One of the techniques which I often find causes a lot of angst for students is inserting zippers. As with lots of other sewing techniques, there are numerous ways to insert a zipper and I am sharing the methods that I have found give consistently good results in various situations. There will always be exceptions and these will be covered in future posts.
Wherever possible, inserting a zipper into the garment while the sections are flat and before it is fully assembled will make the process easier.
In this post, I will cover some general things to consider when choosing a zipper and preparing to insert it into the garment.
- Be sure to buy the correct type of zipper for the garment:
- Dress or invisible zip (polyester zipper coils) for ladies garments, including pants
- Use a metal zip and fly protector in ladies jeans only if they are worn tight, otherwise a dress zip is much softer and less bulky in the garment
- Check the zipper type information listed on the packaging. (Invisible zippers can also be open-ended which is not suitable for a regular application)
- If using an open ended zipper, try to purchase a zip the exact length required (up to 2cm tolerance) as they are not easily shortened. If this is not possible, it will be necessary to modify the garment.
- To avoid a “home-made” look, use below the waist zippers that are 20cm long or shorter, unless you are very tall – the exception being the use of a zipper as a feature on the face side of the garment.
- To shorten a zipper:
- Close the zipper and, beginning at the top stop, measure and mark the desired zipper length
- Using a zigzag (SW5.0, SL0.4) sew a bar tack across the zipper end closest to the metal stopper at the marked length OR thread a hand needle with topstitching thread and make several passes over the coils at the desired length
- cut off the zipper about 20mm below the bar tack
- stitch a piece of ribbon or fabric binding at the bottom of the zipper
- When using a lapped zipper application, cut 2cm (1inch) seam allowances in area of zipper opening to allow for easier insertion and room to cover the zipper coil properly
- Set the zipper before assembling the garment while the sections are still flat
- “Stay” the zipper opening with a 1.5-2.00cm wide strip of fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the seam allowances
- Finish the seam allowances, either by overlocker or seam finishing stitches on sewing machine, before the zipper is set
- When a zipper is inserted into a side seam in a top, it can be reversed so that the pull will not rub under the arm – the zipper will open by drawing the pull upwards towards the armhole
- When a separate waistband is being applied, use a zipper which is a couple of centimetres longer than the zipper opening – this will avoid sewing around the zipper pull
- When using a facing, do not sew the zipper tape beyond the stop at the top of the zipper – tapes are folded back and stitched in place to later be covered by the facing – this results in a neat finish at the top without lots of bulk from the zipper tape (this technique will be covered in my next post)
- When inserting an invisible zipper, key the ends of the zipper tape and the garment in contrast thread to mark the stitching/seam line
- Stay stitch garment just inside the seam line and clip the stitching between
align the stitching on the zipper to the stitching on the garment when setting the zipper
- allow 3mm between the top stop and the seam line when using a waistband, and
- 6mm between the top stop and the seam line when using a facing
Next week, I will cover a lapped zipper application and how to deal with a facing at the top.