What is a zipper foot?:
A zipper foot is able to adjust so it is on the left or the right side of the sewing machine needle. This adjustment allows you to sew the zipper without the presser foot applying pressure to the zipper teeth, which will not move when caught in the feed dogs because of pressure from a presser foot.
Where do I get a zipper foot?:
A zipper foot is standard equipment with almost all sewing machines but if your machine does not have a zipper foot, visit a local sewing machine dealer to find an appropriate replacement zipper foot. Sewing machine company websites can help you locate a local dealer for your brand of sewing machine. Your sewing machine manual may also have a picture of the original zipper foot so you know what to look for. Know your machine make, model and sewing machine shank height when you visit the sewing machine dealer.
Why does a zipper foot slide from side to side?:
As you sew in a centered zipper or a lapped zipper, the side of the foot the sewing machine needle is on, varies. You will need to slide it to the side you need so there is no presser foot on the zipper teeth. A snap on zipper foot will need to be taken off and re-attached so the needle is on the opposite side of the foot.
With either type of foot be sure your needle is going to clear the foot. You can also experiment with needle position to place the stitching exactly where you want it.
What kind of zipper foot is best?:
This one is a matter of personal preference and what works best with your sewing machine. My first sewing machine had an ultra skinny zipper foot that I enjoyed using to sew in zippers. One of my newer sewing machines came with what appeared to be a ridiculously wide, clunky foot but when I tried the foot I loved it. Your best bet is to test drive the zipper foot or visit a local dealer if you are not happy with your zipper foot. Know your sewing machine make, model and sewing machine shank height before you go to the store.
What else can I sew with a zipper foot?:
A zipper foot is commonly used to sew trim that will not fit under the regular all purpose foot. Using a zipper foot to sew on piping allows you to sew next to the piping without the piping being jammed under the foot.
Trims that would be damaged by the presser foot usually have a strip of fabric for attaching them. The zipper foot allows you to sew on the strip without putting the presser foot on the trim.
How to Cover Cording to Create Your Own Piping and Sew on Piping
What is the biggest mistake I can make with a zipper foot?:
Many zipper feet require you to loosen a screw to slide it from side to side. The biggest mistake you can make is not re-tightening that screw. As you sew the foot can vibrate so that it ends up directly under the needle and you will crash the needle right into the foot. Remember to tighten the screw! Sewing machine needles should immediately be replaced if they hit the foot. (More About Sewing Machine Needles)