You will need:
- a zipper opening (sewing project)
- A conventional zipper, the length that is required for your project
- Needle and Thread
- an adjustable sewing machine foot
Step 1: Prep your zipper by unzipping it and giving it a good press with a hot iron. Under no circumstances should you place the hot iron directly on the coils or teeth of the zipper (unless you have a handy dandy metal zipper)! They will melt and even though for a time, the zipper will still zip up and down, eventually the zipper will blow out.
Optional, though highly encouraged: Prep your zipper opening by applying 1 1/4″ strips of fusible tricot, silk organza or stay tape (the knit variety is my favorite for zippers) to the wrong side of the zipper opening – or the side that won’t be showing on the outside of the garment. Additionally I would like to add that I am a firm believer in stabilizing zipper openings as I feel they just last longer and look cleaner and more professional, but ultimately the choice is up to you. As you’ll notice here, I conveniently forgot to add this step……my public flogging will happen later, don’t worry.
Step 2: Pin and baste your zipper opening closed. You can baste the zipper opening by hand or by machine – just use a really big stitch if by machine. Be aware that this zipper closure requires at least a 5/8″ seam allowance or larger. Also, if you’re putting this zipper insertion style into say, a skirt, baste the zipper opening to the bottom of the zipper and from there stitch (and backstitch in place at the bottom of the zipper opening) the rest of the seam that the zipper is in using a regular stitch length.
Press the zipper opening (and seam) open.
Step 3: If needed, whipstitch the top of the zipper tape together. This is a good idea if the zipper is in the side seam of a dress. For those applications where the zipper needs to be open at the top, skip this step.
Step 4: On the wrong side of the fabric or garment, position the zipper to one side of the seam allowance. When positioning, the zipper teeth should be directly over the middle of the seam allowance or the seam line. Pin in place keeping the seam allowance the zipper free from the garment. Baste the zipper to the seam allowance (still keeping free from the garment) along the edge of the zipper tape furthest away from the coil or teeth.
Helpful tip: When deciding which seam allowance this the zipper should be basted to at this point, be aware that this part is the part that is under the lap on the right side of the garment. For example, if you baste the zipper to the left seam allowance the lap on the right side of the garment will be right over left and vice versa.
Step 5: This is the tricky part, because its a little awkward to explain. From here, flip the zipper over to expose the right side of the zipper. Create a little fold along the teeth/coil with the same seam allowance that you just basted the zipper to. Keep this seam allowance and the zipper free from the garment. Pin in place if needed and using your adjustable zipper foot, stitch close to the zipper teeth/coil along the fold.
Step 6: Turn the garment or sewing project to the right side. Now pin the leftover seam allowance and zipper tape to one side of the zipper opening – the side that hasn’t been stitched in place and all that jazz. Pickstitch around the top (for side application on a dress), down the side and at the bottom of zipper. You can also do this step by machine if you desire. To prickstitch, use a backstitch, stitching a small stitch on the right side of the garment and using a longer length on the backside of the garment. The result will look like little pricks on the right side of the garment. Here’s a link to a great video on the subject.
Step 7: Last thing to do is unpick the zipper opening (carefully now) and Voila! a beautifully lapped zipper is now most discreetly adorning your handmade garment.
The lapped zipper on my Red Vixen Dress
This post is dedicated to my sister, who just last night sent me this very amusing but seriously painful email (please pardon the expletives, however I’m sure you can relate):
I was just writing to tell you that I remembered the reason I stopped sewing today. Zippers. I finished my skirt today and got it all ironed and ready to try on. Mind you, I had worked very hard putting the zipper in, hand basted twice even because it wasn’t perfectly even the first time. It really looked perfect I have to say. For me that NEVER happens. Anyway, I tried it on and had a little bit of trouble zipping it up. (you know, when the zipper derails and gets caught up in all the surrounding fabric? Love that.) Anyway, I admired my work in the mirror and then went to take it off by unzipping the zipper and it would. not. un. ZIP! I have a blister on my fingers from trying so hard! I notice around this time that there is a problem with the zipper in the middle where the teeth are separated a little bit. I can’t really solve the problem until I can get the slider down there, so I keep trying and keep trying until suddenly the zipper pulls out of the skirt completely on one side. PS, this is a high waisted skirt so I couldn’t get it off without getting the seam ripper and unpicking the whole damn thing. Then, I had to go to the store through the snow ridden, 40 degree tundra to get another invisible zipper, and go through the whole process again. NOT FUN I’m telling you. I just finished it again. I had to do it tonight because I was afraid that I would never try again if I let it go for the night. It looks like a shit sandwich from being unpicked and redone so many times, but I really don’t care right now. I’ll post pictures on my blog later, so watch. (It looks kind of old ladyish because the fabric I picked is neither cute or sophisticated, but maybe I can pair it with some cute stuff.)
