Sewing Zippers Made Easy

All Zipped Up

Every sewer has a technique that they hate doing, even if they have done it many times. For me it's sewing zippers. I have put in tons of zippers, yet every time I arrive at this step in the garment-making process, I take a deep breath and sigh-zippers. Yes, they can be a bit fussy, and you have to take your time to put them in right, but how can I let a little zipper get the best of me? 

Liesl Gibson showing zipper basics.

Liesl shares her tips for sewing zippers

Add interfacing to seam allowances before sewing a zipper.

Add interfacing to your seam allowances before installing a zipper for a professional look.

Preparing to sew a lapped zipper.

Preparing to sew a lapped zipper.


So I decided it's time to take back control and get over my dislike of installing zippers. After I watched Liesl Gibson demonstrate her foolproof zipper insertion methods on her new DVD, Seams, Closures + Hems with Liesl Gibson, I knew that my mental victory over zippers was near at hand. Liesl is the chief designer for Oliver + S sewing patterns for children's clothing and the Lisette sewing pattern line with Simplicity. She trained at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and has worked as a designer for top international fashion brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, so she's a design and sewing pro. And while I have never met anyone that truly loves sewing zippers (not even Liesl), I at least want to embrace the process and feel the smug satisfaction of flawlessly installing one.

On the DVD, Liesl starts out by going over all the zipper basics everyone needs to know such as the difference between regular and invisible zippers, how to shorten a zipper, and using the zipper foot for your sewing machine. But then she gives some great tips and tricks for inserting zippers. My favorite tip is that she puts a strip of fusible interfacing (cut to twice the seam allowance width) along the seam allowances where the zipper will be for added fabric reinforcement and a polished look.  

Then she gets into the nitty gritty of installing different types of zippers including the invisible zipper, centered zipper, and lapped zipper. Like many sewing techniques, taking the time to properly prep your fabric before heading to the sewing machine can make all the difference in the world. Handbasting your zipper to the fabric before you machine sew it is one of those key steps that can save you from ripping out a messy zipper. (Psst! I know you want to skip this step, but trust me, you'll be sorry if you do!). By handbasting the zipper in first you can position it exactly where you want it so that it looks professional inside and out. For those who don't like handsewing, Liesl suggests using Stitch Witchery (an iron-on fusible bonding web that comes in a tape roll) to adhere the zipper to the fabric and hold it in place while machine stitching. Just these simple steps can make sewing zippers a breeze!

For more great sewing techniques and helpful tips shown step-by-step, you'll love Seams, Closures, + Hems. You'll learn a variety of seam and hem finishing techniques along with everything you every wanted to know about sewing zippers. These are the key techniques that give every project a professional look.

Happy Sewing,

P.S. On a final note, I want to let you know that this will be my last Sew Daily post and the forthcoming Stitch Gifts (due out in November) will be my last issue of Stitch as editor in chief. Although I'm embarking on new career adventures, I've found developing each issue of Stitch and the Sew Daily eNewsletter incredibly fun and inspiring. Thank you for your continued support, and I can't wait to see what new and exciting things the next editor will bring to Stitch and Sew Daily. Stay tuned!


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