Monday, December 13, 2010

Humbug Bag - How to insert a Zipper tutorial

100 posts! Yeah!

This being my 100th post I wanted it to be something special, so a tutorial it is! take 2 ;)

Just to be clear, this little bag/purse is not my original idea! A friend told me how she had been making them for her market stall, so I thought I'd give them a go. There is tons of these type bags out there, this is just the way I have put them together.

I thought they were one of the cutest things on the planet, so I decided to make some for my market stall. The only thing I didn't like about them was the way the end of the zipper bit was a bit raw like in this pic. I overlocked it, but I just thought that if my kids were playing with it, they would have it wrecked in no time. So what to do?
I tried a few different things, like the normal way of leaving a turning hole in the lining fabric, but it just meant that I would have to hand sew it up later, and that defeated the purpose of a quick super simple pattern, so back to the drawing board.
We were out at dinner when my daughter showed me a little purse her grandmother had bought her and it had the zipper inserted in a curve shape, so you actually only use 1/2 the zipper!
Such a clever idea! So this is what I did.

By the way If your scared of trying to insert a zipper, this is the absolute perfect project to start on! There is no zipper pull to get in the way, so its perfect to build your confidence on, its just like sewing a seam.

Anyway, lets get started, here's what you need:

1 x 6" x 8 1/2" main fabric
1 x 6" x 8 1/2" calico or plain fabric for the lining
1 x 6" x 8 1/2" wadding or iron on pellon, its a small piece so iron on isn't 'essential'
1 x 9 1/2 x 2 1/2" main fabric, for the handle
1 x minimum 14" zipper DO NOT use a metal Zipper!
General sewing supplies
Zipper foot for your machine

Some zippers can be a bit tricky to get the zipper pull back on, but I found this brand extremely easy, Especially with the technique I'll explain later. It's funny because they were in a discount bin at my local fabric shop, 50c each! bargain!
Ok first up grab your scissors, not the good fabric scissors though! I have 2 pairs of scissors on my sewing table, a pink and a purple pair.

Pink is for Paper! Is my mantra. Makes it easier to remember.

I use pink for everything other than fabric!

Anyway using your s#*t Scissors, cut both ends off your zipper, pull the zipper pull off and discard one side of your zipper, you can buy extra zipper pulls to use this side later on, but you only need one side for this project.

OK now I have made these bags 2 ways, one with the handle inserted in this step and I've also added it at a later stage, it gives a different look. I prefer the look of putting it in later, but I am using some pics that I inserted it here. So read the rest of the tut and you decide which look you prefer.

Take your 9 1/2" x 2 1/2" piece and fold it in half lengthwise with right sides together. Stitch it together using a 1/4" seam , then turn it the right way out and give it a good iron.

Now take your wadding and lay it on the table and place your outside fabric on top with the right side up.
Now fold it in half like in the picture. You can insert the handle here if you like. Sew along this edge only!
Repeat this step with your lining fabric and then turn it so the seam allowance is sandwich in the middle.
Now take a deep breath cause its time for your zipper :)
Take your lining fabric and push it into your outside piece until your 2 seams are right sides together.
You need to pin your 1/2 zipper in between your 2 pieces like this.
You need the teeth part on the inside.
Guess who just found the super macro button on her camera ;)
The actual teeth need to face your outside fabric (in my case the unicorn fabric).
This picture is of the back of the zipper.
Put your zipper foot on your machine and line it up like this
See where the little intend is underneath the zipper foot, this is where you rest the 'teeth' of the zipper.
Take your time and stitch all the way around the zipper. Go slow over the seam, theres lots of layers there and we don't want any broken needles!
Depending on how long a zipper you used you want to trim a little bit off the ends now, but make sure you leave one end longer than the other, it makes it easier to get the pull back on, and don't cut too close to the edges, just like this.
Now you want to put the zipper pull back on, thread it onto the long piece first, then put the other side of the zipper into the pull and give the pull a bit of a jiggle from side to side as you shut it.
The ends of the zipper will be uneven, but thats ok, we will trim that later.Make sure the zipper is on the right way! (ask my why I'm reminding you about this)
Don't close your zipper all the way yet. Leave it open about 1/2 way.
Now give yourself a pat on the back, because you just put in a zipper! Not so hard was it? This is where I like to put in my handle. you want to open out your purse and flatten it so your zipper is in the middle of the open end. I put my handle in the very middle under the zipper.
(sorry about this pic, still working out the macro picture taking hehe) Stitch this seam using about a 3/8" seam so your sure to get all the layers. Remember theres even more layers, so take it easy and you'll be fine.
If you have a serger (overlocker) finish this seam. If you don't use a small zig zag stitch on your machine and trim the end.
Now turn your pouch through the right way (through the zipper hole) and your done!
This is the way I like my strap.
The picture of my daughter at the top is the other way. With the strap added at the start. Now go and grab your camera and send me a pic!
Aren't you clever!
I hope you enjoyed my incredibly wordy post, sorry bout that :)
Instead of a humbug bag though I want to call mine a 'pub pouch' I recon they'd be great to take to the pub with just a key card, license and change in. Maybe in a different fabric though hehe.
Hugs Paula xxx

*Edit* I have changed the way I do the handles, look here for an add on to the tutorial.


  1. oh, I hope this works...I need a make up bag and I have the zipper... Will try this later this afternoon...thanks for the tute...

  2. So nice to see you back. Congratulations on your 100th post.
    Will try to made your Pub Purse. thank you for the Tut.

  3. Thanks for the Tutorial & congratulations on the 200th post!!!
    I've really got to stop finding tutorials for things I'd like to make at midnight!!
    Have bookmarked for an attempt at a more reasonable hour of the day!

  4. I'm going to have to try this, I have never ever been able to put in a zipper and now have a few designs in my head that would benefit from zippers. I will have to try it sometime!

  5. This looks like a very well done tutorial!! I am going to gather my materials and check it out right now! Thanks a bunch! ~karen

  6. Muchas gracias por el tutorial, muy lindo tu blog, hasta pronto
    un beso desde Argentina ♥
    thanks for sharing this tutorial
    kisses for you from Argentina, i like your blog ♥

  7. This may have been the BEST sewing tutorial ever!!!
    I thank you (and my sewing machine thanks you)!
    Hugs from an Aussie Bagmaker who feared and avoided zippers- TIL NOW.

  8. OMG! thank you for this!

  9. thanks,looks so easy,i might make one

  10. I LOVE this. It looks great!! Just one question...what do you do with the other half of the zipper?

  11. This is adorable. I need to make some for Christmas gift cards. Thank you. Not wordy at all.

  12. Thanks for tutorial. I made it and gifted to my friend's daughter. She loved it. Viji

  13. Sigrún HaraldsdóttirMarch 12, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    thank you for this! i might make one

  14. Thank you for the brilliant tutorial,i love making things with zips in but havent come across this one before must try it

  15. Thank you so much for this - I'm teaching these on Friday and this is the best tutorial I can find! I have sumarised it for the students on one sheet and have included this page as a credit - I hope you are OK with that

  16. Muy bonito y fácil de hacer...Muchas gracias

  17. Thank-you so much for your well explained tutorial. The best I have come across so far. I could easily follow each step and pictures have helped me a lot also. Now to giving it a go myself.