Just needed to let someone in on how much I hate zippers.
Talk to you later,
The lapped zipper on my Naughty Secretary Dress
Let me also add that I talked to my sister the very next morning and she had to unpick herself out of the skirt to get it off! Need I even ask if this has happened to you, because I know it has. It’s happened to me, many times. Zippers are things that haunt my nightmares. Since completing my Red Vixen Dress and my Naughty Secretary Dress, I have decided that a pickstitched lapped zipper is my favorite zipper of all time. Not only because it eliminates the use of a dumb invisible zipper (which, by the way, my sister used in her zipper conundrum), but also because it looks so good. I have the hardest time with zippers. To be quite frank, they are my weakest technique in sewing. It’s interesting to note here that when I finished my Red Vixen Dress, I was most happiest with the zipper. And that’s the part that no one noticed. Everyone whose seen it is enamoured of the triangular bound buttonholes. That’s the thing isn’t it? Having a zipper placed so perfectly in a garment that it’s not noticeable, because it shouldn’t be the focal point, unless, of course, you are actually trying to make it a focal point. That’s what I’m trying to convince you of here. Unless you are already convinced. Give a lapped zipper a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much you LOVE it.
A few notes before you have a peek:
- This is a time saving technique because its more than likely you won’t have to unpick the zipper even once! Yay!
- I’ve only shown one step here that isn’t machine stitched, mostly for the sake of the photography aspect. But you, you can do this entire insertion by machine if you choose.
- I’m a firm believer that all zipper openings should be stabilized, but I conveniently forgot to add that step in my tutorial here. Just interface the zipper opening, on the wrong side of the fabric, with strips of fusible tricot, silk organza or stay tape (my favorite is the 1 1/4″ knit variety!).
Without further adieu, click here for the tutorial. Please let me know if you have troubles and I will do my best to answer questions and what nots.
I’m a pretty lucky girl. As you know, because I’ve been telling you, it was my birthday yesterday. Yeah. I’m kind of big into my birthday. It’s more of a month long celebration. Oh isn’t April the best? he he he. Mr. S way outdid himself this year to boot. He bought me some chocolate covered raspberries and strawberries and The Jazz Singer. I’ve been wanting this movie for quite awhile, because I’m a real sucker for Neil. Sigh….I’ll tell you flat out, I love the man. I do. I had no idea he had done a movie. No idea until just before Christmas when a coworker lent me her VHS tape of this movie. Can you even believe this? A whole movie devoted entirely to Neil and his singing. It was too much. It is too much! And I ate the whole thing right up. Say what you like, but I love it.
Oh and don’t let me forget that Mr. S took me to dinner at a very expensive restaurant. Gush. And he dressed up in a chocolate pin stripe suit with a cornflower colored shirt. Oh man! I had to give him a kiss for that. Ha. And Mr. S wrote me a letter. He never writes letters. And it was wonderful telling me how much and why he loved me. To. Death. Oh Mr. S, you spoiled me absolutely rotten!
You’re wondering about my Perfect Spring Dress huh? Well, I ruined the first version of it. I’m so mad at myself. So mad. If I had one more of those sheets I could have fixed the mistake of cutting the skirt too little. To little as in there was not enough gathering. It looks atrocious. I was so unhappy. So unhappy that I had to start the whole thing over again with the losing fabric. I’m sorry to disappoint. I did wear my Naughty Secretary outfit though. Fun fun. It still turned out to be a perfect evening even though I wasn’t wearing my Perfect Spring Dress. Oh well! Just goes to show ya.
I hope you all had a Happy Easter weekend!
It’s only fitting that I am a secretary and I’m naughty and I made this stellar little dress for myself. It is. This is Simplicity 2724. It caught my eye because I had this little English girl’s suggestion running through my head. We’ve talked about the quilty-ness of quilty fabrics and I had 4 yards of Heather Bailey Nicey Jane to use. By the way, I still have 3 yards and a little bit. Ms. Zoe is quite right, quite right. I’m thrilled with the break up of a colorful cotton print paired with this subtle herringbone. Not only that, but the only thing I bought for this project was the zipper as I was completely determined to use only items from my stash. I was so happy about that. I’m in serious need of destashing.
So do you realize that this is a dress? Yeah. It. Is. I think that was the greatest part about the pattern. I needed an easy breezy albeit sexy outfit for working in. And you know, I always have problems with my blouse staying tucked into a skirt. This pattern fixes that problem. Oh and did you notice that you didn’t notice the zipper? It’s on the side and I did a lapped handpicked zipper again which I will be doing a tutorial on very soon.
