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Conversational Threads

Issue #116 – Quick to Make

trisha | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

I just purchased the January 05 issue (no. 116) and the Quick to Make feature on #76 has me scratching my head. The instructions tell you to cut off the zipper stop and remove the slider to construct and insert the zipper – then after the bag is partially constructed you are instructed to replace the zipper stop, check to see if the zipper works and continue on to complete this cute bag. I have been trying to replace the zipper stop and I find it impossible. Has anyone tried this project yet? (I realize that this issue is quite new.) This looks like a really nice gift idea if I can only make it work! Anyone????????


  1. FitnessNut | | #1

    Aw, c'mon now! That issue isn't even in the stores here yet! No fair!!!! I was hoping (against all common sense, I know) that it would be here early.....I'm in the middle of cutting a velvet dress and jacket and I know there is a velvet article in this issue.

    Seriously, it is difficult to replace the slider on certain kinds of zippers once you get it off. Is it a coil or large toothed type of zipper? Was it the top stops or the bottom that you removed?

    1. trisha | | #4

      The instructions call for a packaged zipper (I assume a coil because of the type of project) with the bottom stop removed as well as the slider. The thing that strikes me is that the designer has you construct this bag including the zipper 'strips' and then tells you to replace the slider and make sure the zipper closes.

      (As an aside, reading the directions further, I think I see another problem coming but that might have to be another post - I am trying to figure out this particular problem first!)

      I purchase Threads religiously and when I saw this particular issue at my dealers (on Nov. 11 at Nimble Thimble in Lancaster, PA) and spotted this project I was very anxious to get started on it.

      This is what makes sewing sooooo much fun !!!

    2. SewNancy | | #5

      There was another project of 3 D boxes that had similar instructions and I never made it because I couldn't figure out how to do the zipper either.  I just got the issue yesterday and haven't read the instructions for that article, but it looked really fun so if anyone comes up with a solution to the zipper problem let us know.  Can't you  make it without taking the zipper apart? 


      1. stitchmd | | #6

        One possibility is to use a longer zipper with the top set where it should end on one side, and the bottom set where it extends past the bag. Open it all the way to sew the bag. This way you won't be working with totally flat pieces, but you won't have to wrestle with all the layers (especially the ruffle) at the closed end, just a narrower opening.

        Once everything is sewn, slide the pull to where it should be, remove the stop and replace it at the new bottom end and cut off the excess. A few hand stitches over the bottom teeth will keep the ends firmly attached to each other. Tuck this end under the top edges and slip stitch the bag edges together to make sure it doesn't show.

  2. stitchmd | | #2

    Prying the stop off without damaging the little prongs is a PITA, and getting it back in place with the coils or teeth lined up and the slide in place and functional is very challenging.

    How about a small separating zipper? They come in doll sizes and kids' wear sizes, so surely there will be one that is not too long, or you can tuck the end inside the lining or something.

    1. trisha | | #3

      Your suggestion of the separating zipper is a very good one; however finding the right color and size might pose a bit of a problem in my area. I was merely following the directions in the instructions and was hit with this challenge. Fortunately, I decided to play around with the zipper before I cut and stitched the bag components so all I have 'lost' is a coil zipper that has its bottom stop and slider removed. I am determined to make these for gifts but this has me stumped!

  3. rjf | | #7

    I hadn't read the new issue yet but your question reminded me of the tetrahedron bags a few years back so I looked up the article you working from.  I don't think you need to replace the zipper stop because you're going to sew over the end so the zipper tab can't come off but maybe reinforcing that stitching would be a good idea.  But there is something more drastic in those directions unless I'm not reading it right.  If you close the zipper, turn it wrong-side-out and sew the ends, you won't be able to turn it right side out.  Is that what you read?      rjf

    1. trisha | | #8

      Yes, RIF, the part about closing the zipper with the lining side out then trying to turn the project to the right side most definitely IS the next problem. Maybe I am missing something in these instructions; I have read and re-read them and I am really looking forward to hearing what others think of this construction approach when they get their copy of this issue.

      1. SewNancy | | #9

        I read the instructions last night and I have yet to figure out how to get the zipper back together.  Could it be sewn with a much larger zipper and cut to size later?


        1. SewTruTerry | | #10

          If you are using a coil zipper you must be aware of which end is the starting point and which is the ending point.  In other words this type of zipper is a one-way zipper.  The pull will only go on if you start at the bottom of the zipper as though you are using a seperating zipper. You will also have to have a couple of straight pins to help you out on this. First get the pull lined up so that the end of the teeth are as even as possible.  Then place the straight pins into the zipper tape and pin into your ironing board if possible and gently pull on the pull to get it started. You may have to use some forcep type of clamping if you have them but if you get it started right you should be able to do it without the forceps.  Forceps by the way are those strange looking tweezer things that are used in surgery to secure areas of the surgical field. They are great for use in the sewing room as  they really hold securely and will lock real tight.  Good luck hope this helps.

