Tag Archives: zipper

OAL2017: Invisible Zipper + Hemming

30 Jun

Hello, everyone! I’m back from Belize, burned butt and all (this dum-dum didn’t think about how her ass would literally be the ONLY thing sticking out of the water while snorkeling… oh well, worth it! I swam with sharks and stingrays and even waved at a manatee! He responded by showing off with an underwater somersault!). One more final OAL post, to wrap up our dresses and then get back to normal (post-vacation) (post OAL) life!

This post is pretty redundant as I’ve covered invisible zippers in the past, but I’m always keen to take some ~fresh photos~. Plus, this shows you how to insert an invisible zipper with the facing already sewn in, and a French seam at the bottom!

If you are sewing a lapped zipper, here is a tutorial for that! Or you can do an exposed zipper! THIS IS YOUR DRESS, U DO U.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start by measuring exactly where your zipper stop will hit (or use the pattern marking if that’s your jam) and sew up to the marking, starting from the bottom and backstitching to secure. If you are using French seams, clip into the seam allowance right above the marking so the rest of the opening is free and can lie flat.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finish the seam allowances where the zipper will go (a really lovely touch would be to bind these with self-fabric post zipper insertion, but since my fabric is sooo light, I am just serging here). I also like to apply a length of fusible stay tape along the seam allowance of opening, to give the fabric from extra stability.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Place your zipper with the right side facing down (so the straight side without teeth is next to the finished seam allowance, and the bulk of the teeth is facing upwards), aligning the zipper stop about 1/8″ away from the seam where the facing meets the bodice (if you want to insert a hook and eye, you can lower the zipper stop as needed).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start your sewing at the top stop (leaving the tail above the stop free), working your way down to the bottom of the zipper. You will want to use an invisible zipper foot- yesss, you can use a regular zipper foot if you want but OMGAH this foot will make your life sooo much easier I swear. Regardless, you want to line up your fabric edge with the 5/8″ marking on your throat plate (or whatever your seam allowance is) and determine your zipper placement from there. Sew down as far as you can, and then backstitch.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Before you attach the opposite side, zip the zipper closed and mark any matching points (such as the waist seam) with a pin or marking tool. When you place the zipper tape on the seam allowance to sew the opposite side, it makes it easier to match that point so the lines are uninterrupted.

Sew the opposite zipper side as you did the first one, again, starting from the top and working down to the bottom. If your machine does not that seam allowance markings on the left hand side, measure out the distance with a seam gauge and mark it with a piece of tape or a post-it note.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Here is the zipper after it has been sewn in. You can go ahead and try on your dress to make sure you like the fit (as you can probably see, mine was way too loose in the waist and I had to DETACH THE ENTIRE SKIRT to take in the waist seams, lord, my life).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
If you measured accurately, your zipper *should* have ended right where you stopped sewing your center back seam. If it’s a little off – that’s ok! You can sew it right up, using a standard zipper foot with the needle moved all the way to one side. If you used a French seam, sew up along the seam line, and then zigzag over the raw edge to keep it finished. The bottom of the zipper will cover this, ain’t no one going to see it!

If you’re curious about the bottom of my zipper, I just bound it with self fabric bias because I thought it looked cute.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Next, you want to tack the zipper tape to the seam allowances at the bottom. This keeps the zipper secure and makes it much easier to zip up. I sew right where those pins are, about 1″ – 2″ along the seam allowance. You don’t want to catch the outside of your garment, just sew the tape to the seam allowances only.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finally, the facing! First, take your little unsewn zipper tape tail (above the zipper stop – if you accidentally sewed this, no worries, just unpick it) and turn it down and out so it points toward the seam allowance. I have pinned this so you can see what it should look like, but in reality I just hold this with my finger when I’m sewing it. This will keep the tail from poking out of the top of your garment when the facing is secured.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Flip the facing down so it completely covers the zipper, with the finished edges lined up. The seam where the facing meets the bodice should be just barely below the fold. Pin in place, and use a zipper foot to sew along this edge. You’ll want to be about 1/4″ away from the zipper stitching – that’s enough to catch the zipper in the seam allowance, but not so close that it makes the zipper difficult to operate.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
This is what it should look like after it’s been stitched.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Push the center back seam allowance to one side, and turn the entire piece right side out. You can pull the top of the zipper to get a more square corner if you need to.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
The finished zipper from the outside! The top edges should match right up. Feel free to sew a hook and eye here if you would like. I always skip those if I think I can get away with it haha

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Now you can tack down the facings so they don’t flip out when you are wearing your garment (if you opted to include lining, you obviously can skip this step). I attached mine to the seam allowance of all princess seams, plus the side seams.

OAL2017 - Hem
Last step is hemming! I turned my hem up 1/2″ twice (for a total 1″ hem) and then topstitched by machine.

That’s all for this dress! Hang around a few weeks while I work up the nerve to take photos outside (I have a yard in this new house, but it’s not fenced and on a very busy cross street and therefore I have no privacy D: D: D: help), then it’s Big Reveal time!

How are you coming along with your garments? As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Completed: Black Twill RosarΓ­ Skirt

23 May

I’m really behind on posting my projects – I finished this skirt almost two months ago, LOL WHOOPS. To add insult, I took these photos around that time as well – and have since changed my hair color :3 (spoiler: it’s still red). But these will do for now! Let’s just appreciate Past Lauren in this post, yeah?

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Another RosarΓ­ skirt! How predictable of me. What can I say – when I like a pattern, I like it enough to make it over and over and over until everyone gets sick of it (everyone except meeeee, that is). This is my second version (you can see my first version in mustard corduroy here), and I’ll just go ahead and admit that there is a third version that’s currently waiting to be posted. Don’t look at me like that. I wanted to try all the views offered in the pattern. ha!

