How to Sew a Centered Zipper

I think everyone remembers their first zipper. Zippers are intimidating, but mastering them opens up a whole new world of sewing possibilities. I am always surprised to find out how many accomplished seamstresses have never installed a centered coil zipper. I get it, invisible zippers have tons of appeal, but there is something about a centered zipper that is so satisfying to sew.


Like all finishes and details, inserting the perfect centered zipper starts with preparation.

1) Cut two strips of knit interfacing along the direction of least stretch. The strips should be the length of your zipper plus 1″ by 1″ in width.

2) Apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the zipper area.

3) Finish the seam allowance of the zipper area using your preferred seam finish.

4) On the wrong side of the seam allowance, make a mark right below where the zipper stop will be.

Create the Foundation

1) Pin the garment right sides together at the seam where the zipper is being installed.

2) Set your machine to a basting stitch.

3) Starting at the top of the garment, stitch towards the hem using a basting stitch.

4) When you reach the zipper stop mark, rotate the hand wheel of your sewing machine until the needle is in the down position. Readjust your machine setting to a standard straight stitch. Backstitch below the zipper stop mark to secure the stitch, and continue sewing towards the hem of the garment.

5) Press the seam open, and transfer the zipper stop mark to the visible part of the seam allowance.

6) On the right side of the zipper, seam uses a clear ruler and a water-soluble marking tool to mark your stitch lines. This will consist of 3 lines in total. The first two will be 1/4″ away from each side of the seam and parallel to it. The third will be perpendicular to the first two lines at the zipper stop mark.


1) Place zipper along the basted portion of the seam, aligning the teeth so they are centered with the seam and the zipper stopper is just above the zipper stop mark. Pin into place.

2) Using a hand sewing needle, baste the zipper in place.

Install the Zipper

1) Attach the standard zipper foot to the sewing machine. On most domestic models, this foot has two sides. Secure the ankle of the machine to the right side of the foot. Adjust your needle placement so that it is in the rightmost position.

2) Beginning on the left side of the zipper with the right side up, sew from the top of the zipper along the guideline drawn earlier toward the bottom of the zipper. Pivot at the bottom corner sewing toward the second corner, pivot again at the second corner and continue sewing until you reach the top of the zipper.

3) Carefully use the seam ripper to remove all hand and machine basting. Remove any stray threads and press.

There you have it, a gorgeous centered zipper!




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