How To Install A Zipper And Enjoy It

Lazies, Who the heck created the standard methods for installing a zipper? In all of the apparel sewing I have ever done, I have to say that installing zippers has always been a mysterious and aggravating proposition for me. Successful or not – it’s far from fun.

Chelsea Tote LGD116

Why Must We Suffer For Our Zippers
So I’ve never enjoyed installing zippers. It’s more like I’ve survived the process each time. Finally it occurred to me that I didn’t have to follow the hateful instructions that come with zippers. And I developed a new method of my own.

No-Fear Dreams
I have several methods to easily and successfully install a zipper. One of my favorites is my no-fear zipper technique. This was one of those 2 a.m. ideas that got me out of bed one night.

I was working on a project that needed an easy solution for installing a zipper. The problem literally kept me up at night. And when I finally went to bed, the problem worked itself out in my sleep. If I had known that’s how to solve problems, I would have gone to bed early and often!

Since that time, I have used this method for installing a zipper in a number of my designs – and I enjoy it. The no-fear method is a fabulous technique that you can use on so many projects, not just my designs.

chelsea-flat-corners.jpg back-view.jpg
Two more views of Chelsea and the no-fear zipper.

Free Online Video Demonstration
I’m happy to announce that you can see our no-fear zipper technique demonstrated online for free. Our Chelsea Tote episode of Kaye’s Quilting Friends has been renewed for another year of airing at

In this episode, I walk through the construction of our Chelsea Tote, which features the no-fear zipper technique. In this design, the shoulder strap contains a zipper. Keep zipped for one shoulder strap, unzip and you have two shoulder straps.

Simply put, the no-fear technique is a fabric casing added to the side edges of the zipper, sort of like a quilt binding. Any of our designs which use this technique include the detailed instructions in that pattern. These designs include:
Take Along Bags LGD106
Towne Purse LGD107
City Bag LGD112
Chelsea Tote LGD116
My Favorite Duffle Bag LGD201

Which Zipper To Use
I usually work with Coats and Clark poly all-purpose closed-bottom zippers. They are affordable and come in a wide variety of colors.

If you’ve let zippers keep you from trying certain projects, go watch the video and then consider getting your gumption up and giving this a try.


[tags]quilted tote, how to install zipper, quilt pattern[/tags]

Leave a Lazy Comment

15 Responses to “How To Install A Zipper And Enjoy It”

  1. Sequana — February 21, 2008 @ 9:54 am

    I’ve made this bag, and the zipper could NOT be easier to put in. I just love your patterns.

  2. Linda — February 21, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

    If any of you Lazies are looking for a great source for LOTS of zippers, try “SewTrue”. I was making quilted cosmetic bags and kleenex keepers both zippered bags at Christmas (completely done in my Embroidery hoop — now that is LAZY!) and I needed a source for 9 inch zippers quick. Sew True was very easy to order from and my zippers came very quickly. Not affiliated with them, they were just great to work with.

  3. DonnaRae — February 21, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

    Hi, I wrote you a while back about this same bag Chelsea Tote. I guess you never received it. I made this bag and love it, and want to make more for my friends but I can’t figure how to get it to stand straight with the sides in like your bag. Any help sure would be appreciated. Also, I had a good time making the bag. I made it with the pattern along with you on Kaye Wood TV vidio. I have the other two patterns that you have vidios on at Kaye Wood and am going to make those with you also. I will send you a picture of my Chelsea Tote. Everyone loves it, but me wants to know about the sides. Thanks, DonnaRae

  4. Joan Hawley — February 21, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

    Hi DonnaRae,

    I’m sorry I missed your earlier message.

    I always press the bag in the shape I want it to keep.

    In the first photo of this post, the top side edges are tucked in. Tuck them in and work them a bit until they look the same. Then press carefully lay the bag on your ironing board and press to keep these folds.

    In the last photo, the sides are standing straight out at attention. Again, place the bag on your ironing board and press the bag at the sides edges to keep this shape.

    Always let the pressed area cool.

    I didn’t use any special products, tools, or interfacing to get the bag to stand up. However you can always add interfacing to help your project have more posture.


  5. Deirdre Hallett — February 24, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

    I do a lot of fashion sewing, and have gotten pretty good at installing zippers, although it will never be my favorite task.

    I was excited to see this method of installing zippers. I think that with a little tweaking and starting out with a thinner fabric (lining), this could be easily adapted to clothing items.

    I’ll be starting my Spring/Summer clothing soon, and I can’t wait to try this method.

    I rarely make any type of bag, but I’m thinking about trying one of Joan’s.

  6. Sharon Hoyt — March 12, 2008 @ 11:34 am

    Where can I purchase your patterns. Thank you Sharon Hoyt

    – – – – –

    Hi Sharon,
    Our patterns are available at local quilt shops around the country as well as many place online. We have a list of some of these places at our website here:

  7. Myra Frampton — March 22, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

    Hello Joan
    I met you at a Houston trade show several years ago and saw you demo your fabulous technique for installing zippers. It made everything so easy and adaptable.
    Unfortunately it’s been a few years since I have installed a zipper and I forget how to do your method. I did have the towne purse pattern but I can’t find it of course!
    Are you able to send me the instructions for zippers? It would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your time
    Myra Frampton

  8. conishkee — April 23, 2009 @ 8:28 pm

    I just saw the demo on how to put this bag together and I have to admit that, although it’s never been one of my favorites to attempt to make, I now have a newfound respect for this bag. As Joan continued with the demo, and seeing how easy it was to assemble, the more and more I was liking it, thinking of the gifts I can make for friends, my sisters and definitely for myself. This bag is totally functional and fun. I plan to order this pattern too. You can never have enough of Joan’s patterns.

  9. jennifer — November 16, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

    Hi, I have tried several times to link to your “How to install a zipper and enjoy it” video but it takes me to a different site…any suggestions? Thank you.

  10. Helen — November 20, 2009 @ 7:44 am

    I just love your purses and totes.
    I just started to making purses and tote bags. The one that I just finished came out really good. But I haven’t been able to find something to put in the bottom.It is about 20 inches long and even the bag e bottoms are not that long. Can you tell me what I can use? I would really appreciate it.
    Thank you so much.

  11. lynne holland — February 4, 2010 @ 7:23 am

    i am trying to put a zipper in a slinkey,a slinky is a 4 way stretch lyrca type materal for a horse the slinky has a zipper from there chin down to the middle of there chest the zipper is 24 inch heavy zipper ,no one can help me with this can you

  12. Karen Holder — April 23, 2012 @ 9:13 am

    I want to install a purse zipper without attaching it to purse ends.
    I will leave an open space of 1″ on each end.

  13. ame rica — July 1, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    Hi Joan,
    I have been following your blog, probably from its inception. I always appreciated your free pattern tutorials whenever I needed a new handbag idea.
    Thank you for all your creative genius that has helped me make a better bag.

  14. Lajuana — March 31, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

    The video no longer exisit. Is there another video in installing g zipper into a bag.


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