“I’ll Never Use That Foot!”

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…..

The task: to insert a separating zipper into the front of this jacket made from sweatshirt material.
I used a separating zipper that can be opened completely.
The zipper will be open for this insertion.

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.

The zipper teeth are placed 5/8″ away from the raw edge of the garment and clipped into place. Pins will distort the zipper, so clips are the way to go.

I was also asked to fold the top of the zipper tape inward so it “disappeared” into the seam allowance.

Folding the top of the zipper tape towards the seam allowance gives a neat finish to the top of the zipper.

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…

The standard zipper foot either ran over the zipper teeth or ran off the fabric edge. It was just too big for the job.

so I changed to the Narrow Zipper Foot, which fit perfectly! 

Husqvarna Viking’s Narrow Zipper Foot. Pfaff currently does not have this foot that I’m aware of. This foot can be used on a Pfaff if you purchase a white Husqvarna Viking ankle and use that and the foot on your Pfaff. In doubt? Ask Frank!

The zipper teeth run along the seam line while the fabric is guided along the 5/8” marking on the needle plate.

Notice the zipper tape is not even with the fabric edge.

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.

Left side installed and turned right side out.

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.

This is an important step so take your time and be accurate.

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.

Take your time here since it is unnatural to guide along this marking.

Taking my time with this step ensures the zipper meets perfectly at the top and at the bottom. 

The zipper meets at the top…
…and at the bottom. Yeah!

All that’s left is to clip the zipper into its final position and top stitch it.

Clips are in and everything’s ready for top stitching.
For top stitching, the standard zipper foot works great.

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.

When you come to the zipper pull, stop with the needle in the “down” position. This will raise the foot enough for you to move the zipper pull behind the foot so you can continue sewing.
With the zipper pull behind the foot, continue sewing.
The finished product!