Imagine your life today if the zipper had never been invented. How would you fasten your clothing? In truth, before the zipper was invented, clothing was fastened by dozens of hooks and buttons. This task was arduous and garments were much more uncomfortable to wear as well. Now days we just simply “zip up” and are on our way out the door.
Sewing a zipper can seem like a very scary proposition for people new to sewing. New sewers often avoid patterns with zippers, fearing that they will not be able to successfully sew the zipper into place. The truth of the matter is that it really isn’t hard to sew in a zipper if you take the time to learn to do it correctly. With a few simple tips and tricks of the trade, you can be sewing zippers like a pro.
The Zipper Foot
The first thing you will need to do is insure that you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine. A standard sewing machine foot will not allow you to sew close enough to the zipper teeth to get the job done successfully. If you do not have a zipper foot, then you will want to contact your local sewing machine store or the manufacturer to purchase one.
The Lapped Zipper
Many zippers today are sewing in what is referred to as a “lapped closure.” A lapped closure hides the zipper’s teeth from view and is generally used for higher-end clothing or when a zipper doesn’t match the fabric of a garment closely. A lapped closure is also used when you have a garment made of pile or delicate fabrics. By utilizing this type of closure you can help to assure the fabric will not get trapped in the zipper teeth and ruined.
A lapped zipper is located under a single flap of fabric. There is only one line of stitching you can see from the outside of the garment. Lapped zippers can most commonly be found in dressy pants and skirts.
The Centered Zipper
The centered zipper is the most often used in sewing garments today. The centered zipper is sewn into the back or front of a garment. Centered zippers are perfect for everyday clothing, purses, and household decorative items as well as those made from heavyweight fabrics such as denim. A centered zipper is covered by two equal flaps of fabric.
Sewing around the Zipper Tab
One of the most complicated parts of sewing a zipper into your project is usually sewing neatly around the zipper tab. The good news is that you can purchase a zipper which is one or two inches longer than you need and not have to sew around the zipper tab at all. When you take this route, you simply trim the extra to the required length.
Does Your Zipper Pucker?
If you have problems with zippers puckering when you sew them in lightweight fabrics, try interfacing the seam allowances before inserting your zipper. By doing this you can create cleaner lines and a crisper look which is much less likely to pucker.
Basting Tape Is Your Friend
Most people who sew hate to baste. Basting something into place is time consuming and requires tedious hand sewing. Rather than basting your zippers into place, use basting tape instead. Basting tape is a two-sided, wash-away tape which will hold your zipper in place while you machine sew it into your garment. Once your garment is made and washed, the tape will disappear.
By using the hints above you can confidently sew a zipper into your garments. As with anything else, the more you practice the better you will be. So, get sewing!