Zipper Homework Helper 2

The first technique for applying a lapped zipper works really well, but what if you are “allergic” to basting that has to be removed? Or what if you forgot to add the extension to your pattern piece before you cut your fabric (or, like me, you added it to both and then cut it off from the wrong side)? No worries. There’s a second method for inserting a lapped zipper that works really well. Although I’ve had issues with the results I’ve achieved with this second method in the past (which I will show you later on), I’ve since done some additional research and discovered the secret to resolving that issue (proper pressing) and now I think this method works just fine. However, I should point out that this method leaves little margin for error, and close attention to the details is key to results you can be proud of.

With both of these methods, it’s easiest to use a zipper that is longer than the opening in the garment. This allows us to avoid stopping to move the zipper pull past the needle. The trade-off is that the cool trick for attaching the facing doesn’t work when the zipper extends beyond the edge of the fabric. We can still use the cool trick on the invisible zipper, which will be covered in the next post.

Lapped Zipper Application Method 2

  1. Once again, we fuse interfacing cut just a bit wider than the 5/8″ seam allowance from the top of the garment pieces to 1″ below the zipper stop. Make sure the interfacing is fused all the way to the raw edge of the seam allowance. If you have fabric that ravels a great deal and you opt to serge the raw edges, be careful not to cut off anything more than the stray threads in the area where the zipper will be inserted. You will need every bit of the 5/8″ seam allowance on the overlap side.
  2. Snip mark where the bottom of the zipper stop will go. At the top of the garment pieces, snip mark 5/8″ in from the raw edge on the overlap side (the usual seam allowance) and 1/2″ on the underlap side.
  3. Sew the two garment pieces together from the bottom to the mark for the zipper stop, using a 5/8″ seam allowance.
  4. Next, we go to the ironing board for the step that makes this technique work. Press the stitched part of the seam as sewn. Then, on the overlap side, press under a seam allowance of exactly 5/8″ the entire length of the garment piece. On the underlap side, press under 1/2″ from the top of the garment piece to the bottom of the interfacing (which is 1″ below the zipper stop), then taper to meet the 5/8″ stitching line and continue pressing open at the stitching line to the bottom of the garment. This is what it looks like when folded back.This transition of the fold from 1/2″ to 5/8″ is the part I didn’t get when I learned this technique, and it is why I was never completely happy with the results. When the pressing is not done correctly, the stitching at the bottom of the zipper on the underlap side shows, even after going back and stitching as close to the seam as possible:  Learn from my experience. Sometimes it pays to be a fussbudget.
  5. With the zipper facing up, apply double-sided basting tape to the outside edge of the right side of the zipper tape. Place the zipper under the underlap side with the fold resting up against the raised stitching on the zipper.
  6. This next step takes some courage. Using your zipper foot, you are going to sew very close to the fold. The only place that might feel scary is when you get to the metal zipper stop. My inclination is always to veer away, for fear of breaking a needle. Sew slowly and the needle will come close to the zipper stop, but will clear it. Sandra Betzina says always sew away from a problem, not toward it. I think this is good advice. Besides, as you know from the last tutorial, I like to sew both sides of the zipper in the same direction, so I’ve been starting at the bottom of this side (at the bottom of the zipper tape), steadying myself for getting past the zipper stop early on, then breezing through the rest of the distance to the top.  Why does it matter how close you get to the zipper stop? See picture with icky results above. Notice how, when the pressing is done correctly and the stitching stays close to the zipper teeth, we can tell that the stitching on the underlap side will remain hidden.
  7. Place basting tape along the fold of the overlap side (in the seam allowance) and position the overlap side in place for topstitching. Use 1/2″ Scotch tape as a stitching guide.
  8. Starting in the well of the seam below the bottom of the zipper stop, topstitch across and then up. Here, it is important to get as close to 1/2″ from the fold as possible, because there is less margin for error in this method than there is in method 1. To see what I mean, after you finish the stitching, take a peek behind the zipper tape. You will see hardly any of the overlap side seam allowance showing beyond the stitching. If your topstitching is too wide, you won’t catch the seam allowance at all. You will no doubt get the topstitching even straighter than I did in this sample. I was having trouble seeing the tape on the unbleached muslin.
  9. Remove the tape used for a stitching guide and the basting tape from the overlap side. (There’s no need to remove it from the underlap side unless you want to. The basting tape washes away in the first wash.)  Remember to open the zipper to below the seam line for the facing or waistband so that the slider is part of the garment, not a casualty of the scrap pile. And with that, you’re done!


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