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Hints and Tips for Perfect Zips!

By Di, Feb 27 2018 05:20PM

Zips are such an important way of fastening our clothes, however they are often feared by the home garment maker and frequently the thing that lets them down, making the garment look 'home made' rather than 'handmade'.


I have a few tips to help you towards a well sewn zip.


I already have a tutorial for invisible zips on the Minerva Crafts website. www.minervacrafts.com


I really don't like the clip on foot that comes as standard with most sewing machines.It's too wide at the back and means you can't stitch past the zip pull.

For standard zips I always use an adjustable, narrow toed foot, available for most machines. It's also great for all widths of piping.

A few places sell an adjustable foot that also doubles up as an invisible zipper foot.

There are many ways to stitch a zip, I'm going to concenrate on ones for clothes rather than exposed zips.


The Semi Concealed or Centred Zip

Traditionally this is the zip to use at the centre back of a dress or top when you don't want to use an invisible zip.

I prefer to use the narrow toed foot, but I'm going to show you a way to use the foot that comes with your machine. However the zip needs to be longer than the opening.

Stitch the seam below the zip. Then machine tack the opening 15mm from the edge using the longest stitch on your machine. Press the seam open.

There are different ways to prepare the zip for sewing. You can pin, tack or use sticky tape. I've decided to us Wonder Tape. It's a double sided tape that washes away. Put a strip on both seam allowances about 5mm from the stitching or onto the right side of the zip tape. Remove the backing paper from the tape. Put the right side of the zip onto the wrong side of the seam with the teeth on the stitching line. The zip pull needs to be just above the edge of the fabric.

The top stitching needs to be about 7mm either side of the seam. You can mark this in different ways:

> If you tack, machine just to the side of the tacking so that it's easy to remove.

> You can draw a line to follow, but it must be easy to remove from the fabric, always test before drawing on the right side of your fabric.

> In this example I've used low tack Washi tape, sewing next to it. Any low tack tape will work, but never leave on your fabric as it might leave a sticky residue.

Stitch down one side of the zip, at the bottom, leave the needle in the fabric, turn the fabric and stitch straight across. Leave the needle down and turn the fabric again, ready to stitch up the other side.

When both sides are stitched, remove the basting stitch from the opening. You might just be able to pull on one thread.

Remember to open the zip before adding a waistband or facing.


It's a good idea to open the zip, then stitch across the top on both sides, so when you cut across the top the slider won't come off if you close the zip!


This method can be a bit bulky if you're adding a facing because you have to fold the zip teeth.




Concealed or Lapped Zip


The lapped zip is perfect for skirts and trousers. When finished only one line of stitching can be seen on the right side.

I'm going to use the narrow toed foot for this example, however if you don't have one, buy a longer zip and have the zip pull above the cut edge of the fabric as in the Centred Zip.


Stitch the seam below the zip opening.

Press the seam open below the opening.

Press the 15mm seam allowance to the wrong side on the front garment piece(or the left back for a centre back zip).

Press 12mm to the wrong side on the other seam allowance. This means the two pieces overlap.


If you want you can use Wonder Tape to temporarily stick the zip to the fabric.

Place the zip under the back so the fold is very close to the zip teeth. The top of the zip pull needs to be 3mm below the horizontal stitching line.


Using the narrow toed foot, stitch very close to the folded edge.

The stitching should be close to the zip tape, further in than the garment seam. Secure the stitching at the bottom.

Pin the other side of the zip opening so that it just covers the stitching.


Machine 1cm from the folded edge. You can use low tack tape as a guide or a line of tacking stitches. It's important that the stitching goes through the zip tape, top fabric and the seam allowance.

Take out the top pin to the right of the zip pull before you machine, but leave the others in place.

At the bottom of the zip, leave the needle in the fabric, turn and stitch towards the seam, either horizontally or on an angle. Make sure you are below the level of the stopper on the zip!


The waistband should finish level with the overlapped side of the zip. The other end of the waistband should be 2.5cm longer on the underneath.

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