We’re going to learn how to add a zipper to a pullover. We’ll practice on the Summit Pullover from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop but you can also use the Denali and Kodiak pullovers.
How to Add a Zipper to a Pullover | Using the Summit Pullover
When there’s a chill in the air, I live in pullovers! I especially love my handmade ones because they actually fit! When the Summit Pullover was released I knew I had to make one. My problem was that I was out of snaps and wasn’t patient enough to wait for more to arrive! So, I wrote down the steps I used on how to add a zipper to a pullover – specifically, the Summit Pullover. Know that it’s the same process for the Denali and the Kodiak.
What kind of zipper do you need for your pullover and how long should it be?
For this project I used a sports zipper that had plastic teeth. With thick Polartec Fleece, a sports zipper will work best – the teeth are bigger than the zippers you’d normally use for zipper pouches and such. As for length, it depends on the size pullover you’re making. ALWAYS CHOOSE LONGER (the bottom of the zipper will be cut off later if it’s too long!)! I dug through my zipper bin and found one that was longer than the upper front AND the collar when sewn together.
Steps to Install the Zipper
First, you are going to steer away from the pattern instructions a bit! Scary, I know! But trust me, I ripped enough seams trying to figure this out and this is your warning!! Just have your pattern instructions handy and this tutorial pulled up at the same time. Follow the pattern instructions in step one and stop! DO NOT SEW THE BINDING ONTO THE COLLAR as the next few steps indicate! We need to install the zipper before we attach the collar binding.
After sewing step one, you need skip to step nine and attach the collar and neckline binding or simple neckline (Steps 13 & 14) as the pattern instructs.
Now it’s time for the zipper! Take a few deep calming breaths! You got this! Helpful notions that I have on hand when installing zippers are Wash Away Wonder Tape or Fabric Glue, Wonder Clips and a chalk or marking pencil.
It’s Zipper Time!
I’m a visual learner, so photos always help me to understand new techniques. Make your pullover look like my pictures! Start by laying your pullover right side up and laying your zipper right on top of the front center where you’ll install it. We are going to start with the left side (the wearer’s right side). Unzip the zipper so you have room to sew without the zipper pull getting in the way.
Flip the left zipper tape face down so the teeth are pointing away from the center and the raw edge of the zipper tape is aligned with the center front. Mark 1/2″ down from the top of the collar and align the top zipper stop with that marking. You can use the Wash Away Wonder Tape or Fabric Glue Stick to hold it in place. Wonder Clips work much better than pins for installing zippers! Using a regular presser foot or a zipper foot, sew the zipper tape to the pullover along the center front.
Now time for the other side! But not so fast! It’s important to make sure that your zipper is even on both sides when you are finished. Zip up the zipper and grab your marking pencil. Make a mark where the collar seam and the top of the neckline bindings are. I made sure the marks were even on both sides of the zipper.
Next, flip the right size of the zipper take face down so that the raw edges of the zipper tape are aligned with the center front and the teeth are pointing away from center. Sew this zipper tape to the center front. I found that a zipper foot made this step a little easier. You can see from the photo below how my zipper is positioned.
In the home stretch!
You did it! You did the hard part! Take a big deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back! You’re in the home stretch of this zipper hack and you’re doing great!
The next step is to topstitch along both sides of the zipper about 1/8″ away from the edge. (Not pictured, but you can see it on the final product).
NOW it’s time to tackle the collar binding…remember that part we skipped in the pattern instructions! We are going to add the binding, but we have to alter the way it’s sewn on. Follow the pattern instructions for pressing the collar binding piece in steps three & four. Next, unfold the pressed lines and refold the collar binding Right Sides Together (RST) and sewing the short end with 1/4″ seam allowance.
Then follow step five to attach the binding to the collar. Your collar binding will be a tad different because the ends will be closed off (like forming a little cap on the end). The short edge of the collar binding sewn in the previous step will be aligned with the center front zipper tape.
Flip the binding up and refold along the pressing lines you made from steps three and four of the pattern instructions. Topstitch the collar binding in place as directed in step seven….and YOU’RE DONE!
Well, almost! You still have to sew the rest of the pullover together!
I hope you enjoyed learning how to add a zipper to a pullover! Leave a comment below and let us know how you liked it! Come join us in the Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Facebook Group if you have any questions. Also, take a look through some of our other tutorials below:
I notice in your final close-up photo that the collar seam (where the collar is sewn to the yoke pieces) is bound. Can you share how this is done, and what binding product I would use for a fleece garment?
What do you do if you have a 2-ply collar and no binding? Thanks!!
After steps 3 & 4 then you would fold the binding with long edges aligned and Right Sides Together and sew the short edges at 1/4″. I hope this helps. You can hop in the Peekaboo Group for extra help or message me! Kasey
I am confused with the binding on the collar. I get that you follow steps 3 & 4. Then do you refold the binding the long way and sew both ends 1/4″ or do you fold it so that both short ends are together and sew them 1/4″ together? I can’t tell from the picture.
Thank you so much for this ability to change to a zipper.