My customers are always challenging me. One recently asked if I could add a zipper to an existing Oversized Beach Tote so that she could use it as an overnight bag. So in my usual way, I researched, I thank (thunk? thought? perseverated?) – and over-thought it in my anal/perfectionist way….
The existing solutions on the internet require using a fabric flap. I finally decided that sometimes simplicity is the best solution and purchased a separating zipper that was about 4″ longer than the bag. I simply basted it to each side of the bag to test the idea.
With the zipper separated, baste one side to the bag. Sew to within a half inch of the side seam.
I felt that it was a successful solution to the problem presented. The beginning and end of the zipper extend a couple inches past the opening.
I also tried tucking in the ends of each side of the zipper for a cleaner look.
To tuck in the “bottom” of the zipper, I had to invert the zipper before joining it. That part is a little fiddly, but the bag would not have to be completely unzipped if it was tucked in.
Either way, a quick, simple way to add a zipper to a purchased or finished tote!
Well done! I like my totes to close; things fall out if they don’t.
Like this idea – I’m going to have to give it a try!
Omg..you are a genious….i never would have thought of using a “jacket” zipper…lol…i guess it’s because i have labeled it a jacket zipper in my mind..
Hi. Read your post over the weekend. Thank you so much! I was able to replace the broken zipper on my favorite knitting bag.
Thank you! I’m glad you were able to fix your bag! I’m always looking for simple fixes!
I love simple solutions! I think the tote looks great with the zip ends tucked in, so neat and keeps all those items safely in the tote. 🙂
You did this so well! I looks fabulous! 🙂 Popped over from Craft Gossip.
Thank you! I just bought a bag that I absolutely love, but after using it for a month, realized I needed it to snap or zip closed – preferably zip. I found your post during a web search. I just finished putting in the zipper and love the finished look, and the functionality it is going to give me. Thanks again!
Found this when I needed to add a zipper to a tote I was making for my mom. Never have I seen a zipper. These instructions were so easy. Thank you for posting this.
Very useful. Thank you. Will definitely give this a try very soon!
I don’t have a sewing machine, but I like to hand sew. Any tips or alternative steps I should do? Thank you in advance for any input, this post has already been very helpful. ?
Hi Nicky! It may be difficult to hand sew a zipper onto heavy fabric. Perhaps you could sew a strip of cotton fabric to either side of the zipper and then hand sew that to the bag.
Well, one purse down, one to go! I love Jeeps and I bought two very different ones, with both open at the top. I just finished one and taking a break before I start the other (sewing messes with my nerves). It was very simple and looks great! I wanted the ends tucked in and had a little trouble with the “top” or pull tab side, however I looked at one of my other purses and just messed with it until I got it right, pinned it, and sewed the ends into the inside of the purse. I’m going to leave a little more on that end when I sew the next one. Thanks for your great “overthinking!” I’m going to love these purses.
Second one even better than the first (of course)! This one was another Jeep purse. On the top end, I wiggled things around until I had it like I wanted it, pinned it, then sewed it. I gently crossed the ends about 3/4″ from the end and tapered the stitching to bring the zipper edges closer to the fabric. Maybe luck, but it came out perfect. Now both ends stay in place beautifully. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend my modification to someone new at sewing. Your method exactly like it is is wonderful. Mine was a little tricky. Can’t wait to carry one of these purses to a staff meeting this week! Thanks so much for your help.
You are very welcome! I’m glad it helped! Do you have a photo to share?
Great idea. So handy for me.
I wish I could understand better how to tuck the ends in by inverting the zipper at the end side.
I have a tote that longs for a zipper closure. Thank you.
I am rereading my post and having a hard time remembering why I said to invert the zipper. If I get some time, I will test it out again. However, I don’t have a separating zipper right now. If you get one, I am hopeful that it will become apparent!
Thank you for your replay. I did get a separating zipper, 4 inches longer than the width of the bag, and I’m going to give it a try. If you have anymore thoughts on this, please let me know.
I have just about to purchase a tote, was on the verge of clicking “order now” and realized that it did not have a zipper. I missed that when I was loading my shopping cart ;-0 I googled and came across this blog post and am so excited to find it! Thank you for sharing with all of us. I have what may be a big ask. If I send you a link to a picture of the tote, would you be willing to look at it and give my your best guess if I could successfully use your idea to add a zipper to this tote? If not, I respect your decision. I just thought I’d ask. Other than the zipper, I really like this tote and the eco value to it a lot.
I look forward to hearing back. Have a great weekend!
Sure, I can try to help you.
Thank you, I will email you once I can source a decent picture.
Take good care of yourself…
This tutorial saved my bacon today! I only wanted to re-line my daughter’s tote bag but it involved unpicking the zipper and bag handles. But how to put it back together? Your clear instructions on putting in the zipper were a great help. Thanks. Job done!
Oh excellent! Thank you!
Hi! I’d like to ask what type of zipper this is – a separating zipper, closed end, open end? I do apologize – I’m not very familiar with types of zippers.
I’m about to purchase an 18″ zipper for a 15″ W x 16″ H zipper-less tote bag, and I wanted to attach one on for extra safety. In the instructions above, you mentioned using a zipper that was 4″ inches longer than your bag’s width, so I thought it would also be pertinent to buy a longer one, but out of curiosity, may I also ask if it’s recommended to buy a longer one?
Hi Rose. I used a separating zipper – so it will separate at the end. I used that and added the extra length in case I wanted to open up the bag wider. If you use a smaller zipper the bag won’t open up very wide. There are other ways to add a zipper that you can explore here: http://www.patternpile.com/sewing-patterns/sew-a-recessed-zipper-to-a-tote/
Very nice. good and helpful!! works like a charm. thank you