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.

Whatch Workin on Wednesday

IMG_3242LaLove Designs Skinny Trousers!!!!! Yay! 

These are one of the items on my current wish list. Most of the things on that list I’ve decided to make myself. I love, love, love buying clothes, but when it’s all said and done, it’s much more fulfilling to wear what I’ve made. (Mostly because if I’m wearing something cute, people always ask me if I’ve made it and It really stinks to have to say no.) I changed my original wide leg trouser pattern block, then made these in muslin and found out the pattern was way off. So I changed the pattern and went ahead and cut these out with that pattern. It was pretty close…close enough that I don’t regret not doing a second muslin mock-up, but not so close that I didn’t have to do quite a bit of seam ripping and pattern alteration. Oh well! Now I have a working pattern from which to make-wait for it….FLORAL CIGARETTE PANTS! (Like the ones below.) I can’t wait. I’ll have to make the leg a little narrower for those, but that won’t be very much trouble. 2015 Floral Pants For Women - Street Style Trends (19)Ok, that easy chic outfit is really spectacular, but back to the pants I’m making today. I still have the button and hemming to do, but that’s what afernoons are for.

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IMG_3245IMG_3246This fabric is adorable! I am and forever will be crazy in love with plaid! This is a very subtle plaid that looks like a gray solid from far away. These pants will go with everything! That’s the way I justify my clothing and shoe purchases, and that’s what I’m using to justify the time taken to make the pattern and sew these babies.

Leave it in the Comment Section:

How many of you make your own patterns? Do any of you know how to do it, but prefer to use store-bought patterns for the sake of time? I’m very curious to know.

Hope this inspires you guys to keep on sewing!

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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My Related Posts:

 My opinion on how spectacular pants are.

Taggie Blanket Tutorial

Girl’s Skirt From a Pillow Case

Who Loves Pants? This Girl!

 

IMG_1805It’s become a running joke in my house that the only things I wear are jeans and sneakers, but the only things I buy are dresses and stilettos. That rings especially true in winter. I have a ton of cute fall outfits pinned on Pinterest, and almost all of them make me freeze to look at. Seriously. I’m ALWAYS cold. So while I would love to make a winter outfit with a cute burgundy skater skirt and funky tights, (I’m really digging the ones in the pic below right now:)  I’m leaning on my old stand-by. PANTS!

And who doesn’t love a good trouser, slack, or jean? Nobody, that’s who! I haven’t made a trouser pattern since fashion design school, and back then, I fit the measurements of the dress form we used. I found my figure has changed since then, so I had to do a pattern block from scratch. (It’s not as easy measuring yourself as it is a dress form or someone else, I’ll tell ya that much!) This picture is of me measuring my hips and finding out that I finally have some! Say it with me…YAY! I’m a 38 instead of a 36 inch hip now, which is proof that I do have a butt now. Sort of. Of course, the down side to that is the inevitable tummy issue. (Can I call it inevitable if it could be prevented by exercise, but I just don’t do it?)

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Now, unless you’re a total pattern nerd like me, the pictures above and below won’t excite you. If, however, you geek out a little over the pastime, you’ll share my butterfly-y glee. I had planned to be a patternmaker after school and work up from there. I strongly believe designers need a real sense of how clothing fits together. But long story short, life had other plans and now I’m making pants out of my living room. That may not sound very thrilling, but it is to me.

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I got so far as to cut out the muslin for the test fit. Nothing in the patternmaking world comes off without a hitch straightaway, so I know I’ll have to do some changes to this pattern block in order to use it for real patterns. But palazzo pants, 70s style trousers, and slim line tuxedo pants here I come! It won’t take long to sew the muslin together, so I should be posting my progress soon.  In the meantime, let’s all tip our slouchy hats to Miss Marlene Dietrich, my absolute fashion fave for making men’s slacks Oh So Cool for women!

