How to Install a Zipper

by Mary

A lot of folks are afraid of zippers, but I have learned that they make a project look professionally finished in ways that other closures do not. So, I got over my fear of zippers when I slipcovered some patio chairs a while back and just recently installed a zipper into some new slipcovers that I made for my IKEA chair cushions (for how I slipcovered them, see How to Slipcover IKEA or Patio Chair Cushions). Here’s how added a zipper.

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I started by tucking under the fabric to create a hem and leaving only enough room for a zipper to close (using a pinch of my fingers as my guide for how much room to leave). My thumb is touching the end of the cushion that is inside.

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I pinned down the fabric so that it wouldn’t shift when I would soon pin the zipper to the inside.

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I removed the cushion with the pinned hem, turned the fabric inside out, and ensured that any seam on the inside would be flattened so that the hem would be sewn over the seam appropriately for best results.

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Next, I pinned in the zipper, starting at the beginning points and making sure to work with both sides at the same time, unzipping as I went. I allowed a 1/4-inch from the top of the zipper to the outside top of the fabric’s hem, but you can place your zipper closer to the edge if you wish! Doing so will show more of the zipper and less of the hem.

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Here, I am trying to demonstrate how you will want your zipper beginning points to overlap and touch so that when the zipper is closed all the way, the points will meet nicely. The red pin is right where the points meet.

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This is what the end of the zipper will look like. You will have a flap that will need to be tucked inside and stitched.

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Here is what that flap will look like on the inside. You need to give a few stitches to both sides of the flap (where the machine foot is as well as where the pin is in this photo). This gets sewn along the seam that earlier was flattened out.

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Sew along the rest of the zipper, removing pins as you go.

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As you can see, you will know if you’ve done it correctly if you can zip up your piece and the points meet appropriately at the end!

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I’m no professional, but at least it looks clean and closes with no holes and none of the cushion peeking through it! Success, as far as I’m concerned! Hopefully, you can see that putting in a zipper is not really all that hard after all!


Mary Toepfer