The “One-Hoop Wonder” In-the-Hoop Zippered Bag
Ever wish you could press a button on your sewing machine and it would sew a zipper for you? Or better yet, how about insert a zipper, line a small accessory bag in just one hooping, and stitch the whole thing together? Well, you can!
You will have to do a little finishing work but it can be an entirely no-sew finish!
About this Design
This in-the-hoop zip bag is very basic and can be easily modified to work with many designs by eliminating color 4 and replacing it with another design. To see how to do that, check out this YouTube video that shows how to edit a redwork design into a new border and insert it into a plain version of this bag. How to Extract & Edit a Design in Embrilliance Enthusiast.
In that video, which goes along with the Echidna P.I.E. series of lessons, a similar but plain version of this bag was customized.
The bag is fully lined with no exposed seams. The front pieces are self-lined while the back and lining fabrics can be different. The front is lightly padded with a low loft batting for some slight dimension with the quilting design; the back is not. If you’re working with quilt weight cottons or lighter, I recommend interfacing the back panel for a more professional finish.
There are many methods for inserting a zipper and lining a bag for an in-the-hoop design. This method happens to be one of the easiest to follow because it has fewer steps. The drawback is that the stabilizer will be exposed on the inside front of the bag so don’t use a cutaway. And, with the quilting motif I used on the front, it can make picking out a tearaway tedious. Since no pressing in the hoop is required, a wash-away fiber stabilizer is a good choice.
Another consideration with this construction technique is that the back of the embroidery will be exposed on the inside front panel. The back inside panel is more visible when opening and using the bag so you might not even notice if there’s stitching on the inside front. Using a quilting design on the front is not as objectionable as if you replaced that step with a more intense design.
This is an easy project and as long as you follow the steps, you’ll have no problems. And it’s great fun to say “my embroidery machine made this, even putting in the zipper!”
How To Make Your Own Bag
Download the Sew-Easy One-Hoop Wonder ITH Zip Bag here. With it you’ll find the dimensions for your fabric pieces. As a single individual design at this low price, it won’t have all the instructions and pattern pieces that my full project collections include so you’ll need to refer to this blog post.
The Sew Simple In-the-Hoop Zippered Bags collection contains 15 easy one-hoop lined zippered bags with no exposed seams. There are 5 different design patterns in 3 coordinated sizes. Includes patterns and full instructions.
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- Small bits of fabric or pick up some fat quarters
- Cotton batting like Warm and Natural
- Fusible interfacing for the back piece (I used Pellon 950F ShirTailor)
- Polyester or nylon zipper that coordinates with your fabric and is at least 9” long. DO NOT USE A METAL ZIPPER!
- Washaway stabilizer (I like Hemingworth Wash-Away)
- Polyester embroidery thread and bobbin
- Decorative thread of your choice for the quilting area
- Tape: Scotch brand invisible and blue painter’s tape
- Wonder Tape
- Short strip of fusible web or tape
- Embroidery machine with a minimum sewing field of 5” x 7” (130 x 180mm)
- Steam iron
- Narrow ribbon or constructed self-fabric strip for loop
- Hardware for the optional loop: D-ring, swivel hook or other. I made my finished loop handle 3/4” wide to use as a wristlet. Choose hardware size based on your strap width or adjust your strap to fit the hardware.
- Small strip of fusible web for appliqué for closing the opening (or hand stitch with needle and thread)
- TESA (temporary embroidery spray adhesive
1. Select and cut all your fabric and batting pieces.
Sizes are listed with the downloadable file. You can mix and match your fabrics as desired. I hadn’t decided on my handle at this point so that fabric isn’t shown. All the dimensions are very generous so you won’t be caught short at the end.
2. Press all fabrics and starch if desired.
Starching isn’t necessary but if you aren’t interfacing your fabrics, it can give them a little more structure for stitching. Fold each of the front pieces in half horizontally; press. Insert the corresponding batting pieces, snugging them up to the fold. I planned my green and white fabric to get the prints aligned where I wanted them, so I cut my back piece larger to fine tune at the placement step.
