Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Sewing Circle: Front exposed zipper dress ideas

Question from Amy today on Sewing Circle, searching for a zip-front dress pattern or ideas on how to modify a pattern to get the look!

Q: I really like the exposed front-facing zips trend on tops and dresses at the minute. I just can't seem to find any sundress patterns that I want to make using this feature. There are some nice more covered up autumn/winter dress patterns, just no "compelling" summer dresses (ahem, McCalls 6323 isn't for me).

See a few examples below...
Kimchi Blue Zip Front Floral Dress
Miso Zip Front Dress
Lalesso Fair Trade Uru Zip Front Dress
I really want to just alter Butterick 5486 (view without the wrap) so that centre front bodice seam is actually an exposed zipper!

I know a front bodice zipper is unlikely to give me enough room to get into the dress so I'm happy to keep the zipper in the back if I must, either hiding it as much as possible but I guess it would  be better if I did an adjustment for a shirred back as well.

Do you think I'm radically overhauling a pattern that just isn't worth it? Do you think I've missed a zipper fronted sundress pattern out there? Hopefully between you and your followers I should get an idea of whether I'm crazy! :-)

A: Fun question, Amy!!

It's awesome that you're planning to make an exposed zipper dress. I remember when they came out I thought, what a cool DIY that would be! But have never made one.

Butterick 5486 would be super cute with an exposed zipper! You can actually put one into ANY plain-front dress pattern--if there's no center front seam, then just add 1/2" where you would cut the center front on the fold, and you can put the seam/zipper in. On something with a natural waist or shorter, you probably would need it to be a faux closure, and the real zipper would be an invisible one in a side or back seam, which could be annoying since part of the point is the practical use of the exposed zipper.

Or, you could do a shirred elastic back like you suggest! Again, on any pattern. Here's a nice photo tutorial for exposed zippers, though, and this would work on anything, in the front or back.

I also did find one pattern for an exposed zipper-in-front dress: McCall's M6324. And, it does extend long enough that you could get into it easily.

This kind of funky Vogue shift dress has an exposed zipper, as well. You could modify it so it didn't have the colorblock or other elements if you wanted!

But like I said, you can probably put an exposed zipper into any dress if you modify something else, too, so you can still get into it. 

Readers, what would you do?? Have you tweaked an existing pattern for an exposed zipper, or do you know of any great zipper-prominent patterns out there??


  1. Anonymous9/05/2012

    Thanks for this! I've got fabric and a selection of zips ready to go! Decisions decisions.

    1. Great!! Hope you have fun and it turns out great!

  2. I love the second and the last dress. :)




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