Home » Featured » Simple Shirts with Exposed Zippers (works as cardigan too!!)

Simple Shirts with Exposed Zippers (works as cardigan too!!)


Zippers are kind of a quirky thing right now. 


They are not only used for function…..but for style.  Usually zippers are added onto clothing but are not meant to be seen………however, they can be added as a statement.  Or an accessory.  And you have to admit, they kind of add a fun little detail to fashion right now.  We’ve all seen them added to shirts, pants, clutches, jewelry, etc.   So while at the fabric store the other day, I picked up a few to add to some shirts.



And am excited to see how them turned out.  They really gave these shirts some kick. 


And who doesn’t want a little kick now and then.



The zippers are completely functional.  So each of these shirts can be layered over other shirts…….just like a fun new cardigan.

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I know I’m going to have to explain to my mom that I know that zippers are meant to be hidden. 

But even my mom will have to admit that a fun and colorful zipper really adds some cool detail.



Would you like to add some zippers to your shirts?


First of all, you will need separating zippers.  They are the kind that open at the bottom, like a zipper for a coat.  And make sure the zipper is at least as long as the front of the shirt……or longer.  I bought my zippers at Joann’s.  (Also, I bought all the shirts at Old Navy.)


Place the zipper (face up) along the front center of the shirt.  Pin in place.  You could tape the zipper in place like I did here……but it’s not as crucial to get really close to the zipper teeth so I wasn’t as worried about the pins getting in the way.  But you choose your technique.)


Then, with your zipper foot on, start at the bottom of the zipper (and at the bottom of the shirt) and sew on the very outer edge of one side of the zipper and sew all the way to the top of the shirt.  Then sew the other outer edge of the zipper, starting at the bottom of the shirt again, and sew up to the top.  (Make sure and backstitch at both ends.)


Then, unzip the zipper and cut right down the center of the shirt.


Because the zipper is just a bit too long, you’ll need to cut it off.  But first, while the zipper pull is down at the bottom of the shirt and out of the way, you need to sew little stops at the top of the zipper……so that the zipper will stop at the top of the shirt.  You will make stitches on each side of the zipper, right between two of the teeth so that the pull can’t go past it.  To do so, put your sewing machine on the zig-zag stitch and change your stitch length to zero.  This will make a zig-zag stitch without it moving forward at all.  Push on the foot pedal and allow the thread to sew back and forth to create a bump of thread.


See how that looks?


Then cut off the zipper right above the next zipper tooth and then melt the edge of the zipper with a lighter.


Next, turn one side of the zipper over and tuck the raw edge of the fabric under, towards the zipper.  Pin in place.


Then sew from the top, making sure you are sewing through the folded under fabric that’s underneath.  Remove the pins as you sew.


Now zip up the zipper and you’re all set.



Now make another one.  Or two.


A great little shirt with a funky zipper…….or a thin little cardigan.



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  1. Dale Hern says:

    I’m making a dress from a pattern that calls for an invisible zipper. I want to use a regular zipper with large teeth and show most of the color of the zipper. What alterations do I need to do to attach this zipper? Since it calls for an invisible zipper, I’m not sure how to account for the extra opening the exposed zipper will require. Thanks,

  2. Trayne1837 says:

    I am still a bit old fashion…. I do like the fact that if a shirt or blouse is a bit tight that you can give it a little longer life with the zipper… don’t know if I would go as far as a bright yellow on purple… , but that’s just me.
    I do like the method though being able to place the zipper in the middle sew it down and then cut the shirt.
    I am about to do some quilted sweatshirt jackets… and had planned on a zipper front… So, I will test out this method.
    Always enjoy your page/blog and ideas

  3. Betsy H. says:

    I love your site!! I remembered this tutorial (which I’m rather proud of, since it’s from before my daugher was born and I’m about to have a second) while I was trying to figure out swimwear for the summer. I liked the idea of SwimZip rashguards, but wasn’t fond of their patterns (or the $30 price tag). Instead: I plan on getting one or two less expensive rash guards locally and a couple of plastic zippers and making my own :-D – but since I thought of it (and couldn’t find any tutorials on making your own SwimZip on google oddly enough) I had to share with you!! Seems like an idea your readers may enjoy (and your kiddo’s may love for when you get to the pool this year!!). now: to see if I can find swim diapers that match, because while I’m ready to add a zipper to a rashguard, I’m not ready to get some swim-diapers that match made! (that is, until I see the price/patterns… then I’ll probably change my mind, lol!!) – (I do have a few tutorials for THAT stashed away though ;-P)

  4. kelly thompson says:

    ooh, so cute- love it

  5. Ginger says:

    I posted a pic and link of your exposed zipper tut on my blog. Please let me know if I need to remove it. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Ugi Purwanti says:


  7. Ugi Purwanti says:

    keren banget!!!

  8. Ahuefa says:

    I am on my way to get a zipper – as I just spilled some chocolate-milk on a with shirt which doesn’t fit over my pregnancy-belly no more any way ;)

    THANKS a lot!

  9. Crystal says:

    I think the cardigan idea wold work especially well with a double zipper, or whatever it’s called. The kind that has two pulls, one from the top and one from the bottom. With a traditional cardigan I prefer to button just a button or two near the bustline with the top and bottom open. I think the double zipper would give me that ability. However, I think I would apply the zipper in a traditional “hidden” manner. It suits my conservative personality better. I don’t follow fashion trends and didn’t even know these showy zippers were in style. They are cute, but I’d prefer something that won’t be “outdated” by next year.

