Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tutorial: Sewing a Binding with a Zipper

In my last post I showed a cardigan-style jacket that I made using a novelty pleather fabric. Because the fabric was largely see-through, I didn't want facings. I wanted to finish the edge with a binding. I also wanted a zipper.

It took me awhile to noodle out how to do both.

Once I figured it out, the solution seemed so obvious. Isn't that often the way?

I said I would write a tutorial on how I did it, when a comment made me wonder if the instructions that come with the pattern, Burda 7183, already tell you how to do this! I never even unfolded the instruction sheet that came with the pattern. Why? Because I just didn't need to. I used 3 pattern pieces (front, back, sleeve)—who needs instructions for that?!

Last night I opened up the instruction sheet and my technique is not the same as theirs, so here is my tutorial.


I wanted the zipper to be installed first, before the neck or hem bindings. This way the top and bottom of the zipper are finished by those bindings. You can do it the other way, of course.

I first sewed the back shoulder and bust darts, then I sewed the shoulder and side seams. You can then attach the zipper and bindings, or you can insert the sleeves first. Whatever works for you, though I like to finish the neck edge as soon as possible. Before binding the neck, I handle the garment very carefully to avoid distortion—never letting the neck edge "carry" the weight of the jacket and minimizing any try-ons. I rarely stay stitch and, in this case, I doubt it would have effectively stabilized the cut netting.

Trim your neckline edge. The pattern includes 5/8" seam allowances, but I sew a 1/4" seam when binding, so I cut away 3/8" from the neckline seam. I carefully positioned the hems and sleeves so that they ended on a pleather strip, so I didn't trim those. In this case, just make sure that the pattern is already adjusted to your desired length.

Step 1: Cut binding strips

Using your binding fabric (I used a stretch bengaline), cut 4 strips, on the straight-of-grain. I attach the binding with 1/4" seam allowances, and I wanted a half inch binding, so I cut my strips 1" wide. Cut them longer than you need - you can trim them later.

Note: The pic shows 2 strips, but you need two for each side, or 4 total.

Step 2: Apply binding to zipper

You want a neat finish both sides of the finished zipper, so you are encasing the zipper teeth in the binding. Using your zipper foot, stitch the zipper to a binding strip with a 1/4" seam.

Step 3: Apply binding facing to zipper

For this step, pin the 2nd strip to the other side of the zipper, and then sew it with the new strip against the feed dogs. That way you can stitch-in-the-ditch and sew exactly on top of your first line of stitching.

Some folks might encourage you to sew both strips at once, but I find that to be an easy way to create a sloppy seam. I generally like to attach one layer to another, not three or four layers at once. You have much greater control when sewing only two layers at a time.

Step 4: Press and (optionally) topstitch

The pressing is not optional. :) Press the bindings away from the zipper.

The edge stitching is optional, though I like the result.

Half of your zipper is now ready to be installed.

Step 5: Attach zipper to jacket

Open up your zipper sandwich and pin the front side of the zipper to the front of the garment. Note that my binding is inset about 1/8" from the raw edge. This is because I am using 1/4" seams and the pleather strip is 3/8" wide. I want the binding to completely encase the pleather strip. In an ordinary situation, I would not inset the binding.

Machine stitch.

Step 6: Sew the back binding

On the back side, fold under a 1/4" on the raw edge of the binding facing, and pin. I hand sew this edge, but you can machine sew if you like. If you do, I would machine sew from the front to make sure that it looks even from the outside.

Personally, I far prefer the neat look of a hand finish.

Step 7: Repeat on the other side

And that's it! This finish looks nice from both sides. Woot!