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How to Sew in a Zipper: Master This Essential Sewing Skill in 10 Steps (2024)

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how to sew in a zipperTo sew in a zipper, start by prepping your supplies: a compatible sewing machine, presser and zipper feet, sturdy polyester thread, and pins for precision.

Use a basting stitch of 6mm to place the zipper face-down along the seam, pinning it securely. Adjust your machine to a 2.5 stitch length near the zipper stop and use a zig-zag stitch to prevent bunching.

Top stitch about 3/8" from the seam, then remove the basting stitch to reveal your hidden zipper. If the zipper pull gets in the way, just lower the needle and unzip slightly.

Follow these steps and you’ll master zipper sewing with ease.

Key Takeaways

  • Zippers are like the secret handshake of sewing, connecting your garments with style and functionality.
  • Sewing a zipper is like a dance, with your machine and fabric moving in perfect harmony.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with hand-sewing zippers; it’s like giving your project a personal touch.
  • With a little practice, you’ll be zipping through your sewing projects like a pro, leaving behind a trail of well-dressed garments.

How to Sew in a Zipper?

To sew in a zipper, start by basting the fabric and positioning the zipper with pins, then use a zipper foot to stitch it in place, adjusting the stitch length as needed . Finally, top stitch around the edges and remove the basting stitches for a clean finish .

Zipper Basics

Zipper Basics
You’re about to commence a zipper-sewing journey, so let’s start with the basics.

Zippers come in various materials, sizes, and styles to suit your project needs. From metal to plastic, invisible to separating, each type has its purpose.

Don’t forget about zipper maintenance – a little care goes a long way. Your trusty sewing machine and zipper foot will be your best friends in this adventure.

Get to know your zipper’s anatomy: the pull, tape, and teeth.

Ready to jazz things up? Consider zipper embellishments for a unique touch.

Supplies and Preparation

Supplies and Preparation
To sew in a zipper, you’ll need a few essential supplies: a sewing machine, presser foot, zipper foot, thread, and pins. Gather these items before you begin, ensuring your thread matches your fabric and your zipper foot is compatible with your sewing machine.

Sewing Machine

You’ll need a reliable sewing machine for your zipper project. Check its compatibility with zipper feet and guarantee proper maintenance. Adjust thread tension settings and select the right needle for your fabric. Ready to stitch? Let’s embark on the journey!

Presser Foot

Now that your sewing machine is prepared, let’s discuss the presser foot. This significant component holds your fabric securely during sewing. Here are some key points:

  • Different presser foot types are designed for different fabrics
  • Adjust presser foot pressure for best results
  • Ensure compatibility with your machine’s make
  • Store presser feet safely to prevent damage

Zipper Foot

You’ll need a zipper foot for your machine. This specialized attachment allows you to stitch close to the zipper teeth without snagging. It’s imperative for achieving a clean, professional look when sewing in a centered back zipper.


Now that you’ve got your zipper foot ready, let’s talk thread. Choose a sturdy polyester thread that matches your fabric and zipper color. Here are three key considerations:

  1. Thread type: Polyester for strength
  2. Needle size: Match to fabric weight
  3. Thread tension: Adjust for smooth stitches


You’ll need pins to hold your zipper securely. Here’s a handy guide to pin selection:

Pin Type Best For Tips
Glass Head Delicate Fabrics Heat-resistant
T-Pins Heavy Fabrics Extra strength
Quilting Pins Multiple Layers Long and thin
Ball Point Knits Prevents snags
Silk Pins Fine Fabrics Ultra-fine

Choose wisely to guarantee smooth zipper installation.

Basting the Zipper

Basting the Zipper
To begin basting the zipper, set your sewing machine to a long basting stitch length of about 6 mm. Place the zipper face down along the seam, pin it in place, and use the basting stitch to secure the zipper tape to the seam allowance.

Basting Stitch Length

When basting the zipper, set your machine to a long stitch, around 6mm . Follow these steps to guarantee perfection:

  1. Maintain basting stitch tension for easy removal .
  2. Guarantee basting stitch visibility by using contrasting thread .
  3. Place stitches evenly along the seam .
  4. Remove stitches with a seam ripper once the zipper is secured .

