Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!

Have you ever thought about using a serger to apply a zipper? If not, you should! The traditional sewing machine and zipper foot method is always a good way to go, but using a serger can simplify the task and add a decorative touch to zipper applications.

GettyImages 596380996 Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!

In honor of National Serger Month, here are two different ways you can use a serger to apply a zipper to your next project.  Once you see the results, you’ll be amazed at how quick and easy it can be! 

Lapped and Topstitched Zipper

This is the easiest method to serge a zipper, especially when the zipper ends will be crossed by intersecting seams. Use heavyweight decorative thread to serge the exposed fabric edges next to the zipper.

  • Serge-finish both fabric edges next to the zipper with a balanced roll edge or your choice of decorative stitch.
  • Use a heavyweight decorative thread in the upper looper with all-purpose or serger thread in the needle and lower looper. Buttonhole twist or lightweight yarn works well as tightly twisted threads are easier to surge and more durable.  Be sure the stitch doesn’t stretch the fabric by adjusting for a short, medium- to wide balanced stitch.

Zip Tip:  Prevent jamming by testing first with a 2mm stitch length, then shorten while serging.  If the fabric stretches, adjust for a slightly longer stitch and a plus differential feed setting.  This will tighten the looper tensions for a smoother stitch. You might also need to loosen the upper looper tension to allow the threads to overlock exactly on the fabric edge.

  • Serge finish the fabric edges from the right side so the decorative upper looper thread shows. Position the finished serged edge on the zipper right side, next to the teeth.

Serger 1 216x300 Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!

  • Open the zipper (to avoid sewing next to the zipper stop). For wide-stitch serged edges, topstitch the fabric to the zipper along the fabric edge. For narrower stitches and rolled edges, topstitch next to the needleline.

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Exposed Zipper

Adding an exposed zipper is a great way to dress up a garment with a cool detail. Seam allowance edges are serge-finished in one step when serging a zipper to the fabric. The zipper is exposed, but the serging is on the wrong side of the fabric.

Before serging ahead, here are a few tips:

1. Use all-purpose or serger thread

2. Lightweight coil zippers feed the easiest under the pressure foot

3. Choose a zipper 4” longer than the opening (2” longer on each end) to avoid                            catching the zipper pull or stops under the presser foot

  • To begin, adjust for a wide, medium-length, balanced 3- or 4-thread stitch.
  • Open the zipper all the way and with right sides together, put the zipper on the fabric right side with the teeth over the seamline.
  • Serge with the zipper on top and wrong side up to avoid hitting the teeth. Serge the tape to the fabric, close to the zipper teeth, being careful not to hit them with the needle.

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  • Press the fabric away from the coils. Machine topstitch next to the fold, if desired.
  • Close the zipper. With fabric right sides together, align the unstitched side with the unfinished zipper edge.

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  • Open the zipper. Serge the tape to the fabric, trimming both the fabric and zipper tape.
  • Press all layers away from the coil and topstitch. Close the zipper.
  • To prevent the zipper pull from slipping off the end, bartack across the zipper lower edge with wide zigzag stitch and a 0 stitch length.
  • Open the zipper several inches below the upper edge. Bartack at the upper edge for a closed zipper or on both tapes for a separating zipper.
    • serger how to 9 Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!  Bartack both zipper upper edges for separating zipper.
    • serger how to 9b Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!  Finish by applying facings and straight stitching or serging seams, stitching carefully over the zipper area. If straight stitching, trim the zipper tape after sewing.

Using a serger to add a zipper is that easy!

Have you ever serged a zipper before? Are you ready to give this technique try? Tell us in the comments section below!

 Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!
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20 Responses to Learn How to Use a Serger to Insert a Zipper!

  1. Kathleen C says:

    My serger was purchased by my husband in 1986. I have never been without one since. In 2006, I purchased the Huskylock 936, just love it! It is a 5-thread with coverstitch capabilities. Now I am going to practice the zipper application. Anything that can save time and leave a professional look, is perfect.

  2. Jane C. says:

    I have the Babylock Evolution and I also bought the book Sewing Inspirations. What I need is a curriculum to learn how to use it, project by project. The problem with all the dvds is that they focus on threading, tension and stitch fingers which are not big deals with the Evolution. When I look at the Evolution, I am reminded of my mother’s favorite saying, “You never regret buying quality.”

  3. Vivian Miller says:

    Never knew sergers could do this. I’ve only used mine for seams. Think I need lessons. Would love to win this.

  4. Having just set up my own small sewing business teaching others how to sew I would love to have one of these. My old one has just broken and need to buy a new one! My dressmaking students miss not having a serger.

  5. Gaetane Ouellet says:

    I never try a serger to insert a zipper, my overlock is very aged. I would love to win Ovation serger.

  6. Deb E says:

    Never tried doing this but will give a try the next time I sew a zipper.

  7. Wilma Mazzulli says:

    don’t know much about sergers but would love to learn. been wanting one for a long time… but short of funds☺

  8. Nancy Hunter says:

    Love to have a Babylock

  9. Nancy Hunter says:

    Oh how I would love a Babylock serger!!!!!

  10. Sharon Nielsen says:

    It works like a charm! Couldn’t believe how easy it is to put a zipper in with my Ovation!

  11. Linda Denney says:

    I have never used a serger to insert a zipper. I would so love to have one and think I would get a lot of work out of it. Please pick me, I would be so grateful!

  12. Tamara Kemp says:

    I have never put a zipper in using a serger. I did serge the unfinished seams. This would be a treat to own.

  13. Helen Medley says:

    Great idea for a decorative zipper! Must try it on a project – tote, skirt, pocket?

  14. Lyn says:

    Would love to win this so I can sew some clothes for my kids.

  15. Lyn Sweet says:

    I love to win so I can sew clothes for my family and my husband don’t need to buy one for me.

  16. Lyn says:

    I love to have one so I can sew some clothes for my kids and for myself and so my husband don’t need to buy me.

  17. Jane Meier says:

    I will try this but first I need to get my serger cleaned and adjusted or maybe update.

  18. K SMALL says:


  19. Nancy Scaggs says:

    Would love to win this for my daughter. She loves to sew and really needs this. Thanks

  20. Debra Kay Neiman says:

    I really need to get a serger. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com