Sewing a Lapped Zipper in a Skirt
A lapped zipper is a great technique for sewing in an all-purpose (not invisible) zipper. The finished zipper has an overlap on the left side of the opening that covers the zipper. On the right side of the opening, the fabric is stitched very close to the zipper teeth.
I love lapped zippers. They give a beautiful, classic touch to a garment, and they hold up to sturdy fabrics really well. A lapped zipper is perfect for a skirt side seam zipper, because the lap will cover the zipper teeth. Here’s what you’ll need.
A zipper foot for your sewing machine
Fusible interfacing, cut into 1” strips
Disappearing ink pen (optional)
Sew the seam up to the zipper opening. The opening will usually be marked by a large circle on a pattern.
Interface the seam allowances on the opening. This reinforces the zipper opening and results in a more attractive zipper, in my opinion. Cut 1” strips of fusible interfacing on-grain and fuse them within the zipper opening seam allowances.
On the left side of the zipper opening (this is as you’re wearing at it, NOT as you’re looking at it from the outside), turn the seam allowance under ½” and press. This will create a tiny underlap at the base of the opening.
On the right side of the zipper opening, turn the seam allowance under 5/8” and press.
On the left side, pin your zipper in place so that the zipper teeth are just next to the fabric’s fold.
Install a zipper foot on your machine. Stitch the zipper in place, stitching right on the fold of the fabric.
You can move the zipper pull out of the way, if needed. Just make sure to always have the needle down if you need to lift the presser foot to do so.
Stitch on fold of fabric
First row of stitching completed
Close the zipper and pin the right side of the opening in place so that its fold just matches the line of stitching you made in step 6. You’re pinning through the fabric and through the zipper tape.
Now you’re going to stitch the L-shaped topstitching that holds the overlap in place. On your first lapped zipper, you’ll probably want to mark your stitching line first. Using an invisible marker, draw a line 3/8” from the fabric fold, and then make a horizontal line at the base of the zipper opening.
With the zipper open, stitch along this line. When you get to the bottom, close the zipper and pivot to stitch horizontally across the base of the zipper.
Stitch on marking
Pivot at base
Finished zipper closed
Finished zipper open
After you’ve gotten comfortable with the process, you may find that you can use a mark on your machine’s metal throat plate to guide you, rather than using the disappearing ink marker.
If your skirt has a facing, you’ll need to fold it slightly out of the way of the zipper when you stitch it in place.
That’s it! I hope you’ll give lapped zippers a try.