Zippers – Thinking Outside the Teeth and Tape

Coats and Clark Zippers!

Since the invention of the “slide fastener” in the 1890’s, the seemingly humble zipper has easily earned it’s place as an important closure device.  And, although it’s practicality is well-known, as sewists we know and love the decorative value of the all-important zipper, too. When Italian designer, Elsa Schiaparelli used zippers as a design element in her 1930’s fashion collections, she unzipped a whole new world for those of us who sew!

Coats Brass Jeans Zipper

Decorative Stitching on Zipper Tape

We’ve all learned zipper stitching techniques and even how to insert an invisible zipper, but do they have to be hidden? I found wonderful techniques for “show off” zips in a past Coats blog post that uses the decorative stitches on our sewing machines. The limited edition Coats Fashion Print zippers shown in the post are no longer available, but we can create our own “print” zippers! This is a very helpful post that’s full of tips for making sure your decorative zip stitching is successful. You’ll appreciate learning how to make sure your machine can “grab” the zipper tape while you’re embellishing! Plus there are inspiring pictures that illustrate using different threads. Use a bright color for accent or a metallic thread to coordinate with metal zip teeth. There’s loads of fun to be had with this technique! Click here for the Decorative Zipper Stitching post.

Sewing Exposed Zippers 

Once you’ve embellished your zippers, you’ll want to stitch them into a garment or bag so that all your hard work shows! In another past Coats post, you’ll learn to insert a zipper so that it’s decorative beauty is well displayed.  This is a marvelous step-by-step tutorial that you’ll want to keep on file for future use. The instructions are clear and confidence inspiring. Although it focuses on the limited edition print zips mentioned above, you’ll be proudly using your self-created decorative zips! Click here for the Exposed Zipper Tutorial.

Image Source: Trash to Couture blog

T-Shirt Zipper Neckline Upcycle

Beyond embellishing the tape of a zipper, it can also be used unembellished as a super-creative upcycling tool. Laura of the Trash to Couture blog is a master of refashioning and she knows the value of a zipper. Her trendy T-Shirt Upcycle uses a zipper to finish the neckline of a self-made or thrift store sourced tee. It would be a great look for a sweater, too!  Laura’s instructions are nicely laid out with photo illustrations you’ll enjoy using for your refashioning. It’s a fairly quick and easy project that would be fun for an evening or a weekend. Click here for the T-Shirt Neckline Upcycle post.

Image Source: Pearls & Scissors blog

Low Back Dress Zipper Embellishment

With inspiration from the Schiaparelli embellishments of the 30’s, zippers can also dress up a casual dress or top.  Hanna of the Pearls & Scissors blog loved the thrift store dress she purchased, but found the low back neck slipped off her shoulders just a little too often. Isn’t this stunning?! Hanna used just two zippers for her decorative back neck styling and shares clear steps to create this gorgeous look. You’ll appreciate her instructions for neckline measurements that determine the length of zippers you’ll purchase! Click here for the Zipper Embellishment tutorial.

Image Source: Craftaholics Anonymous blog

Zipper Flower Bracelet

Linda of the Craftaholics Anonymous blog loves the potential of a zipper and used a single black zip to create a “jewel” for her wrist. You’ll need just one 7” zipper, scissors, a bit of hot glue and a small piece of felt to create a 2″ flower. I’m all for hot glue for temporary projects, but I suggest adding hand stitching to secure your posy for longer use. It would be beautiful as a brooch, too! Linda includes great photo steps for this quick project so it can be done by anyone. Click here for the Zipper Flower tutorial.

Schiaparelli Dress Detail – Collectors Weekly blog

Zippers in Your Sewing Future

Let’s think beyond the teeth and tape of these wonderful tutorials!  Zippers can be added as embellishment in so many ways and they’re widely used in ready-to-wear clothing, purses and totes. Keep your eyes unzipped and wide open and you’ll find them in princess seams on jackets, front and side seams of skirts, at the ankles of pants and leggings and down the center of sleeves. Do a little shopping and planning and add zippers to your creative sewing “tool box” for the future. Elsa would be so proud!

10 thoughts on “Zippers – Thinking Outside the Teeth and Tape

    • Annette Millard Post authorReply

      Thanks, Brenda! Hope you have fun thinking outside the teeth and tape!!

    • Annette Millard Post authorReply

      Hey Rita – So sorry you had trouble! The words “click here” are the link. Just hover your cursor over the words click here and when it changes color slightly, click. That will take you to the pages I linked in the post. Hope that helps!

  1. Joy Reply

    Where can I find a tutorial on how to attach the universal invisible zipper foot? Packaging instructions are compliated

  2. Joycce Dudash Reply

    I need a 28″separating white zipper. I have not been able to find one locally. Would you be able to provide information in getting one?

    • lynnbrowne Reply

      You may order it directly from our Consumer Service department. We accept phone orders. Please call (800)648-1479.

  3. PsychicSewerKathleen Reply

    Thank you for that link to Hanna’s post on how she embellished a Thrift Store purchase dress with those zippers! That was brilliant and often a problem I have with tops slipping off my somewhat narrow shoulders 🙂 I love the idea too of using zippers for embellishment. I have a bit of a collection myself 🙂 Every time I see an interesting zipper I pick it up 🙂 I’m fussy too – I LOVE quality zippers but disdain cheap ones. There is nothing more infuriating than a zipper that sticks or just won’t easily move up and down 🙂

    • Annette Millard Post authorReply

      Yes, Hanna’s post is SO great!! I’m glad you enjoyed this, Kathleen, and it’s nice to find a fellow zipper addict. 🙂

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