Since my pinstriped skirt requires a zipper, I thought this might be a good time to do a quick post on zipper installation. There are two basic ways to sew in a zipper: a lapped installation, and a centered installation. A lapped installation is usually found on pants fronts — it means that one edge of the fabric laps over the other, hiding the zipper tape. In a centered installation, which is what I’m doing, the zipper is installed between two equal folds of fabric which meet in the center of the zipper.

This isn’t a typical installation, since I’m not installing the zipper directly to the fabric pieces, but rather to the backing tape that my bound fashion fabric will be attached to.

Nevertheless, the concept is the same — you can use exactly the same method if you were attaching your zipper directly to skirt or dress pieces.

The first thing to do is to lay the pieces side by side and mark where the bottom of the zipper will be on the fashion fabric. Notice that I’ve allowed the the top of the zipper tape to overhang the top of the fabric, so that when the zipper pull is fully pulled up, it will be flush with the edge of the fabric. The excess tape will be enclosed by the waistband. WARNING! Do not cut off this excess tape. You can easily lose your zipper pull off the end. Which is a monumental pain and has caused me to ruin at least one pair of pants.

Notice also that I’ve marked thebottom point of the zipper a little above the lowest point to which the zipper pull will extend.

Marking the bottom point of the zipper

The next step is to sew and baste the seam. Sew normally from the bottom of the seam to the marked point. Above the marked point, you want to baste your seam with the longest stitch you have available on your machine. Press open.

Transfer your marking to the right side of the fabric. With the right side facing down and the seam facing you, place the zipper upside down on top of the fabric, so that when you eventually open your basting seam, the zipper will be the right way around. Pin the bottom of the zipper in place at the mark.

If you buy the same kind of zippers that I do, you’ll see that they have instructions on the label, and they want you to baste the zipper tape to the seam allowances before topstitching. The method that I’m using eliminates this step. Because I’m topstitching right away, I like to transfer the marking pin to the right side of the fabric.

Pin the zipper in place

Now we are ready to sew. You’ll need a zipper foot for this job, and you’ll also want to avoid jumping your zipper foot over the pull — otherwise your seam won’t be straight. Open the pull about an inch or so, and pin the right side of the tape in place. Sew that first inch.


Begin to sew the zipper


Lift the presser foot, and pull the zipper all the way up to the top, and then continue sewing until you reach your mark. Pivot at the mark, and sew across the bottom two or three times, then begin to work your way up the other side.

As you near the top, you’ll again have to work your way around the pull. Sew to within about an inch and a half of the top of the fabric, and then slit your basting open. (If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to move the zipper pull. Slide the pull down to before the end of your stitching, then continue to stitch all the way to the top. If your fabric is slippery, you might want to pin it in place.

Undo the rest of the basting, press your stitches into place, and you’re done!


Finished zipper



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