See, I’m pretty casual. It’s no makeup Monday for me pretty much week-round. I sometimes wear makeup. I occasionally do my hair. I wear dresses on every full blue moon that falls on the 13th of May. If you see me wearing makeup…with my hair done…in a dress, I think an angel is actually getting his wings. Or something like that.

IMG_1798The moral of the story?

Pants are pretty spectacular! Although, I think that’s pretty much the moral of every story. I may be biased. The End

 

Craftsy Pants Blog # 3

Lesson 4: Tummy & Waist Alterations

Right off the bat in this lesson I realized the huge mistake I made… I traced all the pattern pieces I needed in the size I thought I needed, but it looks like that size may not be the one. The first thing to do in this lesson is something I will do from  now on any time I make a skirt or pair of pants! Make a muslin waistband in the size the pattern packet says you should use according to your measurements. SO simple, right? Definitely a “Why didn’t I think of that” kind of moment! This would have saved me from giving the last pair of trousers I made to Goodwill because they were too small and there wasn’t enough fabric in the seam allowance to alter them. (I was SO proud of them when I finished… until I tried them on.)

Trying on the waistband muslin. The purple line is where I drew in the correct side seam. You can see how big it is by the excess fabric in the back.

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Anyway, I had cut a pattern size C only to discover the waistband was way too big, so I cut another in a size B. It seems like it fits pretty well. Now I’ll have to rework the other pattern pieces I already traced, but I guess it’s not such a big deal, since this entire class is about pattern alterations.

I’m off to finish watching lesson 4 and hopefully finish the tummy and waist alterations. I’ll let you know how it went shortly.

I’m back after having completed lessons 4 and 5, and you know what? When it’s all said and done, there’s not really a lot to do in each lesson. I let myself get a little overwhelmed at a 40 minute lesson on each type of alteration, but it actually takes much less time to complete the alterations. A lot of the class time is seeing different alterations that you won’t actually be using. I’m glad to have this class to refer to in the future for those, though! I ended up taking the pattern pieces I had traced and tracing them in the next size down so that my pieces had both sizes drawn on them in case I need to combine the two sizes anywhere. I used a green colored pencil to mark my new size and a red one for the further alterations. I love her advice for adding color coding. I’m not confident enough to use the colored sharpies she suggests, however.

Retracing the pattern in a smaller sizeuse 4New size in Green, Alterations in Red

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Lesson 5: Rear and Thigh Alterations

   I actually measured my thigh and then the thigh of the pattern and had to adjust the pattern down about 1 1/2″.  Doing that took some length out of the back crotch seam, so I got to skip that step for the butt alterations. (It’s all very experimental at this point for me, however, so I won’t be sure I got the alterations right until my test muslin.) The instructor, Sandra, is so knowledgeable about which body types need which alterations and the counter-alterations that need to be made for each change you make. (For example, if you scoop out the curve of the back crotch, you need to add some to the other side of the pattern to keep the correct circumference.) I think that’s one of the things that intimidates me about pattern alterations. I’m afraid I’ll make a change that too drastically alters the pattern or that I’ll forget one of the counter-measures I need to take after changing something. The thing is, though, you don’t know those rules necessarily by commmon sense- it takes experience. I’m glad I’m getting it! I had no idea just how intimidated I was by pattern alteration. I always avoided it and kind of hoped for the best, but I always thought that was because I was just in a hurry to be finished. I’m sure that’s part of it, but I’m realizing now how I simply skipped it because it was too hard. It’s only too hard because I’ve never done it before…not in the meticulous thought out beforehand way I’m having to do in this class. I would make a pattern in design school and make a sample and figure out how to fix any fit flaws by trial and error by draping and pinning. And I’m finding myself very anxious to get to that step in this class. I know if I went ahead and made these pants, I could find the flaws and adjust the pattern from there. That is very simple to me. But anticipating how a flat pattern will fit and what changes to make to it so it will fit my body seems a little like divination to me at this point. I’m not there yet. But I’m learning. And this class is step one.

The Moral of the Story?

