Sewists often get intimidated when thinking about sewing on a zipper, but the truth is that learning how to sew a zipper with a sewing machine is not at all difficult once you learn a few basic tips. Yes, you can sew a zipper by hand, but doing this with a machine is both faster and simpler. Even better, once you sew on a zipper the first time, from then on the process is even easier.
Using a sewing machine to sew on a zipper only involves a few steps; these steps consist of attaching the zipper with a basting stitch, ironing the zipper, attaching it with pins, sewing it on, and using a zipper foot to finish off the procedure. It may sound complicated, but it really isn’t.
How to Sew a Zipper with a Sewing Machine
Step 1: The first step you’ll take when you’re trying to sew a zipper onto a garment is to use a basting, or temporary, stitch to complete the task. You’ll eventually remove this stitch, but for now, you’ll need to baste the zipper while it’s closed. You’ll be sewing the zipper along the edge and in the exact place you want it to be when you’re done. Use the same zipper allowance that is used in other parts of the garment. While this seems obvious, it’s still something very important to keep in mind when sewing on a zipper.
Step 2: Next, while the seam is open, go ahead and iron it flat, keeping it open and flat the entire time. Be careful that you don’t iron the seam allowance up against the material’s right side. Instead, you’ll be on the wrong side of the fabric when ironing the seam allowance.
Step 3: At this point, you’ll need to pin the zipper to the garment. Again, the zipper needs to remain closed during this step. Make sure that the top part of the zipper (the pull) is slightly above the top of the garment. If you leave an inch or so of excess zipper, that’s even better. It’s better to start with too much and remove the excess later than to need more zipper later in the process and not be able to get it. By that time, it’ll be too late. In fact, once you get to this step and you’ve pinned the zipper to the garment, you can go ahead and remove the excess.
Step 4: Next, baste the zipper onto the garment once again. The reason why this is done at this point is because you want to keep the zipper in place and this is the easiest way to do so. If you baste the stitch, you have to keep that stitch centered on the seam whenever you’re sewing on the right side of the garment. The basting stitch just makes this entire step a lot easier to do and helps you do a better job whenever you’re learning how to sew a zipper with a sewing machine. Again, the process isn’t difficult, nor is it time-consuming, but it all starts with a basting stitch.
Step 5: Flip the garment over so that it is right side up, and there’s an easy way to tell if you’ve done this step correctly. First of all, when you look at the zipper, you should see only the top of it sticking out at the top. If you only see the top of the zipper and no other parts, you’ll know that you’re doing this step correctly.
Step 6: For this step, you have to attach a zipper foot to the sewing machine so the step is done correctly. Top-stitch the seam, making sure that it goes through every single layer of fabric. If you don’t want the fabric to ripple and look messy, make sure that you sew from the bottom and on both sides of the zipper. The stitches should be very close to the center of the seam — as close as possible — as you’re using the zipper foot. And you’ll finish the sewing by stitching along the bottom section of the zipper. This way, your zipper will end at a point and won’t go below it, which is what you want.
Step 7: You can probably guess what to do at this point: you have to rip out all of the basting stitches. Remove the first set first and the one that goes through the middle section of the seam next. Use a seam ripper to do this. After you do it, the teeth of the zipper will be underneath the fabric. One of the main tips to remember is to make sure that you don’t remove any permanent stitches when you’re removing the basting stitches. This is extremely important.
Step 8: Finally, you’ll want to test out the zipper to make sure that it fits right and works right. Make sure that it’s centered correctly and that when you open or close the zipper, the action is easy and very smooth. You can skip this step, of course, but it’s better if you don’t skip it because it’s at this point that you can test out your creation.
Learning how to sew a zipper with a sewing machine can actually be done several ways, but this method is one of the easiest and the most common methods available today. And as was mentioned earlier, once you install a zipper the first time, the next time that you do so will be a whole lot easier.
Some Tips to Make Zipper Attachments a Little Easier
While learning how to sew a zipper with a sewing machine is fairly simple, there are still some things that you can take into consideration that will make the process a little easier on you. This includes the following:
- Always purchase a zipper that is the length you need. While you’re looking for the right color and size of zipper, you can get one that is a bit longer than what you need. Remember that you can cut off the excess at one of the steps mentioned earlier. Just make sure that it isn’t too long or it can be cumbersome to work with when you get to that step.
- If the zipper is made out of natural materials such as cotton, you’ll want to wash it first so that there is less shrinkage before sewing it into the garment or fabric. Just follow the directions on the zipper packaging and you’ll be fine.
- When you iron the seams, use a hot temperature when the zipper teeth are made out of metal and a lower temperature when they’re made out of plastic. Otherwise, the plastic teeth could melt.
- If your fabric is lightweight, you might want to consider using lightweight fusible interfacing on the fabric so it will be a little stiffer before you go any further. Cut the interfacing in strips and place them on the wrong side of the fabric right next to the seam.
Video: How to Sew a Zipper Step-By-Step
Learning how to sew a zipper with a sewing machine is just the same as anything else when it comes to sewing; you’ll need to practice your technique so that it comes out right. While you can sew zippers by hand since they are small, it’s much quicker to sew them with a machine. And these steps are applicable regardless of the size, color, or style of the zippers, so you’re on your way to sewing great-looking zippers for your garments.