Saturday 23 January 2016

How to Make Zipper Tabs ~ Tutorial

Today's tutorial will show you how I make my zipper tabs, so the finish on the front is neat and even, with no little bits sticking out.

Find out how to add zipper tabs to the end of your zippers. A great way to finish off zippers on the ends of zippered pouches. This tutorial will show you how easy they are to make ~ Threading My Way

  • Nylon coil (polyester) zipper (Do NOT use this tutorial with a metal or plastic molded zipper.)
  • Scrap of fabric 2" x 3"

The Guide to Zippers at Sew Mama Sew gives a lot of information on zipper types.

2" is the right width for a 1" wide zipper. If your zipper is a different width, adjust accordingly.

The length of the zipper tab can be as long or as short as you would like. Alter the 3" dimension if you would like the tab shorter or longer.

NB: Set your iron to NO steam, to prevent burning fingers.

  • Fold in the short ends ¼" and press. If you are able to taper the four corners so they are slightly more than ¼", this will help with the appearance on the underside of the tab, in the final steps.

  • Fold in the long sides ½" and press. If you made your fabric 2" wide, the two sides will meet in the middle.

  • Fold in half, so the 2" short ends meet, and press.

  • Cut zipper to the required length. You must cut the metal near the end of the zipper off!

  • Sew over the ends of the zipper a few times. .

  • Look at the ends of the tab and see if there are any bits of fabric or loose ends sticking out from either end when it is folded. 
  • Choose the end that is the least perfect.
  • Slide that end of the tab over the end of the zipper - as in the photo above, the tab folds over the zipper, with the open edges at the back, or underneath of the zipper.

  • Hold in place with wonder clips, keeping them away from the presser foot.
  • With the right side of the tab and zipper facing up, sew along the edge of the tab that adjoins the zipper - sew about ⅛" or less from the edge.
  • Back stitch at either end.

The front of the tab is the part that shows, that's why we're concentrating on getting it looking neat and tidy.

  • Fold the second half of the tab to the back.

  • Check the back to see if it's aligned correctly.

Note the red arrow and the bits that are not quite hidden. Very careful pressing in the first step can eliminate those sticking out bits. If I'm feeling in a perfectionist mood, I'll stop at this point...
  • remove the wonder clips
  • open out the tab
  • re-press the ends

On this particular day, however, near enough was good enough. It's on the underside and no one will notice.

  • Hold in place with wonder clips, keeping them away from the presser foot.
  • Resew the edge near the zipper, sewing close to the first row of stitching, and backstitching at the beginning.
  • At the end of the first line of stitching, put the needle in the down position.
  • Turn the fabric 90ยบ and sew up the next edge.

  • Sew around all four edges, forming a square.

  • When you reach the beginning, finish with a cross, backstitching at the end.

A square with a cross in the middle is my preferred method of stitching the tab, but in reality, you can use any pattern you choose, as long as the tab is sewn on securely. My free motion embroidered pouches, have tabs with contrasting thread and lines sewn in parallel across the tab.

How's that for a super neat and tidy zipper tab? If I do say so myself, I think it's perfect!

The underneath, however, that's another story. Keeping it real here at Threading My Way, and showing you a less than perfect back of a zipper tab. The magnified photo makes it appear less tidy than in real life, but no excuses, it could be neater.

When making a project like this, well, any project really, you have to decide how much of a perfectionist you want to be. I've just finished another bag, and the back of that tab is almost as good as the front.

The bag used for the photos in this tutorial was a Christmas present for my daughter, and time was more of an issue at that stage. What's more, I can guarantee she has not looked at the underside of the zipper tab. If you're reading this, Tash, go look at it now and tell me what you think.

Zippered pouches are becoming one of my favourite projects. They're easy to make and they make great presents...

Ha, ha... I didn't realise I'd made so many, and that's just a few of them!

... Pam

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  1. Great tutorial Pam, thanks for sharing x

  2. I love those little clips. I need to get me some. How great to use those instead of pins. Lately I have been very dangerous with pins and sticking myself! lol

  3. I just started using those Wonder Clips about 2 or 3 bags worth of -zipper tab ends- ago - they're great. I wouldn't have thought of stitching down one side of the tab first - that's a great idea! When I finished my recent Retreat Bag I tried something new - I glue basted the tab before stitching it. It worked out quite well, but my brain must see in literal mode rather than figurative, as I ended up gluing the tab to itself - I thought I was gluing it to the zipper end, haha. As luck would have it, I hadn't glued it shut in any way, so I was able to slide it right over the zipper and stitch it down (thanks to the Wonder Clips). It worked out pretty nicely. I've also ordered some KraftTex to try out - fingers crossed :D

  4. Fabric tabs are my nemesis. Your idea to sew just one edge down first, rather than trying to manhandle all the bulk folded together at once is fantastic. I will give it a try the next time I need a fabric tab. I actually went out and purchased metal zip ends that just need to be clamped on because my fabric tabs just weren't coming out neat enough. Thank you for sharing your method!

  5. great tute - i am still nervous of zippers but this will be a very handy skill to know once I jump in!

  6. Thanks for the tutorial, Pam!!

  7. Great tutorial pam, I will remember this one. I need to get my sewing machine out again :)

  8. Great tutorial, indeed.

    And a Happy Australia Day to you!

  9. I do tend to avoid zips (I know, very cowardly!) but if I do go for it ever, I'll remember this. And I think the bottom of your tab definitely gets through quality control!

  10. Very neat & nice. Thank you Pam


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