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Lapped Zip Tutorial

Lapped Zip Tutorial

This lapped zip tutorial has been written by Victoria Peat from The Little Black Duck blog. Victoria is an avid crafter who sells craft patterns and blogs about her free patterns and sewing & knitting exploits.

A lapped zip is a nice and neat way to insert a zip into the back of a cushion or pillow cover. It gives a really professional and clean finish. Many people are nervous when it comes to inserting zips, but actually if you take your time and follow some great step-by-step instructions (see below!) then confronting the fear will be well worth it. You’ll be so pleased with your results you’ll be updating every room in the house.

For this tutorial I have used a fabric with an obvious right side and wrong side and I have used a contrasting thread colour so that you can see where to stitch. When you use a zip and thread to match your project you’ll be pleased with the results.

Inset Lapped Zip Tutorial

Measure your cushion insert and cut your fabrics, adding a seam allowance to all of the edges. Make sure that the seam allowance along the opening for the zip is 5/8″.

I like to place my zip about 1/4 of the way down the back of the cover, but it’s up to you where you would like to place yours.

How to sew an inset lapped zip

Choose an all purpose/standard zipper that is a few inches shorter than the width of your finished cushion.

Place your fabrics right sides together and position the zip in the middle. Mark on the fabric each end of the zip and place a pin perpendicular to the edge.

Beginners sewing skills

Sew up to the first pin and do a couple of back stitches, sew between the pins with a long basting stitch. At the second pin start sewing and do a couple of back stitches then sew to the end of the seam.

Lapped zips for cushions

Press the seam flat and then press the seam allowances open.

With the right side of your fabric facing down, flip the main fabric above the seam allowance down out of the way so that it is facing the other main fabric and you are left with just one seam allowance sitting above the seam line.

Open the zipper and place face down, aligning the coils against the basted seam that you have just sewn. Make sure that the start and end of the zip sit between the marks that you made in the first step.

Pin along the length of the zipper tape. Baste along the zipper tape along the outside edge. Remember you should be sewing through the zipper tape and seam allowance only!

Zip sewing tips

With the main fabric still out of the way fold the seam allowance that you’ve just sewn the zipper tape to, back on itself to create a small fold (about 1/8″) just below the zipper tape.

Pin along this fold and sew in place along the length of the zipper, making sure you don’t sew across the seam line and facing seam allowance. Backstitch at both ends.

I like to start sewing with the zipper closed, sew about half way down, then with the needle down, open the zipper. This keeps the zip pull out of the way and avoids wonky stitching as you try to work around it.

Insert a lapped zip

Here’s a closer look at that edgestitching….


Detail of edgestitching

Flip your work over so that it lays flat. Close the zip and turn everything back over so that the right sides are facing up

Pin the zip in place from the right side….


Applying a lapped zip

…checking as you go that the pins are catching the zipper tape on the back….


Neat zip insertion techniques

Get out your seam ripper and remove the basting stitches. Make sure you don’t take out the pins though.

Stitch where you have pinned from the right side. You are essentially stitching three sides of a long thin rectangle to secure the second zipper tape in place, whilst hiding the zip pull.


Enclose a lapped zip

Start at the centre seam and sew perpendicular to the centre seam out around 3/4″ (make sure you do a few back stitches at the start), pivot and sew parallel to the seam line, about  1/2″ out. When you get to the other end of the zip (just past the stopper), pivot and sew towards the centre seam, ending with a few back stitches.


Learn to sew techniques

There you have it, one inset lapped zip. Congratulations!  Why not try an invisible zip next? 

Find more other great sewing projects on the Little Black Duck blog.