Little Repairs Made Easy! See How To Sew A Zipper Easily

Are you away from your mother or grandmother and don’t know how to sew a zipper? Don’t worry; you can admit if you’re scared! Zippers can be tricky and intimidating, especially for a young sewist. But they don’t have to be hard or scary. We will walk you through the basic sewing tips of adding in a zipper in no time! 

stitching zipper on leather sewing machine

Do you dream of sewing your own zipper pouch, a zippered cushion cover, pants, or just becoming a sewing expert? Here you will find the types of zippers and a tutorial on applying each one of them. You’ll be sewing professional and beautiful zippers in a flash!

Types of zipper

Before you start sewing with zippers, you should know some basics about them to help you choose the right one for your project. First of all, they can vary by length, type and size of zipper teeth and zipper tape used when manufacturing them. You should know the zipper types since each one has a different sewing technique. To follow the proper zipper tutorial, start by knowing the different zipper types. Just before you know it, you’ll be ‘zipping’ along sewing zippers into everything!

Coil Zippers

These are the most common type, made of nylon. They are flat on one side and have teeth on the other. Each tooth of them is connected to the other to bind easily. They are also heat resistant, light and waterproof. They are ideal for purses, backpacks, sleeping bags, and tote bags.

Invisible Zippers

These flexible and strong zippers are hidden in a seam with only the zipper pull tab visible. They are best suited for dressmaking and soft furnishings like cushions.

Open-Ended Zippers

These have a slide mechanism that slips in before closing them. They are a great innovation for the opening and closing jackets and other items to open out at the end. 

Tooth Zippers

These are made of plastic or metal, and the zipper’s teeth are visible on both sides, and each one is separate. This kind is great for jackets and camping gear.

Yellow jacket with zipper

Step-by-step guide: How to sew an exposed zipper

You can insert a zipper into a garment’s part that does not have an opening or seam by inserting an exposed zipper. If you insert the zipper in a seam, you can choose to have the zipper tape on the garment’s top or underneath the seam. Keep on reading to find an easy tutorial to sew an exposed zipper without a seam or in one.

What you’ll need

  • Fabric or fusible facing
  • Pencil or marker pen
  • Zipper
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle
  • Ruler

How to sew an exposed zipper – without a seam 

Before you start your sewing project, you must create an opening to insert a zipper underneath the fabric.

  1. Cut the stay: Insert a piece of facing or ‘stay’ into the area to prepare for the zipper. This can be fabric or fusible facing. You may use a pretty contrast piece of fabric to look nice on the inside. 
  2. Cut the piece 7.5cm wide and 6.5cm longer than the zipper opening.
  3. Mark the zipper opening: On the stay’s wrong side, use a pencil or marker pen to mark the zipper’s position. This opening’s size will determine how much of the zipper will show. Don’t forget to add at least a 6mm seam allowance to the sides. If your zipper tape width is 2.5cm, for example, mark 2cm across. For the length, draw from the top of the zipper tape to just below the metal bar.
  4. Put in the stay: With the right sides together, place your stay on the fabric’s top, where you want the opening to be, and stitch along the markings.
  5. Cut the opening: Cut down the area’s centre to about 12mm before the end and then cut into the corners diagonally. 
  6. Turn in the stay: Turn the stay to the inside, the wrong side of the garment, and press it down. Let the stay roll inside the opening slightly so the seam won’t be visible on the outside.
  7. Set the zipper in place: Flip the garment back to the right side and centre the zipper underneath the opening. Ensure the bottom of the zipper stop is flush against the opening’s bottom end and pin in place.
  8. Install the zipper foot: Put your trusty zipper foot on the machine to get nice and close to the end of the zipper.
  9. Stitch around the zipper: Stitch around the zipper, starting at the top. If you have a bulky zipper head, you may need to move it out of the way sometimes to get a nice straight stitch.
  10. Open and close to check that your zipper runs smoothly. You are now ready to continue to sew up your garment!

female hands with red nails close zipper lock on down jacket

How to sew an exposed zipper – in a seam

This sewing tutorial allows you to insert an exposed zipper using the seam as the opening. There are 2 methods you can follow, sewing underneath or on top of the fabric. Here’s how!

Method 1 – How to sew an exposed zipper underneath the fabric

  1. Preparation: Sew the seam, as usual, all the way to the garment’s top. Sew shut the area where you’ll place the exposed zipper. Finish the edges and press open your seam.
  2. Cut and stitch your stay: Flip the garment the right way out. After you cut out a stay, stitch the opening the same way as in the sewing pattern without a seam. The only thing you should do differently is to centre the stay directly over the seam’s right side of the seam.  
  3. Continue for a straight line: Keep going in the same manner as the method without a seam, and this is what your new end zip will look like!

Method 2 – How to sew an exposed zipper on top of the fabric

This is an easy method for maximum impact since you can see the whole zipper. It’s very common to find this on clothing with bright contrast zippers.

  1. Preparation: Finish both fabric’s sides on the seam where you’ll place the exposed zipper. You can use a  zig-zag stitch or serger.
  2. Sew the seam: Put the 2 fabric pieces with their right sides together and stitch the seam up to the point where you’ll insert the zip. Leave a 6mm gap and then baste the seam’s top where you’ll place the zipper.
  3. Press open your seam all the way to the top.
  4. Set your zipper in place: Flip the garment to the right side, and starting at the top, centre the zipper on the seam’s top and pin it in place. Then, fold under the raw edges to give a neat appearance to the bottom of the zipper.
  5. Stitch your zipper: You should now install the zipper foot on your machine. Start at the top, and stitch down the sides and bottom of the zipper. Continue by stitching down the tape’s inside and outside and then across the bottom. You’re done!