This is the pattern for the mocked up muslin I showed you yesterday and along with the shoulder adjustment I had to nip and tuck the skirt portion. It fits like a glove. A glove I’m telling you. I also added a lining to the skirt because I almost feel naked without one. It just makes everything so much nicer and professional. One more liberty I took was to eliminate the facing in the sleeve. I think you have to be careful with “facing” everything. It’s a hard call to know what should be faced and what shouldn’t and I felt the sleeve would do better trimmed in self bias tape. I’m giving this pattern high marks because it has great design options and is easy to wear and it looks great!
I know what you’re thinking too. You’re thinking “why did she make this when she has her Perfect Spring Dress to finish?” I’m telling you, I don’t know. But I promise that I will be good and stay focused this weekend.
I’ve seen alot of fitting issues in the sewing community and I wanted to throw my two cents in of the fitting issues I have of my own. This is labeled as part I because I’m sure there will be a part II and III and IV and however many. Let’s just say this is going to be a journey for me and if you have the same fitting issues I do then your in luck, and if you don’t well, these types of adjustments can be made to other areas of a sewing pattern as well and I’ll mention those as I go along. Let’s talk about my biggest fitting issue, because well this is about me and I enjoy telling you all about myself. I’m a pretty average girl, a little on the small side. And I like to sew. And I like to sew with sewing patterns. And this is my story of where it goes wrong:
Biggest fitting problem – Shoulder Blade. Yeah. I know. Weird. I have a fairly broad shoulder for someone my size. Even funnier, I’m a small chested lass, barely filling out an A Cup. It’s been hard to know what to do for this. A year ago, I couldn’t even tell you, but I was sure that if I added inches to the back of the bodice I just knew it would work. Which I did and found that for some reason the back was baggy especially at the waist area when I would do this. Silly me. I was adding to the wrong area. I was finally enlightened by Adele Margolis’ book How to Make Clothes That Fit and Flatter. It’s an inspiring read and makes you feel, normal and not like a malformed mutant. It’s out of print at the moment, but can be found through some online used book sites. Ok, back to me. Here’s the lowdown. I like to have movement in my clothes, meaning that I can actually move in them. Normally I don’t have a problem with this, except when it comes to the arms. Garments that have sleeves are the pits. It makes me want to wear sleeveless tops forever and pack up and move to Hawaii, which I want to do anyway by the way. I knew I had broad shoulders, I just didn’t really know what to do about it. Then I found out and it’s changed my life forever. So here it is.
Do you have the problem of sewing a top in which you are not able to move your arms forward to say, grip the steering wheel of your car, or type on a keyboard, or hand write a letter to a friend? This is the adjustment for you. This is what your final adjustment will look like. You’re adding a little more allowance to the sleeve and the armsyce at the back. (Just in case you didn’t know, you can tell the sleeve back by the notches. Typically there are 2 notches – you know, those triangle things – in the back as opposed to the 1 notch in the front)
Now how do you find out how much to add? I have to test this always, on a toile. I mock up the top or bodice with both sleeves in muslin. Then, I try it on. If I can’t comfortably move my arms forward I need an adjustment. To see how much I need, I slice open the shoulder on each side and then try it on again and move my arms forward and have a good look in the mirror. This part, you’ll have to eyeball. I typically need approximately 1 inch added to each side. Take that measurement and divide it in half because your going to be adding this to two adjoining pieces. In my case, I would add 1/2 inch to the sleeve and armsyce of each side.
I begin by taping my pattern piece to a piece of paper. I take my trusty old ruler and mark 1/2 inch from the seam allowance. Then, I use a french curve to blend out the top and bottom. You see, I don’t need the entire sleeve and armsyce to be adjusted, just the back, so that I can bring my ding dang dern arms forward. And I only need that little section from the top of the shoulder blade down the back of my shoulder to the underarm to be wider. Does that make sense? If it’s pulling too much, you’ll need to take the adjustment down a little further. Meaning that you’ll need to add a little seam allowance to the “underarm” as well, but typically only on the back piece.
So how do you know if you need this adjustment? Well the obvious answer is if you can’t “comfortably” bring your arms out in front of you. Sometimes this little adjustment is a little sneaky though. You can see it when your arms are straight down at your sides and there is still a little bulging or I prefer to call it “riding” at the sleeve right in the front. It’s riding up, because it’s pulling wrong. Clear as mud?
Hopefully this is a tip and trick you’ll find useful.
PS ~ Thank you for so bravely seeing past this exotic flesh colored fabric I’ve muslined in, in these last two posts. I’m seeing color and fun in the future. Promise.