Sew a Zipper Onto Knitting or Crochet

Zippers are great closures for a lot of projects, but it can be a little daunting to approach how to sew a zipper onto a knitting or crochet project. The good news is, it’s a lot easier than you might think!

Here I’m showing a knitting project but the process is the same if you want to add a zipper to a crochet project.

Why Sew a Zipper Onto a Knit or Crochet Project?

The most obvious occasion for wanting a sew a zipper onto knitting or crochet would be to finish the top of a bag. I’ve actually done a knit zipper bag starting from the zipper where you worked chain stitch embroidery on the zipper sides and then picked up stitches to knit the bag from there.

It’s a fun way to avoid sewing in a zipper, but sewing the zipper after the project is done is probably easier and faster.

Other places you might want to add a zipper to crochet or knitting include the tops of pillow cases to make them more easily washable, and cardigans or jackets you want to close without buttons (especially for kids) to name a few. Once you know how to do it you might start planning projects just so you can add zippers to them!

What Kind of Zipper to Use?

There are lots of different kinds of zippers, and the right type of zipper to sew onto your knitting or crochet project depends a bit on the project.

First you’ll want to consider if you want a zipper with a closed end or an open end. Open end zippers are also known as separating zippers, and this is what you need for jackets and sweaters where the sides of the zipper need to separate completely to take off the garment.

A closed end zipper is the choice for bags, pillows and half-zip sweaters where the zipper is only part of the neckline and partway down the front so you still have to take the sweater off over your hear.

Once you’ve figured that part out, there are a few other options. For most uses what’s known as an all-purpose zipper will work. These zippers have lightweight nylon teeth, and the tape part is typically polyester. They’re flexible, easy to wash, inexpensive and come in tons of colors and a variety of short lengths. They’re also easy to cut if you end up with a zipper that’s too long for your project.

If you need a more heavy-duty zipper because you’re working on a very heavy project, you can use a zipper with metal teeth or molded plastic teeth. These are more commonly found in larger sizes, but can be harder to cut so make sure you buy the exact size you need.

Zippers are measured from the stop at the bottom to where the pull stops at the top, so keep that in mind when measuring your project and shopping for a zipper.

For this demonstration, which is sewing a zipper to a knit pillow, I’m using a polyester all purpose zipper with a closed end.

How to Sew a Zipper Onto Knitting or Crochet

In addition to your knitting or crochet project and the zipper you intend to use, you’ll need sewing thread to match your project and a sewing needle and small scissors for this project. The key thing to know when you want to sew a zipper on knitting or crochet is to not use a sewing machine. Your knit or crocheted fabric will likely stretch out of shape if you do this, and it really doesn’t take that long to do it by hand anyway.

Do all the finishing on the project you need to do before you sew your zipper. If pieces of the sweater need to be sewn together, or the sides of the bag sewn together, complete those steps before adding the zipper. If your project needs blocking, do that before sewing as well.

Here I sewed the side seams of my pillow case together before adding the zipper.

Open the zipper up fully and pin or clip the zipper to one side of the project, with the front of the zipper facing the back of the project, and the teeth pointing up. You may need to stretch your project slightly to get it to fit smoothly, depending on the size of your zipper and the project.

I like to double the sewing thread on the needle and tie a good knot at the end. I take the needle through just the fabric of the zipper to anchor the thread, then sew the zipper to the knit fabric. Here I’m using white thread because I couldn’t find blue and you can’t really see it in the fuzz. Start at the bottom/the end with the stop.

You want to get as close to the teeth of the zipper as you can without covering them up (a bit of a challenge with the fuzzy yarn shown!) and make sure the knit or crocheted fabric won’t get stuck in the zipper.

I like to take a few stitches then pull the zipper up to where I’ve stitched to make sure the project isn’t getting caught.

Work your way all the way to where the pull stops at the top end of the zipper. Zip the zipper closed to make sure everything looks OK. Tie another knot in the thread and pull to the back of the zipper fabric. Cut excess thread.

You can add another row of stitching if you like to reinforce it, but this zipper isn’t going to be used much so I think one row is fine.

Open the zipper again, pin to the other side as before and sew up this side.

Fold over the extra fabric at each end on each side of the zipper and tack that down.

If you need to make your zipper shorter, follow the directions on the package, and make sure its sewn down tightly before you trim.

See how easy it is to sew a zipper onto knitting or crochet? I hope you’ll give it a try because it’s a great finishing technique to know!

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