Step-By-Step Guide: How to Sew a Zipper into Any Garment
Zippers are one of the most common kinds of closures, but they can be tricky for beginners to sew! Learn how to sew a zipper into any garment here.
Did you know Australians waste 6,000 kilograms of textile every ten minutes? While some of the textile waste is donated, the vast majority is tossed away due to damage or a lack of interest. For many, the ability to modify their clothes would let them keep the garments longer.
To that end, understanding how to sew a zipper is a great way to keep your clothes functional. If you're looking for a zipper guide, we're here to help. Read on for a brief overview of everything you'll need and how to sew your zipper.
Types of Zippers
The first step in our zipper sewing instructions is to understand the many types of zippers. If you're just beginning to learn to sew zippers, you may be surprised to learn there are multiple types. Here are the four most commons types of zippers.
A coil zipper is made of nylon. These zippers are flat on one side with teeth on the other. The teeth connect to easily bind together.
Coil zippers are light, waterproof, and resistant to heat. They're most commonly used for sleeping bags, purses, backpacks, and other utility items.
The invisible zipper is hidden in a seam. The pull tabs are the only part visible, making them easy to locate when you need them. Otherwise, they stay out of sight, making them ideal for clothing and dresses.
The open-ended zipper is mostly used for jackets and large items. These zippers have a sliding mechanism that slips in before the zipper. They're heavy-duty and resistant to damage but are obvious and stand out on clothes.
Finally, the tooth zipper is suited to jackets, camping gear, and winter clothes. These zippers are made of metal or plastic with teeth visible on both sides. When zipped, the teeth latch together tightly to form a strong bond.
When learning how to sew, you'll need materials to complete the task. Here are the most important items you'll need to sew a zipper.
The first item you'll need is the zipper you've chosen. Once you have your zipper, see if it's the right length for your garment. If not, you can shorten the zipper or purchase another.
Additionally, we suggest using plastic zippers while you learn. Metal zippers are more difficult to sew, as well as more expensive.
Using plastic zippers will help you learn the proper technique so that you can more reliably use other zippers. You can also sew a plastic zipper onto test fabric so you aren't using your favorite pair of pants as practice.
With your zipper chosen, you'll need to purchase a presser foot as well. Some retailers may call this piece a zipper foot.
The zipper foot is a sewing item that allows you to stick on one side. They're integral to sewing zippers and not something you'll easily do without. Most sewing machines come with a presser foot, but if you've lost yours, they're inexpensive to purchase from online retailers.
Finally, you'll need the sewing basics that you use for your other sewing materials. You can purchase a beginner's kit at most craft stores that will have everything necessary. If you're building your own, the sewing basics include:
We strongly recommend using a sewing machine. If you don't have a sewing machine, it's possible to use a needle and thread for your zipper. However, this is a more difficult and time-consuming process than using a sewing machine.
Sewing a Zipper
With your zipper chosen and your supplies gathered, it's time to sew a zipper. Here is a brief overview of zipper sewing instructions to help you in your task.
Finish and Sew Edges
Begin your task by finishing the edges of the fabric that you intend to close with the zipper. Using a serger makes this task easier, but a zig-zag pattern with your machine will work perfectly. Do your best not to cut off too much of the seam allowance, as this will make the edges too short.
With the edges finished, you can sew the two pieces together. We suggest a regular length stitch with the seam allowance. In most cases, this is about 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch or 12mm-15mm.
Baste and Press
Afterward, use a long machine basting stitch of about 4.0-5.0 where you intend to place the zipper. We don't suggest backstitching the ends, as this area will be unpicked later.
Turn to the other side and press open the seam allowance. You'll place the zipper here in the next step, so be careful not to undo your work.
On the side with the open seam allowance, place the zipper tape down along the basted seam. Start at the top and align the zipper with the raw edge. The pull tab for the zipper should be up as well. Using wash away tape here, helps immensely.
With the zipper in place, baste the zipper with temporary tape at regular intervals. Scotch tape or sewer's tape are both suited to this task.
Tape the ends so they stay relatively straight, but don't panic if they separate slightly. The bulk of your zipper will cause this separation.
Detach your presser foot, leaving the shank in place and change your machine to the zipper foot. Check your settings to make sure your machine is ready to sew the zipper.
Stitch down the zipper to the bottom before stitching a few rows over each other to secure the end. Keep the stitches at your required width before stitching both sides completely.
How to Sew a Zipper
Understanding how to sew a zipper is one of the trickier skills in a sewer's arsenal.
When you sew a zipper, make sure you're picking the right tools for the job.
We strongly recommend using plastic zippers and scrap fabric while you practice.
For more information on how to sew, be sure to visit our site.
You can also browse our fabrics to find a new design for your next project.