MN2204 Brumby / Sewalongs / Sewing Techniques / Tips & Tutorials

Tutorial : how to insert an exposed zipper

Hey everyone, Holly here! I’m so excited to be back and sharing some tutorials with you guys to go along with the new pattern relaunch and app release. Speaking of which – how awesome is Meg?! Seriously, that app is amazing. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, do it now.

Anywho, I’m going to start off today by walking you through how to insert an exposed zipper. This will especially come in handy with the Brumby skirt, as it’s the recommended zipper application in the pattern instructions. If you’ve never done one before, don’t fret! While it may be one of the more advanced zipper options (for something more simple, try a centered  zipper), it really isn’t that scary. And it definitely adds a nice detail to your garment, especially if you are using a fun colored or metallic zipper!

*note that I’m using a small sample piece for this tutorial, not a full Brumby skirt. So there are no gathers, but I did include a waistband and the necessary interfacing for your reference*

Ok, let’s get started…


1. Start by finishing the edges of your two center back pieces. Whether its with pinking shears, overlock, etc.

On the wrong side of your fabric, mark your zipper placement with tailors chalk or a water soluble pencil on both center back seams, over top of the interfacing. For a 9″ exposed zipper (which is what is called for in the Brumby pattern), make boxes 10” down from the top of the waistband, and 7/8” in.


2. Using a long basting stitch, sew over your drawn boxes. Then clip in towards the corners at a 45 degree angle. Be very careful not to clip the basting stitches!


3. Fold and press along your basting stitches, towards the wrong side of the fabric, on both center back pieces.


4. With right sides together, place one piece on top of the other, lining up the center back edges. Starting at the horizontal basting stitches, sew a 5/8” seam down to the hemline. Note the that horizontal basting stitches are 7/8” across, and you are only sewing a 5/8” seam, so it is NOT supposed to line up. 


5. Press your seam open. Notice that the little triangular pieces are pointing up.


6. Flip your garment over so the right side of the fabric is facing you. Place your zipper face down and with the top of the zipper pointing towards the hemline. Line up the zipper so the end of the zipper stop is right below the horizontal basting stitches.

Stitch the zipper in place by sewing along that horizontal basting stitches. You only want to stitch the length of the basting stitches, not the whole width of the zipper tape. I find it easiest to pin your zipper in place from the right side, as shown above, and then turn your garment over and sew from the wrong side, where you can actually see the basting stitches.


7. Flip your zipper up and into the inside of the garment. This is what it will look like from the backside now. Notice the triangle points are now pointing down.


8. Turn it back over to the front side. You can see it taking shape now! It’s time to attach the rest of the zipper.

It is really helpful to temporarily hold the zipper in place to the seam allowance with either a glue stick or double sided tape. Just line your zipper tape with glue (or tape), line up the seam edges so they are straight and even on both sides, and let dry.


9. Once your glue is holding firm, turn back each side, one at a time, and sew over the vertical basting stitches.


Press, and thats it! You’ve now inserted an exposed zipper! You can topstitch around the zipper if you would like. Or not, if you prefer a clean look. It’s up to you!

Have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment or email me at

About Author

Holly writes part time for the Megan Nielsen blog– sewing like crazy, creating tutorials and sewalongs. She has been sewing since she was a little girl, and has her degree in apparel design. Now she’s a stay at home mama, and spends all her free nap times at her sewing machine.

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Lesley Scott
9 years ago

Excellent tutorial Holly, thanks for posting that.

9 years ago

Welcome back! Your tutorial is excellent, as per usual.

9 years ago

Awesome!! Thank you!

9 years ago

This is a great tutorial! Someday I’ll be able to sew this neatly :)

Rochelle New
9 years ago

Such a neat look! I’d really like to try this on my next skirt. Thanks for posting!


[…] in the kindle app on my phone or ipad, but this was fun for a change.  I followed along with this blog post when it came time for the exposed zipper. I think that the glue stick is my new secret sewing […]

Jane Effanga
Jane Effanga
5 years ago

Thank you!


[…] times I’ve made this skirt I’ve followed this tutorial for the exposed zipper and both times the zipper has ended up too far down. I had to sew the upper […]


[…] into dirndl skirt, but there is some shaping in both the skirt panels and the waistband. Also, the tutorial for inserting the exposed zipper really […]