Easy Zipper Tutorial

IMG_2284-0I mentioned in an earlier post, Becoming an Expert Seamstress, that when making a pair of pants for the first time in 8 or 9 years, I realized I had totally forgotten how to sew a fly-front zipper. I found a really good YouTube tutorial on an easy way to do it. Click HERE for the link to the video. Trust me, it’s something you wanna watch. I broke it into steps for this post, but this is really intended as a refresher on what the steps are once you’ve seen her video.

I’m doing this as a blog tutorial because once I began sewing the zipper in the pair of pants I’m working on, I went to her video again and I thought I should make a cheat sheet on the steps she uses until I memorize the process. Then I thought if that would help me, it would probably help you, too, and that’s the story of why I had to seam rip the zipper out of these pants and start again to get photos of each step.

These pictures are of my olive palazzo trousers. You can check out the post on the waistband by clicking the picture below.IMG_2346

Before we begin, this super easy method only works with a pattern that has the fly extension built into the pants pattern as one piece.

Step 1: Serge the edge of the fly extension and front crotch seam. The Youtube video doesn’t actually show that part,  her edges are already serged when she starts the video. If you don’t have a serger, no prob, Bob! Just sew a fairly tight, wide zig-zag stitch along the  edge, making sure the needle goes over the fabric edge so it overlocks the raw edge.

Unnecessary Sidebar: My serger and I are frenemies. Like, I hang out with him. But only because I know I need him.  It’s definitely love/hate with that guy. I’m getting a little braver as I get  to know him more, though.IMG_2244

Step 2: Measure the extension. How far does it go out from Center front? Put a notch at the CF. Mine is about 2″ out. Mark how far down the zipper stop is.IMG_2243

Step 3: Sew the front inseam up to the point the of the notch you just made for your zipper pull. Backstitch.  Then sew the rest of the way up to the notch you made at the top for the CF point, using a basting stitch (the longest stitch you have on your machine.) You can mark a sewing line with tailor’s chalk if it makes it easier for you.IMG_2245

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Step 4: Press open the seam you just made.IMG_2252

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Step 5: Place your zipper face down on the left pant leg fly, so the teeth are touching the Center Front seam and sew (just to the fly extension layer,) using your regular presser foot so the stitch isn’t too close to the zipper teeth. On her tutorial, Diane opens the zipper so she can sew closer to the teeth once she gets to the pull. To do this, make sure your needle’s down and raise your presser foot to slide down the pull a little, then lower your foot and sew to the end.IMG_2253I had to shorten this zipper. If you don’t know how to do it, just measure how long you need it to be and hand or machine sew the new stopping point. Make sure it’s secure because this becomes your actual zipper stop.

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IMG_2256Ah, see, once again Scotch tape works for everything! 

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Step 6: Flip the zipper over so  and topstitch beside the row of stitching you just made to attach the zipper. Switch to a zipper foot for this step. You end up with one side of the zipper tape being folded under and topstitched.IMG_2247On the left is my normal foot and the zipper foot is on my right. If you’ve never used a zipper foot before, watch a tutorial or look it up in your machine’s manual.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Step 7: Open the pants and turn the fly extension with the sewn zipper over so it’s on top of the fly extension for the other pant leg. Fold the edge of the sewn extension back, pin it in place and sew the zipper to the other fly so it’s attached to both.IMG_2269

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Step 8: Topstitch on the right pant leg, using your normal presser foot. (If you’re looking at the pants from the front, it will be on your left.) If you’re new to this, it may be best to have a line drawn where you want to stitch.  This will be the decorative backwards J shape we all associate with fly front pants. To do this,  sew straight down from the top so you catch the extension underneath. Mark or pin on the front of the fabric where you made the notch at the zipper stop point. This is where your stitching will curve in toward the crotch. Lift your presser foot up at this point and turn the other extension you had pinned back so that it will be sewn in the curve, as well.IMG_2274

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Step 9: Take out your basting stitch and iron out the crease on the left pant leg.IMG_2278-0

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Ok, so 9 may seam like a lot of steps for an easy zipper, but they’re all baby steps and this method only uses 4 seams! That’s pretty good. I love bullet points and steps written down to remind me of a process untill I have it down, and now it’s available for you guys-and myself-to use on our fly front pants. I hope I did Diane’s tutorial justice. She is such a wonderful teacher and I can’t wait to watch and try her other videos. (There’s one on smocking I’m very interested in…I just don’t know if I have the patience to smock. Mocking, however, is a different story. If there was a mocking tutorial, I’d Nail IT! For sure.)IMG_2282-0

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Happy Sewing! And a Special Thanks to Diane Deziel and herYou Tube Video.

How to Sew an Easy, Decorative Waistband



 

This tutorial is on how to make an interior waistband using decorative bias tape or fabric. I’ve seen this a lot lately in jeans and some trousers, but I didn’t realize how much easier it could make waistband sewing until I used it. I’m making a pair of green palazzo trousers and once I get them finished, I’ll post the whole process and let you see how this waistband looks once sewn in place. I may also do a post just about the pockets, which are out of the same brown striped fabric. (One day I’d like to do a sew-along with you guys. I have to perfect grading my patterns to fit different sizes and learn how to make them into PDFs for purchase. Let me know what you think.)

When asked what people dread most about sewing, the pretty universal response is “zippers,” but I’ll take a zipper any day over a waistband or a collar stand. Not that they are hard to sew by themselves…it’s just that I hate flipping them over once the first side is sewn and turning up just the right amount of fabric and hoping that I catch both sides and it doesn’t look too uneven. I’m definitely getting better at it, but it had been a long time since I sewed pants so when I made the test pair to make sure my pattern fit correctly before using my good fabric, the inside waistband was a little bunched up in places. Nothing horrible, but enough to make me think, “I have to find a better way!” I was just about to YouTube it when this method occurred to me. Easier and decorative? A two-fer, right up my alley! (To see my practice pair and and a tip for sewing on buttons easily, click Here.)

OK, So Here’s How to Do It:IMG_2203

1. Take bias tape or a strip of fabric 1″ wide by the length of your waistband (I had to join two pieces) and pin it to the part of the inside waistband that will be at the bottom. Make sure you’ve already attached your interfacing.

Note: The fabric doesn’t really have to be cut on the bias. Mine was really stretchy on the crosswise grain, but it doesn’t even need to be that stretchy for this project.

2. Sew or serge the contrast fabric onto the waistband at a scant quarter inch.

 

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3. Flip the fabric over, tuck it under on the back so the raw edge isn’t showing, and pin in place. (I wish I had gotten a pic of this from the back. Sorry, guys!)

 

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4. Stitch it into place.

 


 

That’s it! 4 simple steps  and you’re done!

The next part of the process will just involve sewing the top of the outer and inner waistband and attaching it to the pants. Once you attach the bottom of the outer waistband to the pants, flip this part inside and pin the waistband in place. Sew from the front, using the waistband seam as your guide. Here are two pictures of jeans I own that use this method. Isn’t it pretty? IMG_2236

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