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

This version is the same size as my previous – 34 – with the D pockets. I am not normally drawn to things like pockets with exposed zippers, but I saw a really cool version during my daily Instagram lurking and that shit immediately moved to the top of my sewing queue. Made in black fabric (which, honestly, a black summer-weight skirt is missing from my wardrobe. Well, not anymore!) with matching snaps down the front, it kind of has a cool rocker vibe… as long as you don’t look at the person wearing it :B

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

I found the fabric while I was in NYC at Mood Fabrics. It is a bottom weight black cotton twill with a really generous stretch. I actually bought a lot of twill while I was there because I’ve found that I don’t like ordering stretch fabrics (for bottoms, anyway) online. I find it really unpredictable in terms with what I end up receiving (I like my pants fabric to have a LOT of stretch), and nine times out of ten I can’t be arsed to wait on a swatch and/or that shit sells out way too fast. My new strategy is to wait until I get into the Garment District (which at this point has morphed into twice a year, yay) and then just stock up my suitcases. And then fly Southwest cos, 2 free checked bags woohoo.

ANYWAY, I am all about this stretch twill! It’s nice and heavy and it has enough stretch so that the skirt can be fitted but still super comfortable. The only downside is that is shows cat hair REAL fucking bad. I think that tends to be the case with all black fabrics, but this one seems to have a special cat hair magnet. I am not the kind of person who stresses over lint and cat hair, but I actually bought a lint remover specifically for this skirt. It is that bad. And, yet, there is still fuzz all over the skirt in these photos. Oh well.

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

I kept the style of the skirt fairly simple because I wanted the focus to be on those pockets! The zippers are from Sil Thread in NYC, which is my favorite place to buy zippers… they cost around $1 each (more or less, depending on length) and come in a nice range of colors and metal finishes. They didn’t have quite the right length, so I just shortened them at the bottom (basically catching the zipper teeth in my topstitching and *then* cutting the excess of). Even with shortening the zipper, doing that exposed zipper pocket thing was super easy. The pocketing is used to make a facing for the cutout, and then you just slap in the zipper and topstitch it down.

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Same as with my corduroy version, I used a professional snap setter (courtesy of Elizabeth Suzann studios) to set the snaps down the center front. I’ve used the Dritz kits before (both the hand held one that looks like a hold punch and also the little metal thing you use with a hammer) and they work ok for what they are. That being said, I have access to one of those honkin’ big cast iron ones that they use in factories, so obviously I am gonna take advantage of that haha.

The only downside to these big industrial snap setters is that they mean BUSINESS. As in, you better be real sure of your placement because that shit ain’t going nowhere once it’s set. My coworkers warned me of this, and I smugly went ahead and set the first snap at the waistband… upside down. Whoops. Thankfully, I was able to pry it out with the help of a flathead screwdriver and seam ripper, but believe me when I say that I was really sweating for a minute there.

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

Oh hey, I didn’t even show y’all the cool POCKET LINING!

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

This lil’ piece of awesome is also from Mood Fabrics – you can find it here. It’s labeled a stretch twill, so I bought a yard of it last year to make some cRaZy shorts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with the weight (it’s a bit on the light side) and the fact that it was printed off grain and thus hard to match the print. I gave up and stashed it, and have only now found a use for it. It makes REALLY FUN pocket lining! And since it’s stretch, it stretches with the outer fabric. I thought I would be real clever and sew it wrong side facing out, so that the inside of my skirt looked super fun. The only downside is that now the inside of my pockets don’t look super fun… they’re just kind of, fabric wrong side white. Oh well. It’s not like I walk around with my pocket zippers flapping open.

If you can see in the picture, I also used the same fabric to make a bound edge for the waistband facing. I really love the way that looks, and it’s so much easier than trying to fold up the seam allowance of the facing and get everything all even when you topstitch it down.

Black Stretch Twill Rosari Skirt

I guess that’s about all the RosarΓ­ chat I have in me today! How about those zippered pockets, tho? πŸ˜‰

OAL2015: Finishing!

13 Jul

One last installment of these OAL2015 tutorials and then we are OUTTA here! Finally!


This post is gonna be pretty short and sweet (well, compared to the other ones haha) – all that’s left is inserting the zipper into our skirt, adding the buttons and buttonholes to the back of the bodice (or sewing that section shut) and hemming the skirt. That’s it! Yay!

Let’s get to it!




If you’re making the view with the back cut-out, you’ll need a 7″ invisible zipper. If you’re anything like me and only have 22″ zippers lurking around, it’s pretty easy to shorten the zipper. Just mark the length where the new zipper stop needs to go, sew over the mark a couple of times (I use my machine and go back and forth twice each way -you can also do this by hand) and then cut off the excess zipper, leaving about 1″ between the cut and the new zipper stop.


Sew the center back seam of the skirt at 5/8″, ending 1-2″ from where the zipper stop will be located.


Unpick the topstitched part of the bias facing along the edges of each side of the back cut-out, just about 1-2″ from the edge. Position the zipper stop so that it’s about 1/8″-1/4″ away from the bottom edge of the bias facing, and pin so that the facing is flipped out flat (see photo if this doesn’t make sense!).


Attach the zipper to the skirt back using an invisible zipper foot and a 5/8″ seam allowance, then close up the hole at the bottom where the zipper stop meets the center back stitching. If you need more instructions for this, here’s my tutorial on inserting invisible zippers πŸ™‚


Once the zipper is sewn down, you should be able to fold the bias facing back to the wrong side, like so.


Then fold the zipper seam allowance back to the wrong side as well, like so. Topstitch the bias facing back down, being careful not to sew the zipper teeth. You can also tack down the edges at the top of the zipper/seam allowance if you’d like.

Finished zipper:


If you’d like to add a hook & eye to the top of your zipper, you may do so now.


