Tag Archives: How to sew a lapped zip

Lapped Zipper Tutorial: like my Mamma taught me

Howdy doody.  As mentioned in my Simplicity 2154 post I wondered whether I should share the way that I was taught to sew in a zip.  Apparently it is a lapped zipper & for some it is a sewing milestone, perhaps due to it being more of a vintage method?  I don’t know.   Anyway, here follows a bit of a lapped zipper tutorial.  For me it was just the basic way to sew in a zip, taught to me by my Mum, so in true “handed down the generations” stylee, like the family recipe for yorkshire puddings, lemon cheesecake or plain old spag bol, here is how we do it our way.  It is a bit different, only a bit, from how I’ve seen others do it.  You might prefer it, you may not – up to you!  (No prizes for spotting the special guest appearance by world class sewing machine fluff)

So I will assume that you have go to the bit where you sew your zip in.  As for any regular zip you should have sewn your seam – whether it is your centre back, side seam or even centre front for one of those groovy zipped up all in ones – yes, you should have sewn it up leaving it open where the zip will be sewn.  I also finish the seam allowances at this stage, all the way up, even where the zip will be.

OK, next we are ready to place the zip.

Place the zip face down on the right side of the fabric.  You are going to sew on the reverse of the zip tape on the side of the tape closest to the fabric edge through zip tape & fabric.  First you need to mark your stitching line 5/8″ from the fabric edge as close to the zip teeth as you would normally (usually about 1/8″ would it be?).  You see I am lazy & try to avoid basting as much as possible, but feel free to pin then baste through all layers in a line that will also be a guide for your stitching.

See here using your zip foot, sew along the stitching line you have marked.  You will need to start with your zip open, then a good way before you get to the zip pull, stop stitching, leave your needle down & lift up your zip foot.  Turning the fabric + zip slightly pivoting on the downward needle, you can carefully pull the zip closed before continuing (remember to straighten your fabric & put your zip foot down first!)

Next flip around to the right side – you see you have sewn the first half of your zip without a visible stitching line -I prefer this to the method that involves an edge-stitched edge.  (This is the bit that I think is different from what I have seen) If need be, press this seam.

Now, head on over to the other edge of your opening & press 5/8″ to the wrong side.  If it is like this chiffon & doesn’t stay pressed very easily, you can also pin or baste it in place.

Bring the newly pressed edge across the zip sewn in so far so that the folded edge reaches a position neatly over the zip, just slightly overlapping the other seam/zip edge.  Keep it nice & straight.  The next part may involve some trial & error to get the position of the seam line right – I’m using pins to mark where I shall sew – as close as I can be to the zip, but not too close that the zip gets snarled up in the fabric.  Before you baste, make sure you can run the zip up & down with the pins there & adjust if necessary.  Also mark across the bottom edge of the lap just above the bottom of the zip (shown in the pic but not quite right angled – derr!).  This will be a right angle from the zip seam & forms the end of the lapped zip edge.

As before, you will be sewing with the zip open to start with, then half way through, stop, needle down & zip foot up to swivel the zip closed (that’s what’s happening in the picture).  Straighten fabric, put the foot down & carry on to the end.  When you reach the end of your stitching line, follow your intended end of the lapped zip edge, leaving your needle down, lift your zip foot & turn 90 degrees to make some stitches across the bottom of the lapped edge finishing at the already sewn seam below the zip.

There, you’re done.  Did that make sense?