Zipper tape is an essential bag making accessory. It is used to create the opening and closing mechanism for many handbags and purses. Zipper tape comes in a wide range of colours, sizes, and designs to match any bag making project.
It is important to choose the right zipper tape for your project, you will need to consider the size of the bag or purse you are making, the type of fabric you are using, and the desired look of the bag or purse. For example, if you are making a small bag, you will need to use a smaller sized zipper tape such as #3. If you are using a heavy fabric, you will need to use a heavier zipper tape along the lines of #5, and if you want a more decorative look, you can use a zipper tape with a different colour or pattern, there are some amazing patterned zippers on the market for bag making and you can even get some designs with invisible teeth to give a much different look to your finished project.
Many bag making zipper tapes come on a continuous roll that you can buy by the metre or yard, you would then buy separate zipper pulls and attach them once you have cut your zipper tape to size. I have a short video on YouTube showing how to attach the zipper pull to the tape which can be found here.
Once you have chosen the right zipper tape, you will need to sew it to the fabric of your bag or purse. It is best to use a zipper foot on your sewing machine when doing this as it will allows you to sew close to the zipper teeth.
Attaching zipper tape to a handmade handbag is made easier by attaching it with double sided tape first, simply place along the top edge of your fabric, remove the backing and lay your zipper tape over matching the edge of the zipper tape to the edge of the fabric, you can then baste it in place or go straight in with your lining fabric and sew them together with the zipper sandwiched in between. Personally I still always baste my zipper in place before attaching my lining but it is personal preference.
If you are using nylon teeth zipper you can sew over the teeth, if sewing with a zipper that has metal teeth you will need to lift your needle and foot over the teeth as trying to sew through the metal teeth will damage the needle and may knock your timing out on the sewing machine, which can be costly error and put your machine out of action until it can be looked at by a professional.
Here are some tips and tricks for sewing zipper tape perfectly:
Use a zipper foot on your sewing machine. This will help you sew close to the zipper teeth without damaging them.
Start by sewing the top of the zipper tape to the fabric. This will help you keep the zipper tape in place while you sew the rest of it to the fabric.
Sew slowly and carefully when sewing near the zipper teeth. You don't want to break the teeth or damage the zipper tape.
Use a sharp needle. A dull needle will make it difficult to sew through the zipper tape and fabric.
Test the zipper before you finish sewing the bag. Make sure that it opens and closes smoothly. Nothing worse than finishing a project and finding your zip isn't working.
With a little practice, you'll be able to sew zipper tape perfectly every time!