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in need of zipper quidance

mastersplan | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I haven’t sewn in years, but now that the girls are grown, I finally have time to do some projects for myself.  The problem is I was so busy making simple outfits for the girls that I guess I lost some of the basics.  I recently made a skirt with a side zipper, and I was not impressed with how the zipper turned out.  Can I get some pointers from THE EXPERTS?  I have eveything thing that I need for about 10 projects, most of which have ZIPPERS.  I am fearful of starting because I don’t want the same results as my most recent project. HELP PLEASE!!


  1. fabricholic | | #1

    What happened to the last zipper you installed? Did you try to sew around the zipper stop? Sometimes, if you don't buy a zipper a little longer than called for, you can't sew around the zipper stop without making a mess. Let us know what exactly happened.


    1. mastersplan | | #10

      Thanks Marcy, I really am glad that so many people came to my aid.


  2. suesew | | #2

    I think some of the best directions for zippers actually come on the cardboard that covers many zippers. If you follow those exactly you will get excellent results.

  3. HeartFire2 | | #3

    what was the problem with your zipper? we can't help unless we know the problem.

  4. User avater
    Becky-book | | #4

    Just guessing.... a side zip in a skirt is in a curved seam... one of the hardest to do well in my book.  Did it not lay flat?

    For your next project select one that has it's zipper in a straight seam that runs true to the grain line (fewer things to go wrong).

    If the trouble is with your top-stitching- try the 1/2" tape trick... use a length of 1/2" wide tape, centered over the seam to give yourself a 1/4" guide line down each side of the zipper, and stitch both sides from the bottom up to the top (not down one side and up the other).

    I don't seem to have trouble with the top part of my zippers, so I do not buy them long and cut off the extra (that trick did not work for me).

    Hope this helps,


    PS there is more good advice available if you use the ADVANCED SEARCH feature to read past posts on the subject of zippers.

    Edited 2/20/2007 8:39 am ET by Becky-book

    1. mastersplan | | #5

      Thank Becky-book, I can tell that you have had this problem before, because although I didn't say it you hit my problem right on the nailhead.  It was a side seam CURVED zipper.  Thanks for the help.  I am going to revisit this after I fine tune my skills.  And Thanks to everyone that responded so fast.  I am sure that I will be picking your collective brains again. 

      1. Ralphetta | | #6

        One other thing when you search, check the suggestion of using a strip of light-weight interfacing.  That would help a lot on a curved seam.

        1. mastersplan | | #11

          Can you please provide me more information on how to do this,  Thank you for your time and wisdom.  Sheila

          1. Ralphetta | | #12

            Threads #119 tells how to insert a disappearing ziipper and said to fuse a 5/8 wide strip of lightweight tricot interfacing to the seam allowances, make sure that it covers the seamline.  I've used it for a regular lapped zipper when the seam curved or the fabric was lightweight.

      2. Marionc032 | | #7

        I've never quite understood why patterns use side zippers at all and I've never sewn one--last thing I need is extra bulk at the hip! LOL!Marion

  5. Teaf5 | | #8

    I agree with the posters who recommend using the instructions enclosed with the zipper and the 1/2" tape.  The instructions are simple and effective, plus the cardboard is actually shaped in the perfect curve for marking the stitching lines. 

    I keep one these preprinted cards for regular zippers and one for invisible zippers in my sewing box so that I can use them when using zippers that aren't packaged.

    A good way to relearn is to use basting stitch and put zippers into seamed fabric samples over and over again until you memorize the steps or can write them down.  It's pretty easy to rip them out if you use a long stitch, and repeating the process in full helps clarify the steps and order.  In my head, for regular zippers, this sounds like: "stitch seam, turn so that top is facing me, baste zipper to left seam allowance, turn & press and stitch the little fold, then flop it over, pin & tape, and sew the placket line on the outside"

    1. mastersplan | | #9

      Thanks for the details, I'll be sure to try this!  You'll be hearing from me again

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