Thursday, May 30, 2013

Technique - Inserting Jumbo Zippers

Here's a short and sweet tutorial for inserting an exposed zipper into the hem of a garment. In my case, I put zippers in the hem of a pair of jeans, and also created front angled zipper pockets.

The zippers I used were 1.5" wide and 7" long - the zipper teeth are 3/8" wide. I decided that I wanted to expose 1" of the zipper.

Before you begin, make sure that you have the hem length worked out. Once the zipper is in, it will be *very* difficult to make the hem shorter, for example.

  • Change the order of sewing so that the side seams are completed before the inside leg seam, if you plan to place the zippers on the side seam. Top-stitch the seam if desired. The zipper will be inserted while the leg is flat, before the inseam is sewn.
  • Using a scrap of muslin, draw the zipper opening onto the muslin. The zipper was 7" long, but I drew the vertical lines 8" long, to accommodate a 1" hem. Draw another vertical line, exactly in the center of the first two lines. This is used for positioning the zipper opening onto the garment.
  • Lay the muslin on the outside of the garment. The raw edge of the muslin is aligned with the raw edge of the garment. You can place the zipper wherever you want, but I wanted it on the side seam. Align the center line on the muslin with the side seam and pin in place.
  • Set the stitch length on your machine to a short length, and stitch around the three edges of the outline. (If you've ever made the window for a welt pocket, the process is similar.) The picture below shows both pant legs, one on top of another.
  • Cut down the center of the "window", angling to the corners. Trim away the excess fabric.
  • Press the seams open and turn the muslin to the inside of the pant. Thread baste into place.
  • Pin the zipper into place, making sure it is centered in the opening.
  • Put the zipper foot on your machine and top-stitch into place.
  • Remove the thread basting and hem the pants as normal.

The process for inserting the zippered pockets was similar. In that case I drafted a pocket bag and put the pockets in at a 60° angle.

Before adding the pocket bag

More About Vogue Sizing

I want to talk a bit more about a subject I brought up in my Open Letter to Vogue Patterns post. This post is thanks to Anne, who commented on my pants post. In her comment, Anne wrote:

" My hips are now 34", which is a size 4 in the Big 4. Most patterns do not even go down to a size 4. "

I don't understand - 34" hips are between an 8 and a 10 in Vogue patterns.

Bless you, Anne!! When I read your comment (and at least one other person mentioned this too, but I couldn't find her comment), I was perplexed. I grabbed one of my Vogue patterns and, yup, a 34" hip is between a size 8 and a size 10, according to the Vogue chart.

It took me a minute to realize what happened, and why I wrote what I did. And then I was totally delighted!

I was delighted because this PERFECTLY illustrates the point I was trying to make about the sizing of the Big 4 (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity) patterns.

In these patterns, I do NOT choose my pattern size based on my body measurements. If I did, it would often result in a too-large garment, because they use so much ease.

Let me illustrate how I got to a size 4 from a 34" hip. Two of my favorite recent pants patterns are Vogue 8859 and Vogue 8837. These are, respectively, Marcy Tilton's and Katherine Tilton's skinny pants. I love them and made both last year. I ordered a new copy of each pattern because of my size change, as I had chopped up my original copies. (If I pay $20 for a pattern, I trace it off. For $3, I cut it up.)

When I open up the pattern tissue of a pattern, I first look for the finished measurements that they usually print ON the pattern tissue. I dearly wish they would put this info on the envelope/website so you would know before you order. (And, by the way, it's good to double check this measurement, because it can be wrong.)

For Katherine's pattern, the finished hip measurement for the size Small (size 8-10) is listed as 36". For me, that is more ease than I want in a skinny pant made with a stretch denim. I want zero ease. A size XS (4-6) is listed as 34" at the finished hip.

Before my recent weight loss, my hips measured 36" which, according to Vogue, is a size 12. However, I routinely made my Vogue pants in a size 6 or 8, because there was so much ease built into the patterns.

Also, if you are wondering why I always list my measurements and my sizes on my blog posts, let me tell you why. It is because I am, fundamentally, a very lazy sewist. I do not keep a record of these things, outside of my blog. I list them because I often go back to my posts to check these details. It's not about bragging, because I don't think many people would brag about a 32" waist. ;)

So, THANK YOU to Anne for pointing this out! These days I have the memory of a gnat, so I had already forgotten about the process I go through for choosing my size, which is based on finished measurements of the garment. I know how much ease I want in a t-shirt, or a blouse, or pants, so I can make a more educated decision when choosing a pattern. The faster you learn how much ease YOU want in a pattern, and understand the large amount of ease that the Big 4 pattern companies use, the more quickly you take the power into your own hands on fitting your garments.

I am eager to write some other posts for you, but I am also eager to sew. It's a dilemma, I tell you. I am working on a weekender sort of bag. I am going on a retreat soon and I need this, but I am feeling the pull to make more clothes. It's a pickle, given that my time is somewhat limited by work and other obligations. ;)