Zipper Placement

Place your zipper face-down along the seam, aligning it with the basting stitch for precise zipper alignment. Confirm the zipper length measurement is accurate, allowing for hidden zipper closure. Use decorative zipper applications to enhance your garment. A perfectly placed invisible zipper adds a polished finish.

Step Detail Tip
Zipper Alignment Face-down on seam Match basting stitch
Length Measurement Accurate zip length Ensure precise fit
Hidden Closure Seamline placement Concealed finish
Decorative Addition Enhance appearance Style with zips
Invisible Placement Seam-less look Polished garment


Once your zipper placement is set, proceed to pin alignment. Pin the zipper face down along the seam, aligning the teeth with the seam’s edge to prevent shifting. This fabric preparation step guarantees stability. Now, baste the zipper using long running stitches—critical for holding in place before the final sewing, allowing for tension adjustment .

Sewing the Zipper

Sewing the Zipper
Adjust your sewing machine’s stitch length to 2.5 for the zipper stop point, ensuring smooth stitching. Then, secure the zipper with a wide zig-zag stitch, maintaining alignment and preventing any fabric bunching .

Stitch Length Adjustment

Now that you’ve basted your zipper in place, it’s time to adjust your stitch length. This essential step guarantees a smooth, even seam. For thicker fabrics, use a longer stitch length (around 2.5) to accommodate the fabric thickness. For thinner fabrics, a shorter stitch length (around 2) will suffice. Remember to adjust your tension accordingly to avoid puckering or loose stitches.

  • Don’t hesitate to experiment with different stitch lengths to find what works best for your fabric.
  • Keep in mind that the right stitch length can make or break the appearance of your zipper.
  • Stitch length adjustment is key to achieving a professional-looking finish.
  • Take your time, and don’t rush through this step – it’s worth the extra effort.
  • With practice, you’ll develop a sense of what stitch length works best for different fabrics.

Zig-zag Stitch

Before you start sewing, adjust your machine to a wide zig-zag stitch with a suitable stitch width and length.

Place the zipper face down on the seam and switch to a zipper presser foot. Line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the zipper.

As you sew, make sure the zig-zag stitches securely catch both the zipper tape and fabric. Maintaining an even stitch length is key.

This method helps prevent fabric fraying and adds a durable finish .

Top Stitching and Finishing

Top Stitching and Finishing
To achieve a professional finish, adjust your zipper foot and needle position before topstitching 3/8" from the seam. Pivot over the zipper teeth, remove the basting stitch, and trim any excess zipper ends for a clean look .

Zipper Foot and Needle Adjustment

Adjust the zipper foot position to align the needle close to the zipper teeth . Verify needle size compatibility with fabric type . Modify thread tension adjustment and select a suitable stitch type for ideal results .

Top Stitching

Set your machine to a straight stitch and adjust the needle. With the zipper foot attached, begin top stitching techniques 3/8" from the seam for a clean finish. Experiment with top stitching embellishments for flair.


When pivoting, verify your needle is down, then lift the presser foot, rotate the fabric, and proceed with stitching. Adjust the needle position if necessary for improved alignment. Proper fabric preparation and precise seam allowances are essential.

Basting Stitch Removal

Use a seam ripper to carefully remove the basting stitches, revealing your hidden zipper perfection. This step enhances the durability and smooth appearance of your project, giving it a polished, professional finish.

Excess Zipper End Cutting

After removing the basting stitch, trim the excess zipper ends. Calculate the zipper length precisely, adjusting placement if needed. Prepare your fabric by ironing. Secure the top with top-stitching techniques, choosing hand-sewing or machine-sewing as appropriate.

Troubleshooting Zipper Issues

Troubleshooting Zipper Issues
In your zipper projects, you’ll encounter issues like the zipper pull getting in the way, zipper teeth getting stuck, fabric puckering, or finding the zipper is either too short or too long. Each problem has a practical fix, ensuring your sewing process remains smooth and efficient .

Zipper Pull Gets in the Way

While top stitching your zipper, you’ll encounter the zipper pull getting in the way. No worries, just lower the needle, unzip slightly, then carefully relocate the pull, decreasing the needle gap to continue sewing seamlessly.