To finish the back bodice, you’ll either want to sew buttons & button holes – or just close the entire thing up. I lapped one side over the other and topstitched all the way around, then sewed buttons in the middle. If you decide to close this off, MAKE SURE you can get the dress on without needing to undo the back! I can wriggle into mine, but only just barely hahaha.


Finally, hem your dress! I used the rest of my bias facing so I’d have a happy hem πŸ™‚ I followed the same method for attaching the bias to get this hem finish. Here is a tutorial from last year’s OAL on hemming if you need it!

Aaaaand here’s my finished dress:



And the inside:




This concludes the sewalong portion of the OAL. Once you’ve finished your garments for the OAL, don’t forget to post them in the OAL 2015 Finished Outfits Thread on Ravelry so we can all have a lurk! The deadline is 7/31/15, so y’all still have a couple of weeks to catch up if you need to! Once I finish my sweater (yeaaah… I’m nearly done with the first sleeve. Getting there!) I will share photos of my finished outfit as well πŸ™‚

Let me know if you have any questions!

Completed: Organic Cotton Jeggings

9 Mar

Good morning, friends! I hope this post finds you well – I have missed all of you! If you missed out on the drama last week (and/or were wondering why I suddenly fell silent and my website went poof into the night), I had a bit of an issue with an expired domain and transferring it back into my name. You can read the boring backstory about it in this post, but basically – everything should be fixed and up and running. If you’re still having problems getting to the site (I was until last night, thanks to my internet provider), try clearing your cache and cookies and see if that helps. Sorry for all the dramz! Shit should be back to normal from here on out!

Anyway, enough of that boring internet talk – let’s talk about why we’re all here! Sewing and fabric and actual fun happy stuff, yeah!

Ginger Jeggings

For this week’s project, I bring you: Jeggings. I’m not sure if this means I’ve cracked some kind of sewing power code with all the ridiculously normal/boring things I’ve made at this point, or if it means I’ve hit rock bottom (I mean, we are talking about the ultimate comfort clothing here. I am not above making fun of jeggings, just so we’re clear). You tell me. What I can tell you is that these are INSANELY comfortable and now I kind of get the hype.

Ginger Jeggings

I’m not really much of a comfort-clothes seeker/wearer – I’m ok with being a little pulled in for the sake of looking nice when I’m out in public. That being said, it’s not a very interesting story as to how I came about obtaining a pair of the ultimate comfort/secret pajama clothes. It started out as a fabric review for Organic Cotton Plus. I was prowling around on their website, looking for something to pick as my next project, when I came across their organic knit denim. The fact that it’s called “knit denim” should have raised some sort of warning flag, but I didn’t even notice it – I just saw denim and immediately got starry-eyed. I’m always on the lookout for a good denim source, and this sounded too good to be true. Organic cotton denim with 5% lycra? GET ON MY BODY. I submitted my order and anxiously waited for my shipment.

Ginger Jeggings

The spoiler here is that this definitely is not denim – not in the true sense of what you get when you buy a pair of jeans. It’s definitely a knit fabric – a very thick, stable ponte-ish type of fabric that looks exactly like denim. It’s the right color and has that twill weave look. It thick and squishy with a good, firm stretch. It’s like a marriage of a tshirt and a pair of jeans. I don’t really understand it, but I’m not going to argue with it. At any rate, I had a yard of this stuff and I realized I needed to make something with it. And that’s where jeggings came in. I wanted to see if I could actually make a pair of jeggings. I did, and now y’all get to see how they turned out.

First things first, I realize that these don’t technically classify as actual jeggings. The material does – it’s more of a knit than a denim, it’s very stretchy and it has a lot of spandex in it. However, these are constructed like an actual pair of jeans. They have working pockets (both front and back), they have an actual zip fly, and there is no elastic in the waistband. The only part about these things that makes them even remotely jeggings-like is the fabric they’re made from. However, I’m going to keep calling them jeggings because – well, I made them, and I get to call the shots. Them’s the rules.

Ginger Jeggings

When I was planning these out (after receiving the fabric, but before cutting into it), I debated on whether to make these into jeans-looking pants – aka, true jeggings, with the pockets and fly simply suggested by lines of topstitching. I thought it would be interesting to see how the fabric works when it’s treated like a woven, so I decided to use an actual jeans pattern and follow it the same way I would if I was making these out of denim. I used the Ginger Jeans pattern and basically did not make any changes for the fabric. The size is the same size I used for my woven denim and stretch twill jeans, and all finishing and topstitching uses the same methods as those pairs do. The only difference is that I didn’t flat-fell any of my seams – I figured it was enough that I was making these out of stretch material, so I just serged and topstitched (like you would with leggings). I’m surprised at how well they fit, although I think the legs could be a little tighter around the ankle. Also – they turned out surprisingly long, due to the 4 way stretch. I actually cut 3″ off the pattern legs before cutting (that was the ONLY way I could make these out of a yard of fabric – short inseam!), which should make them the correct length – but they magically grew, and now they’re too long. I’ve cuffed them for now, because I want to wash them a couple more times and eliminate any additional shrinking before I re-hem them.

Ginger Jeggings

Making these was really fun, and surprisingly quick! Like I said, I made them the same way you’d make a pair of jeans, except I didn’t flat-fell any of the seams. Everything was sewn on my sewing machine with a stretch needle and the edges were finished with my serger. For the topstitching, I used a triple stitch (thanks to Emmie for showing me the stitch on my Bernina – I guess this means I should probably read the manual more often, ha!), which makes a nice defined topstitch that also stretches quite a bit. The waistband is interfaced with my favorite stretch interfacing (seriously – this stuff is AWESOME), which gives it enough structure to look nice, but doesn’t sacrifice any of that comfy stretch. There is an actual zipper and button installed, however, I did leave off the rivets.