3. Apply interfacing to the back panel.
Interfacing adds some nice body to your bag and can give it a more polished look. Since only the front has batting, the back can seem rather insubstantial in comparison. Optionally, you can interface the back lining as well for a sturdier bag. Don’t go too heavy or your bag will be more difficult to turn.
Be sure to fuse the interfacing securely so that it won’t separate when turning the bag right side out.
5. Optional: Loop Handle:
- Make a self-fabric loop or cut a length of ribbon or strapping for a loop for a short handle or hanging loop with hardware. To determine the length, decide how long the loop should be, for example 2”, double that and add ½” for the seam allowance.
- For a self fabric handle on the sample shown here, I cut a strip 2 1/2″ wide on the bias for an interesting diagonal stripe. You could interface this but my fabric was pretty sturdy so I didn’t.
- If you’re using hardware, determine the width by measuring the opening. Your fabric needs to be slightly less than four times that measurement to fill out the space.
- Press the strip in half lengthwise. Then open the strip and press each long edge matching the raw edge to the center fold. Refold the piece and press well. Once again, starch is your friend!
- Top stitch 1/8” from the edges starting on the side with the two folded edges.
- If you’re adding hardware, slide it on now, making sure the prettiest side of your top stitching will be on the outside when folded in half. Top stitch across the loop near the hardware to hold it in place.
This project is made in just one hooping!
1. Hoop stabilizer securely between the rings of your hoop.
If your hoop is not secure on the long straight sides, take measures to make it so. One way is with duct tape. Tear strips in half lengthwise, apply to the back of the stabilizer along the hoop edges and wrap up and around the sides of the hoop. (I do this a lot! It’s better to be safe than sorry.)
2. Stitch color 1 for placement lines.
Color 1 sews directly onto the stabilizer only. Small indents mark the horizontal and vertical centers for assisting with precise placement of patterned fabrics. The two registration marks at the top and bottom indicate the overall bag center and the center of the main body area. These can help you if you choose to edit in another design.
Once you place your fabrics, this guides will no longer be visible so if you plan to use them, simply extend them onto the stabilizer with a pen. This stabilizer will be removed later so any marker will work.
3. Tape the zipper in place.
Align the closed zipper, right side up, with the zipper tab at the top of the design making sure the metal ends are well outside the stitch line. The zipper will perfectly fit within the blank area of the stitching guides.
Tape the zipper in place. I’m using painter’s tape to make it more visible but regular invisible tape works well too. Neither one will gum up the needle; the invisible tape is easier to remove without tearing stitches.
Tip: If your zipper is not smooth, press it before taping.
4. Attach the zipper to the stabilizer.
Return the hoop to the machine and sew color 2, which will baste the zipper to the stabilizer. Remove the hoop from the machine and remove the tape. Trim any jump stitches if your machine didn’t trim them for you.
5. Place the front fabric panels.
Place the front fabric panels with the folded edges aligned next to the zipper teeth. You can hold the pieces in place with tape (works better in a larger hoop with more exposed stabilizer) or use pins as shown here. If you use pins, either remove them as you stitch to avoid sewing over them or make sure they are out of the range of the presser foot and needle.
6. Sew color 3 to top stitch the fabric to the zipper and baste the fabric to the stabilizer.
Trim any jump stitches if your machine didn’t trim them for you.
7. Sew color 4 to quilt the front lower panel.
This project is small enough that it doesn’t strictly require quilting since the batting is stitched into the seams. If you prefer, you can skip this color if you feel like the stitching doesn’t compliment your fabric.
8. Move the zipper tab to within the design. IMPORTANT!!!
This is very important! If you fail to do this, you won’t be able to turn your project right side out later! Move the zipper tab to at least half way down within the sewing area.
9. Add optional loop and hardware.
If you aren’t adding a loop, advance to the next color and skip to the next step 11.
Position the loop or handle at the top of the design centered over the zipper. The matching raw edges of the zipper should match or extend beyond the edge of the fabric. Tape in place.
10. Return hoop to the machine and sew the next color to stay stitch loop.
After stay stitching the loop, remove the hoop and remove the tape at the seam line. If you used hardware, tape it so it won’t slip into the needle’s path. If your loop is long, just tape it out of range of the left side seam. If your loop has any hardware attached, make sure it’s not in the center of the hoop or your machine may hit it when it returns to center after stitching the design.
