2 Best ways to sew { Exposed zippers }

Exposed zipper – Sewing instructions

The lame ordinary zipper is passe.Enter the EXPOSED ZIPPER. They do make a fashion statement. They sure tell all that you are serious about fashion. My daughter will buy anything with an exposed zipper. She thinks they add an x element to the garment.

You can incorporate this zipper into your garment in many ways. You can sew it on a pocket on pants, on the back of your very feminine top , on the front center seam of your tunic, on your skirt as decorative element and most commonly as side zipper for your fitted dress. They look best against masculine prints and plain fabrics

Most of the time you sew a dress with a seam, center or otherwise. It is easy inserting the exposed zipper on these seams. What about dresses without any center seam. You can insert the exposed zipper on fabrics without seams also. Here I will give the Exposed zipper stitching tutorial to sew it in  two different ways – on to a seam and without a seam.

You will get a 1/2″ exposed zipper with this tutorial, not completely exposed as such if it were sewn from outside, but partly exposed unlike the other zippers.

How to insert and sew Exposed zipper ( Visible zipper ) on fabric with a seam. 

how to sew zip

Decide on the length of the zipper you want ( account for seam allowance on neckline – 1/2″). Mark the zipper ending on the two pieces of fabric.

On the wrong side of both the fabrics, apply a strip of 1″ wide interfacing at the seam area of the two fabrics where the zipper will be applied. Start the zipper interfacing 1/2 inch from the top edge Point H in the diagram ( leave 1/2″ on top for the top seam allowance)

(This is an optional step but highly recommended by all professionals. Zippers tax your seams so if you have interfacing there your garment will last longer.I haven’t done it here as it is an example piece but I think you should do)

Step 1. Make the PATTERN – Mark two seam lines. 1. D-F which is the regular seam line with 1/2 inch seam allowance. ( FInish the edges of the fabric first before marking this otherwise this seam allowance will be further decreased) 2. E- C which is zipper opening. Mark C  2/8 inch from the point D. Go up straight to the top edge.From C make a diagonal cut upwards to G about 1/2 inch to the raw edge as in the picture given.

Step 2. Stitch a plain seam on D-F with the two fabrics right sides together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. DO NOT STITCH E-C.

how to sew exposed zipper
Step 3. Cut the diagonal mark to the point G. Press the seam allowance of both the seam allowance at zipper opening to either of the sides.Press open the seam allowance of the seam you have stitched at D-F. 

exposed zipper tutorial

Step 4. You have a zipper opening now which is right for the exposed zipper.

how to sew a zip

Step 5. Turn fabric to right side. Keep the zipper below the opening. Pin in place or better baste it there with a needle and thread.

Step 6. On the other side catch the tab and zipper together and make a horizontal stitch there. This will finish the end raw edge. 

how to sew a zipper

Step 7. Topstitch along the edges around the zip on the right side. ( Use zipper foot here)

how to sew zippers

Method 2.
Another option which makes the topstitching unnecessary is to stitch along the sides through the inside of the fold together with the zipper for both the sides. This way no stitch will be visible on the outside. Ensure that you have the zipper foot on. If there is any seam allowance in the back extending from behind the zipper , trim it away.

How to sew an exposed zipper without a seam

Method 1.

This involves sewing a facing for the opening.

Step 1. Mark the center seam of the bodice pattern.

exposed zipper

Take a strip of cloth 1 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch longer than the zip. Finish the edges with an overlock or zig zag stitch.

Mark the center line for the zipper opening in this strip. 

exposed zipper

Mark a box for zipper opening 1/2 inch wide with a center seam as the diagram above.Just 1/4 inch short of the end make a diagonal mark as in the picture 

Keep this along the center seam marked on the pattern. pin in place.

Step 2. Stitch through the box lines, pivoting at the bottom to create a horizontal stitching line.

Cut through the center line and the diagonal lines at the end.

exposed zipper

Step 3. Turn the facing to the other side.how to sew zip

Place the zipper under the cloth and top stitch in place. Don’t forget to pin the top of the zip to the inside like below.


exposed zip

exposed zipper

Method 2. First of all sew the zip tabs together at the bottom with a hand needle and thread.

Mark the centre fold by a notch. Mark down 1/2 inch from the top edge( for seam allowance)

From there apply a 1 1/4″ strip of interfacing till the zip ending.Cut straight down till1/4 above the mark for zipper ending and then Make 2 diagonal snips as shown in the method above 2/8 inch to both sides. keep the zip face down on the right side of the cloth. Turn down the top portion of the zip to the raw edge and pin in place. You can baste the zip in place or pin as I do. Stitch along the edge till end. Start again from the other side and stitch again till the zip end
Now on the back sew across the base of the triangular cut stitching the zip and the traingle shape together. This will attach the zip securely at the bottom.This application will have no visible stitches on the rightside  of the garment. Then when you apply a facing for the neckline, if you make it such that it covers the zipper area too, then this method is the ultimate

To know more about zippers Checkout the post on the different types of zippers and their different parts. 

Related posts

best ways to sew zippers  sew invisible zipper


Comments 1

  1. Yipee! Someone cares! Thank you for your special tutorials. You have been a dream come true. Helping others with the skills you have will definitely make you a more satisfied person fulfilling your God-filling purpose. You have been a great help. I look forward to knowing more especially on sewing techniques. Thanks again

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