Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 Finish-A-Long Tutorial :: Metal Zips 3 Ways

While not a pouch tutorial per se, this post will at the very least give you three ways to use metal zippers in just about any pouch tutorial out there. I'll show you how I sew a metal zipper in a pouch:

1. from end to end of the zipper, with no zipper tabs (top in photo below)
2. from end to end of the zipper, with zipper tabs (bottom in photo below)
3. trimming a zipper that's too long, with zipper tabs (middle in photo below)

All samples were made with 9" metal zippers, measured from metal end to metal end.

Let's start with the simplest version, edge to edge with no zipper tabs.

1 - Cut pouch front, back, and two lining pieces 1" longer/wider than your zipper. (I cut mine 6 1/2" tall by 10" wide.) Then place each end of your zipper 1/2" from the edge of your fabric as you are constructing the pouch. The zipper ends may hang over a tad, but they can just be trimmed later. 

Using a 1/4" seam to sew your pouch together, that will leave just enough ease for that zipper to sit snugly but comfortable in your pouch when turned right-side out.

2 - To make a pouch with zipper tabs, using the whole length of zipper, cut pouch front, back, and two lining pieces 7 1/2" tall by 11 1/2" wide. Also cut two zipper tabs 1 1/2" by 3".

Fold and press 1/4" along one longest side of each tab. Fold tab in half crosswise, and press so it measures 1 1/4" by 1 1/2".

I find  the open end of the zipper a little finicky to sew together - see above on the orange zipper how it doesn't lie straight? So I like to open my zipper and stitch the two ends together to keep them aligned.

Then it's easy to wrap the fold of a zipper tab snug up to the metal ends of the zipper. Use your zipper foot to sew across each end, close to the zipper stops.

Trim that excess tab edge so it's even with the side of the zipper. Don't trim the ends, just the overhanging side.

Now the zipper measures 11 1/2" long and fits the width of your pouch fabric perfectly.

3 - Lastly, there will be occasions where you want to make a pouch with zipper tabs and a zipper shorter than what yours measures. My attempt at removing zipper teeth was, um, shall we say unsuccessful? So I've come up with an alternate method that worked great for me.

Cut front, back, and two lining pieces 7" tall by 10 1/2" wide for your sample pouch. Make tabs that will be sewn onto the zipper ends as in option #2. On the tail end of zipper, place tab on as before, snug against the bottom stop. We will adjust the zipper length from the open end of the zipper.

Make a mark 8" from the end of your zipper, on the open end. Place your second tab along that line, overlapping zipper as before, but sew from each edge just to zipper teeth and then back-stitch back off the tab.

Lift tab and trim zipper teeth with small scissors as shown. Remaining teeth under the end tab should rest within your 1/4" seam allowance.

Fold tab back over zipper end and trim excess zipper tape. Your zipper with tabs now measures 10 1/2" long and fits the width of your pouch fabric perfectly.

Of course, if you use these techniques in other pouch patterns, you'll need to adjust your zipper length measurements accordingly. In all cases with the examples in this post, pouch fabric pieces were cut as wide as the entire zipper (zip length + tabs, if used). I hope you find the basic techniques helpful!


  1. very helpful. as many pouches & bags as I have made, I have shied away from metal zippers. you make me want to give them a go! thanks

  2. your last example is a brilliant stroke of genius! Thank you!

  3. I love the way you removed the teeth in the final example!

  4. Thank you for this tutorial!

  5. I'm a visual learner and you have made it so much easier for me to understand the technique. Thank you.

  6. Thanks for the tips .Sure I will try it.

  7. Thanks that gives me more zipper confidence.

  8. I've sewn a lot of zippers into garments through the years. But now I'm about to step into the world of pouches and bags, and I don't have a handle on all those zipper tricks. Thanks so much for letting me in on the secrets :)

  9. Clever you! I tend to stick to nylon zips - perhaps I need to be braver

  10. Great Post - thanks for sharing all these tips!

  11. I have never used a metal zipper! Now that you have shown how to deal with a too long metal zipper...I may give it a try!

  12. Thanks, I have used all my nylon zips. now I can shorten neatly those metal ones.

  13. Brilliant tutorial, many thanks x

  14. Thank you for this very useful tutorial. Now I know why some zipper pouches look so neat :)

  15. Thank you for a great tutorial. Now I have solutions to those tricky situations.

  16. Yay for a quick tip on how to get rid of excess metal teeth!!! Thank you for sharing :)

  17. Lovely pouches! I especially love the decorative quilting! Also - your zip organization from your newsletter is such a great idea!

  18. Great idea on shortening the zipper! I too, have tried removing the teeth and it's not any fun.

  19. Your technique to remove metal teeth is ingeniously simple. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! I was sure there had to be a way!