Ginger Jeggings

Ginger Jeggings

Basically, these look & wear like jeans – BUT THEY FEEL LIKE PAJAMAS. If that doesn’t blow your mind with amazement, then I give up.

Ginger Jeggings

Sorry ’bout that VPL, story of my life. I do think the pockets are a bit low, which is likely due to the 4 way stretch. I don’t care enough to remove them and raise them, so it’s whatever.

Ginger Jeggings

Ginger Jeggings

Here are some gut close-ups so you can better see what I was working with. The material really looks like denim! Everything handled pretty well, except attaching the belt loops did get a little difficult at the end, just because there were soo many layers (I ended up hammering them as flat as I could, which helped a little. Still broke a couple of needles in the process, argh.). All the topstitching was done with a single needle and a single piece of thread, sewn with the triple stitch. I used lemon yellow cotton thread, also from Organic Cotton Plus, which was nice and thick and worked out quite well with the triple stitch. It looks more gold than neon yellow when it’s against the dark indigo, which I really like.

Ginger Jeggings

Proof that there’s actually a zipper in there! The zipper is also from Organic Cotton Plus; it’s just a heavy brass jeans YKK zipper, but it works really nicely with this pattern. The 6″ length was just barely long enough for the high-waisted version of this pattern; I ended up cutting about 1/2″ off in excess when all was said and done. The pocket lining is just some stretch cotton sateen I had in my stash. I wanted to use something with a stretch, so it wouldn’t fight against the stretch of the exterior fabric.

Ginger Jeggings

And here’s the back! Mock-flat felled seams (just serged and topstitched) and patch pockets! I had to cut the waistband in pieces, because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut it on the fold – but the seam is covered by the back belt loop, so it can just be our secret, ok.

Ginger Jeggings

So that’s my little sewing experiment! Turns out you *can* make jeans with jegging material – with all the look of jeans, but the comfort of leggings. Love it! And since there are back pockets, I don’t feel as compelled to cover my butt haha. What do you think? Is this a win or just the weirdest garment I’ve ever made? Have you – or do you – wear jeggings? I always made fun of them, but man, can’t deny how comfy they are!!

As a side note – I mentioned this on Instagram yesterday, but it bears mentioning here too. I’m moving soon! I was finally able to get hold of my landlord with the notice and vacate date (they require 60 days, but they’re gonna let us out in 30 days because they love us for being awesome tenants haha), so we’ll be out of this house by the end of March! My best friend/life partner/former roommate just bought a house in the woods in a small town outside of Nashville, and Landon & I will be moving into the lower level as her roommates! The house is cool as shit, the land is AMAZING (did I mention it’s in the woods? Gah I can’t wait to be a hippie and raise chickens in the forest lolol), and I so look forward to living with my two very best friends in one house. Plus – I get a new sewing room! How cool is that? πŸ™‚


** Note: Organic Cotton Plus provided the materials (denim knit, zipper, thread) for this project in exchange for a review. All thoughts and options are my own.

OAL: Inserting A Lapped Zipper

7 Jul

Good morning, everyone! Hope y’all had a nice weekend (holiday or not!). We are just coming up on the home stretch of our OAL – just a couple more steps left until we are finished and can start rocking our gorgeous dresses! Woohoo!

Today, we will be inserting zippers into our dresses. In this post, I will be covering the insertion of a lapped zipper, which is my preferred method for this style. I won’t be covering invisible zippers here, but I do have a tutorial on inserting an invisible zipper if you’d like to use one for your dress. I put an invisible zip in my second OAL dress (the one not featured in this post), using the same method as outlined in the tutorial, and it came out beautifully! So that’s an option if you need it πŸ™‚ Otherwise, let’s talk about the lapped zipper!

As I mentioned, I really love a good lapped zipper. I blame Gertie for sparking that obsession, btw. When I was working at Muna’s, she never understood why I preferred to use lapped zippers in most of my garments – she was of the camp that invisible zippers were more elegant. Maybe, I guess, but sometimes I like the design element of having the zipper be visible (or, at least, the stitching line of the zipper being visible). It’s definitely easier to match up seamlines and prints with a lapped zipper, since you can hand-baste into place and sew from the right side. Also, lapped zippers are a bit stronger than their invisible counterparts – which could be important if whatever you made is a little on the snug side. Of course, there’s a time and a place for everything – lapped and invisible zippers included – but for casual sundresses, I just love a beautiful lapped zipper.

Anyway, onto the zipper!

