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Exposed Zipper Tutorial {a tutorial for knits}

2013 November 21

Today we’re heading back into the folder of things I have photographed that I keep around for emergencies. It’s not a true emergency, but maybe a hiccup in bloggy terms. I have really not touched my sewing machine since last Friday so I don’t have anything new to post. I know – it’s crazy! I think I over-estimated my ability to do everything last week and then NOT crash this week! Anyhow, my daughter has also gotten the flu and so I have a little bit of an excuse.

A while ago I posted my oldest’s Banyan Tee with an exposed back zipper. I have had these tutorial photos available since the post and was just reminded I should actually write the tutorial! I love this look. It’s fun, and adds a bit of designey-oomf to the back of a shirt.

You’ll need a zipper in the length you would like and a glue stick. Preferably an Elmer’s Extreme glue stick as I’ve found it works the best. The length of the zipper varies depending on the size of the shirt wearer. I used one about 8″ long with super-cool kid friendly rainbow coloured teeth. Since I made this shirt from scratch these instructions are on an un-constructed shirt.  You could do this with a ready-made shirt, but the process is a bit more difficult because the shirt can not open out to be flat.

Here we go:

(1) Stitch together 1 shoulder and add the ribbing to finish the neckline.

(2) Mark a line on the centre-back – you can easily lightly iron a crease into it and then mark over the crease. (It might not look centred because you have not stitched the seam allowance on the second shoulder yet.)

(3) Place the zipper so the to of the slider matches up with the top of the collar. Mark the top of the bottom zipper stop on your centre line.

(4) Cut down the back centre line until you reach your mark.

(5) Glue down the zipper tape that extends past the top zipper stop. Fold them over to the wrong side of your zipper tape and stick them down matching the sides of the tape. Make sure the tape stays clear of the zipper teeth.

(6) Turn the shirt over to the wrong side. Match the edge of the right zipper tape with the left edge of the opening you cut and glue it with the folded edge matching to top of the collar. Keep the glue within the 3/8″ seam allowance.

(7) Stitch the zipper with a 3/8″ seam from the top of the collar to the bottom of the zipper stopper along the right edge.

(8) Maneuver the zipper so the right side is laying against the right side of the shirt and the left side is attached to the wrong side of the left side of the shirt – matching the shirt and zipper edges.

(9) Stitch the left side of the zipper from the top of the collar to the bottom of the zipper stopper. Turn the zipper to the outside using the opening at the bottom of the zipper.

(10) Peel apart the glued seam allowance and zipper tape.

(11) Trim the seam allowance close to the seam.

(12) Glue both of the bottom edges of the zipper tape under in the same way you glued the top edges. Leave a little under the zipper stop.

(13) Top-stitch the edges of the zipper and across the bottom under the stopper.

(14) Here is a better shot of the stitching from the back.

All done! Take some fun photos and post them with the hashtag #alongforthreadride! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the tutorial. Could it be clearer? Would you do things differently? Thanks for the feedback!

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. November 22, 2013

    I haven’t done an exposed zipper yet but have been dying to. And this is the clearest tutorial I’ve found! I think it’s great and seems simple enough. Great job!
    Heidi @ recently posted… KCW #1: Debbie’s Birthday Dress – In CorduroyMy Profile

    • November 23, 2013

      Thanks Heidi! I’m glad you like it. They are really fun to put in.

  2. Leanne permalink
    May 19, 2014

    Hi there,
    Adorable zipper! I have some confusion about step eight. Can you rephrase using left and right to indicate sides of the slit that the zipper is being seen into and cute and ugly to refer to the sides of the fabric that should be facing up? I think that would help me lots.
    Thank you,

    • May 19, 2014

      Hi Leanne! Thanks for letting me know. I will give your directions a shot – let me know if it helps or if you have more questions please send me a note!

      (8) Maneuver the zipper so the right side of the zipper is laying against the cute side of the right side of the slit in the shirt. Now match the left side of the zipper to the ugly side of the left side of the slit in the shirt – match the shirt and zipper edges.

      In the photo the left side of the zipper (top in the photo) is laying against the ugly/wrong side of the left side of the slit. The right side of the zipper ((bottom in the photo) has been maneuvered into position on the cute/right side of the shirt fabric, the right side of the slit.

  3. Leanne permalink
    May 22, 2014

    Thank you!! That really helps!

  4. Char permalink
    November 17, 2020

    Sherri… awesome tutorial! Thank you! Can you tell me where I can find these zippers? I have seen other ‘rainbow’ types, but nothing like this one! I need a handful… make that several handful’s! Thank you again :)

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