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How to Sew an Exposed Zipper

comments (5) July 10th, 2009     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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Exposed zippers are the perfect way to show off high-quality zippers that have unique details.
Exposed zippers are the perfect way to show off high-quality zippers that have unique details.

Exposed zippers are the perfect way to show off high-quality zippers that have unique details.

Photo: Jack Deutsch

Zippers have come a long way over the years; they're used in everything from garments and shoes to accessories and home décor. You may install a zipper to let you in and out of a garment, but why not make it stylish at the same time?

In the Spring Fashion '09 issue of SewStylish, couture sewer Anna Mazur showed you how to insert zippers four ways. Here is one of the techniques inspired by many designers including Marni.

When installing an exposed zipper, you can throw all the zipper-insertion rules out the window. Turn the seam allowances to the right side, topstitch the zipper over them to conceal the fabric edges, and let the zipper tape show on the outside of the garment. Choose a matching or contrasting zipper for even more stand-out style.

  1. Before sewing the seam, stabilize and staystitch. Fuse a 1-inch-wide interfacing strip to the right side of both zipper seam allowances. Staystitch 3⁄4 inch from the edge on the interfaced section. Pivot at the point the zipper will end, and sew off the edge. Then position both layers right sides together, and use a 5⁄8-inch seam allowance to sew the seam below the zipper opening.



2. Clip and press the seam open. Diagonally clip into the seam allowances at the zipper base. Press the triangles formed at the zipper base to the wrong side under the seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open below the zipper. Turn the zipper seam allowance to the right side along the staystitching, and press.





  3. Baste the zipper to the garment. Position the zipper on the right side over the garment seam so the teeth aren't covered by any fabric on the wrong side. Baste the zipper tape to the seam allowances close to the teeth. Turn under the bottom raw edges of the zipper.

4. Sew the zipper to the seam allowance. Load your machine with a zipper foot, and sew the zipper tape to the seam allowance as basted close to the zipper teeth.


5. Trim away the seam allowance. Cut away the seam allowance that extends beyond the zipper tape. Be careful not to cut the garment.


  6. Finish the zipper. Use a zipper foot to edgestitch the zipper in place from top to bottom along each side. Sew across the zipper base to secure.


posted in: sewstylish feature, sewstylish technique, designer, zipper

Comments (5)

_nikki_ writes: TFaps: Anna Mazur added a center-front seam in the pattern. To see how she did it, visit the tutorial here:

Tessy: The pattern is available on
Posted: 2:18 pm on July 30th
Tfaps23 writes: I actually purchased that issue. I fell in love with the dress and especially the fabric. Although the magazine mentions that the dress was made out of Simplicity pattern 2657, it is quite different. It is said in the magazine that I could find the adaptation of the pattern on this website, I can't seem to find it. Can anyone help? Thanks.
Posted: 4:55 pm on July 28th
tessy38 writes: I want to order the pattern that was in the contest for the dress that was in the magazine as a sample. Sew Stylish 2657 I think. How do I order it?
Posted: 9:17 am on July 24th
_nikki_ writes: Hi Shehog,

For Anna's garment, she put in the zipper before she faced the dress. After the zipper was sewn in, she sewed the facing to the top edge of the dress, folded the seam allowance under along the facing's zipper edge and hand stitched it in place.
Posted: 1:45 pm on July 22nd
shehog3 writes: How do you finish the top edge of the garment? Does the zipper go in before the top edge is finished or after? What do you do with all of that bulk at the top if you have to fold the zipper tape over into a seam, facing or binding?

Posted: 3:51 pm on July 16th
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