Sewing a Centered Zipper Application

Dressmaker sewing
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  • 01 of 06

    A Centered Zipper

    Close up of centered zipper application
    Debbie Colgrove

    Learning how to sew zippers is not as difficult as you may think. Take a deep breath, take your time, baste first and follow these directions, tips and pointers to have results you are happy with.

    About A Centered Zipper

    • A centered zipper is a zipper that is sewn in with an even amount of fabric on each side of the zipper. The teeth of the zipper under the area where the fabric would create a seam if there were not a zipper.
    • A centered zipper application is commonly used in the front of jackets with a separating zipper and in the center back of a garment using an all-purpose zipper.
    • Most people consider a centered zipper the easiest zipper application.
    • Preparing to sew a centered zipper involves preshrinking the fabric and zipper before you began any pattern layout etc.
    • Many people fuss and fret because the fabric seems to twist or warp as the topstitching is sewn. This can be prevented by fusing light-weight fusible interfacing to the seam and zipper area before you begin any sewing. The fusible interfacing will stabilize the fabric, preventing it from stretching or warping as you sew.
    • Commercial patterns will tell you what size zipper to purchase in the sewing notions area on the envelope. If you are not sure, measure the opening and remember that zipper sizes refer to the length of the teeth in the zipper, not the length of the tape the teeth are attached to.
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  • 02 of 06

    Getting Started

    Prepare to Sew a Zipper
    Debbie Colgrove
    • If you are using a commercial pattern, there will be a mark that should be transferred to the fabric, which will ​indicate where the zipper ends. Transfer this mark to your fabric.
    • It is advisable to fuse light-weight interfacing to the zipper area, seam allowance, and area that will be over the zipper. Cut a 1-inch strip of interfacing (when using a 5/8 inch seam allowance) the length of the zipper and fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric approximately a generous 1/8 inch from the edge of the seam allowance.
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  • 03 of 06

    Baste, Press and Seam Finish

    Baste, Press and Seam Finish
    Debbie Colgrove
    • Align the edges of the fabric with the right sides together. Match the transferred pattern markings and pin the seam in place.
      Tip: Use double pins at the pattern marking as a visual cue to remind you that the mark is there.
    • Sew the seam, basting the area where the zipper will be located, and using a regular stitch length where the seam is located — Back-Stitch at the end of the regular stitching going to the basting stitch.
    • Press the seam as it was sewn on both sides of the fabric.
    • Press open the seam, using the tip of the iron and keeping the fabric flat.
    • Press the seam open from the right side of the fabric.​
      Tip: Use a pressing cloth to prevent shine on the right side of the fabric. This is especially important when pressing synthetic fabric as it will melt, creating that unwanted shine.
    • Be sure both sides of the seam are pressed open and smooth before continuing.
    • Apply a seam finish to the seam allowance.
      Tip: Using lightweight thread, bobbin thread, or serger thread will cause less bulk in a seam finish because they are lighter-weight threads.
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  • 04 of 06

    Placing the Zipper

    Placing the Zipper
    Debbie Colgrove
    • With the wrong side up and where the top of the zipper will be closest to you, open the seam and place all layers of fabric under the opposite side, so a single seam allowance is ready to baste the zipper to.
    • Open the zipper and place face of the zipper down (pull side down), place the end of the zipper at the mark and the teeth, so they butt right up to the seam line.
    • Starting at the bottom of the zipper, baste the zipper in place, sewing it only to the seam allowance.
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  • 05 of 06

    Basting the Second Side

    Basting the Second Side
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • Switch the bulk of the fabric so it is under the side that is basted and the other seam allowance is by itself.
    • Keeping the seam and the zipper flat, baste the second side of the zipper to the seam allowance.
    • Lay everything flat and mark the end of the zipper on the right side with a straight pin so you will know where to stop on the next step.
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  • 06 of 06


    How to evenly topstitch a centered zipper
    Debbie Colgrove
    • Set your sewing machine to a normal stitch length.
    • Place the right side up and smooth the fabric and zipper.
    • Starting at the top of the zipper, topstitch an even distance from the seam line, stopping with the needle down when you reach the straight pin.
      Tip: Always watch a guide and not the needle when you are sewing.
    • At the bottom of the zipper, remove the straight pin and pivot.
    • Sew perpendicular to the seam line, counting the number of stitches until you reach the seam line.
    • Sew the same number of stitches on the other side of the seam line, stopping with the needle down.
    • Pivot and sew the opposite side of the zipper, again keeping the topstitching an even distance from the seam line.
    • Sew to the top of the zipper and back stitch in the top seam allowance, where the facing or waistband will be attached.
    • Carefully remove the basting stitches that are holding the seam closed.