This May Just Be the Best Way to Sew Exposed Zippers


An exposed zipper used to be trendy. Today it just looks modern — a new classic that can add a little drama to a top , skirt or dress.

Exposed zippers are relatively easy to insert. But to look good, all the stitching (which is done on the right side of the garment or project) has to be done with precision. That requires careful planning.

Follow the tutorial below to get all the details right.

Sewing the Zipper

1. Measure

Before you begin, measure the width of the teeth with the zipper closed. This will help determine the seam allowances. In the photos here, the teeth are about ¼-inch wide (fairly standard for fashion-style zippers), so the seam allowances used are ¾ inch.

2. Mark

Mark the position of the zipper on the wrong side of the project sections. Draw a mark ¾ inches from the top edge.

With the zipper placed along the edge of the project section (top of the zipper placed on the ¾-inch mark), mark the zipper stop. Now draw a line to mark the zipper stop on both project sections.

3. Fuse the Interfacing

Cut two strips of fusible interfacing 1-inch wide by the length of the zipper (top edge to zipper stop). Fuse the interfacing to the right side of both zipper seam allowances, making sure the bottom edge of the interfacing does not fall below the zipper stop line. This will provide support for these often heavier zippers.

4. Stay-stitch

Stay-stitch ¾ inches from the edge on the interfaced section.

Pivot 90 degrees at the zipper stop line and continue sewing off the edge. Now clip into the seam allowance just to the stay-stitch line.

5. Press the Seam

Using the stay-stitch line as your guide, press the seam allowances to the right side of the project on both sections. With right sides together sew the seam below the zipper using the usual ⅝-inch seam allowance. Press the seam open.

6. Pin It

Working from the wrong side of the project, position the zipper (wrong side up) between the pressed zipper opening, lining up the top of the zipper teeth with the ¾-inch mark and the zipper stop with the bottom zipper line. Pin securely in place. Turn the project to the right side and fold the bottom tabs under and pin them in place as well.

Now hand-baste the zipper in place close to the zipper teeth. This is an important step, so make sure the stitching is very secure and runs the full length of the zipper. Remove all the pins. Press the zipper in place.

7. Trim the Seam Allowance

Working from the right side of the zipper/project, carefully trim away the excess and exposed seam allowances.

8. Stitch It

With a zipper foot or any other presser foot, edge stitch the outer portion of the zipper on one side and then the other. Finally, stitch close to the zipper teeth one side and then the other. Remove all basting stitches.

Finish the top edge with either a facing or waistband to conceal or contain the top edge of the zipper.

Zipper in place! Looking good with the snakeskin-patterned fabric, no?

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This May Just Be the Best Way to Sew Exposed Zippers