Installing a zipper may seem a little intimating, but I am here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be. Sewing machine zipper feet make it so easy. Also, they open up a whole new world of projects that you can do.
What Can I Do With Sewing Machine Zipper Feet?
In addition to using them for installing zippers, they can also be used for other reasons. You can use them to create and insert piping. They are also ideal accessories for when you need to sew areas that have a lot of bulk.
What Do Sewing Machine Zipper Feet Look Like?
Zipper feet come in many different styles. Although the styles can vary, their purpose is the same.
There will always be an extension off the front of the sewing machine zipper feet and a small indentation for the needle to get as close to the fabric as possible. Most machines nowadays come with a snap-on zipper foot; however, not all zipper feet are snap ons.
Also, notice how the one on the far left has a small hole in the center. This is for center needle position. Please note, not all zipper feet have this option. Availability will vary depending on the make and model of your machine. Just a quick note, not all machines can change their needle position, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use a zipper foot. Check out our other video on the adjustable zipper foot. This foot allows you to move the zipper foot instead of the needle. I will include a link for it at the end of the attached video.
How Do I Install A Centered Zipper?
Prepare The Fabric
There are many different ways to install zippers, but today, I will show you a couple of options. For the first method (top), we’ll do a centered zipper and for the second one (bottom), an exposed zipper. First, start with finishing the edges of the fabric. You can use an overcast foot on your sewing machine or if you have a serger, that is a great option. If you don’t have either of those options, you can use a zig zag stitch to finish the edges. If you aren’t certain how to use an overcast foot, I will include a video for that too at the end of the attached video.
Prepare The Zipper
With your general-purpose foot and with the right sides of your fabric together, machine baste the seam where the zipper will be inserted. When basting use a long stitch length like 4 to 5 mm. Make sure you don’t backstitch when you are basting. Press the seam open. To prepare your zipper, place the zipper face down with the teeth directly on the seam line. The top stop placement will vary depending on your pattern instructions. Baste the zipper in place; you can hand baste, pin, or, my personal preference, use basting tape.
Sewing The Centered Zipper Using The Zipper Foot
Now, remove your all-purpose foot and snap on your sewing machine zipper foot. Sew along the bottom of the zipper, making sure that you don’t sew the zipper. With your needle down, lift up your foot, pivot, and lower your foot. Now, move your needle position to the side of the zipper foot closest to the zipper teeth and sew along the side of the zipper. When you get to the end, cut your thread and then repeat for the other side.
How Do I Install An Exposed Zipper?
Prepare The Fabric
For an exposed zipper, you prepare your fabric a little differently. First, you need to finish the edges of the fabric. Again, you can use a serger, an overcast foot, or a zig zag stitch. This time, fold the fabric, according to your pattern’s instructions, and press.
Prepare The Zipper
For best results, baste in the zipper. Next, place the folded edge of the fabric next to the teeth. You can get right up to them. I find it easiest to use basting tape as it’s so quick and it works great; just make sure that you choose one that you can sew through. Some basting tape specifies not to sew over it, because it will gunk up your needle. Because of this, I like to use water-soluble temporary basting tape.
Sewing The Exposed Zipper Using the Zipper Foot
You can now bring your zipper to the sewing machine. Place the zipper foot according to the look that you are going for. You can move it really close or move it out a bit and you can also adjust your needle position. Make sure that the sewing machine needle will not hit the foot. You can do this by slowly rotating the handwheel towards you, checking where the needle will drop. Once you find that it won’t hit the foot, you can sew the fabric onto the zipper. I find this installation method easier as you simply stitch down each side of the zipper. You may desire to sew across the bottom of the zipper; however, it will likely be inserted into a different seam so it is normally not necessary.
What Else Can Sewing Machine Zipper Feet Be Used For?
In addition to installing zippers, the zipper foot is also helpful when it comes to situations where you need to get really close. An example would be bulky decorative trim. As previously mentioned, it is great for creating and inserting piping.
How Do I Make Piping?
To make your piping, lay your cording within a strip of fabric and wrap the fabric around the cord. You can use Wonder Clips, fabric clips, or pins. Now you can bring your piping to the sewing machine. Place your zipper foot close to the piping and, if possible, adjust your needle position to the left as much as it is needed. Sew in the cording.
How Do I Insert Piping?
Now you’ve made your piping but you can also you the zipper foot to insert your piping. On the bottom, place your fabric right side up and lay your piping with the piping facing inwards. Now lay your other piece of fabric, right side down. With your fabric sandwich ready, bring it to the sewing machine. Place the zipper foot on the right side of the piping and ensure that the needle is on the left of the foot, closest to the piping. Move your needle position if needed. You want to be as close to the piping as you can. Now you can sew along the piping.
The zipper foot is so versatile. I hope you can now go install some zippers with confidence. Until next time, Happy Sewing, Everybody!