Lakeview Tote With Zipper Tutorial

a green striped linen Lakeview Tote with zipper on a wood floor

This tutorial idea came from a sewist who was looking for an oversized tote bag pattern with a zipper and I thought my Lakeview Tote Sewing Pattern would make a great pattern for it! I’ve designed two other tote bag patterns that have recessed zippers so it only took a couple of modifications to apply it to the Lakeview Tote. This zipper hack is great if you want to be able to close your tote bag at the beach or lake or even use it as a weekender bag for traveling.

a green striped linen Lakeview Tote with a recessed zipper laying on a wood floor

Since I already written a recessed zipper tutorial I won’t be going into depth on how to sew the recessed zipper but I’ll be sharing the measurements and supplies needed to sew a zipper for the Lakeview Tote. This recessed zipper technique is the same as the zippers in my August Tote and 7th Street Tote, except that there is no lining and the zipper panel and zipper length are different.

Bethany holding a green striped linen Lakeview Tote with zipper and opening the zipper with one hand

You will start by making the Lakeview Tote by following the instructions! Then right after you’ve sewn the bias tape onto the base seam then it’s time to sew the recessed zipper. This method would also work on a different tote bag, but I’ll be using measurements specific to the Lakeview Tote.

a green striped Lakeview Tote bag on a white table with a zipper panel and white zipper

Some Things You’ll Need

  • Nylon zipper at least 24.5″ (total tape length) – I’m using zipper tape in my example – which makes it super easy to just cut at the length you need!
  • Lakeview Tote (or other tote bag)
  • 4 zipper panels cut out – 2 in main fabric and 2 in lining fabric (optional)

In my example I’m using a heavy weight linen which makes for a very floppy tote bag. It almost makes it seem bigger too! The linen I used is from The Linen Lab and was really nice to work with and I love the classic slubby linen texture it has. If you’re curious to check it out or see what other fabrics they have, you can use my code BETHANYLYNNE_MAKES for 10% off.

You can use linen for the Lakeview Tote, but just know that it will be slouchy and the zipper panel won’t be as structured. I wanted to use what I had for this example, but I would like to try the zipper hack sometime in a cotton canvas, which is really the fabric I had in mind when designing this pattern.

Let’s Get Started!

Cut Out Lakeview Tote Pattern Pieces

the Lakeview Tote pattern pieces laid out on green striped fabric ready to be cut out

Cut out all the pieces for the Lakeview Tote except the Top Edge Binding piece in your chosen fabric. I skipped the inside zipper pocket but you can still add it if you like! It will go in the same place as in the instructions, but keep in mind it will be partially covered by the recessed zipper.

Cut out Zipper Panels

4 rectangle pieces of green striped fabric cut out to use for zipper panels for a recessed zipper

You will need 4 zipper panels total, 2 in the main fabric and 2 in a lining fabric (optional). If your main fabric is a heavier weight, like a cotton canvas, then you may want a lighter weight cotton for the zipper panel lining so it doesn’t get too bulky. Since I’m working with linen, I’m using the same fabric for all 4 panels.

The zipper panels need to be the total length of the bag opening (after sewing on the side panels), and whatever width you want. For the Lakeview Tote I used the Top Edge Binding piece to determine the length and then cut it 3″ wide (the same as the recessed zippers in my other bag patterns).

So the final dimensions of the zipper panels should be 26″ (66 cm) long x 3″ (7.6 cm) wide. If you wanted, you could experiment with a wider zipper panel which will mean the recessed zipper will sit farther into the tote bag.

Time to Sew

Follow the instructions for the Lakeview Tote and stop after Step 8 (or if you’re skipping the inside zippered pocket, then stop after Step 7).

Then head over to my tutorial How to Sew a Recessed Zipper and follow the steps as written. The steps are the same, except for a different seam allowance on one step, which I mention below.

sewing the ends of the zipper panel together with a 1/2" seam allowance

Important! When you get to the step where you need to sew the ends of the panels closed, use a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) seam allowance (see photo above).

The seam allowance for the Lakeview Tote pattern is 1/2″ (1.3 cm) so this makes sure that the recessed zipper panel fits into the top of the bag.

Other than that, all other seam allowances from the Recessed Zipper tutorial will work for this version.

Sew recessed zipper to tote bag

showing the finished boxed end of the recessed zipper in a striped green fabric

Once you have your little zipper boat (aka recessed zipper) finished, it’s time to sew it into the bag!

the finished recessed zipper laying above the tote bag on a white table

Lay out the tote bag in front of you with the right side out. Turn the recessed zipper so the wrong side / lining side is facing out (if your fabric is the same, you can tell by the zipper – the pull will be facing the towards the bag.

the recessed zipper right sides together with the tote bag with raw edges lined up at the top

With right sides together, bring the bag up through the recessed zipper and match the side seam of the recessed zipper to the mid point of the sides of the bag. You may have marked a notch there already, but if not, mark the center of the side panel (see photo below).

closeup of the recessed zipper side seam right sides together with the sides of the tote bag

pin in Place

the top of the bag and recessed zipper secured with pins and clips

Using pins or clips, pin all around the top edge of the bag and recessed zipper lining up the raw edges. Make sure all three layers of fabric are lined up.

Sew around top edge

sewing around the top edge of the recessed zipper and tote bag at the sewing machine

Sew the recessed zipper to the top of the bag with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance making sure to catch all 3 layers of fabric.

trim seam allowance

showing the raw seam allowance underneath the recessed zipper after sewn to the bag

Since the Lakeview Tote doesn’t have a lining (my other patterns with recessed zippers both have linings included) then there will be a raw seam on the inside underneath the recessed zipper. You have a few options:

  • You can using a serger or zigzag stitch to finish the raw seams.
  • Trim the seam allowance back so that it gets hidden when topstitching around the top of the bag.
  • Or you can leave it if it doesn’t bother you! You won’t really see it unless you are lifting up the recessed zipper.
trimming the seam allowance underneath the recessed zipper

I chose to trim back the seam allowance to about half the width so it gets enclosed at a later step.

Press Recessed zipper to inside of bag

Bring the recessed zipper into the bag and press with an iron all around the top of the bag. I like to first press the seam allowance up towards the recessed zipper and then press again with the panels inside the bag.

topstitch around the top of the bag

topstitching around the top of the bag with a 3/8" seam allowance

Topstitch all around the top of the bag (make sure the handles are pointing away from the bag) with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance.

showing the inside of the recessed zipper with the raw edges enclosed

Topstitching around the top of the bag will also enclose the raw seams from under the recessed zipper – if you chose to trim them down (see photo above).

closeup of the finished topstitched recessed zipper sewn to the tote bag

And that’s it! You now have a zipper to fully close your tote bag! 🙂

holding the Lakeview Tote with zipper over one shoulder with back turned

I’ve wanted to try making a linen Lakeview Tote ever since one of my pattern testers made one and I really love the slouchiness of it! And it’s such an easy hack to add in a zipper for when I want the option to close it.

Let me know if you try this hack or if you need any helps with the steps! Happy sewing 🙂

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