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Closing Time

Sew great-looking closures

Garment closures can simply be utilitarian or a design element — it’s up to you. There are plenty of options available, including buttons, snaps, and zippers. Experiment with different closures to decide which works best for your style.


Refer to your owner’s manual for making machine-stitched buttonholes. The standard buttonhole with bar tacks at each end can be placed horizontally or vertically, depending on the design of the skirt. To determine the buttonhole length, add ⅛” to the width of the button. Make a practice buttonhole on scrap fabric before making one on your project.


With all of the different buttons available today, it’s easy to create a closure that becomes a stylish detail instead of a simple closure.

Sew-Through Buttons

When it comes to sew-through buttons, how you stitch them is really up to you. With four-hole buttons, you can make an X with the thread or run the stitches from side to side.

1). Start sewing from the right side of the garment by taking a small stitch through a few garment threads, at the button location.

2). Bring the needle up through one hole in the button and place a toothpick over the button.

3). Sew down through the next hole and through the garment.

Sew-Through Buttons - Step 3

4). Repeat multiple times to secure the button in place. Sewing over the toothpick creates a “shank” that allows the garment’s layers to fit comfortably underneath the button.

5). To finish, remove the toothpick, pull the button up from the fabric gently, and wrap the thread around the “thread shank” underneath the button a few times. Then stitch through the garment again and knot off the hread underneath the button.

Sew-Through Buttons - Step 5

Shank Buttons

A shank button has a loop underneath it for sewing through and to hold the button away from the fabric. To sew a shank button :

shank button

1). Start by knotting your thread and make a stitch through the fabric at the button location on the garment’s right side.

2). Thread the needle through the button’s shank.

3). Make a small stitch at the button placement on the garment and pull the thread taut.

4). Repeat to sew through the button shank several times.

5). To finish, make a stitch through the garment and knot off the thread.


Hooks and eyes are typically positioned above zippers, and on waistbands, to help hold skirts closed.

sewing hook and eye

  • For garment edges that overlap, pin the garment closed and mark where you want to sew on the hook and eye with a temporary fabric marker.
  • For garment edges that meet, pin the garment closed and mark the position of the hook 1⁄16″ from the garment edge and the eye so that it extends just beyond the garment edge.

Regardless of positioning, sew the hooks and eyes by taking stitches inside each of the loops and knotting after each stitch.


Snaps are sold in two pieces that fit together perfectly. To sew a snap to your skirt, try it on and mark where you want the snap to go. Make sure you mark where each side of the snap will be placed. Then, sew each snap to the garment, taking multiple stitches through each hole, and knotting after each stitch.

inside of garment


Zippers may look daunting at first, but don’t fret. With a few tricks up your sleeve and a zipper presser foot, they’re really simple to sew. When choosing the most appropriate zipper application, keep your design in mind. Each of these applications looks a little different from the outside because some have visible topstitching and others don’t. Typically in skirts, zippers are located on the left side or the center back. Choose the location based on your desired look.

Centered Application

A centered zipper application is most common and has stitching visible on the right side of the garment. A ½” or ⅝”-wide seam allowance is adequate.

1). Machine-baste the seam where the zipper will go closed. Stitch the remainder of the seam closed with a shorter, permanent stitch length, backstitching first at the bottom of the zipper seam. Press the seam allowance open.

Centered Application - Step 1

2). Mark stitching lines on the right side of the garment with a temporary fabric marker. Mark the lines ¼” away from each side of the seamline and across the seam just below the location of the bottom of the zipper.

Centered Application - Step 2

3). Turn the garment wrong side up and center the zipper, right side down over the seamline. Position the top of the zipper ½” to ⅝” below the top edge of the skirt. Secure the zipper in place with hand basting stitches or doublesided basting tape.

Centered Application - Step 3

4). Install the zipper foot and with the garment right side up machine-stitch along the marked lines. Pick open the basted seam with a seam ripper to expose the center of the zipper.

