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How to Sew a Zipper with a Sewing Machine

Sewing a zipper with a sewing machine is really not so difficult, definitely not as difficult as many people make it look. It just requires an understanding of the different methods and techniques of attaching a zipper to your project with a sewing machine, and constant practice. The methods are easy to learn, and easier to execute once you understand it.

How To Sew A Zipper With Sewing Machine?

Open up the zipper you want to attach to your sewing project, then attach the zipper foot to the machine. This will require you taking off the presser foot and inserting the zipper foot to the right side or left side, not the center as in a presser foot. Make sure the needle is at the side of the zipper you’re sewing on.

Baste the part of the cloth your zipper will cover, then sew the rest with regular stitch.

Sew one side of the zipper from the bottom-up, then the other side as well. Then turn it over, and remove the basting stitches with a seam ripper.

It is really not so difficult. However, there are two main techniques for sewing a zipper to your project with a sewing machine. There’s the centered application and the lapped application. The more common one is the centered application, but your choice will depend on many factors.

The Centered Method 1

Learning to sew a zipper is an important skill that you will need to complete many of your sewing projects. Although it requires practice and patience, it is not difficult to learn, and is definitely worth every effort and time you put into it.

There are two ways of sewing a zipper with a sewing machine. There’s the centered method, which is the more common and simpler method, and there’s the lapped method.

The centered method just means that, there’s a pattern with a seam at the middle. The ease of this pattern is why it’s often used for center front and center back openings. But they can’t be used for side openings. This method requires that you have an allowance of at least 1 inch at each edge when you cut the dress to insert a zipper. The steps involve in this method are quite simple to learn and practice. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you.

Step 1.Use your machine to baste the zipper while it is closed. Sew along the edge you would like the zipper to be when you are done sewing and be careful to ensure that you keep the same zipper allowance the same as the other parts of the garment. The basting stitch is only used to keep the seam in place. It is temporary and will be removed once you are done attaching the zipper.

Step 2.Iron-press the seam while it is open. While you are at this, make sure you are not pressing the seam allowance back against the right side of the material you’re sewing on. Ensure that the seam allowance pieces are flat, and open.

Step 3.Put the zipper in place with a pin. Make sure that you are installing the zipper while it is closed. The top of the zipper should be positioned in a way that the pull is a little above the garment’s top line. It is not a problem if there are excess zippers laying at the end of the seam. You have to make sure that, there’s a little extension of the zipper, an inch or thereabout, then you can remove the excesses in the zipper. But also ensure that you cut off the excess zipper first before you pin the zipper into place and whip stitch the end, so the zipper can stop opening further.

Step 4.Use your machine to baste the zipper to your cloth. The basting stitch is used to keep the zipper in place on the cloth. It is temporary and will be removed once you are done. The reason for the basting stitch is so that, when you are sewing, and you don’t see the zipper, it can keep the zipper stitch centered on the seam as you sew over the project’s right side.

Step 5.Flip the project to have the right side facing up. Once you flip the project in this manner, it should only be the top of the zipper that sticks out. The other parts of the zipper should not be seen. This means you are on track.

Step 6.Attach a zipper foot to the sewing machine and use it to top stitch the seam so that it goes through all layers of the fabric. Start sewing from the bottom on the two sides of the zipper. This will prevent it from rippling. Make sure you keep the stitches close to the center of the seam as much as you can while you use the zipper foot. To ensure that your zipper ends at a point, and not go below it, you have to stitch across the bottom part of the seam. That’s how you actually finish the sewing.

Step 7.Use a seam ripper to remove all basting stitches. Remember, we emphasized that the basting stitches are temporary? This is the point where you remove them. Start with the first basting stitch you used to keep the zipper in place. After that, remove the one that goes through the middle of the seam. This will expose the zipper teeth underneath it. While using the seam ripper, you must be careful with it, so, it does not cut out the threads that are useful for you. As you take out the basting stitches, be careful not to remove the permanent ones.

Step 8.Test the zipper. It is up to you if you see this as an important step or not. But you really should test what you’ve done. If you do it well, the zipper will be nicely centered in your seam, and the opening and closing of the zipper should be smooth.

The Centered Method 2

If you still find this method difficult, there’s an even simpler method to sew a zipper with the centered method.

Step 1. With your 1inch seam allowance in place, make a center seam. Use a basting stitch to mark where the zipper opening is on the project, then use a straight stitch for the rest while making a regular plain seam.

Step 2. Use a zigzag stitch or a serger to finish the edges of the center seam.

Step 3. Lay down the zipper facing down on your center seam line. Make sure that the zipper teeth is in line with the center of the seam. Use a pin to hold the zipper in place. Put the pin where you want the zipper to end.

Step 4. Sew the zipper from the bottom. Turn the fabric in a way that the right side is up. Make a few stitches across the bottom of the zipper, parallel to the pin you used to mark where you want the zipper to end. You could use the back stitch. After stitching across the zipper, stitch along the teeth of the zipper on both sides. If while you’re sewing along the zipper, you have to start from the bottom of the both sides, then you’ll need to change the side of the zipper foot for the second side.

Step 5. Remove the basting stitch carefully from the front, and your zipper is ready to us.

