3 presser feet that make inserting a zipper easy

There are numerous ways to insert a zipper. It all depends on what you’re making and the final look that you’re trying to achieve.

Yesterday, I showed you how to use side-motion quilting to enhance your sewing projects. Today, I’m using the Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q for machine sewing a zipper into a small zippered pouch. You’ll find the complete instructions for the pouch in tomorrow’s post, so be sure to check that out.

Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q

There are numerous styles of zippers on the market, such as invisible zippers, which I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to insert, zippers with decorative tapes, regular zippers, and many more types. I’m going to look at inserting a regular zipper today.

From the top – invisible zipper, regular zipper and zipper with decorative tape

Depending on the type of zipper you’re going to use, there are different presser feet that make inserting a zipper easy. It’s like any task, if you have the correct tools, the task is much easier. Presser feet include:

  • Zipper Foot E, a standard accessory for the Sapphire 965Q
  • Narrow Zipper Foot which allows you to get close to the zipper teeth
  • Clear Invisible Zipper Foot for inserting invisible zips, which is also available in a metal version

Zipper Foot E, Narrow Zipper Foot, and Invisible Zipper Foot

Here’s a look at the zippered pouch. The complete instructions will be posted tomorrow. Today, we’re focusing on how to insert the zipper.

Zippered pouch

The zipper that I’m using in my project is longer than the width of the pouch. One end of the zipper will be flush with the edge of the bag, and the other end is going to extend beyond the pouch to act as a zipper tab.

The zipper is longer than the fabric for the pouch

I placed a layer of heavy fusible Decor Bond interfacing on the wrong side of the outer pieces that I’m inserting the zipper into. But, make sure you follow the prep instructions in tomorrow’s tutorial.

I’m going to start by turning the top end of the zipper tape in on a 45-degree angle so the raw end of the zipper tape is inside the seam allowance. I normally do not pin, but for this zipper application, it’s best to pin.

I placed the Start Zipper Stop about ½” in from the raw edge of the bag. The long edge of the zipper tape has to be parallel and even with the top edge of the fabric. You can see a little bit of the white showing beyond the zipper tape below – don’t do that! The idea is to have your zipper tape parallel to the edge of the fabric and then that raw edge underneath the zipper tape when you’re finished with the zipper insertion.

Place the right side of the zipper on the right side of the outer fabric.

In the close-up below, you can see how the end of the zipper tab is turned on a 45-degree angle. Again, make sure the edge of your zipper is parallel to the raw edge of the bag. Mine was a tad off when I took the photo.

The end of the zipper tape is turned on a 45-degree angle

What zipper foot should I use? I don’t want the Invisible Foot as this is not an invisible zipper. Although I could use the Narrow Zipper Foot, which is a separate accessory, I chose the Zipper Foot E which is included with the Sapphire 965Q.

What is the difference between the Zipper Foot E and the Narrow Zipper Foot? The Narrow Zipper Foot has grooves on the underside which helps to grip the fabric. However, there isn’t as much space for the needle to move right or left, and sometimes, depending on the project and how bulky it is, the Narrow Zipper Foot is too long with the bulk hitting the back of the zipper foot.

Which is better? It’s good to have both!

Narrow Zipper Foot installed on the Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q

Although I chose to use the Zipper Foot E, I thought I would throw in a few pictures of the Narrow Zipper Foot so you can see what it looks like. In the photo below, you can see the positioning if I sewed the seam with this foot.

The Narrow Zipper foot is positioned with the zipper teeth to the left of the needle

The underside of the Zipper Foot E is smooth, so I’m going to pin to make sure there is no slipping when I’m sewing. That’s just good practice. I’m not big on using pins, but zippers can be tricky so I pin where necessary.

In this instance or for all zippers, I highly recommend that you baste the zipper first. Even though I used pins, sometimes the zipper just isn’t where you want it to be. By pinning and then basting, you should have the zipper in the correct position, but if you have to rip, it’ll be easy to rip out the basting stitches. Once I’m happy with the zipper placement, I go back and stitch it in with a regular stitch length.

