Introduction: 5 Zipper Wing Transforming Hoodie

About: Dad, maker, curious person.

I got this Burton hoodie at a thrift store not realizing there were some stains and holes, so wanted to do something to funk it up.

I had had the idea of using zippers to transform a garment and cause it to open and reveal something new. I had initially conceived it as a long zipper in corkscrew around the body of the shirt, but as this was a zippered hoodie it wouldn't work (and you work with what you have). Using 5 zippers, I opened up the arms, back and ribs of the shirt to reveal a yellow inner layer.

For this project you're going to work in stages.

  • Separate arms and add zipper
  • Separate back and add zipper
  • Separate ribs and add zippers
  • Add inside fabrics



  • Hoodie
  • 5 Zippers
    • In my case, I used 2x 26" zippers for the arms, 1x 20" zipper for the back, and 2x 14" zipper for the ribs.
    • Depending on the size of your hoodie, it'll change the size of your zippers. You could also adapt your project to the zippers you have or can find. I got mine at a local wholesale shop for .50cents each.
    • I didn't bother about whether they were separating zippers, like a hoodie, or the parka (dual separating) zippers which separate top and bottom. The ribs were not separating zippers and were more like the fly on a pair of pants. The only one which would really matter might be the back, that would be good to have a separating zipper so the back can fully to achieve full drop (if it doesn't separate you'll get a triangle shape with one side opening and one side not.
  • Yellow fabric, 2 yards. This particular fabric we call "banana skin" because we used it for a banana costume a few years ago (see the last slide in this Instructable for a pic). It's a stretchy velvety fleece. You want a fabric that has a decent drape to it (flowy, not too ridged) but won't be too bulky.


  • seam ripper
  • sewing machine
  • pins
  • tape
  • scissors
  • rotary cutter and mat
  • straight edge

Step 1: Arms

I started with the arms because the bottom of the zipper on the arm is going to dictate where the zipper for my sides starts and ends.

Using a seam ripper, open up the seam from the cuff all the away around to the waist band. Don't leave all of the little threads in the fabric. You don't want to have to clean those up later after you've sewed over them. It's worth the 10 minutes (plus, these are the only seams you're opening in this project.)

Once the seams are open (and clean) place your zipper face down on the good side of your fabric. I started the zipper 2" from the cuff of the sleeve. I use tape to hold the zipper in place while I stitch it. Once both sides are secured, top stitch in place.

Top stitching helps the zipper lay flat.

Step 2: Back

Lay your hoodie face down with the front open and locate the bottom of the zipper you installed on the arms on each side. Hopefully they're the same distance from the bottom hem of your hoodie. If you started both sleeves the same distance from the cuff, they should be pretty close.

Using a straight edge and a rotary cutter, cut across the back of the hoodie 1" below the bottom of the side/ sleeve zipper. Be sure the front of your hoodie isn't under the back otherwise you'll cut through both.

Lay your zipper face down on the right/ good side of your fabric and stitch in place. Repeat for the other side of the zipper and then top stitch.

Step 3: Front

Laying your hoodie on its back, find the point where the arm and back zippers intersect on the side. Determine how long your zipper is and find the line from the center zipper on the hoodie to the edge which will fit your zipper, leaving 1" near the center zipper so you can stitch around the top of the zipper.

Mark that point on both sides of the center zipper so both zippers start in the same place in the center (even if they're a little off on the sides.

Cut from the edge to that point towards the center (again, leaving 1" inch on either side of the center zipper)

If you have a separating zipper, place the separation at the bottom (under the arm) so that will be the widest point. I used a non-separating zipper that is similar to the fly on a pair of jeans or pants with the narrow point at the center.

Place your zipper face down on the right side of the fabric. Stitch in place, repeat and then top stitch for the other half and the other side of the zipper.

Step 4: Banana Skin

Time to add the inner layer banana skin. We're starting with the back to figure out how much drop you want on the back of your hoodie. Open both the back and front zippers while leaving the arms closed.

