How to put in a box zip

Date: 21st June 2017 | Category: Tutorial

How to put in a box zip

Essential Sewing Techniques

A tutorial by Debbie von Grabler-Crozier exclusively for Pretty Patches

Hands up who might make more bags if it wasn’t for the prospect of all those zips? That’s almost everyone then! After all, zips are daunting and almost impossible to put in accurately, especially for the home sewist with a normal machine… right? Wrong!

Zips are easy, and like most things you need the following:

  • Practice – no, it won’t happen while you are asleep. The more zips you sew, the better at it you’ll get. You will get better at unpicking too, initially, and that is part of the learning process. Just keep going.
  • Some procedures to follow – you can’t fudge your way through with fingers firmly crossed. Sometimes you just have to know how to do a thing. The good news is that the technique is fairly standard, so once you’ve mastered it, it is yours forever.

You'll also need:

  • A zipper foot. Don’t dismiss this as obvious – although some people do use a normal foot, a zipper foot is easier because you can get closer to the zip and manoeuvre better.

Right, so armed with these three things, let’s make it happen!

Grab yourself a zip. About 18cm is an easy one to find and to work with. Because we are just practising, you need some fabric too and we will keep that very simple. Cut one piece of fabric 35 x 35cm for the ‘outer’. In reality, this would be the outside panel of a bag, for example. Cut a second piece of fabric 40cm long x 25cm wide. This is going to be the pocket lining.

Grab some thin double-sided tape too. Pins can distort the work, and this way you avoid having to baste the zip in instead. Tape is easier all round!

TIP Usually the outer fabric would be interfaced in some way, but we’ll leave that and just concentrate on the zip. My usual choice of interfacing, though, is H630 which is a Vlieseline product. It makes a bag look more professional.

Prep the zip first by sewing the ends together on the opening end (see below). This keeps it aligned as you sew, and won’t be visible on the outside.


Find the vertical centre of the pocket lining and the outer and mark both with a pressed crease (see below). These will be a godsend in a moment!


Now take the pocket lining and turn it to the wrong side. Your pattern will specify measurements but, for now, measure down 3cm from one of the short ends (doesn’t matter which one) and draw a box 1cm deep x 18cm long in the dead centre. This is the sewing line.


TIP: the box will always be 1cm deep x the length of the zip from stopper to stopper NOT tape end to tape end. Again, a good pattern will always give this measurement.

Now draw another line along the centre of the box horizontally and put two angles each end (see below). This is the cutting line, and the angles will help you achieve a perfectly square box with no puckering at the edges.


Use those two creases that you made earlier to align the pocket lining onto the outer, with right sides together. Your pocket top will be flush with the top of the bag.


Pin and sew around the sewing line.


Cut along the cutting line, including the two angles each end.


‘Post’ the lining through the hole that you have just cut, as shown (below) then smooth it out on the back. Press well.


Run some double-sided tape along the sides of your zip.


Adhere the zip to the wrong side (the lining side) and make sure that it is perfect.


Topstitch the zip in from the right side.


Complete the pocket on the back by bringing the other short end of the lining up to meet the first one. Pull the outer out of the way (see below) and sew the sides and top.


That’s all there is to it. You just put a zip in!

One more little tip for a really professional finish: Use thread to match your zip in the bobbin, so that the stitching isn’t visible from inside the pocket. (This sort of zip shows in the pocket – that is normal.)

You can decorate your zip pull with a piece of ribbon, a handmade charm or anything. Most of these sorts of pockets are put in this way and they are fabulously handy on a bag. Now you’ve no excuse to avoid them any more!

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April, 2018 issue

April, 2018 issueThis issue of Pretty Patches is packed with adaptable projects that are simple to follow and easy to make your own, should you wish.

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