how to sew a zipper

While newbies are usually eager to master basic skills, I have noticed that zippers seem to intimidate beginners as if they are way out of their league. Well, they are not! If you don’t know how to sew a zipper, it is time to learn.

Sewing is trendy these days and the number of new sewists is skyrocketing. The growing popularity of sewing makes me happy, of course.

But, what makes me even happier is the fact that sewing is breaking the stereotypes on its way. It’s not a grandma’s hobby anymore. There are more and more young people learning the craft and more and more men sitting in front of sewing machines.

A great thing about sewing is that there’s always a simple way to create something. And as you hone your skill, you can gradually take on more elaborate projects and try more complicated ways.

A basic zipper is actually pretty easy to sew. Maybe you can’t use this technique to sew a jacket or a bridesmaid dress, but you can use it for pouches, totes, pillows, and even some clothing and skirts.

Once you master these basic techniques, you will be more confident to move on to more sophisticated projects. And you’ll be able to create a lot of beautiful items along the way.


How to Sew a Basic Zipper

Before you start, make sure you have all the items and tools that you need.

These include your sewing machine, a zipper foot, fabric, thread, chalk, scissors if your machine doesn’t have an automatic thread cutter, pins or wonder clips, and a seam ripper.

Step 1 – Finish Edges

First, you need to finish the edges of the fabrics that you want to zip together.

A serger is the best option to do it, but for starters, a regular zigzag stitch will do.

Step 2 – Align Zipper with Edges

Place your zipper onto the right side of the fabric and align it with the edge of the fabric. You should place the zipper facing up so that you can see the right sides of both the zipper and fabric.

Now, attach it to fabric using pins or clips. I prefer wonder clips, but pins are fine as well. Try to align it as precisely as possible.

Step 3 – Attach Zipper to Fabric

I have mentioned that you need a zipper foot. It comes with all modern sewing machines. But if you don’t have one, a regular presser foot can do the job as well.

The zipper foot just allows you to get really close to the zipper easily. It is adjustable, so you can attach it on the right or on the left side of the needle. 

It is time to sew. A zipper tab can get into your way, so you need to avoid it.

There are several ways to do it. For me, the easiest way is to skip the top part of the zipper and start sewing an inch or two below the zipper tab.

Align your presser foot with fabric and start sewing. When you get to the end do a couple of backstitches and cut the thread.

Now it’s time to get back to the top part.

Pull the zipper down to pass the area that you have already sewn. Start from the top, do a few backstitches and proceed until you reach the sewn part.

Step 4 – Attach the Other Side

Now, it is time to attach the other piece of fabric.

It is basically the same process as the first one. Align it, pin it or clip it and you can start sewing from the bottom this time. Stop before you reach a zipper tab, unzip it and continue until the end.

Don’t forget backstitching at the top and the bottom.

Voila! You made a zipper!

Step 5 – Be Proud of your First Zipper

It wasn’t rocket science, was it? Once it’s done you can press it and even do a topstitch alongside the zipper for a more professional and sleek appearance.

Make sure to allocate a few minutes to admire your very first, handmade zipper!

zipper sewing

How to Sew an Invisible Zipper

If you’re sewing a skirt or a dress, you don’t want your zipper to be very prominent.

Now, I’ll show you how to hide it.

Step 1 – Finish the Edges of the Fabric

Step one is the same as with the basic zipper – finish the edges.

Step 2 – Sew Pieces Together

Sew the two pieces together using a ⅝ seam allowance, or other seam allowance indicated in your pattern.

Turn to the wrong side of the fabric and press the seam open.

Step 3 – Place the Zipper

Place the zipper on your seam.

The right side of the zipper should face the seam. Align it with the seam so that the teeth of the zipper lie exactly on the seam line. Do it slowly and pin it.

Instead of pinning you can use duct tape or a hand basting stitch to keep the zipper in place. Whatever works for you!

Start about ½ inch from the top to leave some room for the top seam allowance.   

Make a chalk mark at the bottom of the zipper. Since your zipper is facing down, you don’t want to accidentally stitch over the metal bump at the bottom.

Start stitching, avoiding the zipper tab the same way as before. When you pass the bottom of the zipper turn the fabric to sew 4,5 stitches across the bottom.

Turn it once more and continue sewing from the bottom towards the top. Stop when you come close to the zipper tab. Make sure that your needle is in the down position when you turn the fabric.

Step 4 – Open the Seam

Don’t forget this step or you won’t be able to use your zipper!

Get a seam ripper and open the seam. Remove basting stitches if you had them. Unzip the zipper just enough to finish off the top part.

And there you go, it’s done! I hope this zipper sewing tutorial came in handy for all beginners out there. Make sure to share it to spread the word!