Tag Archives: invisible zipper

An invisible zipper that’s actually … well … invisible

I hummed along so quickly during my afternoon of sewing today that instead of stopping before the invisible zipper installation (the better to steel myself for the battle), I continued right on through it.

Previously, I’ve had little luck with invisible zippers:

Zipper outside

The not-so-invisible zipper of my polka dot skirt. Sad, no?

But today was a breakthrough:

Can you see a zipper in that seam? Neither can I — whoo-hoo!

The trick was the ironing of the zipper before application. The directions that come with the zipper show a timid iron tip just crossing from the zipper tape over the teeth. That has never worked for me, so I gave up on the ironing and ended up with a very visible invisible zipper.

This time, however, I aggressively ironed that zipper tape and attached coils. Mashed the heck out of those suckers with my iron, in fact (at the proper synthetic setting, of course). The zipper tape flattened right out. I was a little concerned by how incredibly flat it was, but proceeded to attach the zipper, which was held to the fabric with Clover Wonder Clips. So much easier than pins!

This is the spot where I usually run into trouble. I have an invisible zipper foot, but the stitches would catch the coils. No more! The stitches glided right alongside. I was a little apprehensive when I tried to close the zipper, but it zipped up like a dream!

Yay! My first successful invisible zipper. Now I wish I hadn’t chickened out of getting the blue zipper. The zipper pull looked snazzy in that color, but I settled for a cream color in case I screwed it up again.

My self-drafted pockets also worked, and the length and fullness at the hem are looking promising. Just a few more hours of work are left on this wearable muslin. I’m sensing a success. Oh no! Did I type that out loud?

Gemini note (because sewing isn’t everything): We finished up my second-grader’s baseball season with the team party today. Such a fun season! Nice coaches, nice kids, nice families. We had a blast, made some friends, and my baby played in the AA All-Star Game. Love the opportunities the ‘burbs provide for my kids.

A mystery, thwarted progress and a rescue mission

Off to my sewing area I went today with grand ideas of making major progress on the last few items to finish the polka dot top, starting with inserting the crochet lace trim and attaching the sleeve facings.

Only there was no crochet trim to be found. My first suspect was Sewing Assistant Teacup. Does he look guilty to you?

Who me?

I looked under all the furniture in the bedroom, and all I could find was about a dozen Nerf darts. Teacup LOVES those things. But, alas, no crochet trim. I felt a little guilty blaming Teacup with no evidence, so my current theory is that I accidentally threw it away with some minor scraps.

So, I regrouped and inserted the invisible zipper in the left side. I was relieved to find out you actually can insert an invisible zipper even if you have sewn the rest of the seam. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Even though the result is no better than with the skirt (I still didn’t bother to iron the zipper beforehand.), I’m happier with it. But I think that’s just because I was a little worried the waist seam was tight, but the pin fit was deceptive. With the zipper in, it’s fits perfectly.

Note to self: Pick zipper color like thread color. A little darker is better than lighter.

Then I overcast the hem allowance, and had just enough thread, with some sneaky bobbin-changing, to finish the edge all the way around. But then I was completely out of coral thread. So, I called it quits on sewing for the day.

But I still had a sewing-related task left. I’ve been going through my closet in spurts and starts, eliminating clothing that has hopeless stains. Two sweaters have to go, but not before I rescued their buttons. One set is mundane, but the other set was the nicest part of the sweater:

The sparkly ones will look awfully good on a blouse — soon, I hope.

I tied each set together with heavyweight button thread and put them in this cute faux vintage tin that houses my button collection:

I love faux vintage sewing tins — no rust!

So now that I’m out of thread AND trim, I’ll be heading to JoAnn’s to replenish both before I make any further progress on this project.

But the next project is a silk blouse. I got a little adventurous and decided to prewash the silk in my washing machine on the “handwash” cycle. I figured if I prewashed in the machine, I could wash it in the machine when it’s done. It’s in there right now, making me nervous. Wish me luck.

The polka dot skirt, inside and out

I finished the polka dot skirt and got a little fancy as I was working on the lining.

As I mentioned previously, I converted the pattern to a contour waistband and wasn’t quite sure how to attach the lining. The zipper being attached after the waistband definitely complicated matters. In the end, I decided to attach the waistband facing to the lining, then sew the fashion fabric layer and lining layer together using a technique shown in a tutorial on the Coletterie blog.

I still wanted to anchor the two layers together at the waistband and skirt seam, so I sewed them together by hand from inside, between the layers. I’m quite happy with how that worked out.

Finished polka dot skirt

The finished skirt

The lining got a little fancy when I decided to sew the hem with some decorative stitching. I think the inside came out about as nice as the outside.

