I made my zipper leaders using a bed sheet. I used a brand new sheet with a good stitch count, so it was pretty sturdy. The part of the leader that stays on the frame is made of canvas and is attached to the bars with a sticky back Velcro. Once I have sewn one side of the zipper to the canvas leader, the canvas leader was attached to the bar with the Velcro. These canvas leaders stay in place. I have two zipper lengths, a 120” black zipper and a 72” white zipper. Both are sewn on to the canvas leader, one above the other.
I first find the center of the bar and mark it with a permanent marker. I also mark the number on the bar. Before I stick the Velcro on the canvas leader, I mark the center of the leader. The Velcro needs to be the full length of the canvas leader. After the Velcro is in place on the leader, on the opposite side (edge) I sew the zipper, or zippers. I find the center of the zipper and match it to the center line that I marked on my canvas leader. The first zipper is sewn about 1 ½ ” up from the edge of the canvas. If you are using a second zipper, that one would be centered about 1” above the first zipper. The side with the zipper pull should be sewn onto the leader that you take off and bring to your sewing machine. The starting end of the zippers should be on the right of the leaders.
I have my bars at 120” which makes my black zipper the same length as the bars, but the canvas leaders are probably 10” shorter. This is how much longer my zipper is on both ends. I think you probably have a good 8” on each side that you cannot stitch anyhow.
The width of your leader that you are going to attach the second half of your zipper does not matter. I have my long leaders at about 6” wide and the shorter leaders are closer to 10” wide. I cut my sheet about 13” wide and about 123” long (the length of the zipper plus a couple inches). Fold the length in half with right sides together then stitch the ends. Turn and press the length in half. On one side press the edge under to the inside about ½”. Now pin the zipper in place on the edge of the side that was not turned under, making sure that the center of the zipper and the center of the fabric are matched up. You will not need a zipper foot, just have the foot positioned down the center of the edge of the zipper.
After you have stitched the zipper down the one side turn the zipper so the teeth are facing out. Now you pin the edge in place that was pressed under.
Position the pressed edge so that it covers the stitch line but is still far enough away from the teeth to not cause a problem.
You will need a zipper for three leaders. Two are for the backing and one is for the quilt top.
Leaders one and two are basically the same.
By that I mean that the right side of the backing faces the leader and is basted to the edge. Leader number three has the wrong side of the quilt top pinned to the leader edge.
When you pin the bottom edge of the quilt top to the leader, the pins should be inserted point to point. This uses a lot more pins than I thought were necessary, but it creates a more stable edge. I use corsage type pins because they are much sturdier than typical quilting pins.
The zipper leader is the full length of the zipper, even if it is longer than the canvas leader.