Show Off a Zipper with Stylish Stitching

Not all zippers are hidden—some show off their stuff with stylish stitching.

Take advantage of those decorative machine stitches to embellish your colorful exposed zipper tapes. It’s easy and certainly fun.

There are two ways to embellish zippers—one is to stitch right on the zipper tape, and the second is to use a decorative stitch to apply the zipper to the fabric.

To stitch on a narrow zipper tape requires the right stitch width and the right presser foot to fit the narrow space. Choose a stitch that’s less than 1/2″ wide for this purpose to avoid hitting the zipper teeth.

Select the narrowest presser feet that will still allow for the stitch width you plan to use. Using a zipper foot and adjusting the needle position may help the foot clear the zipper teeth.

Choose almost any type of thread—metallic to accent metal zipper teeth, bold color for design prominence, or even variegated for some color fun.

Tape Tactics

To ensure that your machine can “grab” the tape and feed it evenly under the foot, it helps to adhere the zipper to a removable embroidery stabilizer (water-soluble or tear-away) to give a little more surface—use pins, water-soluble basting tape or temporary spray adhesive for this purpose. Then stitch away, right up the center of the zipper tape, on one or both sides. If necessary, stop stitching with the needle in the fabric and slide the zipper pull out of the way to continue stitching. Remove the stabilizer and topstitch the zipper in place using matching thread right along the outer tape edge.

Slide pull out of the way when stitching

Attachment issues

To use decorative stitching to attach the zipper to the project fabric, use water-soluble basting tape to secure the zipper over the opening area. Select a stitch wide enough to span both the zipper tape and the base fabric. Center the tape edge as you stitch both sides (you can go across the bottom, tuck the ends inside, or turn them under), then trim the fabric underlayer close to the stitching and fold it back so the zipper can function.

Coats Metallic thread accents the brass teeth of this Coats Jeans zipper


Stitching in a contrasting color creates interest. Attach a Coats Fashion Chevron Multi color zipper with decorative stitching Add a decorative stitch using Dual Duty XP in a multi color to a Coats Fashion Zipper