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A New Approach to Zipper Tabs

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

Hi! Today I have a lovely little tutorial from Leslie at Love Rubie on making those gorgeous, custom zipper tabs you may have seen appearing on some of her latest bags including her Classic Carryall totes!

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

Her approach is a little different in that it allows you to add a ring to the end of the zipper tail, giving you a perfect location to hook your keys or even a fun tassel! Here’s how to make them!

Not familiar with the Classic Carryall Handbag & Tote pattern? Not to worry! You can find the pattern here!


To make one of my new and improved zipper tabs you will need:

  • The Classic Carryall Handbag & Tote pattern from Andrie Designs
  • Key ring, D-ring or Gate ring
  • Scrap of leather, vinyl or fabric
  • Hand sewing needle and thread (optional)
  • Fray check (optional)

Let’s get started!

Begin by assembling your Classic Carryall as per the pattern directions. Once you have completed step #22, STOP, and continue as follows.

Fold one side of the zipper tape under to the wrong side and top stitch in place. It can be a little tricky to sew such a narrow area but try out different machine feet until you find something that works well. I ended up using my left and right zipper foot.

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

I like to start my top stitching at the end of the zipper tail and stop about an 1” (2.5cm) from the opening of the bag using a 3.5 -4 stitch length. If you can’t get that close, do what works best for you and your machine.

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

Even though this is a “tab-less” zipper end, you’re actually still putting a tab on it you just don’t notice it because of the way it’s finished.

For this part I find it best to use a scrap of leather. Cut it so that it’s slightly wider than your prepared zipper by 1 /2″ (3.8cm) long. Vinyl, cork or any non fraying material is easiest to use, however you can also use fabric if you like (remember to account for a seam allowance if you choose to use fabric instead).

Fold your piece of leather in half, cap the end of the zipper with it and clip in place. Sew around the outside of the square with whatever machine foot works best for you (I went with a zipper foot) using a narrow 1/8″ (0.3cm) seam allowance.

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

Slide your ring onto the zipper (I’m using a gate ring) and fold the tab back approximately 1″ (2.5cm) so that it touches the wrong side of the zipper. Clip to hold. Tack in place on both sides of the zipper tape by machine or hand. Either way will work just fine, however I prefer to stitch mine by hand.

To tack by hand, take a good length of nice weight thread and fold in half. Fold it in half again and thread your needle. You don’t need a special hand sewing needle for the leather tab – simply pass your needle through the already existing hole in the outer corner of your tab that was created by the top stitching you made earlier. Give it a good knotting and then use fray check to help lock it in place.

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

And voila! You’re done! How easy was that!

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs

A New Approach to Zipper Tabs - Andrie Designs


Thank you Leslie for a great tutorial! I know I for one will definitely be trying this out at some point as it really adds that little bit extra to the end of the zipper I reckon!

You can see more of Leslie’s gorgeous creations on any of her social media below –

You can find the Classic Carryall Handbag & Tote pattern here.

We’d love to know what you think of this alternate zipper end so please feel free to comment below with your thoughts!

Happy sewing! Lisa x

13 thoughts on “A New Approach to Zipper Tabs

  1. Elizabeth says:

    What a great technique! Just to clarify – you’re actually threading 4 strands of thread thru the eye, correct? So you only need to take a couple of tacking stitches, I’m guessing? Sorry to be dense – I can’t seem to enlarge the pic a bit to see it more closely. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  2. Patti McGarry says:

    Lisa, this is great! I have one question…it appears to be a metal zip, which I’ve yet to try. How are you sewing over the teeth? This is a beautiful finish and I’m anxious to try it!

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks Patti! Despite it’s appearance, I think this is actually a nylon teeth zipper that Leslie’s used, just a nice long pull (wide-toothed) one 😉 When sewing over the teeth of zippers such as this (and of course metal zippers as well), I find it best to hand wind my needle ‘over’/’through’ the teeth nice and slowly. By hand winding the needle, you can help guide it between the teeth as each stitch is made, and also wiggle the teeth out of the way should the needle come down directly on top of one (therefore saving a bent or broken needle!). Hope that helps! 🙂

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