This May Just Be the Best Way to Sew Exposed Zippers

purple exposed zipper

An exposed zipper instantly makes any top, skirt or dress look totally modern. But in order for them to look stellar, all stitching (which, unlike when sewing an invisible zipper, is done on the right side of the garment) needs to be done with precision and careful planning. Here’s how to get all those little details right.

Sewing an Exposed Zipper

Level: Easy

What You Need

  • Zipper
  • Seam gauge
  • Interfacing
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Zipper foot (optional)
  • Instructions

    1. Measure

    measuring zipper

    Measure the width of the teeth with the zipper closed. This will help determine the seam allowances. The teeth on our zipper are about ¼” wide (fairly standard for fashion-style zippers), so the seam allowances we used are ¾”.

    2. Mark

    marked fabric for exposed zipper

    Mark the position of the zipper on the wrong side of the fabrics where you want to add it. Draw a mark ¾” from the top edge.

    marking zipper on fabric

    With the zipper placed along the edge of the project section (the top of the zipper should be placed on the ¾” mark), mark the zipper stop on both project sections.

    3. Fuse the Interfacing

    interfacing for exposed zipper

    Cut two strips of fusible interfacing 1″ wide x 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 doesn’t fall below the zipper stop line. This will provide support for these often heavier zippers.

    4. Staystitch

    fabric marked for exposed zipper

    Staystitch ¾” from the edge on the interfaced section.

    snipping exposed zipper seam allowance

    Pivot 90 degrees at the zipper stop line and continue sewing off the edge. Clip into the seam allowance, just to the staystitch line.

    5. Press the Seam

    fabric for exposed zipper

    Using the staystitch 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 seam allowance. Press the seam open.

    6. Pin It

    pinned zipper on fabric

    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” 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, then pin in place.

    pinned zipper

    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 and press the zipper in place.

    7. Trim the Seam Allowance

    trim zipper seam allowance

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

    8. Stitch It

    sewing exposed zipper

    Use any pressing foot (a zipper foot is ideal if you have one), edge stitch the outer portion of the zipper on both sides. Then stitch close to the zipper teeth on both sides. Remove all basting stitches.

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

    finished exposed zipper

    Your zipper’s in place — and so fashion-forward!

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