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Start by finishing the raw edges of the center back – from the bottom of the skirt all the way to the top of the bodice. I catch my facings in the serging (or whatever finishing you’ll be using) so I don’t have to tack them down later. Now is also a good time to check and make sure that both back seams are the same length and that the waist seam matches up, so you know everything will also match up when it’s time to put the zipper in.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Start at the bottom of the skirt and sew up to the zipper stop, as indicated on the pattern. Backstitch a couple of times to make sure everything is secure, then press the seam open. Leave the unstitched part unpressed.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Now make sure that zipper is the right length for your dress! If it’s a bit long (I have a metric shit load of 22″ zippers, so I forever have to shorten mine), you can easily shorten it. Just mark where the zipper stop needs to go, and sew across the teeth to create a zipper stop. If you are using a nylon zipper, you can do this by machine. For zippers with metal teeth, you’ll want to sew by hand. Once you’ve made your stop (and test it!), cut the teeth about an inch below. Presto: shortened zipper!
Also, just a side note – I always have people tell me that you can’t shorten a metal zipper. Well, I guess I’m some sort of magical sewing unicorn because I shorten pretty much ALL my metal zippers! Ha! The trick is to snip both sides of the tape as far to the teeth as you can, and then you can usually get the teeth to coax apart. Use a pair of crappy scissors in case you need some assistance. Alternately, you can sew the zipper with the excess coming off the top edge of your garment, and your facing/waistband/whatever intersecting seam can act as a zipper stop. But no, it’s not difficult (nor impossible) to shorten metal zippers.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
On the right side of the open seam (or left; however you want your lap to go. I like my lap to be on the left, though), press the seam allowance at 1/2″ to the wrong side of the bodice, all the way down to the stitching.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
On the left hand side, press the seam allowance at 5/8″ to the wrong side, again all the way down to the stitching.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
On the right hand side (or whatever side has the 1/2″ fold), pin your zipper with the teeth right along the edge of the fold. I start my zipper about 1/8″~ from the top of the fabric; but I also don’t use hooks and eyes with my lapped zippers (personal preference! I’ve found they’re not really necessary). If you are using a hook and eye, start your zipper a little lower. As far as the tape at the top of the zipper – you can just fold that under to the wrong side of the dress. If you don’t catch it with your stitching, you can tack it down by hand at the end.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Now sew your zipper to the garment, about 1/8″ away from the fold. Use a zipper foot and/or move your needle to get close to the edge (but not so close that the zipper won’t function!). If you have trouble starting the stitching at the top of the zipper, pull both thread tails (the needle thread and the bottom thread) very gently while you press the pedal; this will keep the fabric from getting eaten by your feed dogs and making a big thread nest on the underside of your garment.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Ok, that’s one side! Onto the next!

OAL - Lapped Zipper
OAL - Lapped Zipper
Now take the larger 5/8″ folded edge and place it on top of the zipper, with the fold meeting the stitching line you just sewed. Pin everything down, being careful to only catch the back of your garment – don’t pin all the way through the front! I just slide my hand around the inside to be sure, but you can also put a book inside the bodice and use that to keep from pinning all the way through. Once you’ve pinned the overlap down, check the zipper tape and make sure your pinning is even – it should be down the middle of the zipper tape. If it’s not, readjust.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
It can be helpful to hand baste the zipper tape into place before you use your sewing machine. This will keep the fabric from shifting around and gives you a very precise installation.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
One thing I like to do before I start sewing is to mark my stitching line (otherwise it can be kind of difficult to tell where you are stitching, since the zipper is closed and you can’t see the guidelines on the throat plate!). Go about 1/2″-5/8″ from the fold – this will depend on where you’ve pinned/basted your zipper tape – stick a pin through the marked line and check the wrong side of the tape to be sure it will catch and not be too close to the teeth. If you are sewing a zipper that still has the original zipper stop (aka, you didn’t shorten your zipper), it can be helpful to mark with a pin where the zipper stop is, just so you don’t accidentally sew over it and break your needle.

Now take the dress to the sewing machine and sew along your marked stitching line. Try to keep things as straight as possible, since this stitching is visible πŸ™‚ Keep the zip closed and be careful not to sew through the front of the drss. When you get to the bottom of the zipper (or a couple of stitches before your marked zipper stop), lower your needle, raise the presser foot, pivot, and sew across the bottom of the zipper (be very careful and VERY SLOW if you are sewing in a zipper with metal teeth!). Backstitch a couple of times to keep everything secure.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
OAL - Lapped Zipper
Remove your basting threads, wipe out any markings, and the give the zipper a final press. If you were unable to catch the top of the zipper tape in your first stitching, tack it down now by hand.

And that’s it! Zipper is done! πŸ˜€ As always, please let me know if you have any questions!

Tutorial: Invisible Zippers- My Method

28 Jan

Some of y’all requested to see my invisible zipper method, so here it is! Just a head’s up – this is a fairly picture-intensive post. Sorry! You have been warned!

Invisible zippers are not necessarily my favorite type of zipper (because only a seamstress would have a favorite type of zipper, amirite), but they definitely have their pros. I like them sewn into the side of slim-leg pants, into the back or side seam of a wiggly dress, and concealed in the seam of a pencil skirt. While I love lapped zippers and I think they are a beautiful touch, sometimes your zipper needs an invisibility cloak. This is where the invisible zipper can rock your world.

Invisible zippers have this reputation for being fiddly, and I totally disagree with everyone who believes that. They really aren’t any more fiddly than a lapped or centered zipper – in fact, in some ways, they are actually easier to sew into a garment. It definitely helps to have an invisible zipper foot, but you can easily sew those suckers in if you have a regular zipper foot and you can move the position of your needle. I think most of what gives invisible zippers so much hate is that it can be difficult to close up the bottom of the zipper after you’ve sewn it in – the seam allowance is off, there’s a little bump under the zipper stop, and dealing with facings is kind of weird.

So, this is where my tutorial comes in! First off – this is not some kind of earth-shattering method I have discovered and patented. I learned this way during my stint at Muna’s, and it’s super similar to the standard method that we are all familiar with (although I find it a lot more foolproof, personally!). Not sure if this is a RTW method or not – I know most of what we did there was based off RTW standards, but I’ve never sewn invisible zippers in a factory so your guess is as good as mine (if you know, speak up, yo!). Try it for yourself and see what you think!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
You will start with an invisible zipper and the seam that it is going to be sewn into. For this tutorial, I’m just using scraps, but this method can be used on anything – skirts, pants, dresses, etc.
Press your fabric and interface along the seamlines of each side, if desired, using either fusible interfacing or sewing in interfacing or silk organza. I did not for this tutorial, so be prepared for wrinkles. The zipper seam should be completely open from top to bottom at this point.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Finish both sides of the seam as desired. Mine are serged, but you can also pink or use a zigzag stitch. I’ve also had some luck with encasing these in seam binding, but be warned that it can get bulky!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting at the bottom, close up the seam, ending about 2″(ish) from the marking where the zipper stop should go, and backstitch.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting with one side (I usually do left first), lay your zipper on the fabric with the right sides facing and the zipper teeth pointing away from the raw edge, keeping the top stop about 3/4″ away from the top edge (or your seam allowance + 1/8″, assuming you will be adding a hook and eye at the end). I don’t use a lot of pins here, just one to keep the zip top in place.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Using your handy-dandy invisible zipper foot, start sewing the zipper to the fabric. To keep everything along the correct seam allowance, you can use the markings on your throat plate (the silver doo-dad under the needle that has measurements etched into it) to line up the raw edge of your fabric and the zipper will fall into place exactly along the seam allowance line. So simple, but y’all wouldn’t believe for how many YEARS I sat there trying to mark the seam line on the fabric and sew the zipper on top of it. DUR. Just use the throat plate guide! Argh, Lauren!!


