Zippers are annoying. Ask just about anyone who sews and they’ll hiss that they haaaaate putting them in. You have to get out a special foot, and the seams don’t always line up and ugh, I think I’ll just safety pin my clothes shut instead.
But if you know how to properly put a zipper in, they’re easy. The problem is, the process for putting them in easily and cleanly is not instinctive. So I’m here to walk you through it.
Here’s what you’re going to need:
A zipper (obviously)
A piece to put it into (obviously)
A threaded sewing machine with zipper foot (pretty obvious)
A seam ripper (NOT because you’re going to have to take the zipper out 50 times this time)
Find the edge you want to put your zipper into. Regardless of if you’re making a fly, putting a zipper in a pillow or just putting a side seam zipper into a dress so you can get it on and off the first step is the same, and it’s the one that seems counter-intuitive. Sew your seam shut.
I know, I know, we don’t have a zipper in there yet, why are we sewing it shut?!? Just trust me. This is going to make the zipper line up in the right place without pulling your pieces out of alignment or you winding up with gaps in the placket that covers the zipper.
Now that your seam is sewn shut, pin your zipper to one half of the seam allowance (only the seam allowance), lining the teeth (center) of the zipper up with the center of the seam. Make sure that the zipper pull is facing into the fabric (in other words, you shouldn’t be able to see it without flipping the zipper over). Fold the garment away from the seam allowance and stitch your zipper to it. Don’t worry about making it pretty, nobody is going to see this, it just holds the zipper in the correct place.
When your zipper is tacked to the seam allowance, fold the seam open again and pin everything to the garment through all the layers. Flip everything right side out and, using the seam line as a guide, stitch through all the layers to attach the zipper to the piece. I find that the best way for me to do it is to start with my needle slightly below the zipper pull, stitch to the bottom of the zipper, turn, come back up the other side and then cut it off. After I rip the seam open I can open the zipper (so the pull is at the bottom and out of the way) and then stitch the top portion.
Your seam ripper is used to cut the seam open along the zipper. Because you sewed the zipper in with it stitched shut, it is now tacked exactly in the place you want it. Nice, even, beautiful seams covering your now completed zipper!
Hopefully this will help make zippers less of a nightmare in your sewing. If you have any questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email!