Handpicked Zipper Application – Tutorial

sewing notions
Jane awhile back talked about her handpicked zipper that she did on Butterick 5917.  I tend to avoid any hand sewing like the plague. My Sewing OCD comes out like crazy because I want all the stitches to be nice and even. Plus, I’m a horrific hand-sewer to begin with, OCD aside.

So it was with great reluctance that I decided to put in a handpicked zipper into this lovely skirt I was making, and see what all the fuss is about. In addition, I went absolutely against the book here and DIDN’T LINE IT!  Consider me officially straight jacket crazy.

The traditional way of doing a handpicked zipper is with a prickstitch.  A prickstitch is a like a backstitch, I wanted an near invisible stitch and thought the machine way would be to distracting.

To make a prickstitch bring the needle up through all layers of the zipper tape and garment. (Below I’m using a sample fabric.)

PicMonkey Photo

Take the needle place it close to the stitch, and ‘prick’ up the fabric and/or  zipper facing. Bring the needle out through the layers.
Hand zipper

Pull the thread through and you will only have a small dot of thread on the outside of the garment.
Hand zipper

Continue to make stitches placing the needle near or even slightly behind the last stitch.
Hand zipper

The back side will have a line of stitches  like so. (OCD rising up like an uncontrollable wave!!)
Hand zipper

Typically you space the pricks about 1/4″.  Don’t pull the thread to tight or puckers will result.

A handpicked zipper offers near invisibility to the surface, but it’s quite strong. I did this on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and really it didn’t take that much time at all and was rather a  pleasant task to do. Plus, it looks very minimal which I like.  And, really it’s a better zipper install then when I do it by machine. Go figure. So are you ready to give it a try?



  1. […] but I enjoyed the process of finishing so much that I can’t keep those details to myself! I handpicked the zipper into the skirt, which was my first time doing so and I’m beyond happy with it […]


  2. You did a great job! I’ve picked one zipper in my life 22″ back jumpsuit. It was in a class and it lasted 10 years of wearing the garment at Christmas each year! I’m not thinking of this as a new process again. 🙂 Unless it’s a request from a customer.


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