A few words about the mighty invisible zipper foot:
– The are awesome and worth every freaking penny. The Bernina ones get pricey (I think I paid like $40 for mine, ughf), but most other manufacturers are closer to the $15-$25 range. WELL worth the price if you want a gorgeously inserted invisible zipper every time.
– Some shops sell a sort of “universal” invisible zipper foot that is plastic. Don’t buy that shit, it’s a waste of money and you will likely end up throwing it out the window in frustration (join the club!). Save up and get the real thing, or stick with your regular zipper foot.
– You may also use a regular zipper foot to insert your invisible zipper. This works best if you can move the needle position, but you can still do it even without that. We did not have invisible zipper feet at Muna’s, and we inserted zippers just fine. You just push the teeth out of the way and sew as close as you possibly can. Pressing the teeth flat with an iron helps, but it’s not necessary and can sometimes result in you getting toooo close to the teeth, thus meaning you can’t zip the zipper!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here you can really see that foot in action. It grabs the teeth and pulls them out of the way, which lets the needle get SUPER close without actually impairing how the zipper functions. Also, still on my 5/8″ seamline, hey-o!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Anyway, go on and sew your zipper as far as you can. You’ll get stopped at the pull if you’re using the special foot. That’s fine. If you’re using a regular zipper foot, stop somewhere at the zipper stop, aka, don’t go alllll the way down to the tippy toes of the tape.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Now close your zipper and mark on both sides of the tape where the stitching stopped. If you are matching stripes or plaids, you may also want to use this method to mark where the lines cross so you can match them when you sewn the other side of the zip.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Locate the same point where the stitching stopped on the other side of the zipper seam (the unsewn side); this is where you pin the marking on the tape.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
If you did it right (and you probably did, cos you are awesome!), the top of the zipper should match up on both sides.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting from the top, sew this side down, same as before. Use your seamline markings on the throat plate – if your machine doesn’t have them marked on the left side, measure it out and mark it with a strip of tape or a Sharpie. Do NOT start from the bottom and sew up – if you want your zipper to be nice and balanced and not have weird wrinkles or pulls, you need to sew both sides in the same direction.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
After you’ve sewn both sides, test that zipper out! Make sure it doesn’t show when you close it, and that it slides easily. You’ll have a little open bubble where between the zipper and the closed seam, we’re going to fix that now!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Get out your regular zipper foot and move your needle all the way to one side. If your needle doesn’t change position, you can still do this, but you’ll just have to go reeeeeally slow.
Check your opening and make sure you don’t have one side that is longer than the other! This is where bubbles happen. If you marked everything correctly, it should not be a problem, but things can slip through the cracks from time to time. If one side is longer but only slightly so (as in, you can gently pull the top and bottom and it matches up flat), you will want to sew this next part with the longer side facing DOWN. The feed dogs will help ease that tiny bit of length so you don’t get a bubble.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Starting at the bottom, lower your needle on the stitching line you first created (the one below the zipper) and sew toward the zipper. Remember to backstitch! This can get kind of tricky with zipper bulk, so move the tail end out of the way with your finger if you need to.
Sew all the way to the zipper and try to get as close to the previous stitching line as possible, overlapping by a couple of stitches.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here’s how mine turned out. The zipper is on the right (the side with the yellow marking), and the remaining seam is on the left. Obviously I didn’t do a super perfect job – there’s definitely a curve in the stitching, whoops! – but as long as you’re within 1/8″ here, it’s close enough.

Now give the zipper a good press on both sides, making sure to press open the seam below the zipper.

No bump! Yay!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
To give the zipper some strength, we want to attach the tail end to the open seam allowance. I used to do this by hand, but why whipstitch when you can shove it under the machine AMIRITE? Flip the fabric away from the seam allowance and sew each side of the tape down (to ONLY the seam allowance!) with a few short stitches.

And that’s it! Easy invisible zipper, no bump at the bottom, no wonky seam allowance below. Also – see the little wrinkles toward the bottom? That’s from my super-lightweight voile not having some interfaced support. Whomp whomp. Make sure you interface if you are using a lightweight fabric!

Now, what about finishing the top of that zipper with a facing? Hold onto yer hats, I’ve got a tutorial for that!
(also, the sun was starting to set at this point, so whoops, pictures are worse than ever up in hurr)

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Invisible Zip Tutorial
Open the zipper out so the fabric is flat and lay your facing across the top. Stitch down with your preferred seam allowance.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Open up the facing and understitch all the way across.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Fold the facing back so the right sides are facing. It won’t lay perfectly flat due to the understitching; this is ok!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Grab the facing seam allowance (at the top, the one with two lines of stitching) and turn it so it folds back on itself with both stitching lines facing up, and pin into place. The top stitching line should be about 1/8″ (or less) from the fold. This kind of hard to explain in words, so hopefully the picture makes sense!

