Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making Flowers from Zippers

When I posted this picture of a zipper rose I had stitched onto a crazy quilt block a couple weeks ago, it stirred a lot of comments on my blog, my emailbox and on the Crazy Quilting International List.  I vowed to do a zipper flower tutorial, and here it is!  

Zipper rose surrounded by old jewelry and findings
I only do three types of zipper flowers, and I will show each of those. You can find a lot more images and tutorials if you Google zipper flowers. The variety is endless.  But let’s get started with some basic ones!

Most of us have zippers in our respective stashes, from back in the day when we used to sew, or from that great box of old sewing stuff we bought at a yard sale.  Or whatever.  One of the most popular looks around now in jewelry is florals made from zippers, particularly with the metal teeth. But there are almost as many flowers made with the plastic, color-coordinated teeth, particularly when used as hair adornments (or pins, or shoe decorations) for young girls.

Supplies you will need:

Zipper (metal or polyester teeth), virtually any length or color
Craft scissors or rotary cutter
Needle and sturdy thread
Straight pins (optional)
Button or other embellishment as desired

Basic Rolled Flower

Select a zipper at least 7” in length.  If you have longer zippers, you will be able to get a larger flower out of each side of the zipper, or make two (or more) flowers from each side.  After making a few flowers, you will learn how much zipper you need for each type of flower. In some cases, you will be able to make up to six flowers out of one long zipper! That’s economy!

At 45c, this zipper probably dates back to the Stone Age, LOL
If you have a separating zipper, that’s great.  If not, you will need to separate the zipper into two parts.  For this you will want to use either a pair of craft scissors or a rotary cutter. Be smart - do NOT use your good shears! (I don’t need to explain why, do I?)  Cut off the bottom metal (or plastic) tab by slicing off the bottom tab with your craft scissors or rotary cutter.

Scissors point to the cut area.
Beginning at one end of one zipper tape, roll tightly to form a center.  

Sometimes it helps to roll teeth-side down on a flat surface to keep your flower from “telescoping”.

Every once in awhile, take a stitch across the zipper tape with your needle and thread.  I always double my thread for (1) strength and (2) my sanity. I always lose needles if I don’t double the thread.  ;-)

Pretend you don’t see the condition of my gardening hands...
Continue to roll and stitch until you either come to the end of you tape or you get the desired size.  Knot and cut your thread.

The back of the flower should look something like this.

Gathered Flower

For the Gathered Flower, you will need a longer zipper - probably at least 12”, but could be even longer. Begin the flower center the same as for the Basic Flower (roll center tightly).  Then you will use your needle and thread to gather - with smallish but not tiny stitches - the zipper tape.

There are two ways to do this.  You can gather an inch or two, pull it up to form loose gathers, and then tack with stitches to the rolled center. Repeat until finished.

OR (and this is my preferred way), you can just stitch your way all along the length of the zipper tape at one.  Spacing does not need to be perfect, but you don’t want the stitches to be too large as they will leave visible gaps in the rose.

Once the stitches are complete, you can then pull them up gather the whole length at once.

The next part is a bit fiddley, but basically if you keep the teeth up and the gathering down, the rose will nearly wind itself into position.

At the end (and using the same needle and thread that you have not cut from the gathering stitches), fold back the trimmed zipper tape under the flower and tack down.  You will also want to take several tacking stitches along the backside to secure.

At this point, for any of the flowers, you can tack them to a quilt block, add a felt backing (and a pin back if desired) to make brooches, etc.  

Loop Flower

Once again, select your zipper.  You will want at least a 14” zipper for this 5-loop flower.  If you want more loops, select longer lengths.  Cut off your end tab again and separate sections. You will work with just one side, so this zipper will make two loop flowers.

For the 5-loop flower, mark the zipper tape into five sections with an air-soluable pen (or you can just use straight pins).

Using your threaded sewing needle as a spindle and beginning at one end of the zipper, make a loop, TEETH SIDE UP.  The markings you made will help you keep the loops relatively equal. Each mark represents where you should pierce the tape with the needle. Try to think of this needle/spindle as the center point of the flower, around which you will rotate as you make each loop.

For the second loop, take the long edge and make another loop, manipulating as necessary to keep the teeth side up.

Repeat for the third loop, which will naturally place itself between the first two.

Repeat for the fourth and fifth loops.  See the picture below.  After this picture was taken, I actually readjusted that last loop (just take it off the needle and redo). I also recommend folding the tape back here to avoid any loose ends showing.

At this point, you could sew on a button, beads, sequins, or another rolled flower to the center portion. I just used an old silver button as you can see below.

FINISHED!  See how easy that is?!?

From here, of course, you can add foiliage, layer the flowers, make a cluster, or more.

I hope you enjoy this and if you create your own flowers, please share pictures! And watch my Etsy shop, as I will be listing zippers this week!


Cathy maroon


  1. Cathy, these are so different!!I'm making shrines at the moment, and am making all sorts of flowers.These are so fantastic!@MUST make some.Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Hi Cathy...These zippers flowers are very nifty indeed.Never saw that before. Good for you.

  3. Awesome Cathy! So pretty and such a great way to use metal or nylon zips. Thanks so much for the tut!

  4. Oh wow! You are soooo clever!! I can't wait to try this!!

  5. Thanks. This is a perfect idea for my upcoming "sew it up" RR! - Cathy L

  6. How neat is that, I really like the gathered one will definetaly try these.

  7. They do make very pretty flowers!!!Thanks for sharing.
    Linda in NM

  8. You are so clever! I always knew there had to be a use. Now watch the price go up in the thrift stores as everyone runs for the zippers! Many Hugs.

  9. Way cool, Cathy. I've seen them online and wondered how they were made... now I know! Thanks!

  10. Great tut Cathy! I have had these on my "to do" list for a while now and now seeing how you made yours will have to try them out. I have tons of zippers that I was planning to throw out but am happy to see a new use for them, Thanks for the step by step!

  11. Gracias por compartir esta original idea, saludos desde México.

  12. What a fabulous idea Cathy - they are beautiful! The photo tutorial is FANTASTIC - thank you for this!

  13. How many zippers have I left while looking for rayon seam binding! Now have more of that then I know what to do with. It was very sweet of you to make this tut of the zippers for us. I am sure I have at least one old one around here somewhere and will try it tomorrow.

    All 3 are very pretty and very different but the jewellery on the first pic was just gorgeous. Now I will be loking for things with holes in the middle. You just can't win.



  14. Oh, these look like fun! And I can just envision how to add some tatting for that little bit something different. Now, where did I put those zippers?

  15. Cathy thank you so much for taking the time to do this tutorial....just wonderful.

  16. Hi Cathy, I never saw zipper flower before. Its wonderful idea and thanks for telling its making.
    send gifts to pakistan

  17. Great tutorial Cathy! Will try some soon.

  18. Love the zipper flowers!!! Must try! I have a purse they'd look great on!

    Have a great day. C

  19. Muy interesante, te sigo.Besos desde Barcelona (España)

  20. Lovely designs Cathy! They do great with those lacy leaves! The zippershops will be happy you did the tutorial LOL!

  21. Awesome flowers!!!
    Thanks for sharing.

  22. what a womderful tute thats Cathy for doing it for us- love these flowers
    love n hugs bear xoxoxoxox

  23. Oh! I love these! I have a photo on my blog of a purse I got in Vegas with some zipper flowers on it..now I can make my own -thanks!

  24. What a great idea to use zippers. I have held on to several old zippers because I did not know what to do with them. And now I know just the perfect thing.

  25. These are cool! Thanks for sharing!


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