All of mole1's suggestions are great. The only thing I would add is that if you are trying to sew a zipper with a sewing machine, you really need to use a zipper foot. A zipper foot looks like half the regular foot (the part that holds down the fabric as it is fed into the needle), leaving space for the teeth of the zipper to pass by. This special foot is also useful for sewing on piping and beaded fringe tapes.
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Well, for starters, zippers can be sewn in by hand. It would be useful to see the design of the purse, what kind of opening you are trying to close, and what kind of zipper you want to use. Also, is the purse lined? Are there side seams? How do you want the finished zipper to look? The sewers here can give you more specific and detailed answers if you indicate what parts of the project pose problems for you. Can you include a picture of what you have so far? I'd love to see it.