Something I hear rather too often in sewing circles is “I’m scared of zips”. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. Are you actually SCARED of zips? If you saw a zip lying on a table would you have to leave the room or phone a brave friend to safely capture the zip and release it into the wild? Of course not. So let’s start by changing that language…
What you actually mean is that you don’t feel confident sewing zips. If it’s something you’ve never done, something you don’t do very often, or even something you’ve tried a few times but struggled with, then that is totally understandable. New things are rarely easy, especially if you go in with the mindset that the tasks is too hard or something you can’t do. And that’s the reason I gave the I CAN Zip Hoodie that name. Whilst I’m going to steer you firmly away from the concept of “scared” I will concede that you perhaps feel worried that you might not do a good job. That’s ok! All of these feeling are completely normal when approaching something new for the first time. They are only a problem if you allow them to stop you in your tracks.
I think a really important thing to keep in mind is that zips are just another piece of your garment. Try to treat them like any other pattern piece. When was the last time you were scared of a sleeve or a hood? Once you’ve got your head around the idea of zips not being a source of fear then jump in and give them a go. Remember…practice makes progress!
Tips for Zip Success
But before you head to the sewing machine (with your seam ripper…just incase!) check out these top tips for success with zips. If you are a beginner or feeling daunted at the thought of sewing a zip, these will help you achieve the best result possible.
Take your time!
Zips (and the topstitching that accompanies them) are not something to be attempted for the first time when you’re in a hurry. Read through each step in your pattern instructions thoroughly. Then set your workspace and machine up carefully, and go slowly.
Use a zip foot
This is a special foot for your sewing machine that allows you to sew close to a zip without the zip teeth getting in the way. Most machines, even the most basic models come with a zip foot. If you don’t have one, it’s worth investing in one if you’d like to make patterns that use zip fastenings. They are generally inexpensive and really are a great tool. If you have to sew without a zip foot then move your needle as far to one side as your machine will allow.
Washaway sewing tape
Washaway sewing tape can also be called wondertape or quilting tape. This is my No. 1 tool when it comes to sewing zips. It’s magic double sided tape that sticks your zip in place against your fabric and prevents any stretching or movement that might occur. It then disappears when you wash your garment! If you are a beginner or find zips challenging then definitely get some washaway tape before sew your next zip. I promise you’ll thank me later.
Interfacing isn’t always included in zip pattern instructions as, depending on the specific design, it could be visible on the inside of the garment. Plus, if you follow all the other tips you may not need it. However, if you are really struggling, or using a particularly challenging fabric then interfacing can help. Apply a strip of light interfacing, on the wrong side of the fabric, along the fabric edges where the zip will be attached. It will provide extra stability to the fabric and prevent it from stretching as you sew, helping you get a neater finish.
And most importantly…have realistic expectations!
If you’ve never sewn a zip before, don’t expect your first one to be absolutely perfect and sewn to a professional standard. You wouldn’t do this in other parts of your life. Everything takes time and practice with zips is no different. Aim to sew a wearable and functional garment. Your first one will help you learn and improve when it comes to making your second one.
Check out all the different Waves & Wild patterns that include a zip.
Back to Cool Backpack
[the Back to Cool Backpack is an intermediate level pattern with options and tips for advanced beginners]
Cool Time Lunch Bag
[the Cool Time Lunch Bag is an intermediate level pattern]
[the Hygge is an intermediate level pattern with some advanced beginner options]
I CAN Zip Hoodie
[the I CAN Zip Hood is an advanced beginner level pattern and has guidelines specifically for those looking to attempt their first zip]
Sunshine Swim Romper
[the Sunshine Swim Romper is an intermediate level pattern]
Twist & Shout Trousers
[the Twist & Shout Trousers is an intermediate level pattern with some enthusiastic beginner options]
Zip Zap Coverall
[the Zip Zap Coverall is an intermediate level pattern]