During the “Sewing Machine Basics” class, we go over all of the accessory feet that come with your new machine: what they are and their use. When discussing the zipper foot, I usually have at least one customer who says “I’ll never use that foot. I don’t do zippers!” Zippers seem to be quite intimidating for a lot of sewers so I thought I would give some tips on how to insert an easy type of zipper that you may encounter as a garment sewer or as a person who needs to replace a broken jacket zipper. If you can just remember that this is a process where you should take your time, you’ll be fine. Let’s begin…..
I changed my needle from the size 90 stretch needle I had been using for the garment’s construction to a size 90 universal needle to make piercing the zipper tape easier. The pattern asked me to line up the zipper teeth along the seam line and stitch the zipper tape to the front of the garment. What does that mean?
The directions are asking that the zipper be sewn to the front of the garment, a little from the edge, so I measured 5/8” away from the edge and placed the seam guide along the teeth.
I was also asked to fold the top of the zipper tape inward so it “disappeared” into the seam allowance.
I first tried to use the standard zipper foot for this task, but it was too large for me to comfortably sew along the zipper teeth and keep track of the 5/8” guide line on the needle plate…
so I changed to the Narrow Zipper Foot, which fit perfectly!
The zipper teeth run along the seam line while the fabric is guided along the 5/8” marking on the needle plate.
Remember: when inserting a zipper, always sew from bottom to top along both sides of the zipper. This is to ensure accuracy of the zipper when meeting at the top. The left side of the zipper was now installed.
As you get ready to insert the other side of the zipper, carefully line up the bottom edges so the zipper will easily zip when finished.
As the zipper is sewn from bottom to top again, you will need to move the zipper pull out of the way. You will be unable to sew next to it without creating a distortion in the zipper and your fabric. You will need to flip the zipper foot and run your fabric along the 5/8” needle plate marking on the left of the needle.
Taking my time with this step ensures the zipper meets perfectly at the top and at the bottom.
All that’s left is to clip the zipper into its final position and top stitch it.
Remember, you will need to move the zipper tab out of the way again as you sew to avoid distorting the zipper and the material.