How To Use Zippers In Your Cosplay Without Struggle

The easiest zipper tutorial ever! Even if you've never sewn before, follow these instructions to sew a zipper and make a professional looking Cosplay.

So a couple years ago, I had the opportunity to buy a Volkswagen Beetle for a really great deal.
That cute curvy little car had my name all over it, with one catch. It was a standard, a stick shift.
But I really wanted that car, and I wanted to learn something new. So I had a couple lessons
from my husband, aka the other half of Sandra Vee Cosplay, and soon I was driving and shifting
gears like a…person who had just learned to drive stick shift. I definitely stalled in some
awkward places. There were so many “firsts”: drive throughs, parking garages, hills all had their
challenges. But as I piled up more “firsts”, I felt more and more accomplished, until I started to
feel like I had some real skills driving stick shift.

We were yelling because…
it was windy?

Learning something new has its challenges. Learning to sew is a lot like learning driving skills.
You start with the very basics, and every step has new challenges. It can be tough not to
compare your skills with other cosplayers. For me and my Beetle, I was chugging along (and
sometimes stalling) on the road with experienced drivers, who had no idea what my problem
was. You might work really hard on your first sewing project, but still feel self-conscious when
you arrive at con, and see so many other crafted and purchased cosplays. Resist the urge to be
hard on yourself! If you work hard on something original, and you SHOW UP, be proud of your

You probably have a list of sewing skills, that would make you feel more professional. A bunch
of “firsts” to cross off, like sewing stretch fabric, a 100% “made by you” cosplay, making your
own pattern. How about zippers? Zippers definitely look professional, to go from “you made that,
didn’t you?” to, “I can’t believe you made that!” And guess what? You can sew a zipper. 100%. I
believe in you.

So here it comes, the easiest way I have ever seen, for sewing zippers into clothes. I really
hope you will try this tutorial, and that it helps you on your way to becoming the amazingly
talented cosplayer you are meant to be!

*In creating this tutorial, I relied heavily on a tutorial by one of the greatest sewing teachers
ever, Nancy Zieman. Her zipper tutorial is part of a three part series, The Absolute Easiest Way
to Sew. If you are new to sewing, or want to learn some time-saving tricks, make sure you check
out the short series.
sew-part-1/ A little vintage but the tips are very helpful!

If you are using this tutorial with a Sandra Vee Cosplay pattern, your pattern probably has 1″
seam allowance already. If you are using another pattern or making your own, check the
instructions and add extra seam allowance if needed.

What you will need:
*Fabric/pieces of your unfinished garment
*Zipper-a few inches longer than you need for the finished opening. If you are making your own
patterns, the zipper length from waist to hip should be 8″-10″.
*Fabric marker-easy to mark your notches, and the ink disappears on its own in a few hours.
*Tape-nothing special, just regular tape from the stationery store.
*Seam ripper, for pulling out basting (temporary) stitches.

Sewing meme

Preparing the Zipper and Seam

Use a zig zag stitch to finish the edges of each piece of your garment. Snip and mark your
notches with the fabric marker. The notch at the top is for seam allowance, 1″ from the edge.
The lower notch marks the bottom of the zipper opening.

Lay the two pieces with right sides together and sew the seam from the notch to the hem (blue
stitching) Remember to leave a 1″ seam allowance and go back and forth a few stitches at the
beginning of your seam.

Using a longer stitch length on your machine, sew from the waist to the notch with a 1″ seam
allowance (red stitching). You will be ripping these stitches out later so a contrasting thread
colour will make it easier to see the stitches.

If your zipper is a lot longer than your zipper opening, you can cut off the extra. With regular
stitch length, sew back and forth across the zipper, 1″ longer than the length of the zipper
opening. Go slow so you don’t break your sewing machine needle. Cut off the extra zipper
below your stitching.

Open up the garment and use an iron to press the seam allowance open. Lay your zipper face
down on the seam, with the actual zipper pull laying off the garment, higher than the edge of the
fabric. Use tape to stick the zipper down, exactly centred over the seam.

Zipper Tutorial

Stick a pin through the zipper and fabric at the notch to mark how long the zipper is.

Flip your project over so the right side is facing up. Lay one long strip of tape over the length of
the zipper opening. Make sure it is centred exactly over the temporary stitching, from the top
edge to the pin marking the bottom of the basting stitches.

If you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine, change it out now. The foot is narrow, so you
can sew closer to the zipper. Check your sewing machine manual if you aren’t sure how it
works. If you don’t have a zipper foot, you can still do a good job with this technique.

Sew around the tape, down one side, across the bottom and back up the other side. Sew slowly,
as close to the tape as possible.

When you are done stitching, flip over your project and make sure you caught the zipper with all
your stitching. Redo any missed sections if you need to. Remove the tape from front and back.
Use your seam ripper to pull out the basting stitches.

Zipper How to

That’s it! You sewed a zipper! This is a great skill to have for cosplay. Zippers can be used any
time you are using woven (non-stretchy) fabric but want a finished garment to fit close to the

Patterning Tip: If you are making your own patterns, make sure the zipper reaches from the
smallest part of your body (your waist, for example) to the widest part of your body (bust or
hips). That way the opening will be big enough to pull over your hips but give you the fitted
shape you want at your waist.

Now that you can sew zippers, what will you make? Our BOX PLEAT SKIRT LINK would be a
great project. Share your amazing zippered creation on Instagram with #sandraveecosplay.
Thank you for making us a part of your creative process!

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