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Now stitch next to the zipper stitching line, about 1/4″ away (close enough so you catch the zipper; far enough so it doesn’t interfere with zipping abilities), from top to bottom. The fold that you just pinned down with be stitched into place. I like to sew where I can see the stitching line from the zipper, so I can make sure that I’m getting it at the right distance.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Here is what it looks like from the facing side.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
Take your zipper seam allowance up at the corner where that weird fold is, and push the whole thing with your finger toward the facing. Turn right side out.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
You should end up with a pretty nice lookin’ corner! That’s before pressing – and I didn’t even clip or trim any seam allowances. MAGICAL.

Give everything a good press, sew in a hook and eye, and admire your handiwork.

Invisible Zip Tutorial
(I know there are some wrinkles in that facing; it’s because I didn’t make it perfectly square when I was chopping up scraps to use)

Invisible Zip Tutorial

Invisible Zip Tutorial

Invisible Zip Tutorial

So there you go! I think this method is a little more fool-proof, and I love anything that can be accomplished 100% by machine. Hopefully some of you will find this tutorial helpful when it comes to conquering those invisible zippers. Also, isn’t that corner-turning trick AWESOME? You can use that with any corner that needs a sharp point. The extra fabric actually helps keep the corner nice and structured, and is less likely a develop a hole over time (as would be the issue if you trimmed down those seam allowances too aggressively). If you’re experiencing deja-vu, it is very similar to the method Tilly posted about a couple of years ago, except with stitching to keep everything in place.

If you have any questions, holler at me in the comments! Or we can just discuss your thoughts on invisible zippers πŸ˜‰

Thurlow Sew-Along: Sewing the Fly Zipper

5 Nov

Today, we are inserting the zipper into our pants and making the fanciest of flys – with a facing and a fly extension! FANCY Y’ALL. This is my personal favorite part of the pants-process – when they actually turn into pants, and not just 4 giant pieces of fabric flapping around the sewing room πŸ™‚

We will be sewing steps 9-13. I know it sounds like a lot of ground to cover, but this should actually go a bit faster than the welt pockets – plus, you only have to sew one zipper, not two!

Here is your background music for this task. It seems fitting, although I’m guessing Danzig’s fly isn’t exactly the same fly we are dealing with today πŸ˜›

Steps 7-8 should already be completed at this point, FYI!

Take your interfaced fly facing (piece 11) and finish the curved edge.
Sidenote: The pattern placement wasn’t intentional when I cut this piece out, but HAHAHAHA dude is totally going to be lurking the inside of my pants!

Sew the facing to the right front, right sides together, stopping at the notch.

Trim & grade the seam allowances, understitch, and press the facing to the wrong side.

Get your fly extension (piece 10) and fold in half along the fold line, right sides together, and sew along the bottom. Trim seam allowances, turn right side out and press. Sew and finish the long side.

Place your zipper over the long finished edge of the fly extension, face up, with the zipper stop matching the notch. Sew. If your zipper is longer than 4″ (and really – where the hell does one find a 4″ zipper?), go ahead and match up the end with the notch and let the zipper excess hang off the top. We’ll cut it off when we get to the waistband attachment.
Sorry that the left side of my zipper tape looks all chewed up, it is. We got in a fight.

Sew the zipper to the left pants front, face down, stopping at the notch. You can sew directly over your previous stitching line, to make things a little easier!

Turn the facing to the back and edgestitch close to the zipper teeth.

Now this might be a little hard to see, so bear with me here! Zip the whole thing closed, and then pull your right front over to the left from until the fly facing seamline is matched up with the second notch on the left front. At this point, I like to pin the whole thing closed so it doesn’t try to get sneaky when I push everything under the sewing machine.

Flip your pants over; the right (un-attached) side of the zipper should be lined up with the fly facing. Pin the two of them together as shown, being careful not to catch anything else in your pins – no pants front, no fly extension. Just the facing and the zipper tape! As you can see, the zipper tape won’t go all the way to the edge – that’s ok! It’ll end up somewhere in the middle.

Go ahead and sew the zipper tape to the fly facing, using two lines of stitching.

Flip the pants back over – it’s time to draw the stitching line for your fly! Yeeeeahh!!
Keeping the pants pinned close, locate the zipper stop and mark it (I used a pin, but you can also use chalk or whatev). This isn’t totally necessary, but you do want to be careful that you don’t try to sew through the stop – it could break a needle (“Wah” you say) or throw off the timing of your machine (“FUCK” you say). So watch out!

I like to start at the top and work my way down when marking my fly line (I know Tasia’s is the opposite, so do whatever you want, yo!). Measure 1.5″ from the center in a straight line, curving the line as you reach your marking for the zipper stop. Bring the line under the zipper stop to ensure that you don’t sew over it.

Here is my fly all marked up.
Don’t you love my BRIGHT ASS NEON YELLOW marking!? Liz sent me a couple pieces of this marking wax and a brand new box of hook&eyes, after I lameted about accidentally throwing mine away right after I bought them in Chicago. It was completely unexpected and totally amazing of her to do, but what else do you expect from someone who brings macarons to a sewing meet-up? πŸ™‚ Thank you again, Liz!

ANYWAY, topstitch right over your markings, directly through the pants front and fly facing. Leave the fly extension out of this – you do want the zipper to actually work, no? πŸ™‚

Since the poor extension feels lonely, give her a couple of tacks to the facing so they can still hang out. You can do this by hand, or the lazy way like me – with a tiny zigzag on your machine πŸ™‚ This picture was surprisingly hard to take; look at the diagram in the instructions if you need more elaboration on where to stitch.

And that’s it! You should have a beautiful fly zipper, with a gorgeous fly facing and an outstanding fly extension.

Doesn’t that look professional as fuck?

Go ahead and sew up your side seams as indicated in step 14. We only have a few more steps left!