Hand of dressmaker is sewing a invisible zipper with a sewing machine

Step-by-step guide: How to sew an invisible zipper

It’s important to know that you should sew invisible zippers when the pattern pieces are still flat and separate. Also, contrary to the other types of zipper applications, you should sew them to the right side of the project. Here is a great tutorial to help you out!

What you’ll need

  • Invisible zipper foot (or regular zipper foot)
  • Fabric marker or pins
  • Ruler
  • Tape

Here are all the steps you need to follow:

  1. Finish the joining seam edges where you’ll add the zipper. Place your joining seam edges side by side, keeping the right side up. If you’re making a skirt or dress, be careful not to sew in the back seam.
  2. Mark 2 cm from both pieces’ top edges to indicate the zipper’s placement and ensure that both sides of the joined pieces align perfectly.
  3. Mark a 1.5 cm vertical seam allowance where you’ll place the invisible zipper.
  4. Open up your zipper, rolling and pressing out its curled zipper teeth, so they lay slightly flat. 
  5. Place the zipper coil right side down along one of the marked 1.5 cm seam allowances and pin it in place.
  6. Sew one side of the zipper. Make sure that the zipper coils are flat and rolled out. Position the zipper teeth under the proper groove in the invisible zipper foot. Starting at the top edge, stitch in place until the foot reaches the zipper stop. Backstitch to lock and remove.
  7. Pin the other side of the zipper. The 2 cm markings along the top edge of each pattern piece must be aligned with one another, or the zipper will be sewn unevenly. If necessary, adjust and re-pin.
  8. Sew the other side of the zipper. First, position the zipper teeth under the proper groove in the foot. Then, starting at the edge at the top, stitch in place until the foot reaches the zipper stop. Backstitch to lock and remove.
  9. Close your zipper. Place the fabric’s right sides together and move the zipper tails out of the way. Place your project into the sewing machine. Remember to backstitch at both the beginning and end, so your zipper stays nice and secure.
  10. To complete your seam, change to a regular presser foot and follow the last stitching line. You’re done!

Step-by-step guide: How to sew a zipper fly

Do you plan on making pants or trousers but find sewing a zipper on them intimidating? Here is a DIY tutorial to help you sew a perfect zipper fly!

What you’ll need

  • Fabric of your choice
  • Matching sewing thread
  • Pant or trouser zipper
  • One large button 
  • Medium weight fusible interfacing
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric marker
  • Zipper foot
  • Buttonhole foot
  • Seam ripper
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine

Zipper for clothes close-up and repair tools on a wooden table

Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Cut off and discard the 1 cm zipper extension on the right front only.
  2. Finish the back and front rises using either the serge or zigzag stitch method.
  3. Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fly facing piece. Then serge or zigzag stitch around the curved edge.
  4. Keeping the right sides together, stitch along the fly shield’s bottom edge at a 1 cm seam allowance. Then, trim and clip the corner to reduce bulk.
  5. Turn the shield’s right side out, and then press and finish the raw edges together. If you are using a serger, make sure not to trim any seam allowances off.
  6. Take the left and right fronts and pin the right sides together along the crotch seam. Using your standard seam allowance, stitch the lower part of the front crotch seam from the zip notch all the way to the bottom of the hem. You should remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
  7. Fold the front left side extension to the wrong side and press.
  8. Working from the pants’ right side, align the zipper teeth with the folded edge of the fabric and pin in place. Then, position the zipper stop about 1.2 cm below the top of the pant front to allow some room to attach the waistband.
  9. You should now switch to a zipper foot and run a line of edge stitching all the way down approximately 1.5- 3 mm from the folded edge. Then, attach the fly shield to the left pant front.
  10. Slide your fly shield underneath the zipper and align the zipper’s finished edge with the folded over front extension and pin in place.
  11. Stitch on top of the stitching‘s existing line to secure the fly shield in place.
  12. Pin your fly facing to the right front pant’s right sides together and straight edges aligned.
  13. Stitch from the top edge to the zipper notch at your standard seam allowance, a few millimetres past the crack to the crotch seam line’s inside.
  14. Press the facing and seam allowance away from the pant front and fold over to the inside of the pant. Remember to topstitch along the folded edge.
  15. Gently roll the left pant front with the zipper on top of the right pant front to determine the other zipper tape’s position. Once you’ve found the right place, pin your zipper to the fly facing only, not to the pant front.
  16. Open your zipper and stitch the pinned tape in place. Now that you have installed the zipper, the last thing is to create a nice J-shaped topstitching on the garment’s right side.
  17. To get a nice shape, we recommend marking the stitching line using a tacking thread. Be careful not to do too big stitches and follow the curve of your fly facing.
  18. Turn to the right side of the fabric and topstitch along the basting stitches.
  19. Remove any basting stitches.
  20. Bartack at the crotch point, where your J meets the centre front.
  21. Place a small bartack at the corner of the fly shield and fly facing to secure the fly and prevent it from flipping back and forth. You are now all done! 

Close-zipper and a sewing needle

Now that you have all the information you need to sew any kind of zipper, you don’t find it that scary anymore, right? You can sew an exposed zipper, an invisible one, and even a zipper fly in no time! All you need to do is follow the suitable guide, according to the results you want.

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