  4. AmyC | | #11

    I just made this bag!   I got the zipper pull back on by cutting a little ramp on the zipper tapes.  It didn't make it easy, but it was easier.  

    My bag didn't turn out as well as the ones in the magazine.  Not sure why- maybe my proportions were off.  I wish I'd just made a simple tote instead. 

    1. edgy | | #12

      CarolFresia -- could you chime in here? A LOT of us are having trouble w these instructions. Maybe they need to be studied by the author???nancy

      1. carolfresia | | #15

        Hi, Nancy, and all who are doing this project. Fear not--I have some answers for you, but not all of them just yet. A reader has sent in some tips for making the bag that are very good, but we have to obtain permission before I can post them here for you.

        In the meantime, Judy Neukam says that you can do this whole thing without separating your zipper, you'll just have to sew it all as a tube. It's very doable, just very hard to show clearly in a diagram. Hence the decision to show the separated-zipper version. You can also use a longer zipper than needed for the top, and leave the excess length dangling off the end until you sew the ends shut.

        For turning it right side out, zip the zipper closed, to verify that you can do so, and leave it closed. Make the box pleats and baste the end that has the zipper pull first, then reach inside the bag, open the zipper partway (even a lot of the way if you want), and sew the second pleated end. Now you can turn the bag right-side out. You could sew the ends with the zipper partially open, actually, but it's a little easier to sew an end when the zipper is holding it closed there.

        I hope this was helpful. These little bags are darling in real life--I wish the lovely linings were visible in more of them. One of these in a smallish size would be the perfect packaging for a holiday gift--a sparkly brooch or pair of drop earrings, perhaps? Or do it in a sporty fabric, replace the ruffle with piping, and put in some men's toiletries.


        1. trisha | | #16

          I was leaning more toward using a longer zipper for this project - disregarding the instructions of the bag designer in the magazine for removing the slider. This bag reminds me a lot of the little Humbug bags with the addition of a lining and the extra room provided by the pleats.

          A very big thank you to all who have come up with a viable solution to the problems encountered in the Threads article.  This information will be so helpful to those who look to this forumn for guidance when they encounter the confusing instructions for this project.

        2. FitnessNut | | #17

          Thanks, Carol. Now I really can't wait to have a look at this issue! It still isn't available here yet....I even went out looking in the stores tonight so I could see this bag, but no luck. And I'm wallowing in metres of velvet......I WANT my Threads!!!!!

          1. SewNancy | | #18

            Boy, am I glad I finally subscribed. I got mine last week!  My husband gave it to me for Chanukah and has been renewing it all on his own.  I got tired of making sure I went to Borders at the right time so that I got it before it sold out!  Anyway, I really want to make one of these bags and I am enjoying all the info. 


          2. FitnessNut | | #19

            Oh, I've been a subscriber for over 15 years now! (Hey, how did THAT happen!) Its just that I'm in Canada, and I swear that it arrives by horse and buggy, LOL ;-) I really want to get into the velvet article, sometime before the outfit is finished.....I could use a few tips....And those bags sound intriguing.

          3. mainestitcher | | #20

            I just did an experiment here at the lab. I have some old metal zippers. After threading one side onto the slider, I used a wire cutter to remove about one half ince of the metal teeth. I slid the second tape into the pull and *viola* success.The nylon zip was a bit more of a challenge. After inserting one side of the zipper in the slider, I cut through the nylon teeth, trying not to cut the tape. By holding the second tape with a hemostat, I was able to pull the slider up the zipper and get both sides to engage.Your milage may vary.

          4. SewCreative | | #21

            These purses do indeed look darling, a longer zipper was going to be my solution too as I have tried in the past to re-attach the slider and it just isn't worth the agro.

            I used to have a subscription to Threads but there wasn't any cost savings (in Canada) and the magazine was in the stores before it was in my mail box so I gave it up.  I have every issue so I have developed an internal clock that tells me when to go to the store to get the next issue!

          5. Stefanie | | #22

            There are some photos of finished bags on http://www.patternreview.com - they are beautiful. Some people have indeed used longer zippers. This project is taking off in a big way. I do hope you can get permission from the reader to publish their tips, Carol.

          6. punky | | #23

            Hi! Where on the Pattern Review.com website are the photos? I'm a new member there, but can't seem to locate them.



          7. punky | | #26


            Many thanks!


          8. carolfresia | | #25

            Here's the helpful reader-supplied tips I mentioned. Many thanks to Monty Leitch for providing this information.

            "I love the "Quick to Make: Clever five-step bag" (Jan 05, Number 116, p. 76). However, one important change is needed in Step 5, which directs the sewer to "Put the slider on the zipper, make sure the zipper closes, and leave it closed . . ." If you leave it closed while you sew the ends of the bag together, you'll not be able to turn the bag to the right side! So, after checking that the zipper closes properly, open it about halfway before sewing the ends of the bag together so that you'll have a way to turn the finished bag right-sides-out.

