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How to sew a zipper

Read on to discover our guide on how to sew zips you can learn all the steps for mending a zip and develop the skills to make or mend your clothes at home.

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutesBy Cleanipedia Team

Dark blue fleece with zipper fastening

Whether you are getting crafty and making yourself some new clothes, or simply don’t want to throw away an old jacket with a broken zip, learning how to sew zips is a key skill to acquire. Read on for some super simple steps for sewing in a zip to fix, refresh or create the perfect finishing touch to your outfit.

Caring for your clothes by using a good quality detergent, like Persil, and a fabric conditioner designed to protect clothing, like Comfort Ultimate Care, is a great way to look after your clothing, whether they require laundering in the machine or handwashing.

To protect your zipper from damage in the wash pop clothes with zips inside a laundry bag. We also recommend you use a good quality fabric conditioner to help prevent unwanted friction in the wash.
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RequiredComfort Fresh Sky Ultimate Care
Comfort Ultimate Care Fresh Sky bottle
  • Zip
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Zipper foot
  • Thread

How to sew a zipper

If you're looking to add a new zip to finish off your latest clothing project, we've got you covered. Here are seven simple steps for how to sew a zipper in place.

  1. Choose your zipper.

    Make sure that is the correct length for your garment.

  2. Open the zip and attach your zipper foot to your machine.

    If you are unsure how to change the foot over, be sure to refer to the manual. When attaching it, make sure the needle is on the side you are sewing, i.e. if the zip is to the left of your needle, the zipper foot should be inserted on the left.

  3. Baste shut the area you are sewing.

    Don’t panic, this will be removed later. Only baste the area the zipper will cover. Lay the zip over the seam and use a pin to mark the bottom. Baste to the pin. A standard stitch can be used to sew the rest of the seam closed.

  4. Iron the seam open.

    This needs to be done to the part you wish to insert the zipper.

  5. Line up your zipper.

    Make sure it is lined up correctly with the seam, and pin it in place.

  6. Sew the zip in place.

    Sew down one side, and across the bottom. Now switch the zipper foot to the other side and sew the other side of your zip to the top.

  7. Use a seam ripper.

    Use the seam ripper to remove your basting stitches.

How to fix a broken zipper

If you are using our guide for clothing repairs you may not need a brand-new zip. Instead, you can learn how to mend a zip in just a handful of easy to follow steps.

  1. Fix a handbag zipper with thread stuck in the teeth using a toothpick.

    If you're wondering how to fix a zipper with thread stuck in the teeth, a toothpick is all you need. Identify where the thread is stuck and use the toothpick to gently pull the threads until they are separated from the teeth. Once loose, use scissors to cut the thread, and remove the thread pieces.

    Take care not to warp the teeth as you pull the thread loose, a little bit of patience goes a long way.

  2. Mend a zip with crooked teeth using pliers.

    The steps for how to fix a jeans zipper or other zip with crooked teeth are as simple as the problem is common. First, pull the zipper head over the area with the bent teeth, and gently squeeze the head with pliers. This will straighten the crooked teeth. Finish up by giving the zipper a good clean using a mild soap, such as Dove, paying particular attention to the area you have just fixed.

  3. Use graphite or candle wax to fix a stuck zip.

    First, rub a graphite-based pencil or wax candle back and forth over the zip front, then repeat over the back of the zip too. Next, leave it to soak for 2 minutes before pulling your zipper head up and down over the area you have just rubbed with graphite or wax. If it's still a little sticky, repeat these step until your zip's movement is smooth and normal again.

  4. A zip that's opening from the bottom is simple to rectify.

    If you spot broken or missing teeth you'll need to know how to put a zipper back on, as it will require replacing. Remove the broken zip and follow the steps above for sewing in a zip. If you can’t replace the zip, why not check out our guide for how to sew a button on clothing as a great alternative.

    If neither of these issues are on your zip, use a pair of pliers to press the two sides of the zipper head together gently. This should allow it to align the zipper teeth closer as it pulls closed and eliminate the issue.

How to sew an invisible zipper into a dress or other clothes

Sewing an invisible zipper is a great way to achieve a flat finish to a dress, skirt or even trousers. Read on for our six easy steps for how to sew an invisible zipper with ease.

  1. Attach your zipper foot to your machine.

    You may need to move the needle in line with the edge of the foot to allow you to sew close to the zipper teeth but not on them.

  2. Make sure your zip is an invisible one.

    These have teeth that face to the back of the zip. Line it up with the inside of the seam you wish to sew it into.

  3. Now, there are two options!

    Press the teeth of the zip away from the tape. This will give you a line visible on the tape close to the teeth which you can use as a sewing guide.

    Tack your zip onto your fabric. If you are using a standard zipper foot on your sewing machine, this may be an easier option.

  4. Sew along the edge of the teeth on one side of the zip.

    Keep as close as possible to the zipper teeth but take care not to sew on them.

  5. Check that your zip can be fastened.

    If not, you may have to unpick and restitch.

  6. If it can be fastened...

    Open it up and sew up the other side.

If you are using this guide for dress zipper repair, you may not need a brand-new zip. Instead, attach your zipper foot to your machine and follow steps 3-6 to add new stitches to fix your zip.

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With this simple guide, you should now know how to fix a zipper, including knowing how to put a zipper back on and sewing an invisible zip. Remember, always check the label before washing your zippered items, and if it allows, use a fabric conditioner with your detergent to make them smell wonderful!

Frequently asked questions about how to sew zips and mend a zip that's broken

My zipper came off, how can I put it back on?

If you're wondering how to fix a zipper that came off, don't panic. Simply cut off the zipper stop and slide the zipper pull back on. Once the pull is in place, use some pliers to gently press the pull onto the zipper teeth to tighten the fit. Ensure you tack the bottom to stop the pull falling off again.

What thread should I use when sewing in a zip?

Polyester thread is the ideal option for most every project you may set your hand to. Ideally you want to try and match the colour of the thread as closely as possible to the zipper you are sewing. It is worth noting that if you are working with more unusual fabrics such as leather, you may need to use a sturdier thread to sew in your zips.

What is an invisible zip?

An invisible zip - as the name suggests - is one which cannot be seen on the outside of a garment. The teeth face the inside of the zipper, and the zip pull is usually smaller than standard zips, allowing it to be inconspicuous. Knowing how to sew an invisible zipper is the ideal way to achieve a smooth, flawless finish.

Originally published