really struggled to walk the oilcloth through, I had to tug it along.

Learn from experience

Use the length of a zip you have as your start point. Too often patterns and tutorials say "use a 12in/30cm zip" etc. And invariably the zips you have won't be in the right colour or the right size.
So the zip I had is 7"/18cm in length.
The tutorial recommended cutting the fabric to exactly the same length as the zip. I did this for the largest pouch and I didn't like how it ended up. So this time around, I decided to make the fabric a little longer than the zip... after all, I'm gonna use those zip end strip things.
Tip: if you have one, use a set square to draw the lines exactly perpendicular to each other. I don't do this enough with my sewing projects, expecting the edge of the fabric to be straight and therefore perpendicular to the edge and hoping(!). So to avoid blind hope, use a set square.
Zip is 18cm, standard seam allowance tends to be 1.5cm (although not for such small projects but anyway, it made sense to me as I was doing my calculation), plus a little .5cm - so add 4 in total. Fabric to be cut at 22cm (ignore the " symbol in diagram). And I randomly chose 15cm as the height - based on my eye judgement! Often the most useful calculator!
Then I found a scrap of fabric - jersey as it happens - to match the zip colour - and cut a strip as wide as the zip:
As per the recommendation in the two tutorials I was following, press the edge of the strip, about .5cm
and fold a strip each around the ends of the zip, then continue as normal! It just extends the zip, I guess. And makes it tidier.
I was so unconvinced, that I made the third pouch without these zip ends.
But it does actually make for tidy ends.

Tip: When sewing the sides together, be very careful to line up the top edges, especially if the zip has been topstitched.
I didn't and these two examples show how badly finished my pouches are
From a distance, the purses look good!

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