What Is a Sewing Machine Zipper Foot?

Zipper Foot

Naberacka (Own work)/CC0/Wikimedia Commons

A zipper foot allows you to sew zippers with your sewing machine. A zipper foot is able to adjust, so it is on the left or the right side of the sewing machine needle. This adjustment allows you to sew the zipper without the presser foot, applying pressure to the zipper teeth, which will not move when caught in the feed dogs because of pressure from a presser foot.

Where to Get a Zipper Foot

A zipper foot is standard equipment with almost all sewing machines but if your machine does not have a zipper foot, visit a local sewing machine dealer to find an appropriate replacement for your machine. Sewing machine company websites can help you locate a local dealer for your brand of a sewing machine. Your sewing machine manual may also have a picture of the original zipper foot, so you know what to look for. Know the make, model, and sewing machine shank height of your sewing machine when you visit the sewing machine dealer.

Why the Zipper Foot Slides From Side to Side

As you sew in a centered zipper or a lapped zipper, the side of the foot the sewing machine needle is on varies. You will need to slide it to the side where the presser foot is not on the zipper teeth. A snap-on zipper foot will need to be taken off and re-attached, so the needle is on the opposite side of the foot.

With either type of foot, be sure your needle can clear the foot. You can also experiment with needle position to place the stitching exactly where you want it.

What Is the Best Zipper Foot?

The answer to this is a matter of personal preference and what works best with your sewing machine. You might find you prefer a larger or smaller zipper foot than you had originally thought. Your best bet is to test drive the zipper foot or visit a local dealer if you are not happy with yours.

Non-Zipper Uses

A zipper foot is commonly used to sew trim that will not fit under the regular all-purpose foot. Using a zipper foot to sew on piping allows you to sew next to the piping without the piping being jammed under the foot. Trims that would be damaged by the presser foot, or could damage the needles such as beaded trim, usually have a strip of fabric for attaching them. The zipper foot allows you to sew on the strip without putting the presser foot on the trim.

Common Mistakes

Many zipper feet require you to loosen a screw to slide it from side to side. The biggest mistake you can make is not re-tightening that screw. As you sew, the foot can vibrate so that it ends up directly under the needle and you will crash the needle right into the foot. Remember to tighten the screw! Sewing machine needles should immediately be replaced if they hit the foot.

Fun Fact

The zipper industry is booming—4.5 billion zippers are sold in the United States each year. That's an average of 14 zippers for each American.