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How to Prepare to Sew a Centered Zipper on a Sewing Machine

Learn how to prepare to sew a centered zipper with a sewing machine from designer Jennifer Wiese in this Howcast tutorial.


Hi. I'm Jennifer from Workroom Social, and I'm going to show you how to install a centered zipper.

The first thing that we want to do when we install a centered zipper is we want to measure and mark the placement of the zipper in our seam. I'm just going to line my zipper up here with the edge of my fabric. I'm going to mark where the zipper stops. To mark that placement I'm just going to take my scissors and make a little notch right into the seam allowance, like an eighth of an inch or quarter of an inch notch.

Now, if you're sewing a garment from a pattern your pattern will have this mark on the pattern piece. So you don't need to necessarily measure your zipper out. You can just make your mark from the pattern.

Now I want to sew my seam from this notch down. Before I install my zipper I want to make sure that the bottom is right, is sewn. I'm going to put my fabric in my sewing machine. I'm going to line up. I'm doing five-eighths of an inch seam allowance. I'm going to line up the raw edge of the fabric with my five-eighths mark, and then I'm going to line the needle up with that notch that I made.

Now, before you do anything, I always recommend going back to check your stitch and length to make sure. If you just came off of sewing a zigzag or something, you want to make sure you're doing straight. I'm going to select my straight stitch, and then I'm going to sew my seam at a 2.5 stitch length.

Now, since this is going to be the end of the zipper, I am going to backstitch to really hold that stitching in secure. I went forward and back, and now I'm just going to go ahead and finish that whole seam.

Our seam is complete, and you can see what we've done here. Let's clip these threads. We have the bottom of our zipper. It's going to match here, and then our zipper is going to placed up at the top.

For the centered zipper application we're going to baste the seam closed first. I'm going to go back to my stitch length and I'm going to select a four, which is my basting stitch. I'm going to put my fabric back in my sewing machine. It's the same seam allowance, five-eighths of an inch or whatever your pattern calls for, and I'm going to go ahead and stitch down until I connect with the line that I've already sewn.

This is what it will look like after our fabric is prepared. We have our seam and then we have our basted area where our zipper is going to go.

Now it's time to take this fabric to the iron. We've prepared our seams and now we're going to press our seam allowances open. You'll take your fabric, wrong side face up so that your seam is facing you. I'm just going to take the iron and press these seam allowances open. Now, the seam I'm going to press nicely so that it's nice and flat. Then I'm going to come up and do the basted area. After you're done ironing it will look like this.

Now what we want to do is take our zipper and pin it in place on our seam. So we have our notches that we made in the seam allowances, this cut portion, and I'm going to line up the bottom of the zipper with that line and just place it down the middle.

Now, it's not a great idea to pin on your ironing board, but I do it all the time. When I do, I like to use these rulers just underneath where you're pinning so that you don't pin into your ironing board. I'm going to put that in place and center my zipper. Then I'm going to take some pins and just secure the zipper in the middle. You'll want to pin on both sides and so your zipper is now in place.

Now, when we sew this we're going to sew it from the opposite side because we want to make sure that we have a really nice looking stitch. We're going to flip this over and now we're going to pin again to hold the zipper in place. But, when we're done we're going to come to the back side and take these pins out. We don't want zippers on the underside of where we're stitching because then you might accidentally sew over one.

It's important to transfer all the pins from the back so that you don't accidentally sew over a zipper when you're stitching. At the same time, I think it's important to pin first from the back so that you know that your zipper is centered. It's kind of hard to pin directly from the front because you can't see what you're pinning. So this is pinned and secure, and now we're ready to take this to the sewing machine.

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