• Dwynwen at Loch Ness Knitting

Inserting a zip into a knitted garment

I previously posted about my recent knit, Carbeth Cardigan from Kate Davies Designs. This was a lovely quick knit holding two DK weight yarns together to create a bulky weight. I used two colours from my sustainable naturally hand dyed Cafe Collection of yarn to give a cosy tweedy effect.


Instead of finishing with a button band I used an icord finish on the two front edges of the cardigan to prepare for a zip insertion. Learning how to use a zip for your knits is a useful tool, lots of parents avoid buttons on child garments as it may be a potential choking hazard. Also anyone with dexterity issues, lacking nimble fingers or fingers at all may find a zip closure easier to use.


The Carbeth design is a great practice piece for zip insertion as it has bulky stitches for you to see you work and a firm gauge. This means that you can easily see where you are working and the knitted fabric isn't constantly slipping around in your hands.


To modify the pattern ready for the zip insertion I just missed out the button band directions and skipped straight to the icord edge finish which was already included in the pattern directions.


1) Start by blocking the finished garment. Carbeth is knitted in one piece so the purpose of this blocking is to ensure that any growth or filling out takes place before you attach the zip. This is really important for an accurate measurement of your required zip length, and for a smooth finish.


2) Measure the zip edge, at least twice to be sure of your required zip length.


Wait 1 week for zip to arrive from internet shop...









3) When your zip arrives pin it into place along one front edge of the garment.


With these bulky stitches you can easily place you pins without splitting or pulling at the yarn.


I've placed my pins about 1.5 inches apart to ensure everything stays in place as I work.








4) With the right side of the garment facing you. Hand sew using a back stitch to attach the zip.


Work inbetween the stitch loops to hide your stitches.



5) When you reach the neck edge of the garment unzip so that you are not trying to manoeuvre around the bulk of the zip.









6) Repeat on the other side.


7) You zip is now attached on the right side of the garment, but will be loose on the wrong side.


8) Working on the inside of the garment you have a choice


a) Hand stitch over the edge of the zip to stop it from catching


b) Sew a piece of ribbon over the zip edge, by hand or machine.


I prefer option 2 for a neater finish.



Although I've used hand sewing for this method I've also inserted zips into my knits using my sewing machine. When using the machine I follow the same sewing order that I would for inserting a zip into any garment. The change I make to work with a knitted fabric is to slow right down with the sewing. You can also try using a walking foot on your sewing machine that is designed to work with bulky fabric.


I encourage you to have a go at zip insertions, they really are not as hard as they look and as always I'd love to see your projects.


Ideas to try:


Recycle a sweater into a zip front cardigan using a zip.


Steeking, knitting in the round with the intention of cutting and inserting a zip or button band.



With either of these I recommend you add at least one column of supporting hand sewn stitches along the front edges to stabilise the garment before cutting and inserting the zip.


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