The exposed zipper continues to be very much in vogue. This suddenly stylish way of applying a zipper is perfect for sewing enthusiasts, as it becomes a dramatic and modern way to update any top, skirt or dress. It’s a prime to time to learn about sewing exposed zippers onto your garments!
A zipper that is fully exposed, which I like to refer to as “the Full Monty version,” produces the most dramatic effect and is a relatively easy application to do. The hardest part is selecting the zipper. Choose one that will complement the project and is designed for such an application.
For a fully exposed zipper to look good, all of the stitching, which is done on the right side of the garment or project, must be done with precision. So, it is imperative very careful preparation is done to get to that final stage.
Exposed zipper tutorial
Before applying the zipper, examine it closely. With the zipper in a closed state, carefully measure the width of the teeth. This may vary, but for most fashion-style zippers, the space is approximately ¼-inch wide. This will help determine the appropriate seam allowances needed for the zipper to be centered and balanced on the garment. In this example, the teeth are approximately ¼-inch wide so the seam allowances used are ¾ inches.
Mark the position of the zipper on the wrong side of the project sections. Draw a mark ¾ inches from the top edge. With the zipper placed along the edge of the project section (top of the zipper placed on the ¾-inch mark), mark the zipper stop. Now draw a line to mark the zipper stop on both project sections.
Cut two strips of fusible interfacing 1 inch wide by 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 does not fall below the zipper stop line. This will provide support for these often heavier zippers.
Stay-stitch ¾ inches from the edge on the interfaced section. Pivot 90 degrees at the zipper stop line and continue sewing off the edge. Now clip into the seam allowance just to the stay-stitch line.
Using the stay-stitch 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 5/8-inch seam allowance. Press the seam open.
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-inch 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 and pin them in place as well. Now 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. Press the zipper in place.
Working from the right side of the zipper/project, carefully trim away the excess and exposed seam allowances.
With a zipper foot or any other presser foot, edge stitch the outer portion of the zipper on one side and then the other. Lastly, stitch close to the zipper teeth one side and then the other. Remove all basting stitches.
Finish the top edge with either a facing or waistband to conceal or contain the top edge of the zipper.
Intimidated by zippers? Don’t be!
Craftsy expert Callie Works-Leary takes you step by step through 3 zipper insertions so you can properly prepare the seam, place the zipper and stitch it for a professional appearance.