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I prefer to have some type of closure on my bags so I thought a recessed zipper would be neat.  I didn’t actually try one out until my coworker said that she wanted a basic reversible tote, but with a zipper.  You probably remember that I attempted it a few times before coming up with something that I was satisfied with.  See the attempts here, here, and here.


Continue reading for the tutorial.  I’m going to tell you how I did it, but you should easily be able to adjust for any bag that you want to add the recessed zipper to.  I have yet to try it on a curved bag, but when I do, I will be sure to let you know how it went.

Recessed Zipper Tutorial

I’m going to start with the tutorial for my bag, then at the bottom, I will explain the calculations that I used.  So then you can determine the size of the pieces for any bag that you want to add a recessed zipper to.

My bag pieces were 13 1/2” across the bottom and 14” up the side.  I boxed my corners at 3”, which is actually 1 1/2” down from the corner when you are boxing them.  I also used a 1/4” seam allowance throughout, except for top stitching which is more like 1/8”.  My zipper was extra long, but it needs to be at least the width of your bag.


Outside Pieces (2): 13 1/2” x 14”
Straps (2): 4” x 22”
Zip Ends (2): 4” x 3”
Zip Casing (4): 11 1/2” x 1 1/2”
Top Lining Pieces (2): 13 1/2” x 2 1/4”
Bottom Lining Pieces (2): 13 1/2” x 12 1/4”

Zip Casing


Take the zip casing pieces and fold the short ends under 1/4”.


With the zipper teeth face up and the casing piece right side down, sew 1/4” from the edge to attach the zipper to the casing.  Be sure to lock your stitch!


Here you can see where to sew.  Also, you  may notice that my zipper is extra long.  I just buy long zippers and then cut them down to size for whatever project I’m working on.  That way, I always (at least almost always) have a long enough zipper.


Repeat with the other casing piece, but with the teeth down.  Be sure to line up the casing edges (not shown in the above picture), because it will be noticeable in the finished bag if they are not lined up.


Iron the casing pieces open.


Repeat the last three steps with the other side of the zipper.  Again, be sure to line up all of the edges of the casing pieces.


Top stitch the inside of the zipper casing (the part near the zipper).


Sew across the ends of the casing.  I originally sewed all the way across in order to stop the zipper, but decided that the zip ends would make a better stop for the zipper so I suggest to just sew each casing end together for a finished look.

Zip Ends


Press long sizes in by 1/4″ and fold in half with short sides touching.




Fold in short sides with raw edges toward the middle


Fold in half so that the raw edges are encased in the middle.  This is pretty much like you would make a strap.


Then fold the whole thing in half with the short sides touching.


Cut the end of the zipper so that it’s about 1 1/8” longer than the zip cover.


Place over the zip end and sew onto each end of the zipper.


The zipper is now complete!  You can see in this picture where I sewed all the way across the zipper to stop it from opening any farther, but I ended up taking out those stitches so that the zipper end could serve the same purpose.  Then, you get a slightly wider opening for the zipper.

Attach the Zipper Casings

The hardest parts are done!


Take one bottom lining piece (the large piece) and place right side up, and center the zipper with teeth face up across the top.  Place the top lining piece (small piece) right side down and pin everything together.  Sew using a 1/4” seam allowance across the top.


Press with the zipper down and top lining piece up, and then press again with the zipper up toward the top lining piece.


Now you can start to tell how the recessed zipper is away from the lining.  Repeat for the other edge of the zipper and the two lining pieces.  Be sure that the first pieces sewn together are not in your seam allowance.  Press as before.


Here you can see the lining pieces laying flat.


Sew the lining pieces together like you normally would….right sides together, along the sides and bottom.  Be sure that the zip ends are not in the seam allowance.  Box your corners like normal as well.


Here is what it will look like when it’s turned right side out, but remember, lining pieces are actually with the wrong side facing out.  The top of the top lining piece is what you will sew to your outer bag.  Everything is pretty much the same as it would be if you didn’t have the zipper included.


