Bonus Post – Why Zipper & Thread Color Matter

Since many of you are beginners I thought I would add in a few tips on professional touches that will take your finished creation from something that looks homemade to something that looks professional quality. Now there is nothing wrong with homemade – its the looking homemade part that we want to avoid. Earlier in the sewalong I mentioned that it if you couldn’t find a zipper or thread in the same shade as your fabric (for multi-colored fabric pick the predominant or background color) you should go just a shade darker. Why? Well let’s take a closer look at the reasons.

I’ve done some foolish sewing things in my day. And since I have no shame let me point a big one out to you. Here is exhibit A:

What do you see friends? Oh what is that you say? You see….THE ZIPPER! Now why is that? Oh, its because its white and the dress is green. Now hold one moment here. You see that this is an obvious mistake (besides the fact that I have arrows and such pointing to it). I looked and looked and looked for a zipper that was the exact color as this dress. And of course, I couldn’t find one. So I thought I was being smart when I bought a white zipper and inserted it and had visions of painting the zipper pull a green to match. Ha ha ha! It wasn’t smart. Why? because the zipper is completely obvious and it makes a big fat eyesore on an otherwise pretty little dress. And this is an invisible zipper. You see, invisible zippers do show a little too from time to time- they aren’t in fact invisible unless you also color coordinate them too. The same thing would happen with too light (or white) a color of thread.

OK, I’ll admit that this is an obvious example. But let me tell you that this same thing would have happened were I to pick even a shade lighter green zipper than the dress color. Why? Because lighter colors are easier to see than darker colors. Darker colors recede into the background while lighter colors steal the show. Its a fact of a life. To point out just how important this is let’s also examine where the zipper is on the Ginger skirt. Oh yeah! It’s on the back. Right. Over. The. Derriere. Hmmmm…..

To bring this point home even a little more, I decided to whip up a few samples to show you.

This is some spare fabric from my 1st Ginger and I put in a zipper that was a shade lighter than the fabric here. It was a light blue. Can you see it? Yeah, its that lovely little light blue strip running down the angle of the photo. In fact, it almost looks white up against the deep blue color its surrounded by.

Now this zipper is a shade darker. Do you see it? Yes, I can see it, but would I notice it really unless it was pointed out to me? No. See how its not as obvious? In fact the navy color of this zipper almost looks like its the same color as the fabric. Now, what about thread?

See what I mean? The lighter shade is much more obvious on the blue parts of the fabric – which is the main color of the fabric. The darker thread is noticeable but less noticeable than the lighter thread – blends in more.

Now, let’s get something straight. I’m talking about matching thread and zippers. Don’t get mixed up and think that you should go putting a black zipper in a white skirt – that is not what I’m saying. I’m talking about similar shades. I’m also not saying that this rule applies if you want contrasting thread or an exposed zipper. Those are different. Those are supposed to take the forefront and be a display of workmanship and fun. Make sense? Just a little tip from someone who learned this the hard way, that’s all. Do you have any sad zipper or thread stories? Do share.




15 thoughts on “Bonus Post – Why Zipper & Thread Color Matter

  1. Very good post! I’m forever grateful to the one seller in my local frabic shop who once said to me: “When in doubt, go for the darker tone”.

  2. my first skirt, a couple months ago, would have been the perfect example for this article…i thought that if it’s called “invisible zipper” it really is invisible…not so much, especially after gaining a pond…or two 🙂
    Thank you and Great post, as always!

  3. I kinda like the light blue zipper! If you had used light blue piping with the lighter zip and a light thread, it would have looked like deliberate design choices.

    I’ll be honest. I don’t get the appeal of invisible zippers. These zippers don’t seem as sturdy as regular zippers, they AREN visible, and I don’t see them that much in RTW (except cycling jerseys, which are the height of fashion).

    1. I have to agree about the appeal. They can be nasty little buggers. I’ve had them blow out before too which is loads of fun. I’m going to show everyone how I handle them on Wednesday, which includes stabilizing them so they are more sturdy. I decided to go with the invisible for this sewalong because the pattern was so specific about it. Just trying to keep it simple.

      1. I’ve never had one blow out. But then, I don’t put them in. I’ve put in centered and lapped zips before, so I probably should learn how to put in the invisi. Especially since all the European pattern companies– from Burda to Patrones to Ottobre– use them.

  4. Thank you for this little reminder ! I knew it is always better to go for the darker color, but I had never seen it so clearly. I always like your posts and the fact that you did sew TWO zippers just for us to see your point (I kind of hate sewing zippers !^^) !!

  5. Thanks for this tip! I guess I haven’t really thought about this topic, but it really makes a lot of sense. I’m not participating in the sewalong,but I really enjoy reading your posts, and all your explanations to make things easier for beginner sewers!

  6. Excellent post! I will definitely remember “go darker!” the next time I’m standing in the haberdashery shop with two zippers in my hand, squinting at my fabric swatch… (I can’t be the only one who keeps a little ring of stash scraps in my wallet, right??)

  7. Thank you for illustrating these differences with photos! I often debate about what color zipper to use, especially because I make a lot of print skirts and it’s hard to decide which color of the print to match. Now I’ll feel more confident and when in doubt, will choose darker colors.

  8. Believe it or not I never thought about going darker with my zippers! My saddest zipper stories are of me attempting to put in an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot…and always getting it wrong. I was getting so annoyed and miserable.
    Finally I decided to invest in an invisible zipper foot…and never looked back. I only made 2 so far but the result is really invisible. So my suggestion get one of those babies if you want to sew an invisible zipper. What do you think?

    1. I do agree. I think that you can do it with a regular zipper foot, but its definitely easier, and more worth it with an invisible zipper foot.

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