Centered Application - Step 4

Invisible Application

An invisible zipper is not visible from the right side; all you see is the seam. There are special presser feet made for installing invisible zippers, available at most fabric stores. The special foot isn’t absolutely necessary to install this zipper, but it does make the job incredibly easier. The coils of an invisible zipper curl back on themselves, so the zipper needs to be pressed before it’s sewn in place: Press the coils open along each zipper tape with low heat, being careful to not melt the coils as you press. This zipper is installed in an unstitched seam.

finished zipper

1). With the zipper open, pin one side of the zipper to the garment opening with the right sides together and the zipper coils aligned with the seamline. Install the invisible zipper foot and machine-stitch the zipper tape in place.

Invisible Application - Step 3

2). Stitch the remaining zipper tape to the remaining garment opening with the right sides together as in the previous step.

Invisible Application - Step 2

3). Install the standard presser foot. To finish, close the zipper and from the wrong side, backstitch and then machinestitch the rest of the garment opening closed, from the bottom of the zipper to the hemline. Fold the bottom end of the zipper out of the way of the stitching.

Invisible Application - Step 1

Lapped Application

A lapped zipper application uses a traditional zipper; however, the zipper is hidden with a lap of fabric that is topstitched in place. For directional purposes, this zipper is being applied in a center-back seam.

1). Machine-stitch the garment opening below the zipper opening with the right sides together, starting with a backstitch. On the right side, mark the seam allowances on the remaining garment opening with a temporary fabric marker.

Lapped Application - Step 1

2). Press the right seam allowance ⅛” to the wrong side, just inside the marked seamline. Press the left seam allowance to the wrong side along the marked seamline.

Lapped Application - Step 2

3). Install the zipper foot. Pin the closed zipper along the folded right side of the garment opening. Edgestitch close to the zipper teeth/ coils.

Lapped Application - Step 3

4). Pin the garment closed so that the left folded edge creates a lap and the marked seamlines are aligned.

Lapped Application - Step 4

5). Topstitch the zipper in place, ½” to ⅝” away from the lapped fold, pivoting across the bottom of the zipper. Backstitch or pull the top thread to the wrong side and knot the threads at the bottom edge of the zipper.

Lapped Application - Step 5

Exposed Zipper Application

An exposed zipper application displays the zipper on the right side of the garment. There are zippers available with satin tape, metallic tape, and even multicolored teeth. Feature these truly unique notions with this easy application technique. If your fabric is lightweight, fuse a strip of interfacing to the wrong side of the zipper opening.

1). On the right side of each of the garment pieces being joined, baste ⅛” to the left of the seamline of the zipper opening. Baste across the bottom as well. Then pin the two garment pieces with the right sides together and raw edges aligned. Machine-stitch the seam beneath the zipper opening. Mark a diagonal line from the corner at the bottom of the basted zipper opening to the side edges as shown.

Exposed Zipper Application - Step 1

2). Clip the seam allowances up to (but not through) the basting stitches at the bottom of the zipper on the marked line. Press the seam allowances to the right side along the basting stitches.

Exposed Zipper Application - Step 2

3). Press the bottom edge of the zipper to the wrong side. With the zipper facing up, pin it in place over the opening and on the right side of the garment. Hand-baste the zipper in place along each side of the zipper tape.

Exposed Zipper Application - Step 3

4). Topstitch the zipper in place: on one side of the zipper teeth, machine-stitch from the top of the zipper along the outside edge of the zipper tape; pivot and stitch across the bottom of the tape, stopping short of the teeth; pivot again and stitch up the same side of the zipper tape to the top edge. Repeat on the opposite side of the zipper teeth.

Exposed Zipper Application - Step 4

Make sure the stitches go through both the zipper tape and the fabric so that the zipper is secured in place. Remove the hand basting, and press, using a press cloth.

Source :
SKIRT-A-DAY SEWING Create 28 Skirts
For A Unique Look Every Day
Nicole Smith