The polka dot skirt inside

The inside

Hem detail

Detail of the hem

There are, however, some things I will definitely do differently when I use this pattern again.

First, I would remember to grade the seam allowances in the waistband. What was I thinking? I got so wrapped up in knowing I was close to finishing that I forgot that step entirely. I remembered as I was understitching the top waistband seam, but by then it was just too late to regroup. Thus, the corners near the zipper are not things of beauty.

Second, I would make the lining a little longer. The hem allowance is 1 1/4 inches, and the lining is 1 inch shorter. It would have benefited from being only 3/4 of an inch shorter. I think a bit of my overcasting on the hem edge is showing below the lining in a few spots.

Most importantly, however, I’d do a much better job with the zipper insertion, which is sadly lame. Please do not fault the technique, merely my execution! The evidence speaks for itself:

Zipper outside

The not-so-invisible zipper

The zipper inside

And the most horrifying part, the zipper from the inside!

As it turns out, I didn’t leave enough room for the hook and eye, which I’ve never been particularly good at sewing on. I may take it back off, but it’s easier to pull up an invisible zipper when you use a hook and eye.

All in all, a nice skirt. I may even wear it tomorrow. I am very happy with my conversion of Simplicity 3688 from a straight to a contour waistband. I don’t think it’s period-appropriate for a reissued 1940s pattern, but it sure is more appropriate for my apple-ish figure.

I hope to finish the matching top before the crisp fall weather shows up, but we’ve had such a cool summer here in Northern California, I may not have much time.

Two-for-one sale on zipper insertions

Polka dot skirt in progress

The result of today's progress.

Today I got through a big chunk of the Simplicity 3688 1940s skirt. Now that I am using the pressing techniques of the Pressinatrix, it seems more sensible to finish my seams allowances before I sew the seams.

So, before sewing a stitch, I overcast all the vertical seam allowances of my skirt. Since it has six gores, that was 12 vertical edges, not even including the lining. This simple skirt is really going through the thread. Then I joined the three front panels, the three back panels and the right side seam. Lots of pressing in that scenario.

The left side seam is where the zipper goes. I hadn’t done an invisible zipper in forever, and I was never terribly proficient at them anyway, so I was excited and jumped right in. I was all pleased with myself when I held it up to my waist and looked in the mirror. It looked fantastic, but why did it seem short?

Oh no — the contour waistband!

I had changed the pattern to a contour waistband, and the zipper was supposed to go all the way to the top of the waistband. Time to get out the trusty tool that has helped me with pretty much every sewing project I have ever done — the seam ripper.

Fortunately, I had reinforced the zipper area with fusible interfacing. The seam came apart, the zipper came out, I put together the waistband and sewed it on.

Then I inserted the zipper again. Here is the result of zipper insertion No. 2:

Invisible zipper insertion

I followed the instructions inside the zipper package and left room at the top for a hook and eye.

As you can see, the zipper is not quite so “invisible.” I used my machine’s invisible zipper foot, and the first few stitches were a tad too close to the coils and caught them. (I had tried to iron the zipper flat like the instructions say, but it seemed quite impossible, so I gave up.) My needle position can be changed, so I moved it over two smidges (not sure what the needle positions are measured in). The needle still went through the small hole in the presser foot, but I guess it was a little too wide of the coils. I am still happy with how it turned out, though. Then I finished the seam, and it was time to do the lining.

But how is the lining going to attach? This is a good question. With a regular waistband, you sew the fashion fabric, insert the zipper, sew the lining, attach it at the top, then add the waistband.

But when the waistband is attached before the zipper is done … well, I’m at a bit of a loss. So, the plan is to attach the lining to the waistband facing. Then I’ll attach the fashion layer to the lining layer with the method shown in this tutorial on the Coletterie blog. Somehow, I will anchor the two layers together at the seam joining the waistband to the skirt. I might sew by hand between the layers, or from the inside of the skirt through the lining. The other option is stitching in the ditch from the outside. I hate stitching in the ditch. I might look OK on the front, but I don’t know how to keep the back aligned so it the stitching doesn’t look like it’s jumping all around inside.

Tomorrow, I’ve got the day off to wait for the installer to bring my new Fancy Damn Dishwasher. I should be doing some housecleaning, but no doubt instead I’ll be sewing.

By the way, my girlfriends and I did see The Help this weekend. I should have remembered a hankie! Well worth the high cost of going to the movies. Some slight changes from the book. Nothing too upsetting. I have a new heroine in Minny Jackson — a Sass Mouth with a no-hugs policy and a wicked chocolate pie!

%d bloggers like this: