Saturday, July 6, 2013

Zipper Time

I am still working away on McCalls 5108.  I decided to ignore the directions, and install the zipper before stitching the back pieces to the front.  This way, there is far less fabric to contend with.  It is also the way I construct most of my skirts, so why not a dress?!

There have been a few questions about how I use silk organza strips to stabilize the opening, so here is a bit of an explanation for you.

First, I tear strips of organza approximately 1 to 1.5 inches wide.  Tearing the strips ensures that the pieces are on grain and have little to no give.  The edges will probably curl, but a quick bit of steam from the iron will sort that out. 

I like to mark a line in chalk on the wrong side of the fabric just inside my stitching line for reference.  Then the organza strip is pinned in place on the wrong side of the garment, and stitched along that chalk line.  Because the stitch line is within the seam allowance, it will not need to be removed.    

I like to extend my organza strips a few inches beyond the zipper opening.  The bottom of the zipper can get extra wear and tear depending on placement, and the strong silk fabric helps to keep the seam from pulling or tearing, especially with a loose weave fabric.

A hand picked lapped zipper is my go-to, but the silk organza strip can be used with any zipper application, or any seam that needs a bit of oomph for that matter.  Once the strip is hand basted in place, it is treated the same as the fabric piece.  The silk organza adds strength, but not bulk - which is what makes it so fabulous!  

This is not something I do with every project, but generally with lightweight or drapey fabrics.  I find a little extra stability is needed to support a stiff polyester zipper.

Once the zipper tape is sewn in place, the seam allowance will fold open, creating two layers of the organza on either side of the zipper that can be trimmed and finished along with the fabric edges. 

I am choosing not to line this dress because of the underlining - if I want an extra layer, I can always wear a slip.  But I am finishing my raw edges with, you guessed it, rayon seam binding!


  1. I always try to put in a zipper as early as possible.

  2. I love when you post techniques like this! You take such care to finish your garments. It's so inspiring! I just ordered some rayon seam binding for my next project. :) Silk organza is next on my list to conquer!

  3. That dress is looking so wonderful! A lapped zip is my favourite one - easy and pretty!

  4. I was always wondering what was stopping me from putting the zipper in sooner; now, nothing!

  5. Oh, very nice! I thought that you were supposed to use Organza as bias binding, but you have used it underneath bias binding, interesting! So, when would you use the organza strips as actual bias binding, i.e., wrap it around the raw edges? Maybe if you wanted to add as little bulk as possible when finishing the seams?

  6. I am also an early zipper inserter - saves on having so much fabric at the machine pulling things around. Off to have a peek around at your other creations - this dress looks absolutely gorgeous...J

  7. This dress is going to be really pretty when it's finshed.

  8. Thank you for this tutorial, I can now see how this layer of organza can add stability!