Only have a 4x4” sewing field? No problem! You can make this in-the-hoop mini zip using the same technique as its larger siblings. These minis are perfect for change, small notions, treats, or little trinkets.
Like the other ITH zip bags using this technique, this is a very simple, in-the-hoop project that can be completed in just one hooping. It’s fully lined with no exposed seams. The zipper is not sandwiched between the front panel and lining.
The front of the bag is padded with a thin cotton batting and the lower portion of the front is also quilted. The bag back is not quilted or padded. I did interface the back panel piece (but not the lining).
As an alternative to batting, you could use fusible fleece, which could also be applied to the back panel.
Other Design Choices
You can add a loop with with or without hardware. Your loop can be ribbon, self fabric, rickrack or even a leftover bit of zipper.
Zippers can coordinate or contrast. You can even swap out the zipper tabs or have your zipper composed of two different colors.
These little zip bags use 4 pieces of fabric, which can be all different, all the same, or otherwise coordinated. For the sample shown here, I’ve used two fabrics: yellow for the top portion and back lining, orange for the lower front body and back panel along with a white zipper.
You can fussy cut the fabrics to showcase a print. I’ve fussy cut the orange dot print to center one of the circles on the front and back.
The quilting motif can be skipped or even replaced with another design, such as a monogram selected from your machine’s built in designs or any other suitable design from your stash. Do keep in mind that with the simple construction of this bag, the back of the design will be exposed on the inside front panel of the bag.
Another choice you can make is thread color. The design uses the same color to attach both the bottom front of the bag and the top front of bag, which top stitches along the zipper edge.
These two areas are separated by a jump stitch so you could stop the machine and switch in a different color for the upper part.
About the Design
The design file itself is a multi-color design that can be sewn in all one color, as I did with this sample. The color changes are primarily designed to stop the machine to perform the various steps.
Colors 3 and 4 are the most visible, so choose threads that coordinate with your fabrics.
Any stitches that are for construction are either double or triple stitched, so polyester embroidery thread is just fine.
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- Small bits of up to 4 different fabrics
- Small bits of thin batting or fusible fleece (can be omitted). I used Warm and Natural
- Interfacing for back panel (optional but recommended especially on lighter fabrics). (I used Pellon 950F ShirTailor)
- 7” or longer polyester or nylon standard dressmaker zipper. DO NOT USE A METAL ZIPPER!
- Tearaway or Wash-Away stabilizer; do not use cutaway. I used washaway tearaway; Hemingworth Wash-Away water soluble or Sulky Fabri Solvy also works. DO NOT USE CUTAWAY.
CAUTION: These washaway water-solubles can shrink with heat (pressing) whereas a washaway tearaway won’t.
- Tape (cellophane or blue painter’s tape)
- Small strip of fusible web (Heat & Bond or Steam A Seam II or something similar)
- Polyester embroidery thread that coordinates with your project.
- Loop or handle (ribbon, strapping, self-fabric)
- Hardware (D-ring, swivel hook, key ring)
- Matching bobbin thread (I used a standard white polyester embroidery bobbin)
- Narrow (1/8″) ribbon for zipper pull
Note: The back of the embroidery only shows on the inside of the front panel, which is not readily seen on this small bag so matching the bobbin thread is not a big deal.
Step 1: Print the design.
Using your embroidery software, print the design at actual size. You’ll use this as a pattern to cut all your pieces.
If you don’t have any software, then stitch out color 1 on cutaway to use as a template and add the same seam allownances.
I added an extra quarter inch to the sides and top and an extra half inch along the bottom for seam allowances. Precision cutting is not required, just don’t make them too small.
The outer line is the initial placement line and the final seam allowance is a mere 2mm inside this line so cutting them larger than I did for the photo sequence makes the final steps easier. The measurements listed here and shown on the cut out pattern pieces to the right are sufficient and will work for the other bags that use this construction technique.
Step 1b: Optional: Make a template for fussy cutting.
I traced key landmarks onto a piece of quilter’s template to make it easy to plan patterns for my project. I used this for both the front body area and the back panel to get the circular pattern on the fabric centered in those areas.
Step 2: Cut fabrics.
Using the full size pattern piece with the added seam allowances, cut one for the back and one for the lining. Cut one piece out of fusible interfacing and apply it to the wrong side of the back piece.
The fabrics for the front are folded in half with the folded edge placed next to the zipper so when cutting, place the edge on the fold before cutting. Cut matching pieces out of batting (not on the fold). Fold the fabrics, wrong sides together along the zipper edge and press. Insert the batting and snug it up to the folded edge. Press again.
Note: Pay attention if your fabric has any directional prints.
Step 3: Hoop stabilizer & sew color 1.
Smaller hoops are generally more secure; however, if your stabilizer slips during stitching, you’ll experience problems. Take any necessary measures to prevent slippage.
Sew color 1, placement lines for zipper and fabrics. I chose an orange that coordinated with my main fabric and used that throughout the project. I had initially planned to use white for the quilted area but decided it would compete too much with the print and kept that orange as well.
Step 4: Place zipper.
Tape the closed zipper in place, right side up, with the ends outside of the stitching lines. The photo here shows the top of the zipper very close to the sewing area. I intended to use the left over bit for a loop but It would have been better to have the zipper excess off the top than the bottom. If the zipper tab is too close, the presser foot can “trip” on it, which can tear your stabilizer.
I’m using blue painter’s tape for visibility in the photos. I also like Scotch Invisible tape. Both come off relatively easy but can damage softer tearaways like most washaway tearaways.
Step 5: Tack zipper.
Sew color 2 to tack zipper to stabilizer. Remove the tape.
IMPORTANT! If your machine doesn’t have auto-trimmers, be sure to clip jump threads not only on just the top, but on the bottom. You’ll need to remove the hoop to trim the bottom threads.
I left my zipper tab taped down to avoid catching on the presser foot. It’s at about this time I realized I should have left the long extension off the top instead of the bottom!
Step 6: Attach front panels to zipper.
Color 3 attaches the front panels to the zipper. Position the fabrics near the zipper, making sure the folded edge covers the zipper tack down stitching. The top stitching will sew between the tackdown stitching and the zipper teeth so there is a bit of leeway.
The fabric should not cover the teeth. Tape the fabric into place, taking care that it’s straight and the spacing is even on both sides of the zipper. You can check your placement by advancing 1 stitch at the machine to see where the top stitching will begin.
If you cut your fabric wider than I did here (in other words, adding the extra margin recommended earlier), you can tape outside the stitching line.
This much tape is probably overkill but it’s better to err on too much tape than too little.
Sew color 3.
Note: If you want a different color for the top stitching on each panel, load the thread for the body panel (to the right of the zipper) first. When the needle gets back around to the top of the design, stop the machine and swap in the color for the top front panel (to the left of the zipper).
Step 7: Remove tape.
Your mini zip should now look like this. Remove any unneeded tape as you go.
Note: This is the bare minimum of fabric you have extending beyond the tack down stitching. If you follow the recommended cutting instructions, you’ll have more fabric extending.
Step 8: Optional quilting.
Color 4 is a quilting design. On a project this small with the batting stitched into the side seams, quilting isn’t really required to secure the batting so if you want to skip it, advance to color 5 and the next step. You may want to use a different color for the quilting stitches.
Step 9: VERY IMPORTANT! Open zipper.
The zipper pull is currently at the top of the zipper and therefore beyond the outside seam. If you continue without moving the zipper pull within the bag, you won’t be able to open your bag. Pull the zipper tab to somewhere in the middle of the design.
Note 1: Some ITH projects are turned right side out through the zipper opening; this one isn’t so anywhere in the middle is just fine.