Sew your bag lining to the outer piece (don’t forget your straps), turn right side out, iron, top stitch, and see your recessed zipper.  Here, you have two options, either leave the zip ends loose, or you can sew them to the edge of the bag like I did.

All I did was make the zip end even with the top of the bag and centered with the side seam.  Then I sewed the zip end to the bag.


This picture is before I attached the zip end.


First I’m going to start with some general information that you will need.

  • You will want a zipper that is at least 2.5 inches longer than your bag width.
  • The recessed zipper will become part of your lining, so the outer pieces of your pattern should stay exactly the same as written.
  • The lining fabric will include the zip casing, the bottom and top of the lining and the zip ends.
  • Since my bag had boxed corners, I decided that the zipper area should be the same width (3 inches).
  • My outer bag pieces are 13.5 x 14 with a 3 inch completed boxed corner (this means that I sewed my line 1.5” down from the corner)

Zip Casing (2): 2 inches shorter than your bag width (11.5”) and half of your finished boxed corner width (1.5”).

To figure out the bottom and top of the lining pieces you have to consider your seam allowance. I tend to use 1/4” seam allowance, but this should work with a larger one.

Top Lining Pieces (2): Take your total lining piece (13 1/2 x 14) and determine how far down you want the zipper to be. I chose 2 inches and it’s just about perfect in my opinion. I actually wouldn’t go much farther down than that because then you will lose too much of your bag space.

Make the top lining pieces the original width (13 1/2”) and then add your seam allowance (1/4”) to the distance that you chose to lower your zipper (2”). So my top lining pieces were cut to 13 1/2” x 2 1/4”.

Bottom Lining Pieces (2): You will also keep the bottom lining piece the original width (13 1/2”). For the height, take your total original height (14”) and add your seam allowance (1/4”) then subtract your distance that you chose to lower your zipper (2”). So my bottom lining pieces were cut to 13 1/2” x 12 1/4”.

To double check your top and bottom lining pieces, add the heights (2 1/4”, 12 1/4”) and they should equal your original height plus two seam allowances (1/4” + 1/4” = 1/2”). As you can see, my original height is 14” + 1/2” = 14 1/2”, and 12 1/4” + 2 1/4” = 14 1/2” so my calculations are accurate.

I hope this all makes sense and that you are now able to add a recessed zipper to any bag.  As always, if you have any questions just let me know.

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Lillian has been asking me to make her a blanket for her dolls for awhile so I decided to make a quilt.  I figured it would be nice practice and probably a good idea to start small.  It’s 19 1/4 x 19 1/4 in size and I wish that I would have made it bigger because I love it!


I was thinking that I would make it 20 x 20, but I forgot to account for 1/4” seam allowances on all sides of the squares.  Each square was cut to 4 1/4” which made for easy measuring and cutting.  You could make the squares any size and the quilt would still turn out.


I did straight line quilting on each side of the seams.


Which I think looks even neater on the back.  I was able to get such straight lines because I used my “stitch in the ditch” plate on my walking foot and quilted from the front of the quilt.  I placed the guide in the ditch of each seam and followed it all the way down the quilt.  I just moved my needle all the way to the left or right to get a line on each side of the seam.


Since it was a quilt for Lillian I thought it would be cute to have her hold it.


She kept holding it higher and higher….


Until we could no longer see her head.  It also shows how small the quilt really is.


The wind almost took it away, but that was ok with her because she was more interested in the bubbles that she found.  I guess the wind is better for bubbles than quilts anyway.

Completely random, but these pictures were taken at the end of September and I just noticed that Lillian actually wore the exact same outfit today.  What are the chances?

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I’m pretty excited that I finally figured out the recessed zipper.  I tried multiple ways and just wasn’t happy with them until this version.  I took pictures for a tutorial so stay tuned for that in the next few weeks.  I’m hoping that you are able to use the tutorial to help add a recessed zipper to any bag pattern.


A little about my version….the ends are open slightly, but there are two ways to finish it.  You can either leave the zipper tabs loose, or you can sew them to the top of the bag.  I have done both, and they work well.


