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How to add a recessed zip to your bag…

Hi everyone!

Have you heard about the Bag of The Month Club?  I have participated in the club over the last few years, but have only ever made one or 2 bags from each years offering…this year I plan for that to be different!  I am hoping to make EVERY bag that comes out as part of the club membership 🙂  Let’s hope I can make that happen along with all the other exciting things I have planned for 2016 😉

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 4.43.28 pm

January’s Bag is the Backgammon Bag, designed by Betz White.  Until after June 2016 you will only be able to purchase this pattern as part of the club.  After the club finished, it is up to the discretion of each designer if and when their bag patterns are released to the public – so consider that if you really like this pattern!

Now, I really liked this pattern…but at the moment I REALLY like zips so little fingers can’t steal items from my bag and hide them – I won’t tell you how many times I have ended up at the supermarket without a wallet!  So seeing as I had decided I would alter the pattern and add a recessed zip for myself, I thought you would all like a tutorial on how to do that too.  You should be able take this tutorial and apply it to your other bag patterns as well – how cool is that ;D

finished1This is my version of the Backgammon Bag – the boys call it my rainbow bag 😀

As well as adding a recessed zip to my bag, I made some other changes too, I added a zip to the front pocket using this tutorial I wrote last year for Samantha; I omit’d the back pieced pocket and added a welt zip pocket instead…oh and I made my front pieced pocket into a rainbow (and the flap too)…

Hopefully you like my version as much as the boys and I do 🙂

If you would like to create your own recessed zip in your bag…read on my friend!

How to add a recessed zip to your bag

Pattern pieces:

When adding a recessed zip you may have to change the pattern pieces that come with your pattern.  Here is what I did to change the backgammon bag pattern pieces to add a recessed zip…

I started by printing off, 2 copies of the pattern pieces that made up the main part of the bag.  One copy was left as is and the second copy I adjusted to create new pieces for the lining.


To create the new lining pattern pieces, I taped the pieces together as instructed.  Then I measured an marked a line 1 3/4″ above the horizontal line marked as “B”.  I then cut along this new line so I had 2 pattern pieces that would create my lining.


When cutting my fabric to create my bag, I followed all the cutting instructions in the pattern, except I excluded the lining.

Cut the lining from the newly created pattern pieces.
– Remember when cutting the lining you must also add a seam allowance for when you join the lining pieces later on…I added 3/8″ to the top edge of the main part of the bag.


I also added 3/8″ to the bottom edge of the top part of the bag.


You will also need to cut the following:

4 x recessed zip strips (12″ x  2″ or 30.5cm x 5cm)
– to decide on how long the recessed zip strip needs to be, measure the full length of the join where the recessed zip will be placed, and then subtract 2″ (5cm) from this measurement, the measurement you are left with will be the full length of your recessed zip strip.

2 x zip ends (2″ x 3″ or 5cm x 7.5cm)

Extra notions you will require:
A zip that is at least 4″ (10cm) longer than your zip strips, the one I used was 18″ (45.5cm) long.


Ok, Lets do this!


1. Take one zip end and fold one short edge of at 1/4″ (0.6cm) and press.  Then repeat for the second short edge.  Finally fold the short ends together and press a centre crease line.


2. Take your zip and baste the open end closed, just inside the metal stoppers.  Then cut the metal stoppers away.
 – this step is not necessary, however if you have a long enough zip to accommodate for it, it is definitely worth doing as you don’t have the worry of breaking a needle in the process of sewing.


3. Place your zip within the zip end, and fold the zip end on the centre crease line down over the basted end of the zip.  Topstitch with a seam allowance of 1/8″ (o.3cm).


Your zip will now look like this:


4. Take 1 zip strip, fold one short edge at 1/4″ (0.6cm) and press. Repeat for the second short edge, then repeat this process for the remaining 3 zip strips.


5. Lay one zip strip right side up in front of you (this will be the external side of the recessed zip).  Place the zip end (right side facing down) on the zip strip at the fold, making sure to place the zip tape along the edge of the zip strip. Then place the lining zip strip right side down on top – the zip end should meet the folded short edges, but not be covered by them.


6. Sew along the long edge o f the zip strip from 1/4″ (0.6cm) fold to 1/4″ (o.6cm) fold using a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance. Be careful not to sew past the fold of fabric at either end.


7. Press the external zip strip away from the zip.  Then repeat this process for the lining zip strip.  The wrong sides of the zip strips should be facing each other.


8. Trim the excess away from the zip end (this is the section of the zip end inside the zip strips).  Then fold the short ends of the zip strips at the 1/4″ (0.6cm) fold and press.


9. Topstitch the zip strips together along the short, long and then second short edge (as shown by the arrows in the picture below), using a 1/8″ (0.3cm) seam allowance.


10. Below (left) is what your recessed zip should look like now. Repeat steps 5-9 using the remaining zip strips. Below (right) is what your recessed zip should look like after completing steps 5-9.


11. Place the lining bottom right side up in front of you, then place the recessed zip on top (right side facing up), side centred. Now place the lining top right sides together with the recessed zip. Pin and sew with a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance.  Press.


12. Repeat step 11 for the other lining bottom piece.


13. Take one zip end and fold one short edge of at 1/4″ (0.6cm) and press, then repeat for the opposite short edge.  Now fold one long edge of at 1/4″ (0.6cm) and press, then repeat for the opposite long edge.  At this point all 4 edges of the zip end should be folded in at 1/4″ (0.6cm).  Finally fold the short ends together and press a centre crease line.


14. Measure 2″ (5cm) along the zip tail (starting from the edge of the finished zip strips), and cut the excess zip away.  Then baste the zip to ensure it stays closed.


15. Place the now trimmed and basted zip inside the zip end. Fold the zip end on the centre crease line to enclose the sip and sew in a square around the zip end using a 1/8″ (0.3cm) seam allowance.


16. OPEN the zip, and clip or pin the tail end of the zip away from the edge of the lining.  Then match up the edges of the lining pieces, being sure to fold the zip strips towards the turning gap, and clip or pin around the edge. Sew using a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance, leaving a 6″ (15cm) turning gap (mine has been marked by the double pins I have used at either end of the turning gap).


Follow the rest of the pattern as stated and you will be finished your bag in no time 🙂
Your bag will now have a recessed zip…and if you made the backgammon bag, your bag will look like this 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial!

I would love to see any recessed zip you add to your bag using this tutorial, so please feel free to share them with me via FB, IG, or T 🙂
If you want to use the tag #tutorialsbyemkie that would be awesome too!

I would love to stay in touch with you, so please feel free to sign up for my newsletter here.

Happy Sewing!

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  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Thank you so much!!!!!

    • Reply
      January 26, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Oh Yay! That’s so great Maria 🙂 I’m glad I could help 😀

  • Reply
    Betty Spoonemore...aka Fudgie Degerlamoe
    January 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Hurrrah Emma! love your version of the “backgammon” bag! Haven’t had the inclination to make it…now I do!!! Betty Spoonemore…AKA Fudgie

    • Reply
      January 26, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Hi! So glad you enjoyed the tutorial 🙂 I look forward to seeing your version of Betz’s Backgammon bag!

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    June 20, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Thank you for this tutorial!
    Just to clarify, in the photos in step 12, is the lining fused with black interfacing?
    (IIn step 4 the zip strips have white interfacing )

    • Reply
      June 21, 2016 at 2:19 am

      Hi Rochelle,
      Yep I was using up interfacing so used the last of my black stuff on this bag.
      Hope you found the tutorial helpful 🙂
      Emma x

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        June 22, 2016 at 2:50 am

        Very helpful! Thank you so much!

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