Note 2: If you forgot to clip the jump stitch as noted previously, you’ll have have trouble pulling the zipper to the center.
Step 10: Optional loop or handle.
Place the optional loop or handle and hardware if desired. If not, advance to the next color change and the next step.
With the wrong sides together, fold over the loop, matching the raw edges. If you’re adding hardware, slip it on when folding the loop.
Position the raw edges of the loop beyond the outer tack down stitching line and centered over the top of the zipper. Secure with tape. My loop is made up of half of the cut off end of zipper tape. I skipped the loop on the other one.
Sew color 5 to stay stitch the loop.
Note: If you want to make your own self fabric loop or add hardware, I cover that here: How to Make In-the-Hoop Snap Bags.
Step 11: Place back panel on the front of the hoop.
Position the interfaced back panel face down (right sides together) on the front of the hoop. Make sure the seam allowance is wider on the bottom of the bag (right hand edge when looking at the hoop).
Pin or tape your fabric in place.
I’ve taped the zipper pull down just as a precaution.
Step 12: Place the lining fabric on the back of the hoop.
Turn your hoop over and align the lining fabric face down matching the edges. Tape the corners to prevent them from folding over during stitching. Do not use pins on the back of the hoop.
Step 12b: Sew color 6.
The final color will sew the outer seam and attach the back and lining to the front of the bag.
Step 13: Unhoop your project and carefully trim out batting.
Trimming the batting out of the seam allowances will reduce bulk and make turning out the seams easier and give a smoother result.
Note: If you followed the cutting instructions allowing an extra margin, this will be easier.
Step 14: Remove stabilizer & trim seam allowances.
Carefully tear away exposed stabilizer. There’s still stabilizer within the bag that needs to be addressed.
Trim top and side seams to a slight 1/4”, trimming corners more closely.
Leave a seam extension (an extra 1/4” here is good for a total of 1/2″) at the opening to make it easier to tuck in after turning.
Note: The white color you see here is interfacing, not stabilizer.
Step 15: Press seam allowances.
Press back the bottom opening seam allowances. This will make it easier to tuck these in later.
Step 16: Preliminary turn right side out.
Reach inside the opening with your thumb and pinch one of the far corners with your thumb and finger and turn it right side out through the bottom opening. This is a preliminary turn and you’ll be turning it wrong side out through the zipper opening in just a moment.
Step 17: Free the zipper.
Tear away the stabilizer behind the zipper and then turn inside out. Carefully tear off the stabilizer inside the bag.
Actually, it’s only necessary to clean away the stabilizer near the zipper. This bag is so small that under usual use, the stabilizer, which is on the back of the font panels onlye, isn’t all that visible. I picked out the bulk of the stabilizer and if this bag is ever washed, the remaining will wash out.
If you used a washaway water soluble product instead of a tearaway, a small paint brush dipped in hot water and applied along the stitching lines will free it up so it can be pulled out. Make sure this stabilizer is removed before pressing or you can experience severe puckering due to the stabilize shrinking.
This exposed stabilizer is the reason not to use cutaway. In some ITH bag techniques, the stabilizer will be enclosed within the project and will never be seen.
Step 18: Turn right side out.
Turn right side out, taking time to push out the corners smoothly.
Tuck the seam extension into place. Press well using steam.
Pressing is vital to achieving a professional looking project. A good press can make the difference between “home made” and “hand made.”
Step 19: Close opening.
Cut a small strip of fusible web and apply it to the seam extension.
Match up the opening seam allowances and press well to fuse. Or, hand stitch the closure with a needle and thread.
Step 20: Optional: Add a zipper pull.
Add a ribbon, tie or decorative pull to the zipper tab.
Where to Get Yours!
This in-the-hoop mini-zip can be downloaded here:
And, if you’d like to try the snap bag version instead of a zippered one, you can find them here:
If you’re really into in-the-hoop projects, check them out here: