Saturday, April 1, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: The Zipper!

Okay, it's time to sew the lapped zipper. I almost always use lapped zippers in my dresses because it gives them that vintage look. Lapped zippers aren't difficult, but they do take practice. The more you do, the easier they are! I don't mark or baste my zippers. If this method doesn't work for you, there are many tutorials out there showing other methods.

Start by turning in and stitching the excess tape at the top of the zipper. You can stitch this by machine if you use a zipper foot.

Next we'll finish off the back neckline on the left side of the zipper opening. Turn the seam allowance to the outside of the dress and pin.

Now stitch across the seam allowance at the upper back neckline.

Clip into the stitching and trim the rest down so it looks like this.

Turn the seam allowance to the inside of the dress, forming a finished corner at the upper edge. Press this side of the seam allowance in 5/8" all the way down the zipper opening.

On the other side of the zipper opening (the right side as you're looking at the outside of the dress), press in the seam allowance 1/2" all the way down.

Because the seam allowance isn't pressed in the full amount, you'll have a tiny 1/8" underlap at the base of the zipper opening.

Now that your seam allowances are prepped, it's time to install the zipper. Start on the right side (as you're looking at the garment). This is the underlap side of the lapped zipper. Place the zipper behind the pressed seam allowance, so that the fold of fabric is right next to the zipper teeth. The zipper should start 5/8" down from the raw edge of fabric at the neckline.

Pin all the way down and then stitch the zipper in place using a zipper foot on your machine. Open the zipper and stitch as close to the fold of fabric as you can.

Now pin the overlap side of the zipper. Start at the waist. Close the zipper again and pin the seam allowance in place so that it just covers the line of stitching you did in the last step.

Your pins go the to left of the zipper teeth. Pin all the way down to the base of the zipper, and then al the way up to the neckline.

Here's a video to help you understand this step.

Once you've pinned, open the zipper again and top stitch the overlap side of the zipper at 3/8", using a mark on your needle plate to guide your seam allowance as usual (keep in mind that you may have needed to change your needle position for your zipper foot, so this will change the distance of your needle from the marks on your plate. Measure if you're unsure!).

When you get to the point you see below, that means you need to close the zipper again (with the needle all the way down!).

Close the zipper and finish off the topstitching in as straight a line as you can (align your presser foot with your previous stitching to guide you). When you get to the base of the zipper opening, pivot and stitch straight across the bottom of the zipper (beware any metal stops that may break your needle).

Your zipper is in! I know that's a lot to process, so please let me know if you have any questions!


  1. Lovely! I like the 'vintage' sort of look of it, too. Invisible zips are not my friends. I wasn't sure exactly what a 'lapped' zip was before but I'd guessed right and you've explained it beautifully. Thank you.

  2. I find a lapped zipper is easier than a centered, two-lapped zipper. For years, I having been sewing the lap the way you have done it. Sometimes, if I have to match seam allowances, I will hand baste the zipper. I usually place a pin at the zipper stop at the bottom so I won't hit it with the sewing machine needle when I sew across the bottom of the lap. In fact, when I took Home Economics nearly 50 years ago, I was taught the one-lap method for inserting zippers.

  3. Thank you for this tutorial I have been intimidated by zippers in general and this technique seems pretty doable. Thanks for sharing and taking the time to video too.

  4. Love the pattern! Thank you very much for the tutorial ^^


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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