Sewing a Side Zipper in a Dress

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Ladies with great looking dresses that are seldom worn due to minor fitting imperfections can get those garments back into circulation by sewing in a side zipper. You don't have to be a fashion designer or professional seamstress to alter a dress and achieve the perfect fit. Sewing in a side zipper is easy and can be performed in a few simple steps. In just a couple of hours, you can be modeling better fitting, comfortable dresses.

When to Consider a Side Zipper

Sewing a side zipper in a dress won't solve every fitting problem, but it certainly can assist the wearer in a couple of specific areas. For instance, if you are have difficulties pulling the dress over your torso while dressing because of a wide ribcage, a side zipper can offer a bit more leeway. The same holds true for ladies with wide hips or large buttocks. Whether you step into a dress or pull it over your head, a side zipper allows a few inches of room to maneuver through the garment. Once in place, just zip it up to return the garment to its tailored form.


The main reason for installing the zipper on the side of the dress is to help conceal it and maintain the original look of the garment. In most simple designs, you can cut a straight, vertical line down the front or back center of the dress and install a zipper. But in that scenario, you create a new seam, essentially altering the entire style of the dress. A matching colored zipper installed to an already existing side seam leaves the design fully in tact. It's also less conspicuous, as it is easily and effortlessly covered by your arms, belts or a jacket.


It really doesn't matter which side you place the zipper on in most fashions. However, your body shape and dress design may play a part in determining the height at which the zipper should be installed. Sleeveless dresses are the easiest in which to install a side zipper because you can cut straight down the seam below the armpit to provide a full coat-like opening. Dresses with sleeves require that you install the zipper at least an inch or so below this seam. Large breasted women should install the zipper as close to the armpit seam as possible. If you have a wide ribcage, install just above the waistline. To accommodate wide hips or a large buttocks, place the zipper just below the waist at hip-level.


The installation procedure of an invisible side zipper to a dress is fairly simple. First, remove the stitching from the seam within area where the zipper is being placed. Next, place the unzipped zipper into the opening and line up each side of the zipper evenly with the corresponding edge of the seam fabric. To keep the zipper in place prior to sewing, insert a few straight pins horizontally through the zipper and fabric about an inch apart, from top to bottom. Instead of pins, you may also hand-sew a few 1-inch long basting stitches. Use a sewing machine to permanently install the zipper and remove the pins or basting stitches.