With a little calculation, you can place the zipper as close to or as far away from the top of the bag as you would like.  Since the zipper fits so snuggly (is that a word?) the bag still opens almost as wide as it would without the zipper.  So that is a major plus in my opinion.


A few random thoughts….

I remembered the other day, that last Thanksgiving, I made aprons for my husband, daughter, and brother-in-law and never got pictures taken.  So I have it in my mind to get the pictures done so I can show those to you.

Next month is Michelle Patterns’ annual DIY for the Holidays sale.  In the past, this is when she offered all of her patterns at a price of $5.  So if you are thinking about purchasing any of her patterns, I would suggest to wait until then.

Oh, and if anyone is interested in purchasing the orange flower bag, let me know.  It is about 13” tall, 10” wide, and 3.5” deep.  It will be $35 plus shipping, depending on where it ships.

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Have you ever heard of a Bodkin?  No?  Well, then keep reading because I’m going to explain what it is and how to use it.  I’m also going to explain a little about a new page I added to the site.

I first learned about the Bodkin from my mother-in-law. Then she gave me a gift certificate to Amazon for my birthday and it was one of the first things that I purchased.


To start out, a Bodkin is a little tool that is used to help thread elastic and/or ribbon.  You would use a Bodkin instead of a safety pin.  It’s kind of hard to see in the above picture, but it’s kind of like mini tongues.

The one I bought also came with a slightly different looking one that is for thinner ribbon or elastic.  You can see it here.  I have yet to use this other one, but you just tie the ribbon to the end and then feed it through the casing.


In order to use a Bodkin, you want to attach it to the end of the elastic.  So put the open end over the elastic, and then pull down the tiny ring to tighten the Bodkin.


Next, place the rounded end of the Bodkin into the opening of your elastic casing.  Push it all the way through the casing, just like you would if you were using a safety pin.  Just be sure that you don’t pull the tiny ring loose or the Bodkin will let go of the elastic.  If you have attached it tight enough, this should not be a problem.


Once the elastic is all the way through, just loosen the tiny ring and take the Bodkin off of the elastic.  Yes, it’s that easy to use!

I found this tool much easier to use than a safety pin and it seems safer as well.  It’s under $10 for both types so it won’t break the bank.  Oh, and did you know that September is National Sewing Month?  I’m guessing that most sewing stores have a few specials going on this month, so maybe you can find a great deal on these.

On a side note, I added a new page to the blog.  It’s called “Getting Started” and it’s a page for those that are getting started with sewing.  I have included a list of necessary tools, useful items that I use often, items that I like, projects that I suggest for beginners for their first projects, and a few suggestions that I have.  I will continue to add to it as I feel necessary and/or helpful.

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Well, it’s finally ready!  The crayon and notebook holder tutorial that some of you have been waiting for.  I first posted about this, oh, about a year ago!  Gasp!  I can’t believe it was that long ago that I first attempted this.  My goal with this was to make it so that the fat crayons (I think they are technically called large crayons) would fit in the pockets  At that time, Lillian was a little over two and still needed the fat crayons.


I was finally successful and want to share with you how I did it so that you can make a few for the little ones in your life.  With the bigger crayon pockets you can either use 8 fat crayons or 16 regular crayons.  It fits a Jr. Legal Pad, which I thought was a perfect size for the little ones.  So continue reading for the tutorial if you would like to see how I made it.

Crayon and Notebook Holder Tutorial


  • (2) 12 x 9 pieces each of fabric and fusible interfacing (I used SF101) for the inside and outside pieces (striped fabric)
  • (1) 12 1/2 x 6 piece each of fabric and fusible interfacing (I used SF101) for the crayon pocket (polka dot fabric)
  • (1) 6 x 10 piece each of fabric and fusible interfacing (I used SF101) for the book fabric (polka dot fabric)
  • (1) 2 x 3 piece of fabric for the strap
  • (1) 11 1/4 x 8 1/4 piece of Peltex (I suggest fusible on one side, but I used non-fusible)
  • 3/4” x 3/4” Hook and Loop Tape (aka Velcro)
  • Fabric marker or pencil
  • Crayons
  • Jr. Legal Pad


  • Don’t iron on any interfacing to the outside fabric until instructed, but you can go ahead and iron it on to the inside piece and the pocket pieces.
  • 1/4” seam allowance unless otherwise noted

Attach Notebook Pocket


Fold and press one long edge of the paper pocket piece 1/4 of an inch.


