Lets talk about sewing zippers this week. Zippers are one of the most versatile of fastenings and are a very neat way to get into and out of a piece of clothing. Being that our aim here at The Creative Curator is to create our very own amazing fashion pieces, we really do need to know all about sewing zippers!
Essentially, Zippers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials and are used on everything from clothing to bags to tents and even garment and suit bags. Zips really are the most easy to use fastening! As well as being functional, zippers have also become more and more of a design feature, helping to make a big statement about the clothing piece you are wearing.
My leather jacket – given to me by the mum of my boys – is COVERED in beautiful metal zippers. There are seven chunky silver zippers in total. Two are horizontal pocket openings, two are slanted pocket openings, two open up the sleeve cuff to give more arm manoeuvrability… but, the biggest and shiniest is for the actual jacket opening.
Even the pulls on the zippers are HUGE and SHINY too. This is definitely a jacket which is using zippers for their design elements more than their functionality! Other uses of zippers may be more discreet, hidden away so they’re invisible to all! This might be in a dress or skirt opening, the side seam opening of a pair of trousers or even a very cleanly finished coat.
There are a wide variety of zippers available to us sewists. The differences in teeth material, fabric tape, how the zippers open… there really are so many options, it’s insane!
That said, the main types of zippers are:
- Coil Zippers
- Chain Zippers
- Invisible Zippers
- Open Ended Zippers
- Two way openended Zippers
So How Do Zippers Differ?
Chain zippers have metal or plastic teeth but are closed at the bottom, so the zip opening is restricted to the length of the zipper.
Coil zippers are made from nylon or polyester coil. They are also closed at the bottom, just like chain zippers.
Invisible or concealed zippers have their coil teeth ‘concealed’ behind the tape. When these are inserted properly, the zipper is invisible. Invisible zippers are also closed at the bottom.
Open ended zippers are made from metal or plastic teeth. They have a metal piece at the base which is used to slot the matching piece inside. This is the ‘open ended’ aspect and allows the opening to be fully open with no restrictions.
Two Way Open Ended-Zippers
Two way open-ended zippers are again made with metal or plastic teeth. Instead of having a metal piece at the base, they is another zipper pull like the first. This two way ‘open ended’ aspect allows the garment to be opened from either the top or the bottom.
If this al sounds a bit brain achey – grab my free Sewing Zippers guide by registering for my free resource library!!
Inserting a zip can be tricky if you’re completely new to them. It takes some practise to get the hang of it and have that professional looking finish to your creations. I practised often on a few pieces of calico when starting out, and just unpicked the same zipper again and again until it came right.
Even now though, I have been known to mess up the trouser fly zip! One tip is to hand tack your zip in place before sewing it on the machine. This will lessen the chances of something going wrong.
You’ll also need to change your regular sewing machine foot over to a zipper foot. Hopefully your machine came with one!
There are numerous ways to insert zippers, and the method used will really depend on the zipper you have chosen to use in your garment.
If done proper, this zipper is not visible from the right side!
This is a great example of an invisible zipper in silk!
And the invisible zipper open in silk!
My example of an invisible zipper – completely closed!
My example of an invisible zipper – zipper half down!
My example of an invisible zipper – able now to see the back of the invisible zipper!
My example of an invisible zipper – completely closed and looking at it from the reverse!
Predominantly used as a centre back seam on dresses and skirts, this zipped is stitched with an equal distance on both sides.
My example of a centred zipper – completely closed!
My example of an centred zipper – half open.
My example of an centred zipper – completely closed and from the back.
This is one of my favourites – I love a bit of metal on my creations! 🙂 The exposed part mean simply that the teeth of the zipper are exposed. Visible to the world. If you’re wanting the exposed zipper look, be sure to opt for a nice zipper. I generally go for Riri zippers. They are PRETTY!
I think of the lapped zipper a a half version of a trouser fly. The concept is the same in that there is a line of stitching visible on one side only.
Trouser Fly Zipper
Similar to the lapped zipper, one side is stitched to hanover wrap, the other side is stitched to the underwear. This stops the zipper from nibbling at your skin.
A great example of a trouser fly zipper!
And from the inside!
My example of a trouser fly zipper – completely closed!
My example of a trouser fly zipper – half open!
My example of a trouser fly zipper – completely open and from reverse!
Mostly used on jackets, but also on skirts and dresses too. The zipper opens completely. Usually stitched in such a way that the teeth are visible. Can be a nice contrast if the metal or plastic teeth are in a different colour.
A fine example of an open-ended zipper – closed at the base!
A fine example of an open-ended zipper – open at the base!
Sewing Zippers Guide
For those of you who’d love a more in-depth breakdown, I’ve written a small step-by-step guide on sewing the six different zippers: Invisible, Lapped, Trouser Fly, Open Ended, Centred and Exposed. You can get it by signing up below, or if you are already a member, download it from the resources library in my online school!
What’s your number one worry when sewing zippers? Let me know in the comments below!
RECOMMENDED READS: Get your Facing perfected with my Four Fantastic Facings post or maybe you’re not a fan of Zippers and fancy giving Buttons a Go?
Sewing Zippers Guide
Do you want to sew your own clothes? Do you have no idea where to start when it comes to sewing in zippers? Join me as I teach you stylish fashion skills, from beginner to advanced.