Do you ever shrink from a pattern because it requires the insertion of a zipper? I confess I have but really, they are not hard to do if you just take a bit of care and don’t hurry! Better to do the job right than have to pick out and do over….
So what type of zipper application does your garment require? I can think of several possibilities. There’s the centered inset, the lapped, the invisible, the hand applied – for an amazing designer look, the separating zipper and now designers have added the exposed zipper. Wow bet you didn’t realize there were so many.
The Centred Zipper Application
Let’s take a look at the centred inset style. It is what you are most likely to see in the back of a dress or skirt. It isn’t really difficult but this is the kind I’ve always had trouble doing a good job.
Be sure you have the right length according to the pattern. Measure the width of the zipper from the edge of the tape to the other edge. Your seam allowance needs to open to that measure if not a bit wider. Make any adjustments to your garment.
Stitch the seam closed but use a basting stitch for the length of the zipper. Press the seam closed and then open.
Open the zipper and lay it face sown on the seam allowance only with the teeth snugged up to the seam line.
Switch to your zipper foot and adjust it so you are stitching on the left side of the foot – the needle is going into the fabric between the foot and the zipper teeth. Stitch the length of the zipper tape. Fig. 1
Next, be sure that the zipper pull is turned up as if you were about to close it. Reverse the position of the zipper foot and start past the zipper pull to stitch through the tape and the other seam allowance only. Position the teeth of the second side up against the seam again. Stitch to the top of the zipper. Fig. 2
Close the zipper.
Now you can take advantage of a fading marker and draw a line on either side of the seam ¼” away from the seam. No matter how straight you think you can stitch, this little step will make your work neater! You will also want to mark the end of the zipper so you stitch across the zipper tape not into the metal end. You can stitch through the nylon teeth if you need to but in most cases you will end the placket just a couple of stitches below that metal stopper.
If the fabric is slippery or stretchy you might want to pin the two sides so they stay the same size or do not stretch.
If it is a difficult fabric, you may wish to stitch both sides from the top down or use a narrow piece of thin iron-on interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric to stabilize the seam.
Carefully remove the basting stitches that hold the seam closed. Wait for the facing marker to disappear before pressing. Your zipper should be perfect! Fig. 4
I have not mentioned a seam finish for the seam allowances. You can serge or overcast the raw edges after inserting the zipper, incorporating the zipper tape into the finish.
Soon to follow, next installment - Lapped Zippers