Sewing with a good result in mind is certainly the goal of all, but when it comes to zippers, even the best laid plans can go awry. If you can get the steps right and handle the basics, you can get it done. Unfortunately, many commercial patterns that have instructions included are overly simplified and don’t cover some of the basics that are essential, and can make the difference between success and failure.
For some of us, a zipper can be an intimidating experience, but it need not be. Here are a few good ideas that will will help you with zippers.
1. Purchase a zipper that is an extra length, longer that is needed. Many zippers look bad after they are sewn in because the stitching appears on the public side when it is finished being sewn. This is caused by the zipper tab getting in the way of the final sewing application. It looks bad because the sewing went around the zipper tab.
Get a zipper that is an extra 2″ longer than you need. Place the top of the zipper way above the zipper opening, and this takes the tab totally out of the line of stitching. Once you have the zipper sewn in place, you can remove the excess.
2. Preparation of the project makes all the difference in the world, so be sure that your measuring and marking is accurate. At first that looks really simple, but getting the zipper to stay straight can be a challenge. The prep before the real sewing begins is the secret. Even for experienced sewers, getting the zipper to stay straight can always be a challenge, and that is why the markings are so important, as they serve as a good guide, all along the way.
3. Before you even pin the zipper in place, mark guidelines for the stitching lines to be sure that they are straight and even. Take the time in the beginning to ensure this and you will be glad.
4. Baste liberally just to make sure that things are precision straight and to hold the zipper in place while you do the real sewing. This helps to keep the top fabric from straying and shifting and it helps to keep the teeth of the zipper centered properly within the opening of the seam. Whether it’s the first time or one of many, this is just good insurance.
5. Be sure to make your zipper application on a very flat surface whenever possible. Applying the zipper while all of the fabric is as flat as possible is just easier, because you will have little to no movement in the entire piece. If you can do this before the side seams are sewn together, it makes the whole process easier. Also, the earlier you can add the zipper in your overall project, the better.
It would seem that they more you sew zippers, the better you will get at it, but always practicing the fundamentals will keep you out of more problems.