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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Adding a Zipper

Here's something to think about today: 

There are easy ways to do things and there are hard ways to do things. Do you agree?  For example, you could swim across a river - OR - you could drive across the bridge to cross the river. Both ways will get you to the other side. Both ways are effective. But just because somebody had a hard time swimming across the river does not mean that you are going to have a hard time driving across.  Correct?

 So now, when I tell you that I'm going to teach you an easy way to sew a zipper onto clothing, please trust me! It doesn't matter if your aunt's cousin's sister's dog's owner's brother's uncle's mom had a hard time sewing a zipper onto a dress. Today, you are going to learn how to sew a zipper onto a dress (or top or skirt) and you can do it! Really!

Shall we begin?   

First of all, you will sew the outfit according to directions.  This works on many types of clothing but today we're going to call it a dress. You can either complete the dress entirely or get to the point where the center back seam is open, as shown in the photo above. If you have an elastic-casing skirt or dress that you want to add a zipper to, you can secure the elastic in the back casing at two places 1" apart from each other, and then cut down the length of the outfit between the secured spots, trimming the excess elastic. 

So at this point you will have a completed dress/skirt/top, except it will be cut down the center in back. Now match up the raw edges in back, with right sides together, and pin along the whole length as shown in the photo above. 

Lay the zipper down beside the pinned edge, with the top of the zipper just below the top of the dress. 

Use a marking pen to mark where the bottom of the zipper is.  (Note: If your zipper is longer than you want it, you can zigzag a stopping point on the zipper and just cut off the excess!)  Now that we have marked where the zipper will end on the dress, we can set the zipper aside. 

  It is time to sew the pinned edge of the dress using a 3/8" seam allowance. For the seam above the blue mark, we will sew a long basting stitch, as shown in yellow. For the seam below the blue mark, we will sew a regular stitch all the way down to the bottom of the dress.

Now open up the seam and press outward using an iron. You may then finish each raw edge with a zigzag or serge stitch, but do not trim it. 

Now we are going to lay the zipper on the seam allowances we just ironed, lining up the bottom of the zipper with the mark and the top of the zipper with the top of the dress.  Pin the zipper in place with the front of the zipper facing the dress and the back of the zipper facing you. The zipper should be zipped up for pinning. 

At the very top of the zipper, tuck the extra end flaps back behind the ironed seam allowances so they are not showing. Pin the flaps securely in place. 

Using a zipper foot on your machine and your regular stitch length, sew the zipper in place by stitching down, across, and back up the zipper. The zipper foot should be butted up against the zipper to help keep the stitch even. As you sew, you may need to move the "zipper pull" up or down as you sew past it. When you're done, check to make sure the flaps are sewn in place at the top. 

Now turn the outfit right side out. Use a seam ripper to remove the basting stitches in the top portion of the dress, revealing the zipper underneath.  Your zipper should be nicely centered and ready to zip up and down. You're done! 

Was that easier than you expected?   

That's not to say that you won't run into patterns that tell you more difficult ways to attach zippers. Other methods do have their place.  (I'll keep my opinions to myself here.) But if you want to add a quick zipper or use a CKC pattern with a zipper, this is all you need to know! Back to my original comparison, you just crossed the river and you didn't even get wet! 

So here's my cutie in the dress we made her for Easter! I originally took these tutorial pictures months ago, to be part of a pattern I was designing, but then people were panicking about the Z-word. 

"I don't want a pattern with a zipper!" 

So I decided to switch to buttons for this particular dress (which has been changed a LOT by now and is releasing very soon!) but I haven't given up hope that *someday* we will have a zipper-friendly place here at CKC. And it will be fabulous! Are you ready for it? 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

Updated to add:  We now have a VIDEO for attaching a zipper to a dress!  You can find that blog post here:  Zipper Video

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