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Types of Zippers

Techniques in Sewing for Garment Making & Construction

Types of zippers, techniques in sewing for garment making and construction.


     The first step to attaching your zipper begins before you start making your project: finding the right zipper. Knowing the type of zipper and the zipper length that you will need for your project is important because different zipper types are not interchangeable. You will have to go back to the fabric store and purchase a new one if you get it wrong. Fortunately for you, this page has all you need to know about choosing the right zipper. 

     Standard zipper sizes that you can purchase at fabrics stores tend to be: 4”, 7”, 9”, 12”, 14”, 16”, 18”, 20”, and 22”, although you can sometimes find lengths up to 100”. Usually, zippers for skirts and pants will require a 7” zipper, and misses’ dresses need longer lengths (often 14” or 16”). If you are working with a sewing pattern, the pattern envelope should indicate exactly the type of zipper and zipper length that you will need. If the color zipper you need is not available in your size, always choose a size larger. It’s easy to shorten a zipper, but impossible to lengthen one. (Directions for shortening a zipper can be found here.) 

     Once you know the differences between the zippers they are easy to identify (and the zippers in fabric stores are usually labeled if you can’t figure it out). Listed below are different types of zippers and what sort of projects they are used for. 


Conventional or “All Purpose” Zippers

    These are your standard, common zippers that will be used for most closures including bags, dresses, skirts, trousers, etc. Conventional zippers have two strips of fabric that are attached at the bottom by a stop. The zipper teeth are visible when the zipper is facing up. Unless a zipper is purposefully exposed as a fashion statement, conventional zippers are often hidden in a garment by lapping a small layer of fabric over the teeth. (Learn how to attach a zipper here.) These teeth can be made of polyester coil (the most common) or metal. You might choose a metallic zipper when working with heavy-duty fabrics, like when making jeans or luggage. 


Invisible Zippers

    Invisible zippers are most often used in women’s wear, particularly for more formal clothing, when dresses or skirts are made of delicate fabric. They work the same way as conventional zippers and also have a stop at the end, but the two pieces of fabric cover the zipper teeth when the zipper is facing up. The zipper pull (also called a slider) is also smaller and slimmer. The hidden coils and the smaller slider ensures that the zipper will remain unseen when attached correctly, giving the outfit a more elegant and seamless look. Learn how to attach an invisible zipper here


Separating Zippers

    Separating zippers are most often used when making jackets and vests. Unlike conventional and invisible zippers, separating zippers do not have a stop at the end and can come completely apart. Because separating zippers are most often used for coats and longer projects, they often come in longer sizes. And because they are most often used with heavier fabrics, the size of the zipper teeth tend to be larger, and there appears to be a greater variety of metallic choices.

Separating zippers are most often used when making jackets and vests.

Here is a photo showing the separating zipper with no stop at the end so it can come apart.

Separating zippers are most often used when making jackets and vests.



Zipper Index Page

Techniques in Garment Construction

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