Sewing Techniques with Burda:  How to Sew a Visible Zipper?

Visible zipper closures are mainly used in making accessories such as bags and cases, as well as in clothing closures like jackets or coats. However, they also serve as a decorative function when added to a dress or a skirt. In addition to their practical role as fasteners, they bring an aesthetic touch and seamlessly integrate into the overall design of fashion creations, adding a note of originality and style.

If you must insert a non-separable zipper so that it is visible, first reinforce the slit with a facing strip. The slit length depends on the zipper length and the slit width is based on the width of the zipper teeth.

Here's how to proceed to perfectly sew a visible zipper:

 1.  Use basting thread to transfer the slit center to the right side of the fabric. Cut out a fabric or lining strip approx. 5 cm (2 in) wide and 3 cm (1 1/4 in) longer than the slit and pin to the slit marking, right sides together (1 below). 

 2.  From the wrong side, stitch around the slit mark at the calculated distance from the center. Lines of stitching = width of zipper teeth + approx. 2 mm (1/8 in). Slash between the lines of stitching and at the end of the slit, clip both corners at an angle (2).

 3.  Fold and baste the fabric strip to the inside. Press the edge. Baste the zipper below the slit edges and stitch close to the center (3), using the one-sided edge stitching presser foot. Topstitch the slit edges if you’d like.

4.  If you do not want the stitching to show on the right side of the fabric, here’s how to insert the zipper: Reinforce the slit with a strip of lining as shown in drawings 1 and 2. Pin the zipper underneath the slit edges (4). 

 5.  From the wrong side, pin the zipper tapes to the lining strip and the seam allowance, but do not catch the right side of the fabric (5).

 6.  Remove the straight pins from the right side. With the one-sided edge stitching foot, stitch the allowances from the clip or the lining strip to the zipper tapes exactly along the line of stitching (6).

Tip: To prevent the slit ends from tearing, before stitching the fabric or lining strip iron a piece of interfacing approx. 4 cm x 4 cm (1 5/8 in x 1 5/8 in) on top of the marked slit ends from the wrong side.

And there you have it! Now you know how to sew a visible zipper! If you're looking for a faster method to sew a visible zipper, then we invite you to check out our second method below! 


To sew a visible zipper more quickly, you can finish the slit edges directly with the zipper, without adding a facing. However, we remind you that the key to achieving beautiful finishes on your handmade clothes is to take your time, especially if you are not used to it! This method is therefore aimed at more experienced sewers.

 1.  Experienced makers can do without the lining strip and reinforce the zipper directly:

Use basting thread to mark the slit on the right side of the fabric. Iron a piece of interfacing 3 cm (1 1/4 in) wide on top of the marks on the wrong side. Close the zipper and measure the total tape width. Pin the top side of the zipper so that one tape edge meets the marking. Using the one-sided edge stitching foot, stitch the zipper tape. Distance from the stitching to the tape edge = ¼ of the total zipper width (7 below). 

 2.  Slash the fabric exactly along the slit mark up to 1 cm (3/8 in) away from the end of the stitching and clip to the last stitch on an angle. Do not catch the zipper tape. From the end of the slash to the other side, clip on an angle as well (8).

3.  Place the zipper in the slash. Pin the other slash edge to the second zipper tape right sides together and stitch. Distance from the stitching to the tape edge = ¼ of the total zipper width. Begin the line of stitching exactly at the end of the diagonal clip (9).

Fold the small triangle at the slash end to the inside and stitch it to the zipper tapes. 

There you go! Now you know two different methods to sew a visible zipper easily and professionally.