The Lapped Method 1

The second method for sewing a zipper with your sewing machine is the lapped method. This method is slightly more difficult to sew than the centered method. But it’s also easy to learn. In this case, your sewing is creating a flap over the zip. While the centered method is used for center back, and center front openings, this method is usually used for side openings. It hides the zipper opening very well. When you are using it for a side opening, you would need to hand stitch the top 1 inch of the zipper first. The following are the steps used to make a lapped zipper if the dress has a center seam;

Step 1.Open up the zipper and sew a plain seam for the center seam. Baste the opening of the zipper by using long basting stitches on your machine or by hand stitching it. Then, press open the seam.

Step 2. Place the dress so that the wrong side is up, and the seam allowance that you made for the central seam is on one side of the machine, while the other parts of the dress are on the second side.

Step 3. Open the zipper and keep it on the center seam such that the wrong side is up, and the zipper teeth aligns directly with the topmost part of the seam. Then pin it in place and baste stitch the zipper along the seam allowance that you have pinned.

Step 4. Flip the dress so that the front of the zipper is on one side of the cloth and is facing you. There’ll be a fold just by the zipper teeth. Stitch on this fold, just along the edges. Then close the zipper.

Step 5. Turn the dress to the front and sew ¼ inch from the central seam, while making sure the zipper seam allowance is caught in also. Stitch across the bottom of the zipper. Then stitch up the side through the dress, the seam allowance and the zipper allowance. Then remove the basting stitches carefully from the seam. You have your lapped zipper.

The Lapped Method 2

While making the lapped zipper, it is possible that the dress you are working on does not have a center seam. In this case, you have to sew it differently to if it has. Here’s how to do it;

Step 1. Make the center of the back pattern align with the sides by folding it. Then mark how long the zipper opening is on the center fold line.

Step 2. Get a different piece of cloth with a length of +2 inches, and a width of 3 inches for the facing.

Step 3. At the middle of that facing piece, mark the opening of the zipper in a straight line from the top to the mark where the zipper opens. Then sew the edges of the facing piece.

Step 4. Pin the dress and the facing piece together with the right sides together and the center line matching.

Step 5. Stitch the sides of the center line leaving a seam allowance of ¼, and at the bottom, end both at a point. Then stitch the bottom horizontally.

Step 6. Cut carefully along the center line. Make small snips, as you cut, in the seam allowance. Also, make diagonal snips at the bottom near the point. This will make it easier to turn. Turn it to the other side, and press it into place.

Step 7. Open the zipper behind the first edge with the right side facing up/you. Then stitch close to the edge with your zipper foot, holding the zipper in the cloth.

Step 8. Lastly, do the same on the second side. While the zipper is open, keep it a little inside the piece and stitch along the seam. Then stitch the bottom of the zip horizontally.

How To Prepare A Zipper Before Sewing

Now that you know how to sew a zipper using a sewing machine with both centered and lapped method, it will interest you to know that you to prepare the zipper before use so that it comes out right on your fabric. Here’s how to prepare the zipper to be sewn.

  1. Get a zipper that’s the ideal style and size for your project. There are different sizes, colors, and styles of zippers. So, the first step is to purchase the one that is the most ideal for the work you’re doing. The length of the zipper is important. Depending on your project, you might need a long or short zipper. But if you can’t get the ideal zipper length for your project, then get a zipper that’s a little longer than the seam opening you’re putting it in. this will give you a chance to position the zipper the best way you like and will prevent hitting the end of the zipper while sewing.
  2. Wash the zipper before using it to prevent shrinkage. Most zippers are made from synthetic materials, but there are some others made from natural materials such as cotton. You only need to pre-wash the zipper if it is made from natural material. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.
  3. Press the sides of the zipper with an iron. You must make sure that the zipper’s fabric sides are as flat as they can be. Apply gentle heat when pressing it to prevent the zippers from melting if the teeth is plastic. But if the teeth is metal, then it can withstand more heat.
  4. Cut a piece of lightweight interfacing into strips of one inch with similar length to your seam. This interface is meant to make the fabric stiffer and stronger and able to withstand the repetitive pressure that comes with opening and closing the zipper. This is however, only necessary if you are using a very lightweight fabric that’s not stiff or strong.
  5. Place the interfacing into the seam of the dress you’re making. You can complete this step by following the directions on the fusible interfacing. In many cases, you can just place the tiny strip of interfacing beside the seam, on the wrong side of the project. Then iron over the interfacing and fabric. This will attach the fabric with the interfacing.

Related Questions

Do I Need A Zipper Foot To Sew A Zipper?

To be able to sew in your zipper into your sewing project, you will need a foot zipper. You are unlikely to be able to sew in the zipper, at least not the way you should, without the zipper foot. The zipper foot has a narrow size with a notch on both the left and right sides for the needle. This ensures that it can butt up just beside the zipper and make a seam very close to the zipper. After you have sewn with the zipper foot on one side of the zipper, you have to change the location of the needle to the notch on the other side to enable you sew the other side more appropriately.

How Do You Sew A Zipper Foot On A Zipper?

This requires you to set your machine such that it appears you’re sewing the regular straight stitch. Use the left side of the zipper foot to attach it to the sewing machine. If there are other zipper foot settings you need for the machine, revert to the machine’s manual. Depending on the sewing machine model, there might be need for you to move the position of the needle such that the needle is sewing from the left side of the presser foot.

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