Monday, June 29, 2015

How Not to Sew A Zippered Pouch

I belong to a group that gets together weekly during the adult education semester and shares projects. When the person who had been doing most of the teaching decided to take time off, there was a call for volunteers. I wanted to do my share, so I decided to do a class on "How to Sew a Simple Zippered Pouch" -- not so much because I thought there was anyone in the class who didn't know how to do this already, but because it was something I had recently learned to do. I am afraid of putting in zippers, and had been avoiding any project that included one. This was a small project, and even if I blundered, I wouldn't be wasting a lot of material.

Six completed zippered pouches later, I had learned a lot from my mistakes.

First mistake: Don't spend so much time looking at zippered pouch tutorials online that you don't actually make a zippered pouch. There are so many zippered pouch tutorials online, it is hard to choose.

One of my favorite ones is Jenny Doan's How To Make A Simple Zippered Pouch. Jenny makes everything look so easy, and fun, she deserves all her awards.

But if you want a lined pouch, you will have to look a little further. The Sewing Loft has a list of 100 sewing tutorials.  You can get lost deciding which to make. Many of them just seem to be copying each other, with minor changes in fabric type and dimensions.

I ended up following the free tutorial offered on Craftsy. Kristin Link has a good walk-through on how to make a simple lined pouch and there is also another class on putting in zippers. You do have to sign up to use the website, but the class is free.

Second mistake: Pay attention to the tutorial, don't just barge ahead without paying attention to the details. I thought "That looks so easy, I think I've got it." and then I found out I didn't have it. If you are determined to just storm ahead I would suggest using batik fabric.

Things to pay attention to in the Craftsy video: Although it is not shown, Kristin clearly says that you can fuse the interfacing to your outer fabric and then cut it out. I think this is worth repeating.

Another thing to be aware of is, although she shows how to tack your zipper down by using fabric glue before you sew, you need to be very careful that your pieces are accurately cut and aligned, otherwise your zipper will end up wonky. When I took Home Ec back in mumble mumble, we were taught to hand-baste, and then machine-baste, before we sewed in a zipper. I've been told that some people even use fusing tapes to make sure that the zipper is not going to slip away from the fabric.

Third mistake: If you use the gluestick method, make sure the end of your gluestick is clean. I had been using the gluestick on a piece of hand-dyed fabric, and ended up getting a smear of color on the side of the zipper. Fortunately I was using a washable glue stick, so it laundered out.

More mistakes:

  • Not ironing as you go along. 
  • Not taking the time to re-size the fabric and batting for the back of the fabric pouch after you have made the front piece that includes the zipper (everyone sews in zippers differently).
  • Not making sure that directional fabrics are both placed in correct position to each other on the zipper side of the Craftsy pouch. 
  • Not using the correct batting thickness - if your batting is too thick it will be hard to sew through all the layers, if your batting is too thin, you may end up with a limp pouch.
Other thoughts: 
  • If you don't have a zipper foot, you may be able to adjust your sewing machine needle right or left.
  • Be sure that the zipper, batting, and lining are lined up carefully before you sew (I know I said this already, but it is worth saying twice.)
  • Try buying a packet of "zipper by the yard" to save money. It takes a little practice to get the hang of putting the zipper together, but one advantage is that if you don't cut off the extra right away, you can move the zipper pull out of the way while you are sewing, and not have to worry about 'sewing around the zipper pull'.

I'll put in pictures of my failures when I can find my camera. 

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