Lapped zippers tutorial

A lapped zip is a polished finish that disguises the closure on a dress, skirt or trousers. It’s easy to install and would look fantastic on your free pattern gift from issue 63 on sale January 24th!


You’ll need a regular zip for this tutorial and co-ordinating thread for top-stitching. It’s also best to finish the raw centre back edges before you install the zip with a zigzag stitch or on an overlocker.

Mark the exact length of placket opening on the centre back seam allowance, using the zip as a guide. Sew seam up to the base of the zip. Change to a longer stitch length and baste the rest of the seam allowance close. Press open.

Extend the right-hand side of the seam allowance and place the zip on top face down. The top stoppers should sit below the seam line at the neckline.

Using a zipper foot positioned to right of the needle, machine-tack on the stitching guideline woven into the zipper tape. If you can’t see the guideline, just stitch at half the width of the tape (see below).

Position the zipper foot to the left of the needle. Turn the zipper face up, forming a fold in the seam allowance that sits close (but not too close) to the teeth. There should be 1-2mm gap between the teeth and fabric. Stitch close to the folded edge through all thicknesses. Do not attach the end of the zipper to the neckline facing.

Turn the garment RS out and flatten out the zip behind the fabric. Hand-baste in place quickly, ensuring the waist seam allowance is secured.

Position your zipper foot to the right of the needle and top-stitch the zip, starting at the base. Pivot the corner, then sew alongside the zip. Use the side of your zipper foot to feel the edge of the zip through the layers of fabric.

You will now be able fold the facings and top of the zip to the inside. Arrange it so the zip ends are hidden behind the facing seam allowance and slip-stitch the facing to the zipper tape. Unpick your basting.

This style of zipper also works well on side of a pair of trousers or on the centre back of a dress. It’s especially helpful if you don’t have an exact colour match between your fabric and zipper, and it’s rather nice if you can match the print of your fabric seamlessly across the zipper like we did on our bird print fabric.

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