    Keep up the good work. I absolutely love your blog and your fantastic creativity!!! You are an inspiration to many.

  10. Tess says:

    That is a great idea and I love it!! I am always searching for a cute cardigan that will look good with anything and I think that might just be it. It’s a great idea and looks super cute, I am definitely going to go make this. Thanks for the idea!!!

  11. Ija says:

    wow!! You know, your blog has inspired me of taking sewing lesson! I haven’t enrolled the class just yet, but I bought a sewing machine already! hahahha!

    Keep on posting your awesome ideas!! I love love love it!!

  12. Renee says:

    Wow Ashley great idea its like its a new design when one adds the zipper, how many times have we all got stuck with the buttons skiping one missing one sewing them on . this is great made my day thanx so much for the site for us too learn and enjoy your work . by Renee

  13. Becky H says:

    Oh my gosh, Ashley! I didn’t even realize this was your blog! Haha. I just looked at your profile and was shocked! You’re so talented. So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. t just started blogging a few weeks ago. You can visit me at!

  14. Becky H says:

    This is such a GREAT idea! Thanks for sharing. I’m gonna do it!

  15. Ashley @ MommyByDayCrafterByNight says:

    You make the cutest stuff!!! Everything you make is so so awesome!! I love this idea! I have a sewing contest going on my blog and would LOVE it if you can over and entered! Lots of fun prizes:)
    xoxo, Ashley

  16. Gloria says:

    Great idea!
    Just to avoid some explanations to mom….. Do you think it will work just as well if Iadd the zipper with the T-shirt inside out (same procedure)?
    The purpose is to have the zipper hidden….

  17. Mandy says:

    This is wonderful! What a fun and easy way to add some ZIP (pun intended) to a plain tee. My daughter is boarderline obsessed with having shirts for every holiday, so this and a couple of quick appliques and we’ve got a new Christmas wardrobe!
    Bonus that I saw these chunky type of zippers on clearance at Joann’s the other day. And in red, too…

  18. Lori says:

    I just bought a shirt just like this at Target for my daughter. I bought it so I could figure out how to make it. :-) Happy to see this tutorial.

  19. Brigitte says:


    I discover your site, I find it very well!. The idea of the Lightning closures Eclair is brilliant,

    kisses of France

    Excuse my English, please!


    1. Maddy says:

      Il faut que tu dis ca en passe: “I discovered” ou “I found” qui se traduit par “J’ai trouve” ou “J’ai découverte”.
      Euhhh je pense que tu peux voir que je parle englais, mais je pense que tu vas trouver que c’est plus utiles en francais. Aussi, tu as dit que “L’idee de la foudre fermetures eclair (un type de pâtisserie) est brillante”. Je ne sais pas que tu veux dire, mais… je pense que c’est pas ca. Desolee, et google translate est toujours préférée par moi.
      Anyone who doesn’t speak french: I was just helping Brigitte with “The idea of the Lightning closures Eclair” line. Only I dont know if she’ll understand my google translate-ifyed french.

  20. CassTheCoolest says:

    I read that and thought it said “who will completely CLAIM your little ones all through the night” LOL! Good on you for sharing, I have a cardigan with a collar and a zipper which is nearly threadbare seeing as I love it so much, I should just find a nice collared jumper and add a zip to it.On another note, I have been unable to find fun zips online. My neice once had an item of clothing with diamantes in the zipper teeth and I thought I would LOVE to use one of them but can’t seem to find any to buy!!?

  21. Danielle says:

    love this! too fun! Thanks for sharing:>

  22. jesy says:

    I love this idea! :D

  23. Allyson @ A Heart for Home says:

    So cute! Any tip for keeping the lighter close enough to the zipper, but not so close as to burn the fabric? I have a horrible feeling I’d set the shirt on fire.

    1. CassTheCoolest says:

      LOL *Like*

  24. dannyscotland says:

    I am constantly amazed at your creativity. These are super cute!

  25. Crafterhours says:

    I love me some exposed zip! Your color combos are fantastic. I have to say, when I posted an exposed zip on my blog, I received the first round of negative comments in a year and a half of blogging. People were not happy with it and not afraid to tell me so. Very weird. Anyway, clearly they’re wrong and you and I are right, and I’m glad your commenters seem to have good taste!

    1. Anja says:

      I remember that. I didn’t leave a comment then but I loved yours and I love Ashleys too. I had it on my list and then… life happened. Will for sure try this out before the swap.

  26. Lindsay says:

    Wow, this is brilliant! I love it!!!
    I am so going to make some :)

  27. Katy says:

    Whoa. Love this idea! You are my favorite blog in the whole world; I get so excited and stop what I’m doing when you hit my mailbox!!! Thanks!

  28. Anna Rose Johnson says:

    I love this so much. Exposed zippers are so in right now, I love that you’ve shown us an easy way to incorporate it into my little one’s (or MY!!) wardrobe.

  29. Erin @ Small and Simple Things says:

    I have been afraid of zippers up to now, but you make them seem so approachable. (Yes, I’m a newbie with a sewing machine.)

  30. Jenette says:

    I’ve been looking for a light-weight cardigan, but know I don’t need to find one. I can make exactly what I am looking for. Thanks a bunch!

  31. Amy K. says:

    SO CUTE!! I think I may have to zipperfy a few boring t’s of my own!

  32. karomanah says:

    this is a brilliant idea!

  33. Lynette says:

    Such a smart idea to add zippers for cardigans. Love that! No worries about buttons or finishing the edges. How smart!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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