Whilst a lot of guides out there will instruct you on how to sew a zipper using a machine, it’s just as easy (or even easier) to do it by hand – the trick is to have strong stitching that can hold when the zip is pulled.

Things we need:

  • Zip
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Thimble (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Iron (optional)

How to sew a zipper by hand

  1. To avoid raw edges, fold back the seam allowance along the seam where the zipper is going. You can iron it in place to ensure a neat fold which may make the process easier.
  2. Pin to stabilise the closed zipper on the back of the fabric, with the teeth centred in the middle of the seam between the folds. Leave a small gap between the teeth and the fold (1-2 mm’s) to avoid any fabric catching.
  3. Thread your needle with a brightly coloured thread and knot the end. Choose a thinner needle for blouses, shirts, but choose something slightly sturdier if you’re sewing through heavy fabric.
  4. Sew a basting stitch down each side of the zipper to secure it into place, then remove the pins. A basting stitch (also called tacking) is a running stitch with a long stitch length. Don’t worry if it’s not very neat as you’ll be removing this later.
  5. Open the zipper and thread your needle again, this time double the thread and use a colour that matches your fabric.
  6. Using a prick stitch start sewing from the top of one side of the zipper, about half a centimetre from the fold. This is similar to a backstitch where the needle comes through to the right side, and is then inserted back into the fabric a few fabric threads back. Then the needle is brought forward and back through to the right side a stitch length ahead. The result should be tiny stitches on the front of the fabric and longer stitches on the back.
  7. Continue the stitching until you reach the bottom. Use the same method, go across the bottom and up on the other side.
  8. At the end, carefully tie a knot ensuring the zipper is not under a lot of strain and unpick the basting.

That’s it. You are good to go!