Friday, January 31, 2014

Tutorial: Install a zipper and match seams without pinning or basting

     If you don't like sewing heresy, click away now! I once did a tutorial on stitching elastic in the round without quarter pinning. You might start to think I never use pins but, the truth is, I use them all the time. But sometimes, I really feel I have better control and sew much faster without using in the case of elastic, princess seams, hems and zippers. My fingers are my pins. (Did that sound corny? Ok, moving on...)

Here's what it looks like:

How to Install a Zipper and Match Seams without Pinning or Basting

Step 1: Interface the wrong side of the fabric. Finish the edge of the fabric.
Benefits to interfacing: 
A. It makes your fabric beefier in order to support that zipper.
B. It minimizes the fabric stretching while you sew, which will make seam matching easier and will make zipper buckling less likely when the fabric decides to returns to its original size. (Preshrinking is a good idea for the same reason.)

Step 2: Press the appropriate seam allowance under. Check that all seams, including hem, match up at this point. Lay your zipper over the garment to check again if the hem length really does work with the zipper length.

How many times have I finished a zippered garment only to find the right and left hems didn't match? Ugh. I'd rather adjust the hem now.

Step 3: Stitch one half of the zipper tape to the garment.

Align the top zipper stop with the top of the garment. You've already checked your zipper length with your garment length, so if you let the zipper go into place naturally as you stitch, you don't have to worry about where it's going to end up at the bottom. You're worried only about aligning the zipper tape with the edge.

I like to use a 5/8" seam allowance with a serged edge because lining the zipper tape edge with the serged stitching is the perfect distance, but do what makes sense to you.

Tip: Oops, I'm almost at the end and the zipper is in the way! The trick-du-jour is to raise the presser foot, slide the zipper pull up, lower the presser foot, and finish. That's a great idea, sometimes. But usually, I spent 10 minutes trying to squeeze the zipper around the foot. Finally, one day it dawned on me: Joy, backstitching, cutting the threads, pulling the garment out a little, moving the zipper pull, and starting again take 5 seconds. This is an automatic movement for sewists, right? The moral of the story: if a sewing trick (including this tutorial) is not helpful, don't do it!

Below you can see where I stopped and restarted my stitching. Not a big deal.

Step 4: Test your zipper to make sure it slides easily.

Step 5: On the zipper tape, mark the points you will need to match. 

I used tailor's chalk here.

Step 6: Transfer the markings to the back side of the zipper tape where you will see them when you stitch.

*** Move on to step 7 for a pinless procedure. Or see note at bottom.

Step 7: Align your zipper tape appropriately with the edge, match your first match point (the hem in my case) and stitch an inch or so.

Step 8: Align the next match point with its corresponding seam and pinch it. Now, grabbing the fabric behind the presser foot, put the fabric and zipper taut so they are lying flat and aligned with each other correctly. Stitch.

You can pinch off smaller sections than what I'm showing here (I did) - whatever gives you the best control. Each time you pinch off a section to stitch, just use the match points as reference points. When you pass one match point, look to the next one.

Step 9: Check to make sure the zipper slides smoothly and all your seams match up.

Perfect, I think!

Step 10: Open the seam allowances. Grab the extending zipper tape and fold it over. Fold the seam allowance back under, sandwiching the zipper tape extension in between.

Step 11: Topstitch. 

***Note: Pinless sewing makes sense only if it's faster and easier - and still looks good. Obviously. If I have a tricky fabric, bulky garment, or something else unwieldy going on, I prestitch the match points. You could call that basting, I suppose.

This fun sweatshirt coat is the Diamond Cardigan Coat from Ottobre 4-2009-37. The pattern calls for snaps but Sara specifically requested a zipper instead. And a tutorial was born, haha.

She spent a few minutes looking for the pockets. Oops, sorry, there aren't any.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mini Penny Pinafores

My girls are benefiting from the Penny Pinafore bandwagon - in the Mini version. These are only slightly more involved than a t-shirt and it's fun to mix and match the fabrics. I managed to eke out 3 garments just from my oddly shaped scraps.

I made Sara a tunic length, since she most definitely will not wear a dress. It's generously sized (the women's version is fitted) and works well in a sweatshirt fleece. You can see it's a bit big on her, so the tunic length would normally be a little shorter.

And little sisters got versions in regular jersey. As I said, these were scraps, so the girls recognized the fabrics from previous garments. They were so pleased to have them again in different iterations.

I might as well use up the mustache fabric while it's the rage. (I noticed Girl Charlee still has it in stock...FYI.)

And lastly, Grace got a Skater Dress, also a Kitschy Coo pattern. This fun print was also from Girl Charlee. I actually made this one in the fall and, alas, that light green ribbing isn't keeping up appearances very well...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Penny Pinafores

Well, now that the Penny Pinafore pattern from Kitschy Coo has been out for a couple of weeks, it's about time I got around to writing about my versions. The patterns comes in 3 lengths: tunic, mini-dress and dress and includes 3 sleeve-length options.

The navy and purple top (above) is my most recent iteration - it was also my last make of 2013! I shortened the tunic length a couple of inches to make it regular t-shirt length. 

The two versions below were made during the testing phases of the pattern, but they fit pretty darn well even then.

The bodice has slight negative ease, but flares out just a bit for a lightly fitted A-line shape to the hem. Mod-style! Alternate tracing lines are included for the tunic (shortest) length so you can make a more fitted and less A-line top.

I used the mini length for the green and black versions.

The bit of back pooling you see was much improved in the pattern-tweaking stage. See the nice back fit of the green dress below.

This green and white checked version turned out to have such a nice fit that I was sorely disappointed with the transparent nature of the fabric! It may become a nightgown. Shucks.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Stats for Your Inner Nerd: Version 2013

Happy New Year to all of you!

I always love a fresh beginning, so here's to another one...

Workplaces and schools are closed today statewide because of the cold weather, so it was the perfect day for hunkering down and.....creating pie charts. Part of me wanted to go outside and see what -24 F (-31 C) air temperature felt like, but the rest of me decided to stay inside.

My husband just went outside and threw water from a pitcher into the air. It immediately powderized. Very cool!!!

But without further ado, I present Sewing of the Year 2013 (graphs courtesy of my husband).

If you're extra nerdy, you can analyze my charts from previous years, as well:


Sewing in 2013
Items stitched: 190
Yards stitched: 171.84
Yards purchased (if you must know): 164.75

(Click graphs to enlarge.)

July was an active sewing month since I was participating in a stash busting contest. 

I can't believe I made that many pajamas!!!

Ottobre won out again, Jalie and Self-drafted following in a distant 2nd and 3rd.

What can I say? Jersey garments are quick to stitch and easy to wear.

And another way to visualize fabrics used:

Oldest daughter actually got more items than I did this year. 50 items sounds like a lot and yet her closet is sparse. She still managed to wear out and grow out of some things. Oh, and we have 4 seasons. Hmmm... My family would be poorly off if they depended on me for all of their clothing. 


©2009 21 Wale | by TNB