11. Attach the lining and back fabrics.
Turn the hoop face down and place the lining fabric face down on the bottom of the hoop. You may want to lightly TESA the fabric before smoothing it into place. Tape the corners to keep the fabric from lifting out of place during stitching.
Turn the hoop over (right side up) and place the back fabric face down over the front of the design. Secure with tape or pins.
Note: Pay careful attention to where the fabrics go and make sure they are face down!
12. Sew the final (outer) seam.
Return the hoop to the machine and stitch the final color to attach all the pieces together.
Tip: Here’s a good place to switch to construction thread in the needle and bobbin, especially if your fabrics are thick or heavy. Even though the seam is double stitched, it can tend to pull apart and “ladder,” which is likely due to the thread tensions in embroidery mode.
Finishing the Bag
1. Unhoop the design and trim off excess.
If you used a tearaway, carefully tear away excess stabilizer along seam allowance before trimming off seam allowances and excess zipper tape.
Before trimming the seam allowances, trim back the batting as close as possible to the seam to minimize bulk.
Note the open area at the bottom of the bag left for turning, which is easier to see on the top side. You’ll want to leave an extended seam allowance at the turn area to make it easier to finish.
Trim around the rest of the bag leaving about a 1/4” seam allowance. Using pinking shears around the corners can help reduce bulk and make them easier to turn.
2. Turn the bag through the opening.
Reach inside the turn area and grasp the lining (unquilted) side and gently pull it through the opening. Although the seams are double stitched and quite sturdy, be gentle so as not to rip any stitches. It will come through easily if you grasp the single layer back piece of lining fabric.
The project is still inside out at this point so don’t panic thinking you’ve layered the pieces incorrectly.
Once you have it turned, use your favorite tool to push out the four corners. I found the blunt end (the non-working end) of my tweezers worked well.
3. Remove any stabilizer and remaining tape.
Gently remove any stabilizer if you used a tearaway. You may find odd threads that were the placement guides initially sewn on the stabilizer.
If you used any TESA along with a water soluble wash-away stabilizer, you may need to let the TESA dissipate before applying any water. Although some TESAs can be force dissipated with a dry iron, heat can shrink WashAway.
I trimmed away the bulk of the WashAway stabilizer and left the rest in for later removal.
Tip: You can use a small paint brush and dipped in hot water and apply it to the edges of the WashAway to break it down and make it easy to pull off.
4. Finish the open seam of the turn area.
Carefully trim away the batting in the seam extension to reduce bulk. Tuck the extensions in neatly.
5. Turn the project right side out.
Reach inside the zipper area and unzip the zipper all the way. Turn the project through the zipper opening. If the corners aren’t smooth, work on them a little more. Press around the edges to flatten the seams and create a professional finish.
6. Press the project well with a steam iron.
Note: While this bag has no exposed seams on the inside, you’ll notice that the lining doesn’t lie perfectly smoothly and evenly. This has to do with the interior of the bag being smaller than the exterior after turning right side out. It’s just something that happens when lining are made to the same dimensions as the exterior.
Make Another One!
Once you’ve made your first bag, you’ll have the process down and you can start experimenting. Try swapping in other designs for the quilting used. Use different fabrics. Choose a water proof lining for a makeup bag.
Give It a Go!
In-the-hoop projects are popular and can range from very simple to highly complex. These little bags are great for organizing small supplies, perfect for traveling, and make excellent gifts.
Now that you’ve learned the basics, check out other, more advanced projects. Would you believe that this owl mini-reader bag can be made in the same size hoop we used for this project? Yes, it requires more hoopings, more steps, and more hand finishing, but your embroidery machine does most of the work! See: Whoo’s Got Your Reader? Mini-Reader Owl Project.
Check out all the in-the-hoop projects here.
13 Tips for a Better ITH Bag
There are lots of little things you can do when making your in-the-hoop bag to achieve a professional, polished looking bag. Check out my blog post, 13 Tips for a Better In-the-Hoop Bag Project to learn more!