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Sewing Techniques - Zipper Techniques


Zippers give fleece garments a casual, sporty look. Consider using a zipper in a contrasting color as a great focal point, or conceal the closure by using a matching color zipper, allowing other details to take center stage. 

Zippers have always had a reputation for being difficult to install, but these simple tips will have you adding zippers to your fleece garments even beyond the pattern instructions; in addition to the usual jacket front opening or neckline closure, zippers are a fun touch at the sleeves, shoulders and the lower edges of fleece pant legs. 
  • Be sure you purchase the proper zipper style for your project, whether it's a separating zipper or a standard zipper with a built-in stop at the bottom.
  • As an easy alternative to hand basting, use washable basting tape or spray adhesive to position the zipper just before stitching.
  • Use a zipper foot for both basting stitches and permanent sewing. The zipper foot can be positioned to both the left and right sides of the zipper, making the installation easier, and your stitching straighter.
  • Sew each side of the zipper in the same direction to prevent puckers or distorted seams (for both basting seams and permanent stitching).


How to Insert an Invisible Zipper

Unlike traditional zippers that have exposed teeth, invisible zippers are designed with coils that run the length of the zipper tape and roll inward, with the coils concealed by the zipper tape. The result is a no-show opening that, when closed, looks like a continuous seam, without any top-stitching or fabric lapped over to cover zipper teeth. This gives a clean and refined finish to special occasion garments, dresses and suit skirts and pants. 

Some sewing machines come with special rolling zipper feet, designed exclusively for inserting invisible zippers. Here is an easy method that gives professional results, without any special equipment – all you need is a standard zipper foot. 

Step 1: Open the zipper and press the tape flat. Do NOT press the coils. Position the open zipper face down on the RIGHT side of the fabric, with the coils running along the seam line and the tape within the seam allowance. Pin in place. 

TIP: You may want to hand-baste the zipper in place to ensure it does not shift during machine stitching, until you get comfortable with the technique.

Step 2: Starting at the upper edge of the garment, uncurl the coil in front of the presser foot. With your zipper foot positioned on the LEFT side of the needle, stitch along the tape as close as possible to the coils, all the way to the slider. Back-stitch to reinforce stitching.

Step 3: Position and pin the other half of the zipper tape in the same manner. Move zipper foot to the other side of the needle and make sure that the lower edge of the garment is even. Uncurl coil and stitch in place as for the first side.

Step 4: Close the zipper and check that it is invisible from the OUTSIDE. Pin the LEFT side seam together below the zipper, pinning to the end of zipper stitching. Pull the free end of the zipper tape away from the seam allowance. Using your machine's regular zipper foot, finish stitching the seam, overlapping the stitches at the bottom of the zipper.