In Plainspeak: How to Put in a Zipper

I just learned how to put a zipper in a dress! It seemed like such a daunting task. Also, the instructions didn’t make it seem any easier. In fact, I already had preconceived notions that it was going to be difficult. Then, I read the instructions and it seemed impossible. Therefore, I asked my mom to help.

Here’s what I learned:


I’m not joking. It’s not hard. In fact, it’s pretty much as easy as sewing a straight seam. But those damn instructions make it seem SOOOOO difficult.

So, I’m going to tell/show you how to put in a zipper in my own words. Hopefully, you’ll find it easier.

First, sew the seam as you normally would using whatever seam allowance is recommended, but use the longest stitch length on your machine. In other words, you want to baste your seam along the seam allowance. Then iron the basted seam open.

Now, unzip the zipper. With the dangly thing at the bottom, turn the zipper over so the dangly thing is facing the wrong side of the fabric, meaning you should not be able to see it.

Now, ignore the left side of the zipper. Place the right side of the zipper next to the seam with the teeth right next to the seam. The right side of the zipper should be facing the wrong size of the fabric. Pin along the entire length of the zipper to keep it in place.

Using your zipper foot, place the left side of your foot right next to the teeth. The needle should be on the right side of the zipper foot. (You may have to reposition your foot or needle.)*

Starting at the top (the furthest point away from the dangly thing), sew a straight line down the zipper until you have gone past the dangly thing. Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning. You’ll have to feel where the dangly thing is in order to go past it. Once you are a fully past the dangly thing, stop sewing. Make sure you backstitch.

Now, zip the zipper. You can pin if you like, but since the zipper is zipped and sewn on the right side, you don’t really need to.

Starting at the top of the zipper again (the dangly thing should be up there now since you zipped the zipper), on the left side where you haven’t yet sewn, place the right side of your zipper foot next  to the teeth. The needle should be on the left side of the zipper foot. (You will have to reposition your foot or needle.) *

Sew a straight line down the zipper (Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning!).. You can use the right sewn line as a guide of how far down you need to sew. You can backstitch if you want, but you don’t really need to because…

Now, before you are done, make sure your needle is in the down position.

Lift up your presser foot and pivot the fabric and zipper to your left. You are going to connect the two sewn lines at the bottom.

Put your presser foot down. Sew between the two sewn lines connecting them. Backstitch.

TA DA!!!!!!

All you need to do now is turn your garment to the right side, rip out the basting stitch, and test out your zipper. It should work beautifully!

Wasn’t that easy!?!? I know! Amazing. Don’t you just want to punch whoever wrote the directions for the pattern and zipper company? I do. They’re awful. They aren’t helpful and they are super confusing. Seriously…it makes me really angry. Like really angry. Because it’s SOOOO easy!!!

So, good luck sewing your zipper in!

If you have any questions or corrections, please let me know.


* This may actually be the opposite, but that’s the way I do it with my little skinny zipper foot. Some people put their needle on the side closest to the zipper teeth, but I don’t like all of the extra zipper side flapping around, so I do it with the needle on the other side of my zipper foot, meaning the zipper foot is in between my needle and the zipper teeth. This makes the sewing line pretty much right in the middle between the edge of the zipper and the teeth of the zipper. Of course, if your zipper foot is really wide, it could cause problems. However, it doesn’t really matter that much. Just make sure the zipper is sewn onto the fabric somewhere between the edge of the zipper and the teeth.


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