Sunday, November 28, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS DRESS - The Dreaded Zipper

LOL, now tell me you didn't feel that way when you read the word ZIPPER!  I confess I used to get the same feeling until a student home ec teacher showed me how to install a zipper with this method way back when I was in junior high school.   

Most dress patterns will have a notch at the zipper end mark.  This pattern doesn't, so I had to mark the end.  See the red pin?   This pattern calls for an 16 inch zipper.  I think that is a bit too long for this little dress, so I remeasured the back and marked it for a 12 inch zipper.  The length doesn't matter, this method will work for any zipper. 

Match the center seam of the two backs. Pay attention to the waistline seam.  You want these to match.

Set your machine for its longest stitch and stitch the backs together down to the zipper mark.  Now set your machine back to its regular stitch.   Take a couple stitches, back stitch to lock and then stitch the rest of the skirt.  

Now, at the zippers end (the red pin) use your seam ripper and break the thread just above your back stitching (both sides) and press the seam open. 
Lay the zipper face down on that seam and pin one side in place.  See how many pins I used?  Check the back to make sure there are no puckers or tucks.

Yes, this zipper is too long.  I couldn't find a 16 inch zipper so I bought an 18 inch and then changed the length to 12 inches.  You can do that now that zippers are made of plastic, LOL. 

Change to your zipper foot.  Look at the zipper tape.  You notice the tape is woven in two separate directions so it forms that little line down its middle?  Stitch down that line to about 1/4 inch passed the red pin marking the end of the zipper or, if your zipper is the right size, to the end of the zipper tape.  Check the back to see everything is smooth and flat, then press that side to relax the stitching.

Now, pin  and stitch the other side of the zipper.  If your zipper foot is not adjustable (like mine) you will have to start from the bottom of the tape.  If it is adjustable, you can stitch from the top.  Check your back for puckers, etc., and make sure your waist seams match up, then press to relax the stitching.

Now,  stitch across the bottom of zipper at that 1/4 inch mark.  Stitch back and forth 3 or 4 times.  Did you ever pull a zipper down and rip open your back seam?  I have, many times.  The extra stitching will prevent that and will also act as a zipper stop.  Now trim off the excess zipper.  Voila!  The zipper is in.  Here is the back.

This is what the right side looks like.
Using your seam ripper, open the seam to the end of the zipper.  Look, it zips up and down!

Back to step 1 of the pattern directions, stitch your shoulder seams, trim and press open.  (Now you know where I picked up the habit of pressing seams open, LOL.)

(Sorry for the lousy picture above.  I was pressing open the shoulder seams on the needleboard.)

You can hang this up now.

Just a little note.  Had we been working on cotton fabric (which does not slip) the installation would have been even easier.  I would have used scotch tape down both sides of the zipper (no pins) to hold it in place and sewn it from the top of one side, across the bottom (always back stitch at least 3 times here) and up the other side. 

Now how do you feel about the Dreaded Zipper?

Love from Liriopia


  1. The dress is looking like a dress. It's going to be so cute. I hope we get to see pictures of the final product being modelled by your granddaughter. And though you explained the dreaded zipper, I'm not ready to go out and start sewing them into things regularly!

  2. Are you sure you weren't a teacher in another life? The dress is looking good.


  3. This is going to be such a cute dress and like Katie, I hope we get to see your grand daughter model it. I started sewing clothing when I was 10, so after having done it a few times, zippers aren't scarey any more! Your directions are great!

  4. Thanks for the zipper tutorial. That seems easier than the directions I had when I made a jumper for my daughter last year. Maybe I might try a garment again, now that I have your step by step pictures...but quilting is still more relaxing for me!

  5. Great tutorial Liri. I might be brave enough to try a garment.LOL