4 Ways To Make Your Zips More Successful!
My New Years Resolutions this year featured a handful of sewing skills and projects that I’d always wanted to have a go at and/or master but I had never had the chance (or ahem, bravery) to start. This last week I finally decided to pick off one of the skills off my list – ZIPS!
I’ve been sewing a fair few years now and I’d consider myself to be a reasonably adventurous seamstress, however the many toothed monster had remained my nemesis. The idea of getting both sides of a garment lined up and matching, having to sew perfectly straight lines and take measurements (!) always filled me with dread. I’m not sure where my fear came from but it certainly was enough to put me off even trying one up until this point.
It actually transpires that my worries were (mostly) unfounded and I was able to sew a zip in a project without too much involvement from my seam ripper or bad language. So in keeping with my goal of spreading the love the sewing, I decided to write a post about tricks I’d learnt along the way so you don’t have to fear the toothed monster too!
1. A Zipper Foot is your friend! Most modern sewing machines come with a Zipper Foot as standard, if you don’t have one or can’t find yours, it’s worth tracking one down (either direct from your machine’s manufacturer or good old Ebay is a safe bet). Zipper Feet are designed with notches on the sides of the foot to allow you to sew really close to the zipper teeth. This is key to having a professionally finished project. What is also handy is a foot with notches on both sides (some brands will have this, some don’t), so you can simply adjust the position of your needle and you can easily sew on both halves of your zip without too many machine gymnastics!
2. Be Sure to Baste. I chose the Ollie Bomber Jacket pattern by Sew a Little Seam as my first zipper project. I was lucky that it includes a great set of instructions, including the fact that you should baste the zip into place before sewing in securely. If you’re not familiar with basting, it’s a method of adding in a temporary stitch to your project which can then easily be removed, either to alter the garment or on completion. Basting stitches are long removable stitches, either put in by hand or machine. By basting the zip into place first, I was able to check the front of my jacket and ensure that both sides lined up evenly, before sewing in place more permanently.
3. Size isn’t everything! One of the many reasons I feared zips, was the worry about making sure my project was the exact size specified in order to ensure that the zipper would fit perfectly along the length. Turns out, this is certainly nothing to worry about! Pretty much all nylon/plastic zips can be cut to size – who knew?! You can use your normal sewing scissors too, no fancy tools needed. In order to make sure your zipper pull wont fly off the end, you either need to add a handful of narrow zigzag stitches across the teeth at the point at which you want it to stop, or if you’re using an open ended zip – just make sure the ends are securely sewn into the garment (see the top of the zip near the collar of my jacket).
4. Don’t skimp on stabiliser. If the project you are adding your zip to is made from a stretch, slippery or delicate fabric, then stabiliser will be your friend! Adding two narrow strips of stabiliser along the edges of your project, before you start to sew in your zip, will help prevent any waviness or wonkiness in your finished zip. Wondering what to use as a stabiliser? You have a couple of options, iron on interfacing is a good choice, it can be ironed into place and wont move or crease. Any sort of woven fabric (a non stretch fabric), like cotton poplin or quilting cotton, can be used too, just cut out two narrow strips and place them inside the fold at the edge of the garment or project. Then just pin or clip them in place whilst you position your zipper.
I hope you find my tips useful and now that you’re ready and raring to go…. here’s a few project you can use them on!
Ollie Bomber Jacket by Sew a Little Seam (what I used for my project)
Heidi Foldover Clutch by Swoon Patterns (this is FREE!)
Now you need zips! You can find a whole bunch on our website – currently available in black and white, we have a range of standard nylon zips in sizes 10″, 12″, 14″, 16″, 18″ and 20″. These sizes should cover most children’s clothing projects without too much trouble. Should you need any other colours or lengths, we are able to order these for you – please drop us an email to [email protected]