If you read my pattern review of the I CAN Zip Hoodie that I published last week, you’ll know that I made a garment using a zip for the first time. Now, I don’t presume to be a zip expert at all, but what I didn’t reveal as part of that review was how much of a nightmare I had when purchasing the correct zip. It was only after speaking to my two amazing sewing friends that I realised the mistake I’d made, so I thought it would be useful to write a blog post to help others who may be struggling.
So, open end zips and close end zips: what’s the difference?
Open End Zips
Open end zips are what you need for the I CAN Zip Hoodie pattern, and pretty much any other garment that requires the two sides of the zip to completely separate from each other. This includes things like hoodies, coats, cardigans, basically everything you wear on your top half.
The easiest way to tell that you have this type of zip is to look at the bottom of it. If it looks like those in the below photo, it’s open ended. Even better, if you’re in an actual haberdashery or fabric shop, unzip it and see if it separates into two parts – if it does, it’s what you want.
Close End Zips
The second type of zip is a close end zip. This is a zip that won’t come apart at the end, and is therefore used when only a partial opening is required. Some of the applications where you’ll find a close end zip are jeans, bags, pockets, footwear, skirts etc.
Again, the best way to tell if you have a close end zip is to look at the bottom of it. I’ve included a photo below of close end zips. As you can see, they tend to have either a plastic or metal stopper slightly above the end of the zip, and then some spare fabric that leads past this. When you try to open the zip, the stopper will prevent the zip from coming fully undone.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, I’ve had problems purchasing the correct zip even from a well established online UK haberdashery shop that really should have known better and labelled their products properly. Many online shops also don’t show pictures of the bottoms of the zips, which can make it difficult to know if you’re purchasing the right thing. I did end up ordering from Plush Addict who have a range of both open and close ended zips in different sizes and colours – and that are labelled correctly (just for those of you in the UK that might need some guidance on where to buy).
I really hope this (very basic) blog post has helped some of you. If you are still unsure and not based in the UK, I do recommend visiting a haberdashery shop in person and asking one of the staff for advice. The larger ones should stock both styles of zip in a range of sizes.