Zips dammit

I have a really good method for putting a zip in jeans style. Its 99% Shoben and Ward, and 1% me – slightly different order of stitching is the 1%.

Its an ace method because you put it in with the pieces all flat, and first. There’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve got the zip in and looking perfect to bathe the project in a warm rosy glow. So it was yesterday, with the black needlecord jeans I was making.

Whilst whizzing through the rest of the making up, a song in my heart,  I mused about posting a tute when I’m back home and have a tripod handy so the pictures  stand a chance of not coming out blurred.

I bet you know where this is going.

On the home straight, waistband pressed and ready to put on, I turned the garment right side out, yanking at the legs and giving it a good shake. The fabric clung to itself as cord does. The zip teeth separated.

The pull at the top still held the last couple together in a final embrace. No amount of coaxing and manipulating would set things right and get the other teeth respectably wedded. They looked like they would hold for a second or two, then put asunder faster than a hot weekend in Las Vegas divorce.

The downside of this Shoben and Ward method is that when you need to rip out the crummy apology for a zip you bought on the market and  foolishly didn’t test before inserting, you have a lot of unpicking to do, and the pieces are no longer flat.

That leads me to the point of this post. A guide for happier sewing. A chart to stick on the wall behind the sewing machine, an aide memoir, a momento mori for untrue zips.

1 is obviously, test that zip, put it through its paces, close it and try to yank it apart, before you painstakingly stitch it in.

2 might be, clear the left side of the sewing machine table of all clutter so that pin boxes, small pieces of pattern, the nice button you found in an Oxfam shop and need to design a use for don’t shoot onto the floor as you turn your sewing under the machine, sweeping everything in its path.

3. could be wind more than one bobbin of matching thread, hold the fusible interfacing up to the light and find the glue side before you weld it to the iron, put your coffee cup waaaay over there.

What else? Have any chartworthy blunders and bad habits you hobble your sewing with? Do tell, lets nail them to a wall or two.




About jay

I design and draft patterns
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6 Responses to Zips dammit

  1. Lakaribane says:

    I can commiserate. I once put in a beautiful fly front but my zipper was longer than needed so I decided to cut off the extra length from the top. Yes, in my pride at my zipper application, I closed the zipper and the cursor flew off! It was one of those Tada! gestures.


    • Pella says:

      Bad luck! In a fly front opening too. I take the cowards way out with zip shortening and cut across the bottom, stitching across to close it. As I can mess up assembling a few IKEA shelves, taking pliers to the top stop and teeth just seems like a DIY step too far.


  2. Oh no no no no. Little bugger of a zip….. and in a fly front too. I haven’t had that happen though I have done the same zip shortening at the top thing Lakaribane did. There really is something about zips, don’t you think?

    PS I like your list – can’t think of any additions off hand but I’m sure I will when I get back to practice pockets.


  3. mrsmole says:

    This happened to me with a pair of client’s wool crepe pants. She needed the waistband enlarged so I removed it and zipped up the zipper and whoosh went the tab off in my hand. The client had made the pants herself and used the technique of cutting off the zipper flush with her top waistband seam instead of trimming off the tail…what a bitch…now I had to remove everything and lining and put in an invisible one (my favorite) and finish it up. Looked way better that way anyway as it was center back and had an ugly flap before…another lesson learned! Loved your story!


  4. Pella says:

    Ah the dreaded zip with no top stop!


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