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Adding a Zipper Shield to Any Pattern

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

Lots of the items I sew that have a zipper I tend to add a zipper shield to protect the skin from the zipper and make it softer and more comfortable for kids to wear. There are many other reasons for a zipper shield and they are actually fairly easy to sew and add to items. I use them on everything from adapted swimwear, to jackets and in my example below a Baby Coversuit. In my example I have used the FREE Lybstes Suit in size 56-62cm (0-3 months). I had some left over OTY Fabrics French Terry and some Brush Sweatshirting scraps so I decided to sew up the Coversuit to test the design. It has many options for closure, from snap closure front, zipper sewn in on an angle or in the option I chose to do a zip running down the central fold line. As I was putting in a zip I decided to add a zipper shield which I often add to items for Babies that have a zipper. There was no shield pattern piece for this design so I decided to just draft one. They are pretty easy to draft and add to zips no matter what you are sewing, closed end or open end zip the concept is pretty much the same. In my example I show you how to add them to a closed end zipper. Open end you would just omit the way I finish off the end of the zipper shield with the Coversuit. If you want to make your own Lybstes Coversuit with the zipper and shield this tutorial will probably come in handy! Now onto the tutorial...

What you will need:

  • A ruler

  • a marker (tailors chalk, some sort of fabric marker that washes or irons off)

  • scrap of coordinating fabric for the shield (I recommend lighter fabric to prevent it being bulky)

  • Overlocker, standard sewing machine with zipper foot

  • thread

  • Pins or Wonder Clips

  • Zipper of your choice

  • Item you are sewing up and adding zipper to (unsewn is best)

Steps to add a Zipper Shield:

First off you need to grab your zipper and front of your pattern piece. You need to measure the front edge of your pattern piece to see how long you need the Shield to be. If you are doing closed end like I was you can choose to run the shield right to the end of the outfit and cut off as you overlock. Often I just measure the zip and add an extra 4cm or more to the end of the Zipper Shield piece to allow for the end to be comfortably covered when its within an item. In my example I use a 30cm closed end zip. I measure a piece of fabric 6cm longer at the top of the zip and 5cm longer at the bottom. So for a 30cm long closed end zip I would have a piece of fabric 41-42cm long by 5cm wide.

Measure and cut your zipper shield.

Cut two pieces of zipper shield to your measurements (mirror images of each other) and place right side to right side. Curve the top edge by about 3cm into a half moon shape. Stitch from the top of that curve down to the end on one long side and across the short non curved end. Turn inside out and iron flat. Overlock or finish the raw edges together.

Place your zip facing you onto the shield with the curved edge facing under the zip and away from the edge. Fold the curved end over the zipper end folding the top tape away from the zipper top as you fold. Ensure you have the zipper pull end covered by the curved piece, adjusting the position of your zipper to get the best cover of the curve over the zipper pull. Clip zip in place and fold over the curved end tucking your excess zipper tape to the side. Stitch zipper to zipper shield (baste or just use a straight stitch)

Clip zipper to shield edge

fold curved end over the zipper pull to cover it

You are now ready to attach the zipper and zipper shield to the front of your item. In my example I have stitched the two front pieces together after making a marker at the 30cm mark which is the end of the zipper. If you have a hood like I do I recommend attaching that first and closing the shoulder seams before inserting the zip. It makes for a tidier edge.

Stitch fronts together marking zipper placement

With front wrong side facing you open out the front edge so you can see the right side. Place zipper shield with zipper facing down against the edge of your front, zipper and shield with overlocked edge against the edge. Clip in place taking care to make sure the top of the zipper shield aligns with your front edge cleanly and that the end of your zipper shield goes against the stitched fabric seam edge not the outer right side.

Clip zipper facing down to front edge

Stitch zip and zipper shield into place using a zipper foot.

Open out and have other side facing you

Fold zipper shield back and clip away from the zipper. With other side of front facing you clip zipper right side with front right side ensuring the zipper top and bottom aligns with your other side of the zipper you already stitched on. Stitch in place with zipper foot. Fold back your zipper tape at the top end and stitch away from the edge. Trim end if needed

Attach other zipper edge to front edge
Zipper stitched in place

Flip your item right side out and keep your zipper shield clipped out the way for now. Open zip. Topstitch your non-shield zipper side close to the edge to just before the end of your zipper. Backstitch and cut threads off.

Topstitch non shield zipper edge

Unclip your zipper shield and fold back to under your zip. Close zipper and smooth the shield under your zipper. Starting from where you ended on the other zipper side topstitch catching the end of the zipper shield as you stitch. Continue to stitch around your zipper edge, turning at the end and stitching up the other edge topstitching the zipper in place.

start stitching from where you finished before
stop at zipper end and turn to stitch across
Turn again and begin stitching up the other side
This is what it looks like from behind
One topstitched zipper

You can now go on to finish and sew up your item as your zipper and shield are sewn in place. I hope these instructions made sense and helped you create a zipper shield for your item! Happy sewing :-)

Finished Coversuit with Zipper Shield

Note: For an open end zip don't add the extra fabric at the end of your zipper shield. Instead only have a seam allowance and stitch the end closed as per the earlier step to sew up your shield pieces. Have it end at the bottom of your zipper where the zipper ends are. You may need to make your shield slightly wider so it can provide more of a wind break or storm cover, but make sure it can comfortably curve over the top of your zipper and still fit at the neckline otherwise it will bunch up and get bulky.

thanks for checking out yet one more of my tutorials


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