Zipper Homework Helper 1

Sew Chicago started 2011 with the first in our Technique Boutique series, Zippers and Beyond. As promised (or threatened), there IS homework: choose one of the techniques and either make a sample or incorporate it into a garment, then bring it next month for Sew and Tell. There’s no need to worry if your attention slipped during the meeting or you weren’t able to attend. As promised, illustrated versions of the instructions will be posted here on the blog. And, since the meeting I did even more research and was able to fill in some information that wasn’t available at the meeting.

Let’s get started with lapped zippers. This week, we’ll cover two methods for inserting a lapped zipper and one way to make the facing above it nice and smooth. Next week, we’ll cover invisible zippers and a “magic trick” for the facing. Between these two techniques, one of them should be useful in those Curvy Girl Prom Dresses, so homework won’t involve any extra work. See how stress-free and useful this can be? The following week we’ll get to two methods for inserting a mock fly zipper (mock because it doesn’t have a panel). At our February meeting, we’ll go over a very cool method for getting the corners of waistbands lump-free, and that will find its way here as well.

Lapped Zipper Insertion Method 1

1.    Use a zipper longer than needed, so that you don’t have to worry about sewing around the zipper slide. Unlike the olden days when some of us learned to sew, regular zippers (as opposed to invisible zippers) are shortened from the top. So, all you have to do is line the bottom of the zipper up where you need it and leave the extra zipper tape and slide above your work until you are ready to attach your facing or waistband (at which point you need to open the zipper so the slide stays in the garment and doesn’t end up on the floor–it’s happened). Once sewn, the seam that attaches the waistband or facing is sufficient to stop the zipper.

2.     Add an extension to the overlap side of the pattern piece (left when viewing back from right side of fabric; front pattern piece if zipper is to be applied to side seam) 3/8” wide (to form a 1” seam allowance) from top of piece, extending 1” below bottom zipper stop. Why did I put overlap side in bold? Because I extended the wrong side the first few times I tried this method.

3.    Apply strip of fusible interfacing to both seam allowances where zipper will be inserted, extending 1” below zipper stop. Interfacing should be a bit wider than the seam allowances. This helps stabilize the area, preventing stretching and helps give a nice, crisp crease.

4.    Snip mark (or mark in seam allowance) where zipper stop will be placed.

5.     Sew seam closed from bottom of garment to snip mark. Backstitch and cut threads.

6.    Baste seam from where previous stitching ended to top of garment.

7.    Change to zipper foot. With zipper closed and facing down, line up edge of tape with raw edge of seam allowance on underlap side (the one without the extension). Stitch from bottom of zipper tape to top of garment piece through seam allowance only.

8.    Turn zipper face up, forming fold with seam allowance close to zipper teeth and stitch, again only through the seam allowance and again all the way from the bottom of the zipper tape. Notice that I should have sewn closer to the zipper teeth in the sample pictured here. To encourage an even finish at the top, stitch from bottom to top (so that all steps in zipper application are stitched in the same direction.)

9.    Turn work face up. Smooth out and make sure zipper is positioned as far to the left as it can go. Placing ½” Scotch tape on the overlap side flush with the seam can help keep topstitching straight.

10. Beginning far enough below the zipper stop to clear it, stitch from the well of the seam across ½” to 5/8”, pivot with the needle down and stitch to the top of the garment.

11. Pull the needle thread through the well of the seam to the wrong side and tie it off.

12. Remove basting and open the zipper to below the garment edge before attaching facing or waistband.

13. (Optional) Stitch tail of zipper tape to overlap side seam allowance.

14. (Mandatory) Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

2 thoughts on “Zipper Homework Helper 1

  1. Hi All, since you all are working on zippers, I tell you what I did with my Curvy Girl Prom dress. I made it from Crepe Back Satin, I trouble controling the zipper to get it in the dress evenly and almost ripple free. After a couple tries, I fell back on some info I had from other zipper applications. First I used fusible interfacing (fusiknit) in the seam allowances. Then I sprayed the seam allowances with temporary basting spray to hold everything steady while I sewed around the zipper. It worked like a charm!

    • thanks Evelyn. I happen to have encountered those same ripples the other day, big time…But between your tip and the zipper tutorials (and my seam ripper) they will be gone by tonight.

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