Zip it up | An Instruction on How to Fix a Zip

A step by step for anyone wanting to sew or repair a zip.

These steps can be used for skirts, dresses, and pants generally on the side seam or center back, finishing off with a waistband. If your drafting your own pattern allow yourself a 1.5cm seam for this finish. Whilst an invisible zip offers a clean look, the choice for a durable and longer lasting wear would be a metal tooth zip.

NB: The button or zip flap on Men’s clothing items always opens left over right, Women’s clothing is usually the opposite (right over left) this is generally true in regards to button up shirts and skirts however with unisex items such as jeans they will most likely follow the opening direction for Men’s clothing.

WHY…? There are a few ideas floating around as to why Men’s jackets, shirts and pants  specifically open with the flap left over right, however during my training the history was due to the fact of a gentleman’s sword being worn on the left hand side and drawn out with his right hand. If his tunic opening was right over left it would likely get caught on his clothing. Therefore the serious swordsman would indeed have his tunic made with the opening left over right so as not to interfere with the need to quickly draw upon his sword…

..Back to the zip instructions; a couple of things to remember before starting:

Pins are helpful and will keep everything in place, also be sure to back tack at the end and beginning of every stitching line (unless it is a stay stitch) a good rule of thumb is 3 back, 3 forward.

  1. Open the zip and pin the right side of the zip to the right side of the fabric, using a zipper foot stay stitch the zip in place with a 5mm (1/4 inch) seam, repeat on the other side; NB -If you are using lining stay stitch this in as well making sure to sew the right side of the lining to the right side of the fabric with the zip in between. Close zip to check it is sitting even and flat at the top & through any seam lines.
  2. There will be a small gap between the bottom of the zip and the side or center back seam. To close this opening, use your zipper foot and sew towards the bottom of the zip, lining up the seam line with the stay stitch lines; move the zip to the side to allow the needle to get as close as you can to the stay stitch lines. Repeat this to the lining as well.
  3. Lay the item flat on your work space with the zip up. Decide which way your zip will open (left over right/right over left) and adjust the overlap so that it is in-line with the seam and just covers the zip, pin in place. This will conceal the zip and give a finished look. LINING: When pinning the overlap make sure the lining is also sitting flat and out of the way.
  4. External stitching line – Starting from the bottom of the zip back tack a horizontal stitching line across the zip to your desired width for the overlap (good width is between 10-12mm), take care avoiding the zips closure and pins. Keeping this width sew a straight line towards the top of the zip. Stop at least two inches before the zip and with the needle down, open the zip past the needle and continue your stitching your line making sure your width and line stays the same/straight.
  5. Bag out your waistband and add button or a hook and eye for closure.