Workshop Wednesday: Zippers for Quilters


I like to think that I challenge myself to try new quilt techniques on a somewhat regular basis. I’ve put in a lot of time working on free-motion quilting, I’ve started learning to longarm quilt, and I enjoy trying new patterns and approaches with my pieced projects. I figure it’s just a matter of time before I give most new-to-me techniques a try.

There’s one technique, though, that I keep feeling is beyond my capabilities for some reason, and that’s anything having to do with zippers.

True, adding a zipper is not a typical quilting technique. Let’s call it quilting-adjacent. From pillow shams to totes to small pouches, zippers are showing up more and more often in small projects and are used as metal embellishments on art quilts. Add to that the fact that these items are cute and utilitarian and make great gifts, and I am quickly running out of excuses for not learning how to add zippers to projects of my own.

Well, fortunately for all of us, many of my cohorts know all about using zippers in quilted projects. Here are some tutorials and project ideas that might help you add this technique to your skill set.

Katy Jones demonstrates how to add a zipper to a cute floppy pouch in this episode of her “Quilt Monkey” series. A quick preview is below; click here to view the full episode.

In the “Quilters Newsletter Workshop” series, associate editor Gigi Khalsa demonstrated how to make a quilted flag pillowcase/wall hanging with her trick for making dual-purpose quilt projects. In the third part of the tutorial, Gigi demonstrates how to add the zipper and finish the full pillowcase. A preview is below; click here to view the full video.

If you have a sewing/embroidery machine, we have a couple of tutorials on making zippered bags that you quilt as you go.

Karen Charles doesn’t have a lot of time to spend working on projects but has fun making them. In this full episode of “Quilters Newsletter TV,” she shows me how quick and simple it can be to make an adorable quilted bag, including an easy way to put in the zipper. Karen uses a straight stitch in the embroidery feature on the Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond Royale to make the bag in the hoop with tearaway stabilizer.

And in “Absolute Beginner Machine Embroidery,” host Sara Gallegos also demonstrates how to make small zippered pouches entirely in the embroidery hoop. A preview video is below; click here to view the full episode.

zipper-pouch-quilt-pattern-downloadNow that you’ve seen the technique at work, be inspired by your leftover fabrics to create a new masterpiece using patchwork techniques to create a small zippered pouch. The pattern for this cute project designed by Christina McKinney is available as a digital download.

This Clipped Zipper Pouch by Candy Glendening is quick to make—it takes just a single piece of fabulous fabric—and measures a roomy 8½” x 6″. This pattern is also available as a digital download.


If you want to take your bag-making skills to the next level, check out Linda Lee’s online course “Anatomy of a Bag.” In addition to learning techniques for installing zippers three different ways, you’ll learn about working with different materials, how to line a bag, and so much more. Click here to learn about the full “Anatomy of a Bag” course and to view a preview video.


travel-checkers-quilt-pattern-downloadThis quilted Travel Checkers pattern by Jen Daly is really ingenious: the board and checkers are all made with fabric, and the checkers can be stored inside the zip-up pouch and the whole thing rolled up and fastened for easy storage. The full pattern is available as a digital download.

zipper-accents-vintageZippers show up often as accents and metal embellishments on art quilts and fun apparel projects. And the fact that they don’t have to be functional takes away the pressure and leaves just the fun! Vintage Zipper Accents, from Indygo Junction by Amy Barickman, are perfect for jewelry and embellishments. Make your own charming array of brooches that will add a little “zip” to your wardrobe, or create spiral and wave motif necklaces, brooches and bracelets with a modern twist. Includes one yard each of five half zippers. Colors include pink, orange, teal, purple and brown.

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