A Day at the Flea – October 2012

30 Oct

Lord have mercy, the flea market was GOOD to me this month. I’m almost embarrassed by the excess, although I keep telling myself I’m saving money & keeping trash out of landfills. Right? Right!? Humor me here.

Anyway, I went on Saturday with my best-flea-market-buddy-ever, Lauren (and you should definitely go lurk her blog if you enjoy being jealous of beautiful white crocheted lace dresses, because, hot damn). My first mistake was forgetting that October was the “big” month for this flea market. I don’t know what people have against November & December, but for whatever reason, they choose October as their month go to Christmas shopping. The place was PACKED – lots of slow-moving old folks with their dogs in covered baby strollers (sidenote: why? Why wouldn’t you just leave your dog at home? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND). On the flip side, it meant that all the sellers brought out their big guns this month… and we made out like bandits.

Today's flea market haul
Here’s a shitty Instagram pictures of my haul, minus the clothes I bought (oh yes… there are clothes).

40s velvet party dress
This is the very first thing I bought – like, within 15 minutes of getting there. Isn’t she a beaut! I’m pretty sure this is from the 40s/early 50s. I (unsuccessfully)tried to lighten the image; it’s a lovely forest green velvet. The buttons are mother-of-pearl with gold edges. This will definitely be my Christmas dress πŸ™‚

40s rayon day dress
The second dress is a navy day dress from the 40s. I’m not totally sure of the fabric content, but I’m thinking rayon. Sidenote- the seller & I bickered over the age of this dress. She said it was late 30s, I said early 40s. She said she knew her vintage, I said I know my sewing patterns. Later when I was hemming it up (don’t worry – the original hem is still there, I didn’t cut anything off :)), I found a tag on the inside of the skirt that dates it to 1940. I guess that’s kind of a compromise, huh?
Ps – I know it looks totally ugly on the hanger, here’s an action shot of it on me πŸ™‚

Butterick 2153
Simplicity 1999
I also got some patterns. Aren’t these darling? The seller remembered me from last month & saved me a box!

I came across that giant box of zippers right before we left. As in, “Let’s lurk this last shed and then go home, I’m cold.” The seller and I haggled a bit on the price, then settled on $15 for the whole box, plus whatever else I wanted to stuff in there. I added a few scraps of fabric, giant covered buttons, and a purse pattern that Lauren was eyeballing. I wasn’t sure if I got a good deal or not, I just grabbed the box & hi-tailed it home.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but there are 83 zippers here! Almost all of them are 22″ (some longer), and they are about 50/50 nylon and metal. Every color of the rainbow! That comes out to about $.18 per zipper, so yeah, I reckon I got a good deal πŸ˜‰ Add that to the giant bag of metal zippers I scored a few months ago; I’m pretty sure I’ll never need to buy another zipper again trololol

You’re probably wondering what my second mistake was.
My second mistake was going back the next day.

with my mom & niece :)
This time, I went with my parents & niece Caroline, who is the sassiest little sass that ever sassed.

I would have bought this if it wasn’t $10.

I discovered that I was a designer in a past life.

haul #2
And here’s haul #2, combined with some stuff my parents bought. Aren’t those side tables amazing?

I missed one of my regular sellers the first go-round, so I was interested to see if he still had anything for me (I usually get my patterns from him):
Vogue Couturier pattern
OH! Ok!

Simplicity 5016

Modes Royale 1415

Sewing Booklets

Pres Kloth !!
(yes, the “kloth” is in there and yes I plan on using it)

Zipper patterns!
Change purse gloves!? DED.

Sewing books via Dept of Agriculture
I actually have no need for these (you should see my collection of fitting books), I was just amused that they were from the US Department of Agriculture. So randumb haha!

Hollywood 1482
I found this pattern at a different booth. I was really excited about it – it was only $1 – until I realized that some idiot piece of shit waste of life SEALED THE ENTIRE THING UP IN CONTACT PAPER. S/he had arranged it in some weird cardboard shadow box with a bunch of sewing notions (not cool vintage sewing notions… like, shit from Joann’s) and plastic-wrapped the whole thing closed. I only wanted the pattern, so the seller punched the front out and gave it to me lol. I was able to rip the top open very carefully with a razorblade, and the envelope contains one pattern piece & the instructions. So boo 😦 Oh well, at least the artwork is pretty enough to display.

I also bought more clothes!
blanket skirt
50s wool skirt that feels like a blanket.

50s party dress
50s party dress that fits me perfectly (and yes… that is a bird shit stain on the collar lol. I need to clean it!)
This dress was only $5. Hold onto your hats – there is a significant amount of fading down one side of the dress, all the way to the hem. Those spots have been lightened to purple. Hence why it was so cheap. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it – the sun damage isn’t terribly noticeable when worn (the seller suggested I wear it in the dark haha), but you can still see it. I thought about dying it, but I really like the color as-is. So idk yet. But for $5 – I couldn’t leave it behind!

square dancing dress
This square dancing dress was also $5. I’m not sure of it’s age – it’s handmade, at any rate – but it fits and that skirt is super twirly. MINE.

70s wooden shoes
I also found these beat-up 70s wooden platform sandals for $5.

All in all, a good 2 day haul – and I spent way less than $100 total!

And just to keep this related to all things blog~
I’m wearing the blanket skirt today – it goes perfectly with my Chuck sweater πŸ˜‰

tutorial: how to insert a fly-front zipper

13 Jun

here is the fly-front zipper tutorial i promised y’all! it’s not perfect by any means – i’m still learning zippers myself! but this is a pretty easy, tried-and-true method that delivers great results.

you want to start with the front of your shorts (or pants!), sewn together up to the point where the bottom of the zipper will reside. we will be working flat – no back or side seams yet. this makes the insertion much easier and quicker.
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