Noni Q&A: Inserting a Zipper in a Bag Opening or Pillow

Zippers are often a source of trepidation for some bag knitters or even sweater knitters. They are avoided. . . but they should not be.

I have even seen knitters simply leave the zipper out, replacing it with a single magnetic snap. . . this is not a great solution. The inadequacy of this solution is clear when we imagine a knitted pillow on the couch with the pillow casing closed with a single magnetic snap. Immediately you can imagine the gaping that is created on both sides of the pillow. This creates a bad fit . . . and other readily visualized problems.

Setting in a zipper takes a bit of persistence, but it is not difficult and does not require particularly specialized tools. I, for example, have a wonderful sewing machine but do not use it to set in zippers. I sew zippers in by hand . . . with, as I always say during my workshops, “big, ugly stitches.” I can show you those stitches to prove it.

I have only twice had those big, ugly stitches come out. Once because the bag was stressed in a very odd way (not likely), and once because I used it so much and in such a rough way that I had to do over a short stretch of zipper and bag opening with new big ugly stitches.

Truly, anyone can set a zipper into a bag opening or pillow.

I have several bags that will benefit from following the instructions below: the Adventure Bag, Medallion Travel Bag, the Perfect Fit Laptop Sleeve, and Everything Tote to name just a selection.

We begin with our materials list: work horse scissors that can cut through plastic, straight pins, thread, a sewing needle, and, of course, a zipper.

Next, make sure your zipper fits the opening of your bag or pillow. Measure carefully and cut to fit.

For a tutorial on how to do this, see my earlier Noni Q&A Post on the subject.

Once your zipper is the proper size, then make sure the bag/pillow opening is square–that is, aligned properly. Then place pins on both sides so that the two sides can be kept in alignment as you insert the zipper and sew it in place.

Sew in the first side of the zipper: use a running stitch on the inside but an invisible stitch on the outside. My recommendation: after bringing the needle out on the right side, then place the needle back in the fabric almost where you came out. All that will be seen on the outside is a small prick mark (if any mark at all). You can even use a thread color that is wildly different than your bag and it won’t show.

Once the first side of the zipper is in place, then zip closed and use pins to mark the zipper itself in direct alignment with the bag sides. This way, when you unzip the zipper, you can align the pins and pin the second side of the zipper in place in perfect alignment.  Before sewing, zip the zipper closed to make sure the opening is, in fact, aligned. Make any adjustments before setting in place with your stitches.

Once everything is complete, zip closed. If aligned well, remove the pins.  You’re done!

Letter to Amanda About Rhinebeck

Dear Amanda,
My days (and dreams) have been filled with thoughts of Rhinebeck, what most affectionately call the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. It is always mid-October and is a wonderful festival. This will be my third year as a vendor there and I hope it is my best yet.

I don’t have a picture of past Noni booths there, but will make sure to get pictures this year.  We are in a building, building C, booths 7 – 8. It is lucky to be in a building if the weather is bad. . .

Festivals take such a great lot of work!

I have designed 3 new bags that will debut at the show. So, I hope Noni fans will flock to the booth to get first pick!

The bag that has stolen my heart (and the hearts of everyone who see it!) is a tiny bag. . .

Passersby have been lured into the studio for a second look. I have made three different heights. . . Even the smallest size is perfect for the essentials. . . It is a lovely evening bag, big enough for credit card, keys, cash, compact, lipstick, change. I’m kitting it up with a tiny chain so you can wear it on your wrist. . .

1 long chain makes it a shoulder bag, 2 Long chains can, of course, be added for an across the body bag. The largest size will accommodate even the latest (largest) cell phones.

I say, hang that big bag in the closet, make Lipstick and Change in an afternoon, and then go for a jaunt!

I’m also introducing 2 new casual, “slouchy” every day bags. I’ll divulge more in the coming days, but for now I’ll just say that one has fringe and one has ridges. I’ve been knitting like mad and the large fringe is almost done . . . Everything has to be finished by Monday morning as I’ve got a last minute photo shoot!

I’m also bringing 2 new accessories . . . So delicious I hope we sell out on the first day! I’ve got two styles:  collar and infinity cowl. Both can be without a closure or can sport 1 of two closure packages.  .  . If you love fake fur that fools the eye and hand and you love knitting, you’re going to LOVE these two accessories. A weekend project for most any knitter.

The collar above is shown with the locket closure package (these little lockets also look lovely locked onto a bag) and my mushroom Ella in the background . . .

And, of course, at the show I’ll be wearing various Ellas . . . And I’ve got 4 fabulous ladies to help me in the booth, all be’deckt in Noni, little bags dangling from every wrist.

Wish you could come!

Hope you and yours are well!

Noni Q&A: Sewing Purses to Their Frames Using Beads as Anchors for BEAUTIFUL Results

It is interesting to me how we can go along doing something a particular way for a long long time and then try something new that is a great improvement. So great an improvement that we wonder why we never had the thought before. . . such it is with beads and sew-on purse frames.

I have been teaching quite a bit lately and sometimes I make suggestions for the participants to try things that I have been meaning to try myself but have not yet had the opportunity.

In a recent workshop at Auburn Needleworks in Auburn, California I suggested that the ladies who were finishing bags that required frames use beads to attach the frames (much as is done with the W Bag and 6-8-10) . . . but use beads on both inside and outside. Here’s what I mean: instead of the not so attractive running stitch on the inside of a purse frame . . .

It’s much lovelier to use beads as the anchors for stitching a bag to its frame. In this case, the inside of the same design as above (Ella’s Going Out Bag), but this time with size 8 seed beads used to anchor stitches on the inside instead of a running stitch.

The resulting look is so lovey and dazzling, I think I will adopt this in most cases and suggest as a default methodology. Take a look at how fantastic the inside of “6” is when beads are used as anchors on both inside and outside of the frame:

No need to cover up stitches or stitch pricks with a lining.

If you intend to line your bag, this same method can be used when sewing in the lining. I recommend that the sewing into the frame and sewing in of the lining are done as a single step. In other words, complete the lining before you sew the bag to the frame, baste the lining to bag body for a perfect fit, then sew bag and lining to the frame in one step.