Zipper Teeth Get Stuck

If zipper teeth get stuck, lubricate them using a dry bar of soap or pencil lead, ensuring smooth operation. Check for any misaligned teeth and straighten them with needle nose pliers for seamless movement .

Fabric Puckers

To fix fabric puckers, adjust your fabric tension, try a smaller needle size, or use high-quality thread. Confirm that your zipper length matches your seam allowance, and re-sew with a consistent stitch length.

Zipper is Too Short

If your zipper is too short, consider a zipper extension by splicing additional fabric to the seam’s edges. This length adjustment creates an insert expansion, ensuring a seamless fit without needing an entire alternate closure.

Zipper is Too Long

When your zipper is too long, don’t panic! Simply cut the excess length, making sure to leave enough for finishing edges. Whip-stitch the bottom to prevent fraying, and add decorative accents for a polished look.

  1. Measure twice, cut once to avoid mistakes.
  2. Check your zipper placement to confirm it’s centered.
  3. Cut cautiously to maintain the zipper’s integrity.
  4. Finishing edges will give your project a professional touch.

Types of Zippers

Types of Zippers
When sewing a zipper, you’ll encounter various types like metal, plastic, invisible, coil, and separating zippers. Each type has unique features suited for different materials and applications, making them versatile tools in your sewing projects.

Metal Zippers

Metal zippers are durable, perfect for heavy fabrics and high-stress applications like jackets, bags, or jeans. They come in various colors and styles, providing both functionality and aesthetic appeal.

Zipper Style Durability Ideal Use Common Colors Material
Brass High Outerwear Gold, Bronze Metal
Nickel High Bags, jeans Silver Metal
Aluminum Medium Light jackets Silver, Gold Metal
Manganese High Heavy items Dark tones Metal
Antique High Vintage items Aged finishes Metal

Plastic Zippers

Plastic zippers are lightweight and flexible, ideal for various applications. Commonly used plastic types include:

  1. Coil: Great for curved seams.
  2. Separating: Allows full opening.
  3. Molded: Durable and easy to maintain.

Invisible Zippers

Invisible zippers are sewn to be hidden within seams, creating a polished appearance. They come in various styles and materials, offering flexibility. For troubleshooting, remember to check alignment and use proper foot for sewing.

Coil Zippers

Coil zippers, known for their flexibility, are ideal for curved seams. They come in various types and are easy to install. Their durability makes them a practical choice for lightweight jackets and dresses.

Separating Zippers

Separating zippers allow your projects, like jackets, dresses, pillowcases, and cushions, to open completely. They’re ideal for items needing full separability, making your sewing versatile and adding functional flair to your creations .

Tips for Sewing Zippers

Tips for Sewing Zippers
To master sewing zippers, make sure you use pre-shrunk zippers for stretchy fabrics, add interfacing to support thin fabrics, iron any warped fabric, secure your work with pins to prevent stretching, and consider hand-sewing by repurposing old zippers.

Pre-shrunk Zippers for Stretchy Fabrics

Using pre-shrunk zippers for stretchy fabrics is essential to avoid fabric shrinkage and maintain durability:

  1. Verify zipper length accounts for stretching.
  2. Evaluate aesthetic considerations.
  3. Confirm thread compatibility for seamless integration.

Interfacing for Thin Fabrics

Adding interfacing to thin or delicate fabrics provides vital support and seam reinforcement, preventing distortion during sewing. Various interfacing options, such as fusible or sew-in, offer significant benefits in maintaining fabric integrity and finishing quality.

Ironing Warped Fabric

When ironing warped fabric, use appropriate ironing techniques for the fabric type. Adjust the iron’s heat setting and apply steam to relax fibers. Make sure proper tension and adjust the stitch length to prevent puckering.

Preventing Fabric Stretching With Pins

Prevent fabric stretching by adjusting sewing machine tension according to fabric types, using appropriate needle sizes and thread weights, and securing patterns precisely with quality pins to guarantee seamless pattern matching and a professional finish.

Hand Sewing With Cut Teeth From Old Zipper

Prevent fabric stretching with pins, and consider hand sewing with cut teeth from an old zipper for invisible repairs and decorative embellishments:

  • Trim teeth off the zipper tape.
  • Position and pin.
  • Use a hemming stitch.

