Zippers (Part 1)

comments (25) September 9th, 2008     

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Shannon_Dennis Shannon Dennis, contributor
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Fabric and zippers!
Baste the garment pieces together and press the seam open.
This is the right side of the zipper...
Fabric and zippers!

Fabric and zippers!

Photo: Shannon Dennis
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Zippers have always been a thorn in my side. For years I would leave garments incomplete because of zipper-itious...the disease of yucky zippers! I believe very strongly in practice, so before you begin know that practice is the best medicine for zipper-itious. In this series of how-to posts, I want to share with you how I complete different zippers and little tips and hints that have helped me gain more precision with zippers. I am also a firm believer that there is more than one way to complete a technique, so feel free to post little tips or styles that you like to use with your zippers! We will cover a standard zipper, craft zipper, and an invisible zipper as well as how to finish the zippers in this series.

For this post, let's focus on standard zipper insertion. This type of zipper is usually found in a garment or craft pattern that you would buy from a big pattern company.

Baste the seam and press open.

Sew your two garment pieces right sides together as directed in the pattern. In the space where the zipper will be, switch your machine to a basting stitch or simply lengthen your stitch length. Press the seam open.

This is the right side of the zipper...

You can see that this is the right side of the zipper because you can use the pull on the zipper and you can feel/see the bump of the teeth.

...and this is the wrong side of the zipper.

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posted in: how-to, zipper, garment zipper, standard zipper

Comments (25)

lolosews writes: So glad I stumbled upon this site! I no now. there are others like me, with zipper phobia. I have been sewing since 11 years of age I am now 51 and still cringe at the thought of a zipper. Thanks for all the great info ladys.
Posted: 11:12 pm on November 29th
Shannon_Dennis writes: dear newcomer - I always prefer to start at the top. Althought I am sure most people would agree the more important part is that you are sewing both sides of your zipper in the same direction (both sides from top to bottom or both sides from bottom to top). Let me know if you have more questions...and welcome to Craftstylish!
Posted: 12:12 am on October 12th
newcomer writes: Pardon me...I'm a new sewer and trying to learn my skills on line. I got lost when you said to sew the zipper in place starting on the right side. You didn't mention to begin at the top or at the bottom(?)
Posted: 5:16 pm on October 1st
mymimila writes: Thank you for this great tip! I always struggle with zippers, but your way seems a bit easier than what i was doing!
Posted: 3:35 pm on September 15th
Lauraflorafoot writes: I find that invisible zippers are the easiest to put in neatly. In fact, I almost always use an invisible zipper. The only place I haven't lately is in reconstructing the pattern on some existing pants for a customer of mine, which pants have a regular zipper that goes up to the top of the wide waistband (usually the zip stops at the bottom of the waist band, which is then buttoned or snapped, etc.)
When I stitch the bottom part of the zipper, where you are supposed to pull the zipper tape to one side and then put the needle in " a little above and 1/8" to the side of the last stitches" , I make that 1/8" smaller and put the needle in more like 1/16" or just a hair's breadth away from the last stitches. That way, on the right side, it does not have a gap or a bump. When I pull the tape to one side, after lowering the needle in-to hold it in place before starting to sew- I ease off on the tape so it does not distort the fabric. Positioning the needle correctly and carefully is most important. Also try a quill or long needle to help you push it in place before you start sewing, since you can't get your fingers under the presser foot. It['s a little finicky, but it works well.
Posted: 9:29 pm on September 14th
DebbieDee writes: I should have read more comments before I posted mine. DAYWEAR you said it better than I did, especially the part about not cutting off the top until you unzip!
Posted: 7:42 pm on September 14th
DebbieDee writes: Yvonne - I loved your idea! Thanks for posting it. I've been sewing for over 30 years (since I was a child!) but I've never thought of doing it that way.

Simply use a zipper longer than you actually need. After sewing both sides and removing the basting, un-zip down past your top seam allowance then cut off the excess top of the zipper. I love it!

Can't believe I haven't thought of that myself! Thanks again!
Posted: 7:35 pm on September 14th
Lorriane writes: Daywear - I can't wait to use your tip!
Posted: 9:41 am on September 14th
fergus4 writes: Thanks for this series. I am hoping you will teach us how to put in a fly-front zipper. I have recently replaced one and used a template to help me get the top stitching nice and straight, but starting from scratch to put one into a pair of pants has me totally intimidated!
Posted: 10:33 pm on September 13th
PamB writes: One of the most marvelous things about knits is that you don't need zips! Make sure you can get the design over your head, and viola, no zip. Makes the whole garment wearable much faster. Although you can still put a zip in a knit that is stable (mock suede types). If you have to put a zip in knit, stablise the seam first with a bit of tape.

