Sewing tips

Narrow Zipper Foot

Since becoming serious about my sewing, I have purchased a number of specialty presser feet. One of my more recent purchases has been a “narrow zipper foot”. That’s right… a “narrow zipper foot”. There is more than one kind of zipper foot for regular zipper applications (an “invisible zipper foot” is used when sewing invisible zippers).

If you’ve sewn any zippers, you’re likely familiar with the regular zipper foot. Here’s a photo for comparison.

Regular zipper foot and narrow zipper foot (Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip - narrow zipper foot)
Regular zipper foot versus Narrow zipper foot

On the left is my regular zipper foot and on the right is my narrow zipper foot. These are both low-shank, snap on feet.

A regular zipper foot can be used with any sewing machine that can sew a centered straight stitch. You snap the regular zipper foot on to the shank using either the left or right bar, depending upon what seam allowance you will be sewing with.

A narrow zipper foot is half the width of a regular zipper foot. It’s single bar is located in the center of the foot and it can only be used with sewing machines with offset straight stitch features (either left or right of center can be used).

Centre straight stitch and left-offset straight stitch options (Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip - narrow zipper foot)
Centered straight stitch (6) versus Left-offset straight stitch (7)

I’ve used a regular zipper foot for sewing zippers for years. I have to admit that I don’t find them intuitive to use. I always seem to use the left position of the foot when I need the right and vice versa. Using my seam gauge to check the seam allowance in relation to the pattern’s instructions really slows down the process for me. Of course I’d rather double-check than sew a zipper incorrectly and have to rip it and start over. I also didn’t like that sometimes my regular zipper foot didn’t sit flat on my fabric.

I find my narrow zipper foot much easier to use. There is only one bar to choose from and my sewing machine has only one offset stitch to choose from. With each of those two options reduced to a single choice, I only have to worry about sewing the seam allowance at the required width.

Here’s a photo of my narrow zipper foot being used to sew a zipper.

Narrow zipper foot being used to sew on a zipper (Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip - narrow zipper foot)
Using a narrow zipper foot


Lately I’ve been hand basting my zippers into place before sewing them with my sewing machine. You can see some of my hand stitches in the photo. In the past I’ve tried pinning my zippers in place. You can either pin parallel or perpendicular to your stitching. The more perpendicular pins I used the more bunching of the fabric and zipper tape occurred. That made it hard to sew.

While parallel pinning reduced fabric/zipper tape bunching, it causes its own set of problems. Parallel pins are harder to remove while sewing and there is a greater risk of damaging your machine needle if you don’t remove them. I noticed that my fabric and zipper were also more likely to shift when I removed parallel pins. The likelihood of inadvertently scratching myself is much higher with parallel pinning. I’ve also tried stabilizing my zippers with double-sided tape. I had a dickens of a time aligning my zippers properly. So far hand-basting is the technique that works best for me.

I purchased my narrow zipper foot from Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases): HONEYSEW Zipper Foot Left Right (Narrow) 494470-20 Snap On #5011-3N For Babylock Bernette Brother Janome Singer by HONEYSEW

Do you have experience sewing with zippers? What presser foot do you prefer? How do you stabilize the zipper tape?


Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip - narrow Zipper Foot
Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip: Narrow Zipper Foot

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