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easiest knitted sweater zipper install ever

27 March 2011 362,255 views 66 Comments

One of the more dreaded knitting finishing techniques is installing a zipper. I admit it, I’ve never been a fan either. There are multiple helpful zipper tutorials out there, and I’ve used a few of them. I always came back with the same issue though; you lay out the sweater, you center the zipper underneath and try to baste in the zipper. The problem is as soon as you pick up a piece of knitted fabric, it does what knitted fabric does. It stretches and drapes and wiggles out of that straight taut line. You’re trying to sew a stiff tape with no give onto a floopy material. It’s like trying to get a pair of tights on a squirmy three-year-old. If you’re a perfectionist like me, it’s a nightmare.

I think I’ve found a solution though. If I’m remembering correctly, it’s something that StashKnitRepeat Amy tipped me off to two summers ago. I used it to sew in a zipper on one of the Knitting it Old School
sweaters and then I used it again last week finishing Pump Jockey.

Hold on while I blow your mind at the simplicity.


Blocking wires.


They hold the knitted fabric in place and stablize the whole deal. It’s so simple, yet so effective. I’m already looking at knitting another sweater that needs a zipper. That’s how well it worked.

Here’s how I did it:

Easiest knitted sweater zipper install ever from Splityarn.com

I started by weaving in two blocking wires on each side of the sweater fronts. One right along the first set of stitches right on the edge, the other about 4 or 5 stitches away.

zippertutorial (3 of 12)

With my small rotary mat inside the sweater, I placed the zipper underneath the sweater fronts taking care to center it directly under the edges.

zippertutorial (4 of 12)

While it was still laying there all correctly positioned, I pinned one side of the zipper tape down between the blocking wires

zippertutorial (6 of 12)

Starting at the bottom, I began backstitching the zipper in along the teeth edge first, and then once more along the edge of the zipper tape.

zippertutorial (5 of 12)

I came up through the zipper tape, into the sweater between two columns of stitches.

zippertutorial (11 of 12)

And then back down a row or so, taking care to stay in the same column of stitches. This puts the thread in the ditch between stitches and is invisible from the front.

zippertutorial (12 of 12)

It will look like this from the backside when you’re done with the first side of the zipper

zippertutorial (8 of 12)

Leaving the blocking wires in, I put it back down on the mat and pin basted the other side.

zippertutorial (10 of 12)

I then opened and separated the two sides of the zipper to sew in the other half. Obviously this step needed feline assistance. Thanks, Mother!

zippertutorial (7 of 12)

And that was it! I took the blocking wires out as the last step and had a zipper installation that was painless.

Pump Jockey finished!

Crazy easy, right?


  • Molly said:

    Excellent tutorial! I’ve never heard of blocking wires. My sweater’s finished except for the zipper. Wish me luck!

  • Astrante said:

    I’ve been keeping this brilliant tip at the back of my mind, for the day I’d need it… and the day has come. I’m going to install my first zipper in a knitted sweater and thanks to you I feel quite confident about the process ! Thank you so much.
    Wish me luck !

  • Ki said:

    Thank you so much for this. I followed a link here from Ravelry and bookmarked this page. I’ve had a cardigan that I failed to properly set a zipper into four years ago…dug it out tonight and redid it following this method. Brilliant!

  • Sylvia Strang said:

    Excellent technique, I will probay use my sewing machine instead of handsticthing. Thank you ever so much!

  • Zipper install | Avishoes said:

    […] was browsing some patterns on Ravelry (knitters heaven) I clicked through to “the easiest knitted sweater zipper install ever” and found indeed the easiest install ever. The brilliant thing about the internet and a site […]

  • Susan Smith said:

    This is nothing short of awesome! What a simple – yet brilliant – solution. I will no longer fear zipper installation! Thank you…

  • Stumbling Over Chaos :: Land of the red-hot linkities said:

    […] Tutorial of an easier way to sew zippers into knitting. (via Cabled Sheep) […]

  • Budgie said:

    I hope all the tutorials would be as clear as yours Caro! Magnificent, clear, awesome, incredible!!!

  • Sandra said:

    Used this technique over the weekend to sew a 28″ zip into the sweater Chicane, by Cookie A. Absolutely fantastic method. I had no issues with wobbly edges or stretching fabric. Wonderful, I’ll use this technique for every zipper I install in the future.

  • Knitter’s Pride blocking wires. | Hillsborough Yarn Shop said:

    […] designer and knitwear photographer Caro Sheridan suggests using blocking wires to help install a zipper on a knitted sweater–clever! Check out the “Techniques and tutorials” board on the HYS Pinterest page […]

  • The Tara Jacket, Finished Edition - Inside Knitscene - Blogs - Knitting Daily said:

    […] had never installed a zipper in knit wear before, and I used this amazingly handy tutorial Amy sent me from Splityarn. Blocking wires made an immense difference. I tried to pin down the […]

  • Oliver Tutorial no. 3 – Steeked Pockets | Petitchoufleur Knits said:

    […] fairly quick to do. If you want some extra tips (and have some blocking wires handy), you could try this method […]

  • Maureen said:

    Thank you for sharing your expertise

  • Fave Friday – The Dude Sweater | iKnit2Purl2 said:

    […] Rangel, on Ravelry. I’m a little nervous about adding a zipper but I’ve already found this great tutorial. I think I’ll try to modify this pattern to give it a modern, more fitted look […]

  • Marny CA said:

    Clever, outstanding …

    Wish there was/were a YouTube video!!

    As I’ve gotten older I’m more squimish about everything … there was a time when zippers were not to be feared.

    Now you’ve given me a new thought – but would be easier to see video.

    Thank you!!!

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