Concealed Zipper Installation

Concealed Zipper Installation
To install a concealed zipper, start by basting the fabric pieces together and centering the zipper on the baste stitch. Next, sew down the zipper’s length, rotate the fabric to sew across the zipper stop, and finally, remove the basting stitch for a clean finish.

Basting Fabric Pieces Together

Make certain your fabric pieces are aligned. Use a basting stitch length of about 5 mm to temporarily join them. Mark zipper tape placement, then pin it carefully, keeping your fabric flat and using a consistent seam allowance.

Centering Zipper on Baste Stitch

Now that the fabric pieces are basted together, align the zipper face-down on the basting stitch, centering it precisely. Make sure your zipper placement follows the woven lines to avoid uneven basting.

Sewing Down Zipper Length

Attach your zipper foot, ensuring the fabric aligns perfectly. Adjust your stitch tension to avoid puckering, then sew down the zipper length using an invisible stitch for a clean, hand-stitched finish.

Rotating Fabric and Sewing Across Zipper Stop

Rotate the fabric 90 degrees to align the zipper stop with the needle. Adjust your stitch length for precision, then sew across the zipper stop, ensuring the concealed zipper stays secure and smooth without puckering.

Removing Basting Stitch

Carefully remove the basting stitch using a seam ripper. Start at one end and work your way to the other. Make certain you don’t damage the fabric. A precise hand, sewing needle, and proper thread color choice are essential.

Hand-Sewing Zippers

Hand-Sewing Zippers
Hand-sewing zippers offers an elevated level of control over stitch placement, ensuring a polished finish. Gather your materials, position the zipper, and use the prick stitch technique for a durable, discreet attachment .

Benefits of Hand-sewing

Hand-sewing zippers offers exceptional control and precision, ensuring a beautiful appearance with strong, durable stitches. It’s ideal for installing invisible zippers or centered back zippers using techniques like prick stitching, while solving uneven basting issues for a flawless finish.

Materials and Preparation

Gather a zipper, needle, thread matching your fabric, and pins. Mark where the zipper stop will be with fabric marking and verify the zipper length is fitting. Baste the zipper to the seam using a consistent stitch length for neatness.

Prick Stitching the Zipper

To prick stitch the zipper, bring your needle to the garment’s right side and insert it a few threads to the right of your starting point. Use a fine needle and matching thread color. Adjust fabric tension and take breaks to prevent hand fatigue.

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve completed the prick stitching, remove the basting stitches carefully. Lightly press the zipper to set it. For added reinforcement, secure the zipper tape to the seam allowance with a hemming stitch. This creates a polished and durable finish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to recycle zippers?

You can breathe new life into old zippers by integrating them into upcycling projects like DIY framebags , repurposing them in sewing and quilting endeavors , or using them creatively in toy organization .

Can I sew zippers on stretchy fabrics?

Yes, you can sew zippers on stretchy fabrics. Use a zigzag stitch for flexibility, apply interfacing to stabilize the fabric, and make certain the zipper is pre-shrunk to prevent distortion .

How do I replace a zipper pull?

When replacing a zipper pull, first remove the old pull using pliers. Next, thread the new pull onto the slider. Don’t be afraid to give it a little elbow grease for a snug fit .

Are sewing machine feet universal for zippers?

Sewing machine feet aren’t universally compatible with all zipper types. Each foot is designed for specific tasks, like regular zippers or invisible ones. Make sure you choose the appropriate foot for your zipper’s characteristics and sewing needs .

What thread type is best for zippers?

For sewing zippers, use polyester or nylon thread as these are strong, durable, and flexible. They handle the stress and tension of zipper applications, ensuring a smooth, reliable closure every time .


With these steps, sewing in a zipper becomes as smooth as threading a needle.

You now know how to sew in a zipper, from prepping your sewing essentials to mastering various stitching techniques.

Troubleshoot hiccups like a pro, understand different zipper types, and even try your hand at concealed zipper installation.

Whether using a machine or hand-sewing, these skills are fundamental for any sewing project.

You’re ready to tackle zippers with confidence and precision.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.