Beginner Lapped Zipper

On my recent completed commission, I installed lapped zipper into the cushion backs. I wanted to hide the zippers on this commission, because I thought they would detract from the couple’s names. I’ve circled where the lapped zipper sits on the photo below.


Lapped Zipper Installation

Lapped Zipper Installation


On my previous cushion commissions, you can see the zipper was exposed. I was okay with this because they didn’t detract from the finished look of the cushion, so this might not be something that I use all the time. I must say though, that lapped zippers give a nice, clean finished look.

I came across a lapped zipper whilst looking at one of my own cushions on our couch. When I first started researching lapped zippers, I actually have no idea that is what they were called. I googled, ‘hidden zipper’, and ‘how to hide a zipper,’ and more often than note, a invisible zipper tutorial would appear. I just happened to stumble across ‘lapped zipper,’ in a related search on YouTube (thank goodness!). So for starters, don’t feel silly if you have no idea what a lapped zipper is, because neither did I until about a week ago.

I wanted to share with you guys a couple of learnings that I had whilst sewing lapped zippers. When it comes to sewing, I am personally someone who need to see something in action before completely understanding it, so I watched numerous videos on lapped zipper and how to’s. I found that a lot of people skipped really important steps, such as which way the fabric is position, what side is facing up, and what  side the zip is facing.

I read numerous other blog posts about how to install them, just in case these posts were clearer that the videos, but unfortunately not. Before you get too excited, I’m just going to say this is not a tutorial on how to install lapped zippers. I’m going to share he various resources that I used in order to understand how to install them, and provide you some learnings, but I definitely still suggest you use the wonderful blogs and videos that are available, because unlike me, you’ll probably understand really quickly.

Lapped Zipper Video Tutorial – this is the video I referred to the most. For starters, it’s created by someone called Erin (snap!), and Erin shows the direction of fabric, the zipper facing requirements, and it is a really clear video tutorial of how she installs them. This is the video that I would definitely recommend if you’d trying to get your head around lapped zippers.

Here are some links in case you find written tutorial easier to understand;

Zippered Pillow Tutorial – 2 Ways

How to Insert a Lapped Zipper

How to Sew a Single Lap Zipper for a Pillow

As you can see, people install them various ways. I suggest you try some of the above and see what works best for you.

For me personally, Erin’s video was the best way for me to understand how to install one. So the below learnings are concentrated on her video only.

Lapped Zipper Learnings

  1. I suggest using 2 contrasting fabrics when you try your first one out. It will make it a lot easier whilst you’re following Erin’s video. Cut on contrasting fabric longer than the other, so that it’s easier to follow her instructions.
  2. When Erin presses her fabric, she presses the seam open, and presses one side of the lapped zipper open also. I skipped pressing both seams open, as I noted that it was really obvious where my basting marks were – see below. So instead, I just skipped that pressing part and only pressed the first seam open.

    Lapped Zipper - Basting Holes

    Lapped Zipper – Basting Holes

  3. Once one side of the zipper is sewn onto the seam allowance, Erin mentions sewing a basting stitch for the other side of the zip. I skipped this step too, because I found it wasn’t necessary. After pressing the zip and fabric, it was easy enough for me to know where to sew, so basting the zip wasn’t required for me.
  4. If you’re creating your own pattern for a cushion and installing a lapped zipper, pay attention to the fact the lapped zipper requires 1.5″ seam allowance. You’ll need to take this into account for the cushion back, which will be longer than the front. Don’t do what I did and forget this, and experience a little heartache when you think your project is ruined!

I practiced twice before moving onto my commissions. Here’s a close up of what the lapped zippers look like in my commission pieces.

Installed Lapped Zipper

Installed Lapped Zipper

I am really happy with how they turned out, and now that I’ve practiced a few times I think they’re straightforward and relatively simple to install. I do remember feeling like I would never get the hang of them when I first start researching, so I just wanted to add don’t get disheartened if you don’t understand them straight away. It took me a little while and a few practice attempts to understand it, but I definitely suggest to preserve, because the end result is worth it.


12 thoughts on “Beginner Lapped Zipper

  1. Great tips! I have sewn few zippers. Never this beautiful. (One was on the husbands hockey bag – so that doesn’t need to be pretty) next time I’ll do better – thanks to you!


  2. Pingback: Bunting Cushion – Finito! | crosstitchery

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