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Tutorial: Sewing A Fly Front

Fly fronts can be very intimidating. The directions are often hard to follow and the illustrations downright cryptic. Today I’m going to show you step by step, with lots of photos, how to sew a fly front.

This type of zipper installation is usually seen on jeans, pants and shorts. Though sometimes you might see it on a straight skirt. As always, when you’re tackling something new, go slowly and don’t be afraid to use your seam ripper to pull out mistakes.

Items Needed

  • zipper foot
  • pattern with fly front

1. With right sides together, pin the pants front pieces together along the center front. Stitch between the small circles, backstitching at each end to secure. Note: this is usually very short, about 1″ or so of stitching on pants patterns.

2. Change to a longer stitch length and baste the front closed above the small circle, basting from the small circle to the large circle.

3. Clip the seam allowance up to the small circle, where the basting meets the stitching. Open the front seam and press.

4. Fold the left side of the fly along the marked fold line and press as shown.

5. Open up your zipper and lay the zipper face down along the left fold of the fly. Pin the left side of the zipper to the fold. Make sure the zipper teeth jut out slightly from the fold. Note: be sure your zipper works correctly before installing it!

6. Using a zipper foot, stitch the zipper to the folded seam allowance. Stitch only through the left seam allowance. This piece should now move freely side to side.

7. Place the unsewn side of the zipper tape to the right side of the fly and pin.

8. Using a zipper foot, stitch the unsewn side of the zipper to the right seam allowance. Again stitch only to the seam allowance and not through to the front of the pants.

9. Switch back to your regular sewing foot. Fold the fly back toward to the right and baste in place to secure. You’ll be removing this basting stitch later.

10. On the right side of the pants, stitch the fly in place along the curved stitching line as shown on your pattern piece. Press. Remove the basting stitches. To finish, follow your pattern’s instructions on attaching the waistband.

Voila! Fly front complete!

Caitlin Clark

Caitlin is the Colette Patterns design assistant. You can follow Caitlin at her blog, the story girl.



September 27, 2012 #

Perfect timing! Just last night I was leafing through the Juniper pattern booklet as I prepare to start a muslin when I found the link for a fly tutorial. I didn’t remember seeing one on the website so I made a note to find it this morning and here it is! Thanks for the fabulous pictures. No matter how anything is written my mind has a way of twisting it up-the pictures are almost as good as having YOU right beside me. Excellent!


September 27, 2012 #

Wow! You made that look so easy! I’m definitely book marking this for when I get around to sewing pants!

Ana Sofia

September 27, 2012 #

Thank you for sharing this tutorial!
I might, actually, try to sew a fly front. Up until now, I always find this so intimidating. After conquering the invisible zipper now I feel ready for the fly front :)
Thank you, Ana Sofia


September 27, 2012 #

Thank you SO MUCH!!! You made this look so easy. This is so timely, too, because I am about to try to sew another pair of pants.


September 27, 2012 #

Bookmarked!!! I will be using this very soon. Just completed cutting out my pattern and fashion fabric for a sweet pair of stretch jean Clovers :)

Thanks much for the detail and pictures. You make it look very doable!


September 27, 2012 #

Yay, a good tutorial on lapped zippers! Huzzah!


September 27, 2012 #

Very new to sewing zippers and I have a question — How did you determine how to curve the basting and stitching between the dots? Did you measure it and draw it in advance?


September 27, 2012 #

You’d just follow the curve of the edge, maintaining your seam allowance of 5/8″ (or whatever your pattern suggests). You could draw it in ahead of time, if that helps.


September 28, 2012 #

Thank you! I’m excited about getting into the Juniper pattern.


September 27, 2012 #

Great tutorial! Very well explained and super helpful. Thanks for sharing, Caitlin.


September 27, 2012 #

Thanks for yet another great tutorial that I know I’ll be coming back to!

raquel from florida

September 27, 2012 #

How do you finish the edges of the fly? They look ugly to me. The tut is good, but I love details!


September 27, 2012 #

I think that depends on how you’re finishing your other seams. I’d just serge the edges, or perhaps use an overcast or zigzag stitch if I didn’t have a serger.


September 27, 2012 #

Yay and hooray! Finally a fly front tutorial I can understand– I may actually have to give this a shot now.


September 27, 2012 #

This is the clearest fly-front tutorial I’ve seen – and the first that clicked the “aha!” button in my brain. Step 5 was the most confusing since the photos seemed to be reversed with the written instructions, but a re-read clarified things. Thank you.


September 27, 2012 #

Really good tutorial! I’d finish the edges of the opening before beginning, ‘though, since it’ll be too hard to do afterwards. I loved that the outside red stitching even looked good, even though I knew you used red to make it absolutely clear.


September 27, 2012 #

Great tutorial! I think I might be able to handle this! Same question as Raquel- how do you finish the edges of the fly? Also, do you reverse the lefts and rights if you’re sewing a fly for a guy?


September 27, 2012 #

See my comment above about finishing.

You know, I think traditionally women’s pants lap right over left and mens left over right. However, I will say that I have several pairs of RTW pants that have a fly in the manly style.

Donna Rae

September 28, 2012 #

Thanks so much for this tute. My hubby only likes a certain type of shorts which is just plain and simple which these days is hard to find. I was going to try to do a front fly but have never done it before so have been putting it on the back burner. This is a great tutorial and now I will definitely give it a try!

All your tutes are great! Thanks Again!


September 28, 2012 #

Thanks so much for the tutorial!! Making the Juniper pants and this was very helpful! They are coming together really nicely!


September 29, 2012 #

Thank you so much! I’ve screwed up so many fly fronts in the past because of poor/cryptic instructions. Will attempt another one with confidence now :)

Joanne T.

October 2, 2012 #

The next garment I do with a zipper,I will be sure to use this easy method. Thanks again…


December 26, 2012 #

This is the best explaination of a fly front I have come across. I can at last make myslf a decent pair of trousers with a great loking fly front. Thanks!


February 5, 2013 #

Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial! I am so intimidated by the fly. This is what separates the RTW and the homemade look. I was stuck on step 1 from my pattern as they did not show the area I was supposed to sew on the diagram, and I was lost (newbie sewer here)
I think I will practice your tutorial on some scraps to perfect it! Thanks so much!

Monique Bowen

February 18, 2013 #

Very nice! Using these instructions for my Clothing & Textiles SBA for CXC. This was a very good help!! It’s greatly appreciated. :)


February 21, 2013 #

Thank you Thank you.
Such a great help. However I believe some of the images are out if order nevertheless
it was excellent and really helps.

Good luck with those cxc exams my fellow Caribbean person – Monique.


February 21, 2013 #

I don’t think there’s anything out of order that I can tell. Some of the side by side images do show the same thing from a different view, but they should be in order.


May 30, 2013 #

I always have trouble with putting a zipper fly in. This is a fabulous tutorial and the pictures are excellent. Thank you so much for sharing this helpful information.


June 6, 2013 #

Thank you so much, I faced a very confusing instructions on a new pattern, but you explained beautifully. Will be pinning and recommending this.


December 14, 2013 #

I’m a veteran sewer and now do a lot of things without a pattern…forgot how to put in a fly zipper & you saved me :) Thanks!