Zipper is pinned and ready to go

If the needle needs to be repositioned left or right to sew the zipper in, it’s a simple matter of widening the stitch width. The needle moves in small increments to the left or right depending on which arrow you used. There are 29 needle positions in total, 14 on either side of the center position, so you’re bound to find a needle position that works for your project.

Needle position is at center (0.0) on the Interactive Color Touch Screen

In the photo below, the needle is moved to the left, as indicated by the negative sign, to -2.3.

Needle is moved to the left (-2.3)

I’m going to baste the zipper, leaving about 1″ to 1½” free at the end to create the zipper tab.

My zippered pouch is lined, so the next step is to add the lining. Place the lining so the zipper is sandwiched between the lining and the outer bag piece. Pin well.

There are two ways to sew the lining to the main part. You can stitch with the lining face up, which means you’re sewing “blind” and trusting the zipper foot to get your seam allowance.

Or, you can turn the project the other way up and sew with the lining on the bottom, which means the basting stitches are on the outer side of the bag as a guide for sewing. Either method works, but I highly recommend pinning to keep all pieces in place. Ensure that your zipper foot is positioned in the correct direction.

Sewing with the lining on top


Sewing with the outer bag on top and using the basting stitches as a seam guide

You may need to use your quilter’s awl to help with some of the fullness. Remember, one side of the bag is secured with a zipper and interfacing, but the lining has nothing to stabilize it and it can stretch. The quilter’s awl makes it easy to control and ease in any fullness.

Using a quilter’s awl to ease in the fullness

If you have to switch the zipper foot position, you also have to reposition the needle. Instead of moving the needle one position at a time by using the arrows at the bottom of the Interactive Color Touch Screen, you can use the Mirror Side to Side Function on the screen to reposition the needle in the exact same spot, but on the other side of the center position. It’s a great feature, saves time on trying to remember what the needle position was as you switch back and forth.

This ensures that the needle is the same distance from the edge of the foot and gives you the same seam allowance on both sides.

As you sew the lining to the outer bag and near the end of the seam, you need to tuck the zipper inside as you don’t want to catch the end of the zipper tape.

Pull the zipper tape inside the pouch and continue sewing the seam to the end.

It looks like this when you’re done.

Zipper not sewn to the end of the bag

Now we get to repeat that entire process on the other side. You’re going to repeat the steps, making sure that the right side of your zipper is placed on the right side of the outer fabric. Be careful on this step as it’s easy to twist things around.

Here’s a caution. The first time, I attempted to match and pin the edges when the zipper was open as shown below.

Pinning and matching when zipper is open

However, I didn’t do a great job on matching the edges of the project.

Ooops – the edges are not exactly matched up and neither is the pattern

It was much easier to close the zipper, place the edge of the zipper tape along the top outer edge of the second piece. Then I lined up the two ends of the bag, and pinned along the length.

Close the zipper and line up the second piece to ensure the edges are even.

The end result is much better, and there is less risk of twisting the zipper.

Much better matching

Your zipper is now sandwiched between an outer piece and a lining piece on both sides of the zipper, with the end of the zipper hanging out.

Check out the post tomorrow for a supply list and instructions for making the zippered pouch.

Machine sewing a zipper with the features on the Husqvarna VIKING Sapphire 965Q is a snap!

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Enhance your quilt blocks with side-motion stitching

Go to part 5: Make it zippy! Use this zany tip to make a zipper stop

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Enhance your quilt blocks with side-motion stitching

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Sherry Jurykovsky March 25, 2017 - 6:17 pm
Thanks for this. I was going to skip over this article as I've been sewing clothes for years. But then I realized that I DO have an assortment of zipper feet and really didn't know which came with this machine and which were 'saved' from previous machines. And even which to use and which to toss. Now I can make an informed decision on my next zipper.
Paul L March 23, 2017 - 10:29 pm
I've got to try this. I am so afraid to work with zippers.
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