Learn all about how to use a zipper foot! The zipper is such a great invention that no dressmaker can ever imagine what life in the sewing room would be like without it. Then, of course, a zipper needs a specialized foot to ensure it sews up perfectly.
If you are going to sew a zipper into your garment, don’t attempt this process without a zipper foot. This tutorial will show you how to use a zipper foot for sewing a centered zipper, as well as several other useful applications.
What is a Zipper Foot?
The sewing zipper foot enables the sewing machine needle to stitch close to the raised edge of the zipper. It can be attached to the machine’s presser foot holder and has the added advantage of being able to attach to the right or the left side. As well as sewing zippers, the zipper foot can be used to create and sew piping and cording.
Your zipper presser foot will look slightly different depending on your brand of machine. The foot on the left is from my modern Janome, and the one on the right is from my mother's older Singer machine.
The attachment may vary from a snap-on to a screw-on version depending on your machine’s specifications. Check your sewing machine manual for the correct zipper foot to sew regular zippers.
How to Use a Zipper Foot Step by Step Tutorial
Start by looking at the zipper and where you plan to place it on your garment. Will you have an opening in the middle of the seam and a center placing, or will the zipper seam be lapping over to the left or the right? Before you start using the sewing zipper foot, decide on the different options that suit your garment.
How to Use a Zipper Foot for a Centered Zipper
Here are the steps for how to sew a zipper.
Step 1 - Baste the Seam
Mark the length of the zip on the fabric. Stitch your seam (regular stitch length) up to the point where the zipper will start (black stitching).
Baste (long stitch length) the rest of the seam where the zipper will be with a long stitch length (red stitching).
Finish the seam allowances. Press the seam allowances open.
Step 2 - Stitch the Zipper
Close the top of the zipper. On the wrong side of the fabric, place the zipper teeth centered under the basted stitching line. This means the right side of the zipper is against the open seam.
The zipper stop will be where the basting ends and the top of the zipper will be at the top raw edge.
Pin or baste in place.
Attach the sewing machine zipper foot to the machine. Set your machine to a regular straight stitch on the left side of the foot. This would normally be with the middle needle position. Follow the machine instructions for your particular brand of machine. Lower the zipper foot.
With the right side of the fabric facing up, stitch along the zipper opening down to the bottom. Pivot the needle and stitch across the end of the zipper.
Make several back and forth stitches with the machine to form a bar at the end of the zipper to act as a stopper. Return to the other side and repeat sewing.
Step 3 - Unpick the Basting
Both sides should be stitched now. Using a seam ripper, remove the basting stitches from the center seam line down the zip opening.
How to Use a Zipper Foot - Other Zipper Applications
Here is how a zipper foot helps sew different styles of zippers:
This zipper is hidden in the seam and appears to be invisible. The only part of this zipper that should be visible is the pull at the top. The zipper foot helps the machine to sew close to the edge and keep the zipper concealed. You can sew an invisible zip with a standard zipper foot or purchase invisible zipper feet that have a groove in the bottom to go over the teeth. Read my full tutorial on how to sew an invisible zipper.
The zipper foot enables one side of the zipper to be stitched close to the zipper while the opposite and wider side laps over. Having a zipper foot makes the lapped zipper easier to sew, resulting in a neatly stitched side.
Fly Front Zipper
The fly front zipper has a fly front facing and can be a little tricky. The zipper foot gives a neat edge and helps with careful stitching to create a really smart-looking fly.
More About the Sewing Machine Zipper Foot
Zippers are used for a wide range of items, including bags, sports gear, jackets and pants, and all kinds of camping and outdoor wear. The zipper, sewn correctly, is a force to be reckoned with.
The zipper foot allows the machine needle to sew neatly and close to the edge. After using a zipper foot, you will never want to sew in a zipper without one.
Many sewers want to avoid inserting a zipper. However, with a zipper foot, they may well change their minds. The zipper foot set correctly will stop you from sewing over the teeth of the zipper.
Features of Different Types of Zipper Feet
Here are some of the features of different types of zipper feet.
- STANDARD ZIPPER FOOT - These are normally supplied with most machines and have a narrow central ‘toe’ with cutouts on either side that can stitch very close to the zipper mechanism. This allows you to use a central needle position.
- ADJUSTABLE ZIPPER FOOT - These have an adjustable positioning to the left or to the right. They are particularly useful for topstitching and creating piping.
- INVISIBLE ZIPPER FOOT - Several makes of machine have an invisible zipper foot available. The invisible zipper foot has grooves underneath to guide the coils of the zipper as the stitching takes place.
What Else Can a Zipper Foot Do?
The zipper foot is a great help with sewing and making piping. The zipper foot is able to get close to the edge of the piping and stitch neatly along the edge. The zipper foot is able to sew close to the piping without sewing over it.
The zipper foot is ideal for stitching cording and is often used in soft furnishings to add decorative inserts to cushions and chair covers.
How to Use a Zipper Foot for Piping:
How to Use a Zipper Foot FAQs
Where to buy a zipper foot
A zipper foot is standard equipment for most machines and they should come with one. If you need to purchase one, check your local dealer for your sewing machine's brand of foot. There are also many other generic after-market feet that can also work quite well.
Do you have to use a zipper foot to sew a zipper?
Yes, it is best to use a zipper foot to sew a zipper. Without one, it is hard to sew close to the teeth of the zipper. A zipper foot will enable you to sew close to the teeth giving a clean professional look to your home sewing.
Do you have to use an invisible zipper foot?
Invisible zippers can either be sewn with a specialty invisible zipper foot that has grooves underneath or a regular zipper foot. While you can sew slightly closer to the teeth with the specialty foot, you will still get good results with a regular zipper foot.
How to Use a Zipper Foot - In Conclusion
The zipper foot is a really useful tool and accessory for every sewing machine. Learning how to use a zipper foot will give you a ‘zippedy doo dah’ moment as you celebrate your new skill and ability to sew a zipper into a garment neatly and professionally.
More Zipper Tutorials
- How to Shorten a Zipper
- How to Sew a Zipper
- Types of Zipper
- How to Sew an Exposed Zipper
- How to Cover Zipper Ends
- How to Sew an Invisible Zipper
- How to Fix a Zipper
- Sewing a Zipper Pocket
- How to Use a Zipper Foot