Lapped Zippers in Pants

Our pants post this month provides step-by-step instructions and photos of a lapped zipper application for your Eureka! Pants that Fit.

In our Eureka! Pants Licensing Seminar last month, I demonstrated this lapped zipper technique since some of the students were not confident inserting a lapped zipper.  This is my favorite method for closing pants in the back.  It is simple and quick and I find the lapped application with a standard nylon zipper is sturdier in my pants than an invisible zipper.

You do not need to interface the zipper opening in a lapped zipper unless your fabric is fragile or stretchy. The opening in your pants should be the size you wish for a zipper opening.  Backstitch securely at the base of the opening.

Begin by putting  your standard zipper foot on the machine. The needle needs to be to the right of the zipper foot.

  1. With the right side of the pants back facing you, fold under the right seam allowance of the zipper opening 1/2” and press in place.

    Right side pressed down for zipper insertion

    Right side pressed down for zipper insertion

  2. Lay the zipper under the right side of the opening, placing the folded edge of the pants up against the right side of the zipper teeth. Position the zipper stop at the base of the zipper opening.  It is ok if the zipper extends above the top of the pant.

    Moving the zipper into place.

    Moving the zipper into place.

  3. Pin the fabric to the zipper tape; baste if desired.

    zipper pinned into place.

    zipper pinned into place.

  4. Begin your stitching at the base of the zipper working toward the waist. Stitch very close to the zipper teeth along the folded fabric edge. Unzip the zipper to check that you have not caught the teeth in the stitching.

     Stitch the zipper in place from the bottom to the top.


    Stitch the zipper in place from the bottom to the top.

  5. Fold the left side of the opening under a generous 5/8” and press.
  6. Lap this folded edge over the closed zipper so that it just covers the stitching on the right side of the application.

    Positioning the left side of the zipper.

    Positioning the left side of the zipper.

  7. Pin the zipper tape to the left back approximately ½” inside of the folded edge. Baste the zipper tape in place if desired, going through the pants fabric and the seam allowance.

    Zipper pinned into place.

    Zipper pinned into place.

  8. Once satisfied with the zipper placement, unzip the zipper and machine stitch the left side of the zipper in place 1/2” to the left of the folded edge of the fabric. Stitch from the waist down the left side and stop about 2” from the bottom of the zipper.

     Begin stitching at the top.


    Begin stitching at the top.

  9. Drop the needle and raise the zipper foot so you can zip the zipper back up to the top of the pants.

    Drop the needle and raise the presser foot to zip the zipper so you can complete the stitching.

    Drop the needle and raise the presser foot to zip the zipper so you can complete the stitching.

  10. Continue to stitch, stopping just below the zipper stop.

    Turn your work to tack the bottom of the zipper.

    Turn your work to tack the bottom of the zipper.

  11. Drop the needle and raise the zipper foot so you can pivot the work and stitch across the bottom of the zipper to the fold line.

    Stitch to the folded edge then reverse to finish.

    Stitch to the folded edge then reverse to finish.

  12. Then back stitch, returning to the stitching line
  13. Test the zipper once more to make sure it works properly.

    Here is how the inserted zipper looks from the wrong side.

    Here is how the inserted zipper looks from the wrong side.

  14. Finish the pants with a waistband allowing the tab to extend from the right side where the zipper teeth are exposed. The left side waistband will finish cleanly along the folded edge of the fabric that covers the zipper.

    Completed zipper with waistband finish.

    Completed zipper with waistband finish.

Hope this little demo gives you the confidence to try a lapped zipper in your everyday pants.  It might be a bit old fashioned but it works great.

Happy Sewing, RAE

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