The Zipper Series: How To Install A Centered Zipper?
As promised, here’s a little zipper tutorial for sewers that are a bit scared of zippers, or for those who don’t know this easy zipper technique yet. I’m installing a centered zipper and I’m using this method in a pillow case panel... So If you follow my steps, you just need to sew another panel onto the zipper panel and you have a lovely pillowcase!
A centered zipper is a hidden zipper, and I’m using an all-purpose closed end zipper for this project. While this is a hidden zipper, it isn’t a concealed zipper, for which you need to use an invisible zipper. The zipper is centered along a seam and is not exposed, and there is an equal seam distance from either side.
A centered zipper is also used in garment sewing, for the back of a skirt (with an all-purpose zipper) or in the front of jackets (with a separating zipper).
If you are using a pattern, you will get info on what zipper to purchase. If you are not sure, measure the opening and remember that zipper sizes refer to the length of the teeth in the zipper, not the length of the tape the teeth are attached to.
For a pillowcase you will need: 3 pieces of fabric: 1 pillow front and 2 back pieces.
When you are cutting your pillow back, you'll take the measurement of the pillow front (16" x 16" for instance), divide the height into 2 (top to bottom...I like my zipper to run horizontally in the middle), and add a half inch for seam allowance (so, my 2 pillow back pieces would be cut at 16" width x 8.5" height). Then – ideally – you'll need a zipper that is about 3 inches shorter than the width of the panels.
To avoid frustration because your fabric twists when topstitching the zipper, just fuse some light-weight fusible interfacing to the seam and zipper area before you begin. The fusible interfacing will stabilize the fabric, preventing it from stretching or warping as you sew.
Place the right sides together, and at what will be your zipper seam, draw/mark a 1.5" mark (shown below on the right and left edge).
My pillow is a big long one for my garden chair, and the zipper is one that I had in my stash. The width of my pillow is 20 inches, and the zipper is 13.5”, so I measured 3.25” at each side.
Pin the 2 parts together, right sides facing
Then, stitch (2.5 stitch length and 1/2" seam allowance) to the ends you’ve marked, and backstitch at the marks. Between the marks set your machine to a very large straight stitch – a basting stitch: 1/2” seam allowance and at least 5 stitch length.
Reason: the ends need to be stitched well, the zipper will not lie there. The zipper will lie between the 2 marks...we basted that part to keep it straight and we will remove the basting stitch afterwards.
Iron your seam allowance open.
Now you have 2 different options:
With a glue stick, you can stick your zipper to the seam. Apply glue on each side of the zipper tape and carefully place, face down, on top of your seam. The zipper coil lines up perfectly down the center of the seam. Press firmly, and let the glue set for a couple of minutes.
You can also use double sided fusible webbing or seam tape to stick the zipper onto the seam. To use webbing, cut pieces approximately the length of your zipper and place along either side of the seam allowance (not too close to the seam itself...I'd even say closer to the edge of the seam allowance as shown below).
Lay your zipper straight and centered (carefully so as not to move the webbing). And fuse it down with your iron...slowly (but not too slowly...wouldn't want to melt any zipper teeth)!
Place your zipper foot on your machine. I’m using the adjustable zipper foot that comes with the MadamSew 32 PCS Ultimate Presser Foot Set. Number 20 in the set. You can adjust the position of this foot easily and stitch on the left or right side of the foot, which is great if your machine doesn’t have that many needle positions like mine.
The adjustable zipper foot is a screw-on foot so you need to remove your presser foot holder and the snap on foot of your machine to screw this foot onto your machine. Adjust the position of the foot with the orange thumb screw in the back.
I line up the foot so that I can stitch ¼” away from the zipper tape’s edge.
Start on the lower right edge...no need to backstitch just yet. Pivot just below the zipper stop...Watch out not to sew over it, as that could break your needle. Stitch all the way around and then backstitch over where you began.
Flip your fabric over and clip or rip open your basting stitches with a seam ripper… very carefully!
And that’s it! You have your centered zipper!
And I have my pillow case for my garden chair cushion!
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