Sewing a Zipper in 8 Easy Steps

Sewing a Zipper in 8 Easy Steps opens up a world of possibilities for your sewing projects.

Zippers are versatile fasteners used in everything from jackets and skirts to tote bags and throw pillows. They offer a secure closure that’s often more durable than buttons or snaps, while also adding a sleek, professional finish to your handmade items.

A 2022 study published in the Journal of Textile and Apparel Technology and Management examined the impact of ergonomically designed sewing tools on user comfort and productivity.

This guide will walk you through the process of sewing a standard centered zipper into a seam using a sewing machine, breaking it down into eight manageable steps.

Sewing a Zipper


Sewing machine, Iron and ironing board, Fabric chalk or washable marker ,Straight pins or wonder clips ,Seam ripper ,Zipper foot ,Coordinating thread Zipper (appropriate length for your project) ,Sewing gauge or ruler .Metal zippers are known for their durability and classic look, but they come in a limited color range. Plastic zippers, while less robust, offer a rainbow of color choices to complement your fabric. 

Here’s the steps to sewing a zipper.

STEP 1: 

Prepare the fabric edges. Begin by finishing the raw edges of your fabric where the zipper will be inserted. Use a serger or a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine to prevent fraying. Leave enough fabric for your pattern’s recommended seam allowance, typically ½ inch or ⅝ inch.

Next, place the right sides of your fabric together and sew a regular stitch along the seam, stopping at the point where your zipper will begin. Be sure to backstitch at this point to secure the stitching.

STEP 2: 

Baste the zipper opening and press. Using a long basting stitch, continue sewing the rest of the seam where the zipper will be placed. There’s no need to backstitch here, as these stitches will be removed later. Basting helps hold the fabric in place while you attach the zipper and makes it easier to remove the temporary stitches afterward.

Turn the fabric to the wrong side and press the seam allowance open with your iron. If the seam is stubborn, use steam to help flatten it completely.

STEP 3: 

Mark the zipper placement. With the fabric still wrong side up, position your zipper face down along the basted section of the seam. In most cases, you’ll align the zipper’s top stop with the fabric’s top edge. However, always consult your pattern for specific placement instructions, as some projects may require additional seam allowances for hems or facings.

Once you’re satisfied with the zipper’s position, flip the fabric right side up and use chalk or a washable fabric marker to indicate where you’ll stitch. While this step is optional, it can be particularly helpful for beginners.

STEP 4: 

Secure the zipper in place. Working on the wrong side of the fabric, center the closed zipper over the basted seam. Ensure that the zipper is perfectly aligned from top to bottom. Don’t rely on pinning just the ends; check the entire length of the zipper to maintain proper alignment with the seam.

Use straight pins or wonder clips to hold the zipper in place. If you prefer, you can use washable basting tape for a secure hold without the risk of pin marks.

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Stitch one side of the zipper. sewing a zipper Photo: Turn your fabric right side up and position it under your machine’s zipper foot. Begin stitching just below the zipper pull at the top of the zipper. Sew down the length of the zipper, keeping your stitching line straight and consistent.

When you reach the bottom of the zipper, leave the needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, and pivot the fabric 90 degrees. Sew a few stitches across the bottom of the zipper, then pivot again to stitch up the other side.

STEP 6: 

Navigate around the zipper pull. As you approach the zipper pull on the second side, stop with the needle down in the fabric. Raise the presser foot and carefully move the zipper pull down past the foot. Lower the presser foot and continue stitching to the top of the zipper.

Backstitch at the end of your stitching line to secure the threads.

STEP 7: 

Stitch the other side of the zipper. Repeat the process on the other side of the zipper, starting at the top and working your way down. Remember to pivot at the bottom and stitch across before coming back up the other side.

When you reach the zipper pull, stop and move it out of the way as you did before. Complete your stitching to the top of the zipper and backstitch to finish.

STEP 8: 

Remove basting stitches and test. Your zipper is now attached! Trim any loose threads and remove your project from the sewing machine. Use your seam ripper to carefully remove the basting stitches that were holding the seam closed. Take your time with this step to avoid damaging the fabric or your new zipper stitching.

Once all basting stitches are removed, give your zipper a test run to ensure it opens and closes smoothly. If everything looks good, you’re ready to continue with the rest of your sewing project.

Final Thoughts 

Learning to sew a zipper is a valuable skill that will elevate your sewing projects to new heights. Whether you’re creating garments, accessories, or home decor items, a well-installed zipper adds both functionality and a professional touch to your work.

With this step-by-step guide and some practice, you’ll soon be confidently incorporating zippers into all sorts of exciting projects. Remember, like any sewing technique, mastering zipper installation takes time and patience. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t perfect – each zipper you sew will be better than the last!

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