Fold in half with short sides together and wrong sides facing.  Top stitch along the top fold (the one you just created).


Attach to the bottom right corner of the inside piece by sewing around the three open edges.  Be sure to have the raw edges along the edge of the inside piece.  Make sure you lock your stitch at the beginning and end.


Your notebook pocket is now complete.

Make and Attach Strap


Fold strap piece in half with short sides touching and right sides facing.  Sew along the now long edge (it was the short edge before).


Turn right side out and iron with the seam down the middle.


Fold in one raw edge about a 1/4 of an inch and sew with a very small seam allowance.


This step makes it so that the strap doesn’t have a raw edge. The other edge will be within the seam allowance so there is no need to fold it into the middle of the strap.


Attach the soft hook and loop piece to the strap a 1/4” from the folded/sewn edge and center on the strap.  It should be attached to the side with the seam showing.


Attach the strap to the middle of the inside piece.  A majority of the strap will be on top of the notebook pocket and the hook and loop should be facing the book pocket.

Make and Attach the Crayon Pocket


Fold crayon pocket in half with right sides facing and long edges touching.


Top stitch on the fold.


On the inside piece, measure and mark every 1 1/8″, on the pocket piece, measure and mark every 1 1/2″ but start 1/4″ from the edge.  You may also want to mark the same spots on the top stitched edge of the crayon pocket.  These will be your guidelines to form the actual crayon pockets.

Attach to the inside piece on the opposite side of the notebook pocket.  Start by sewing the two short raw edges to the top and bottom of the inside piece using about a 1/8″ or less seam allowance.


From there, start making your pockets.  I started in the middle, then the middle of that and so on.  Make sure to match your lines so each pocket is the same size.

To make the pockets, I started from the raw edge and sewed straight up the pocket piece.  Be sure to lock your stitch at the top of the pocket or it won’t hold when the crayons are being taken out and put back in.


Next, sew along the bottom of the crayon pocket.  In order to get the pockets fairly even, I pushed the middle of each pocket down and kind of forced it to form two pleats.  This way, the pocket is more centered and they don’t each bunch on one side.


Hopefully between the two pictures you can sort of see what I did.

Prepare Outside Piece


Attach the other piece of hook and loop tape to the outside piece centered on the short edge and 1/2″ over.  Be sure it’s on the right side of the fabric if it’s facing right side up.


Iron on the Peltex and interfacing to the outer piece.  If you only have regular Peltex, be sure that the interfacing holds it in place.  To do this, center both pieces on the wrong side of the outside piece, then iron so that the glue from the interfacing traps the Peltex in place.

Again, to make this easier, I suggest using Peltex that is fusible on one side, and if so, then be sure the fusible side is facing the outside piece.  In this case, you wouldn’t necessarily also need the interfacing, but it won’t hurt.

Finish the Crayon and Notebook Holder


With right sides together, sew the outer piece and the inside piece together making sure the hook and loop tape are on opposite ends.  Leave an opening about 4″ long so you can turn.  This is somewhat difficult to turn because of the Peltex, so that is why I suggest such a large opening.

Clip the corners, turn right side out, and then iron the seams flat.12-08-24_CrayonNotebookHolder10.jpg

Top stitch about an 1/8″ from the edge being sure to close the hole that was left open for turning.  My machine had a little bit of trouble sewing over the crayon pockets so make sure you start out with a new needle.


Now let the kids play with their new Crayon and Notebook Holder.  This has been perfect for Lillian to take on long car rides, except for the fact that she decided to color the striped fabric and her car seat.  Thank goodness for washable crayons!

Linked to We Did It Wednesday, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Sundae Scoop