            Also, a couple of tips:

            Before removing the slider from your zipper, mark the wrong side of the tape with a water soluble marker or pencil (the marks won't show). This will insure that you never sew on your zipper inside out . . . as I have done on other projects.

            By far the most challenging part of this project is putting the slider back on the zipper. Finally, I think I've found a way to make this easier. Snip a bit of the coil from one side of the zipper tape (a scant quarter inch), leaving the tape at full width and length. Put the coil and the unsnipped tape through one side of the slider. Then put the snipped tape through the other side. This will enable you to hold both tapes at once as you pull the slider onto the coils and into place. Without this step, it's nearly impossible to get hold of both tapes at once to pull the slider on."

          9. cafms | | #27

            I made the bag using a seam in the bottom as was discussed in the article when using a directional fabric, but did not sew the seam until the zipper was in place.  I sewed the fashion fabric pieces, ruffles, and the linings to each side of the closed zipper as was described in the article.  The zipper is between the ruffle and the lining and was the same length as my fabric.   Sew the bottom of the two fashion fabrics together and then lining pieces.  Turn the fashion fabric to the right side through an open side and the lining slips inside, forming a tube.  Turn the whole thing lining side out through the open side and continue with finishing the sides as in the article.   Sew the zipper pull end closed first, partially open the zipper, then sew the other end.  I used velvet for the outside and the ruffle so the seam was pretty thick but it worked out nicely.

          10. suesew | | #28

            I understitched the lining to the zipper before I finished off the sides. There is so much going on at the zipper that this helped keep the fabric out of the teeth. I also did not have any trouble not separating the zipper before sewing the bag. I also stitched that final binding that finished off theraw edges on by hand. It's very short and probably saved me a few needles. It's easy to sew it on by hand since you can simply catch it to the top fabric and you don't have to push a needle all the way through about l2 layers.

            Edited 12/6/2004 11:48 pm ET by suesew

        3. violet | | #32

          Okay, after struggling with this zipper for hours, I finally got the slider on. Now you say to zip the zipper to make sure it works. Well, what if it doesn't? It zips up and down, but the coils stay separated..... :( I made this bag when the mag first came out, and it was adorable, forgot how I did it, maybe just used a longer zipper. But this one is almost finished, I need it tomorrow, and I'm stuck! Help!Amy

    2. louise | | #13

      Hello all in this thread!

      I was scanning the conversations about zipper stops, taking them off, putting them back and all the troubles and travails.

      I once made a prom dress (bustier over yards and yards of tulle) and the pattern had this note (in more or less these words). 

      "If you have to shorten the zipper, take off the top stops, when you have shortened/installed the zipper  to your satisfaction, cut off the top (?) 1/2 inch of coils.  Take an eyelet bar (bar style half of a hook and eye set) and bend it in half.  Secure the new "stop" so that it wraps around the zipper by sewing through the eyes and tape"

      Get the visual?  Just in case I am not as clear as I think I am, I'll try rephrasing.

      You make a new stop from an eyelet bar.  You bend it in half so that the two eyes are on top of one another.  Slide the zipper between the eyes, and sew through the eyes.   Place the new stop just where the coils stop, which may be scratchy.  Your overcasting should cover any little annoying bits of plastic.

      I have had occasion to  use this once or twice since and it is so simple and brilliant, I wish I had thought of it!  Sadly I did not.

      But I can pass it on!:) 


      P.S.  Someone has the Dec. & Jan 05?????????????? NO FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Edited 11/16/2004 3:00 pm ET by Louise

  5. Elisabeth | | #14

    I thought these bags were kind of cute and I thought I might make some sometime soon. With all the discussion here I got curious and decided to make one this afternoon. I found it easy to make and I did not take a zipper apart, but used a zipper that was almost twice as long as the top of the bag required. While I couldn't lay the project flat like the instruction pictures show, it worked well. Extra zipper is trimmed later in the final step. That final step of sewing the ends of the bag together with the zipper closed does leave you with an inside out closed bag but it is easy to start to open the zipper by pinching the zipper pull through the bag fabric.

    My silky lining gets caught in the zipper. Next time I might understitch the lining.

    Edited 11/16/2004 3:17 pm ET by Elisabeth

  6. suesew | | #29

    Old men's silk ties make great ruffles. Just cut them up the middle and remove all the interfacing stuff inside. They are already on the bias and come in great colors.
    Also, if you take a large plastic storage bag - freezer type - and place it on the lining fabric and treat that as the right side - you can make the bag kind of waterproof. I
    Don't sew too near the zipper teeth. With the ruffle right there you need a little ease to pull the zipper back and forth. I can't stop making these bags.

    1. HeartFire | | #30

      after reading all the posts on this, I re-read the article on these purses, couldn't you use a seperating zipper longer than required for the purse, then it would be easy to close the zipper back up and just cut off that end later.???

      1. FitnessNut | | #31

        Assuming, of course, that you could find a separating zipper in the correct weight and colour. Otherwise, a brilliant suggestion ;-)

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