If you need a zipper for a project, you can just sew one in and be done with it — or you can take the extra step of covering the zipper ends with fabric. You'll have a functional zipper either way, but the zipper with the covered ends will look more professional. And that's what you're here for, right?
We'll demo the covered-end technique on a simple zippered pouch but you can easily adapt it to all kinds of items, like a handbag, a clutch or even a pocket (never lose your loose change again!).
Keep in mind that you may decide to cover just the bottom end of the zipper on a garment, such as a half-zip pullover. Basically, any time you don’t need the zipper to separate completely at the bottom, just add the tab at the bottom of the zipper before sewing it in place.
Covering zipper ends is an incredibly straightforward process. Still, it's best to practice it on a basic item, like this pouch, before diving into a high-stakes project that you really don’t want to mess up.
The Zippered Pouch
What You Need
- Two pieces of exterior fabric, 8½-by-6½ inches
- One piece of fabric to make the zipper tabs, 2-by-4 inches (it can be the same fabric you used for the exterior)
- Two pieces of lining fabric, 8½-by-6½ inches
- One 7-inch zipper
- Interfacing (optional — if your outer fabric is lightweight, you might want to apply interfacing to give your pouch more structure)
Trim the ends of the zipper tape back to the metal stoppers on either end.
2. Fold and Press
Fold the 2-by 4-inch piece of fabric in half lengthwise and press. Now open up the piece and fold in one side to the center crease, and press. Repeat for the other side. Fold again along the original center crease and press.
Folded up, the piece should now measure ½-by-4 inches. Cut this in half so you have two tabs measuring ½-by-2 inches.
3. Hide the Edges
Open one of the tabs and tuck the end of the zipper inside. Topstitch close to the zipper edge. For the zipper pull end, you’ll need to slightly unzip the zipper. Make sure the two sides of the zipper are as close together as possible when you're topstitching the tab on.
Trim any excess fabric on the raw edges of the zipper tab, so the tab is flush with the side of the zipper tape.
4. Center the Zipper
Center the zipper along the top edge of the fabric. With one of your lining pieces right side up, center the zipper (also right side up) along the top. Place one piece of outer fabric right side down on top of the lining, with the zipper sandwiched in between.
With your zipper foot attachment, sew along the top edge with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Press the lining and the outer fabric away from the zipper. Now topstitch the lining and the outer fabric together by sewing along the edge of the zipper with a ⅛-inch seam allowance.
7. Repeat Steps 4 to 6
With the other piece of fabric and lining, repeat this process to sew the second half of the bag.
8. Pin the Pieces Together
Unzip the zipper about 1½ inches. Pin the lining pieces, right sides together. Pin the outer pieces, right sides together. Starting with the lining side, sew with a ½-inch seam allowance. Don’t forget to leave a roughly 2-inch gap for turning in the lining.
When you reach the zipper tabs, sew as close as you can next to them without sewing through them. If you pull back the seam allowances of the lining, you should be able to see where the zipper tabs are.
9. Turn Right Side Out
Clip corners to reduce bulk, then turn the pouch (right side out) through the gap left in the lining. Whip stitch the gap closed. Press.
You're done! But here's one more idea to consider: Since there's no need for the zipper tabs to match the exterior fabric of your garment or handbag, you can use the covered zipper ends as a fun opportunity to play with an accent. Think about adding scraps of leather or suede, or fabric in a contrasting color. Now that you know the technique, you can zip off and try any combo you can imagine!