Zipper–Upper: that’s a term I would say to my little boys as they put on their winter coats, making sure the zipper was closed all the way. So when I decided to add a secure zipper closure to an open-top tote, Zipper-Upper Closure seemed like an ideal term.

Initially, the tote was made to test out Clover’s new leather handles. The pattern, or I should say template used to create the tote is the Florida Tote one of the Trace ‘n Create Bags that I designed for Clover. It was made in haste, without the magnetic closure at the top as the instructions stated. (Hmm, I didn’t follow my own instructions!) I liked the tote and the fabric combo, but not the fact that there wasn’t a closure. If you have a tote like this, here’s an easy way to add a closure, even if the tote is complete!

Carrying a tote without a closure—not a good idea!

The Trace 'n Create Florida Tote was used to create the initial tote bag.

Measure the top opening. Cut two fabric strips 4-1/2” X the length less 2″. For the Florida Tote, the strip sizes needed are 4-1/2” X 17”.

Fold each strip in half, meeting long edges. Stitch the ends and lengthwise edge with a ½” seam, leaving a 2-3” opening along the middle.

Turn the strip right side out. Use a Fasturn for convenience, turning one half of the strip at a time. Press. Hand stitch the opening of each strip closed.

Select a zipper longer than the opening: a 22” zipper was used for the Florida Tote. Bar tack the tapes together at the top end. (I coordinated the zipper color to the lining of the bag. Don’t you just love lime green!)

Cut a 2” strip of fabric and fold the ends to the middle to create a fabric tab the width of the zipper. Stitch the fabric tab to each end. (Hint: we made the fabric tab the width of the zipper. A slightly wider and longer strip would be easier to stitch.)

Fold the zipper and completed fabric strips in half to determine the lengthwise center point. Overlap the fabric strips to the zipper, matching the center points. Topstitch and edgestitch. The zipper should extend evenly at both ends. (Sorry about the fuzzy photo!)

Pin the zipper/fabric strip unit to the inside of the tote. Match the center points of the unit to the center of the tote opening. Pin to the inside.

Restitch from the outside of the tote.

The extra length of the zipper can be exposed, or tucked into the tote.

Ta-Da—a Zipper-Upper Closure!

Watch more bag and tote ideas on Sewing With Nancy. The 3-part episode 12 Easy Sew Bags is yours for the watching online 24/7 or on Public TV!

Bye for now,