Every Adventure Tote | Recessed Zipper Hack

It is finally here! The most requested hack for the Every Adventure Tote!! Lots of you have messaged me asking for a way to close up your Every Adventure Tote, so I present you with a recessed zipper hack! There’s also a Drawstring Closure hack for the Every Adventure Tote available.

This hack requires you to combine several different elements of the Every Adventure Tote, so to make it easier, instead of pointing you all over the blog, I’ve combined them all into one location (here). Because of this, you’ll notice that the fabrics change from picture to picture, depending which tote hack tutorial I pulled them from. If you’re unfamiliar with the Every Adventure Tote, reviewing the original tutorial before you get started might be helpful.

This recessed zipper lies flat against the bag when it is open, making it easy to see what is in your bag. It also allows you not to use the zipper if you decide you don’t need it. What this means, however, it that when zipped up, the zipper won’t be completely flat, you’ll notice a slight bulge. It means you can stuff your bag even fuller!


I used a lightweight canvas for the exterior main fabric and essex linen for the exterior bottom fabric, but quilting cotton works well too, as the foam provides the stability you need. If using quilting cotton for the recessed zipper, you may wish to line it with lightweight interfacing first for additional stability.

Be sure to use a polyester zipper in this tutorial – we will be sewing over the zipper teeth when adding the zipper tab, and you should never ever sew over metal teeth as it will break your needle and potentially ruin your machine.

  • Exterior Main Fabric:
    • (2) 8.5″ x 19.25″ (exterior panel)
    • (2) 7″ x 19.25″ (recessed zipper)
    • (1) 2″ square (zipper tab)
  • Exterior Bottom Fabric: (1) 15″ x 19.25″
  • Lining fabric: (1) 19″ x 29.75″
  • Strap Fabric: (2) 5″ x 25″ fabric rectangles
  • Foam:
    • (2) 1.25″ x 24″ foam
    • (1) 19.25″ x 30″
  • (1) 18″ or longer polyester zipper (cut to 17.25″)


Make the bag exterior:

*All seams are sewn with 1/2″ seam allowance unless specified

1. Fuse the (2) 8.5″ x 19.25″ exterior main fabric to the top and bottom of the foam, on the 19.25″ sides. Pay attention to placement of directional fabrics, they should both face OUT. Add quilting if desired.

2. Press back 1/2″ on the 19.25″ sides of the 15″ x 19.25″ exterior bottom fabric. Find the center, and line it up with the center of the foam and fuse in place

3. Topstitch the bottom fabric to the main fabric with a 1/4″ seam allowance and a 1/8″ seam allowance. Repeat for the other side.

Create the short exterior straps:

4. Press the handles fabric in half, open, and press both halves towards the center. Place foam inside one folded part with 0.5″ fabric overhang on either end and fuse in place. Repeat for the second handle.

5. Fold the fabric overhang on both ends in towards the foam and press. Then fold up the straps and pin or clip in place. You should have no raw edges.

6. Topstitch all the way around the strap, about 1/8″ away from the edges. Repeat for the second strap.

7. Find the center point on the bag exterior on the 19.25″ side and measure 3″ from the center on each side. Place one end of the handle 3″ away from the center and 2.5″ down from the top. Place a pin 1.5″ from the top. Repeat for the other side of the handle, and for the second handle.

8. Sew the handle to the bag with an X motion for strength from the bottom of the handle up to the pin. Your stitching should end 1.5″ from the top of the bag. Repeat for the other side of the handle and the second handle.

Sew together the bag exterior and create the lining:

9. Fold the foam in half, right-sides together, and stitch down the two sides, making sure to line up where the bottom fabric meets the main fabric.

10. Measure and cut a 2.5″ square EXCLUDING seam allowance from one of the two bottom corners. Fold the corner open to create a boxed corner and stitch. Repeat for the second bottom corner.

11. Turn bag right side out and set aside. Fold lining fabric in half to create a 19″ x 14.875″ rectangle. Stitch down the two sides, leaving a 6″ opening on one side, towards the middle of the lining. This will allow us to turn our bag right side out later on.

12. Cut a 2.5″ square, excluding seam allowance, from one of the bottom corners, fold the corner open to created a boxed corner and stitch together. Repeat for the second bottom corner.

13. Lining is complete! Set aside while we make the recessed zipper panel.

Make the Recessed Zipper:

14. Cut your zipper to 17.25″, removing the metal zipper stop at the end.

15. Press the 2″ square of main fabric in half, then press both halves towards the center. It should measure 1/2″ x 2″.

16. Position the zipper tab on the end of the zipper that we cut, so it fits snuggly against the zipper tape. Stitch in place. Then trim the zipper tab flush with the zipper tape. Optional: Add zig-zag stitches.

17. On the other side of the zipper tape, fold down the ends at an angle and baste in place.

18. Fold the 7″ x 19.25″ exterior fabric pieces in half, so you have (2) 3.5″ x 19.25″ pieces.

19. Align the center of the zipper tape to the center of one of these panels, with the folded side of the panel towards the zipper, and pin in place. You should have 1″ of panel on either side of the zipper tape. Make sure that the fabric isn’t too close to the zipper teeth, you should be able to fully open and close the zipper. Pin the second side in place, folded side towards the zipper, and top stitch both fabric pieces to the zipper.

20. Fold the recessed zipper panel in half. Measure 1/2″ from the edge. Using this pin as your guide, stitch from the pin towards the zipper teeth at an angle. Trim to 1/2″ seam allowance.

21. Press seam open, then zig-zag either side of the seam allowance. Don’t zig-zag all 4 fabrics together, you’ll want the seam to be pressed open to lie flat against the bag.

22. Find the center of the recessed zipper panel, and align it with the center of your bag exterior, right sides together. The raw edges of your recessed zipper panel should be at the top of your bag. Stitch in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

23. Stuff the whole bag exterior, including the zipper panel, into the lining fabric, right sides together. Pin across the top of the bag, and stitch all the way around with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Take it slow on the edges where there is a lot of bulk.

24. Turn bag right side out through the opening left on the side of your lining. Be gentle here and take your time. Topstitch with 1/4″ seam allowance at the top of the bag to keep all the layers together nicely. Then stitch the opening in the lining closed.

Can’t get enough of the Every Adventure Tote?

If you make this bag, post to Instagram with the hashtag #everyadventuretote so I can see it too!

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