Sewing Zippers 101: Fold Under & Hem First Approach

Item # X-HT-200512

Welcome to the first video in our Sewing Zippers Video Series! In this video series, we’re going to show you a variety of the most common zipper installation techniques. After watching these videos, you’ll be able to install and sew a zipper on any type of DIY project you’re working on. These sewing fundamentals can be adapted for a variety of sewing projects. Let’s get started!

In this first video, we’re using the Fold Under and Hem First zipper sewing techniques. We are demonstrating these zipper sewing techniques on finished zippers, also known as jacket-style zippers. The Fold Under and Hem First Approach zipper sewing techniques are the most popular techniques used to install finished zippers.

The Fold Under zipper installation technique is used on mainsail covers and on clothing jackets. These projects require a finished zipper that has a starting pin and starter box. The zipper needs to completely separate so the two edges of the fabric assembly can unzip completely and open.

The second zipper installation technique you’ll learn is the Hem First approach. It’s a slight variation of the Fold Under technique, you learned first. This installation also applies to projects where you are installing a finished zipper.

With the Hem First technique, you fold the material twice to create a double hem so you do not have to cut the fabric with a hotknife to prevent the edges from unraveling. This technique is ideal for DIYers who don’t have a hotknife and cut their fabric with scissors. Once you have your hem sewn, you follow the same steps as the Fold Under technique to sew your zipper plaque onto your fabric assembly. Adding a hem first before you sew your zipper means you will have two rows of stitching on either side of your zipper plaque. So keep that in mind if you don’t want two visible rows of topstitching.

Bonus Video! We received useful feedback from a customer on our Fold Under method and wanted to show you a different approach to the Fold Under method. This second video shows the same Fold Under approach but without using basting tape. By sewing the zipper length to the fabric edge first, and then folding under and sewing your top stitch seam that will be visible on your project, the first, hidden row of stitches will stay out of the sun and will be a very strong seam that will last for years. Since we’re not using basting tape for this method, we use matchup marks to keep the zipper aligned on the fabric edge. Watch this other Fold Under method and see which one you prefer!

What do you think? Which Fold Under method do you prefer after watching both videos? Will you use this zipper sewing method on a future project? Let us know in the comments section below!

These first two zipper installation methods are the two most common methods. You’ll use these techniques for the majority of sewing projects involving zippers. For more zipper installation techniques, be sure to continue with our Zipper Video Series. You’ll find the rest of the blogs in the series to the right under the “More Helpful How-Tos” section.