You should be able to see how they open up to reveal what's underneath. Figure out how much drop you want on the back and how much the front will allow you to have and still keep its shape. I had roughly 4" drop.

Cut a single layer of square fabric 2" longer on each side than the width of your hoodie. Height should be your desired drop plus about 1.5"-2". I used roughly 4 inch drop so the strip was 6 inches wide.

Stitch the top and bottom of the fabric in place, leaving the ends open (for now). When stitching the inside fabric in place, try to follow the same line as you used to top stitch your zipper.

Onto the front >>>>

Cut 2 triangles of fabric. Base should equal roughly your drop plus a couple of inches and the length a little longer than your zipper. Your goal is to fill the gap behind the front zippers and have enough at the wide end to connect to the back fabric and close the side hole. Stitch the sides of the triangle, leaving the bottom of the base open.

Once you've stitched your banana skin in place, cut off excess leaving 1/2" along the seam.

Step 5: Arm Banana Skin

For the arms, of you didn't want wings, you could just have a wider opening by cutting a long strip of fabric a little wider than you want the opening to be and stitch to either side of the zipper. This would be great to make a jacket adaptable to go over a heavy sweater.

I wanted wings.

Because these wings are going to fit inside the arms and side when they're zipped up, I had to be sure that the drop from the wrist to the bottom of the wing was the same as the length of the arm from zipper by the wrist to the arm pit and that the length of the wing from waist out, was the same from the hip up to the armpit. Basically, the bottom corner of your wing will go into your armpit and you can then zip it up.

In the pictures, I show how I figured my fabric. I started with a 17" square because that was the measurement from wrist to armpit and then armpit to bottom was 12". From the bottom corner of the fabric, I measured up 12" and cut from this point to the opposite top corner (A). From the same bottom corner, I measured over 12" and made a cut up to the same top corner as before (C). This meant that the two 12" sides (C & D) formed a right angle.

Double over your fabric, right sides in. Cut to size and stitch only the exposed edge of your wing (sides B & C). You want to leave the other edges (A & D) open to stitch on either side of your zipper.

Turn right side out, pin and stitch on either side of the zipper Start at the cuff side of the hoodie both pining and stitching. This way if the material stretches, it'll go down towards the hem of the hoodie where you have more space.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Using the extra fabric on the side and front of your hoodie, stitch the edge of your wing, front banana skin and back banana skin together to close up the sides.

Close up and secure any seams around your zippers such as near the cuff and waist beyond where the zipper ends.

You now have secret wing coat!

Step 7: Final Thoughts

Firstly, I kept getting the question "Why?" Sometimes the answer is "Why not?" I did discover though that it didn't quite go as planned and some of the pieces weren't quite worth the amount of work it took.

The front zippers were tough be cause they were the most difficult to get even (and I didn't quite succeed). Also having the narrow top made it challenging to fit the zipper.

I was worried that the material of the hoodie would make difficult sewing. It actually sewed pretty well. The biggest challenge with the material was that both the hoodie and banana skin were very stretchy, but still sewed pretty well.

In the end, I think if I were to do it again, I might just stop with the sleeves. The zipper was fairly easy to fit, following a consistent straight line down the seam. It was challenging to get the machine in toward the cuff to sew in the wing, but was worth it in the end. I like the contrast between the two materials really looks great, and I like the wings. The front ribs and the back didn't really add alot to the whole picture, so the wings might just be the place to stop.

Something you could try would be to embellish the wings more, stitching the ribs in the wings like butterflies going from the armpit radiating out.

So, the pic is the banana costume where I first used the yellow fabric. It was made with a structure of what's called foam skin (basically a waste layer when they produce sheets of foam for chairs etc. It's less consistent then the rest of the foam, but significantly cheaper. It was made in two parts body/head and supported by having 1" nylon webbing like suspenders secured to the bottom portion of the body so it hangs off the shoulders.

Have fun and keep experimenting.

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