Posted: 3:38 pm on September 13th
LitlBits writes: I'd love to see tips for hand sewing zips in knit or crochet garments....usually fabric not as smooth, stitching in very straight (while keeping the zipper straight!) is very tricky situation!
Posted: 3:05 pm on September 13th
LitlBits writes: Note to cannot always place the pull above the top of seam as you indicate...if there is waist band or neckline, etc, it won't stitch in place without closing up your zipper! (or the top of zipper will extend above the waist band!
Posted: 3:01 pm on September 13th
Yvonnee writes: For a faster method, place the head of the zipper above the cut edge fabric. Both sides of the zipper will be even and easier to sew, no "bump" to sew around or zipper to open. Yvonnee
Posted: 12:31 pm on September 13th
SewQueen1 writes: I wish there was a way to sew the zipper right on top of the seam of the garment without having to worry if it is even or if the top part with the pull makes it not match the seam. Oh well, wishful thinking. I believe there is an easier way, I just have not found it yet. Rosemary
Posted: 12:02 pm on September 13th
SewQueen1 writes: Thank-You, I hate Zippers, I have tried to make them my friend but it is very hard. This instructions are very helpful. I will go and practice right now. I hate making a beutiful garment and have a zipper that will not look finished. Rosemary
Posted: 11:51 am on September 13th
MzSweetpea writes: Girls girls girls....zippers are EASY...but you need a zipper foot for your machine to install one expertly every time. Also think a zipper is easier to install if you baste (by machine) the seam where the zipper is to installed....also don't forget a hook and eye at the top of your you have a nice and neat proffesional look to your garmet....for those who are replacing zippers...that's even easier, just make sure you get the same size as the original zipper...just take out old zipper by hand, and then you'll be ready to install the new zipper, the stitich lines, folds are ready to go!
Posted: 11:33 am on September 13th
daywear writes: I have put in zippers for more years than I care to admit. The best tip I have for any zipper insertion, regular or invisible, is that I always use a zipper longer than I need. The end of the zipper with the pull should extend above the top of your garment.....Now sew both sides from bottom upwih zipper closed. Then, BEFORE you cut off the excess zipper, you MUST open the zipper. Cut the zipper off along the top edge of the garment. If you forget and cut before you open the zipper, you will loose the zipper pull, and will not be able to use the zipper. Usually you will only do that once. Keeping the zipper open, you can finish the top edge with the facing, waistband, or bias edge. Then when you close the zipper, the pull will go right to the top or to the seam line, and you have a nice straight edge to boot. Hope this helps.
Posted: 11:11 am on September 13th
annette8 writes: I use 1/4 inch craft and sewing tape and stick it on the right side of zipper . remove shield on tape only on side your working on or you'll have a stick situation. Then sew!
Posted: 11:03 am on September 13th
zanygumby writes: any helpful tips on how to replace a zipper, in a pair of pants, I love to wear?
Posted: 10:41 am on September 13th
Katyeyes writes: Also - anybody have a tried and true tip for invisible zippers at the bottom ?- I always find I have a gap or the fabric does not exactly line up when sewing the seam after zipiper insertion.
Thx K
Posted: 10:34 am on September 13th
Katyeyes writes: Ths for the info. very helpful - and I too will avoid zippers at all cost. Lapped ones I do not find as difficult as the centered ones. but how do you get around the top of the zipper hardware without a bumping out? Maybe my seam allowances are too narrow and I run off the fabric - not sure but I always get a bump around the heading. To me lapping is easier.

Posted: 10:33 am on September 13th
glen28 writes: adding a fusing strip to the seam allowance that is 1/8" larger than the seam allowance helps from stretching while you sew (make sure your fusing isn't too heavy.
Posted: 9:48 am on September 13th
GrammyKim writes: Zippers are easy with practice. I have found that if I just lay the aipper in the open seam with the teeth next to the fold it is easier for me to sew. I am still struggling with lapped zippers, these zippers drive me crazy. I have tried them every way possible and they still don't turn out right! Can you help?? Kim
Posted: 9:11 am on September 13th
jendanner writes: Thank you!!! I found this to be very helpful!!!!
Posted: 5:31 pm on September 12th
mscraftypants writes: I hate zippers! Thanks for starting this series to simplify the zipper world. I'll have to try sewing both sides in the same direction on my next go.
Posted: 1:44 pm on September 9th
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