What the Pro’s do  seems like magic , but it can be learned. And always allow a little ease for your [mini?] muffin top!

Craftsy Pants Class Blog# 2

 

Pattern Packet

Pattern packet back


The class is Pant Fitting Techniques with Sandra Betzina.  She’s been teaching sewing and making patterns for years. Her strong point is great fit. In fact, she has a line of patterns with Vogue called “Today’s Fit.” She uses more measurements for personal fitting on these patterns and the sizing is different. I want to learn about fitting ready made patterns,so  let’s learn from the best!

The pants we’re making in this class aren’t my style- at all. I don’t think I’ll like the finished project and that’s one of the reasons I’ve procrastinated on starting this class. (I really like some of the other patterns that she shows us in the introduction class, however. maybe I’ll make some of those eventually.) But I really want to learn the skills she teaches, so I’ll suck it up and get started! Also, the class is about personalized fitting, so I could always change them to be more my style, I guess.I have a ton of leftover bottomweight fabric, so it’s not like I’m sinking a bunch of money into this project. And the pattern came free with the class, which was nice. They shipped it to my house once I paid for the class. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember the exact timeline, but it did ship pretty promptly. Also, some of my hesitation about the pattern may just be the picture on the pattern envelope. I would use a different color and style them a lot differently.

Now, these pants have a princess seam, which kind of freaks me out. But I can see why that would help with fit. I guess we’ll just see how they turn out. My goal really is to build experience and skill, so I’ve got to get past the fact that this project may not fit in with my taste.

One more thing: (And by thing, I mean reason for procrastination.)  I HATE cutting patterns apart! They are so expensive, and I always think I may need to use them again in a different size. If it’s a pattern that’s small like kid’s clothes or a top with few pieces, I just trace my size onto my own tissue paper so I can preserve the original pattern. I’ve definitely put off starting to make projects because I don’t want to cut into the pattern and ruin the other sizes, but I don’t want to take the time to trace the whole pattern, either. I haven’t figured out if this is smart and economical of me, or if it’s stupid and just getting in the way of me finishing projects. I’d love to hear responses on who else shares my apprehension and whether anyone else traces patterns to save them. I did work for a dressmaker who would buy multiples of patterns when they were on sale and cut one of each size. But she had a lot of work and used them a lot. The perfectionist in me wants to have the perfect plan of pattern preservation before I start a project. I probably need to tell her to just shut up!

Here’s the class overview:

Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: Pant Fit & Patterns
Lesson 3: Taking Measurements
Lesson 4: Tummy & Waist Alterations
Lesson 5: Rear & Thigh Alterations
Lesson 6: Crotch & Calf Alterations
Lesson 7: Testing Your Pattern
Lesson 8: Finalizing & Balancing Your Pattern
Lesson 9: Preserving the Pattern

Lesson 1: Introduction

The introduction is mostly learning about the teacher and talking about various pants options. Her background is inspiring and people like her really get me fired up about sewing!

Lesson 2: Pant Fitting Techniques

We learn about what makes a good fit in pants. This is something most people don’t know anything about. My muffin top can attest to this. My jeans are mostly too tight and my trousers are mostly too baggy in the back. I wish I could make all of my pants! I’ve always wanted to become really good at making pants and jeans because there is such a need for custom fitted jeans. Nobody can find pants that fit them exactly right and everybody complains about pant fit. But most people- even people who sew- don’t make pants very often. How great would it be to be the local source for perfectly fitting jeans?

She shows us several patterns she’s made and examples of pants she’s sewn from those patterns.

Lesson 3: Taking Measurements

Where the rubber meets the road. Not looking forward to measuring myself, but I’m off to watch this video and will let you know how it went.

Ok, taking my measurements took all of 5 minutes. She doesn’t just do waist, hip, and length the way I would have done it on my own. She’s got some great tips in there for really specific measurements. Still, it took a nominal amount of time to do. Why did I procrastinate? The world may never know.

Sandra goes on to show us various models with different pants-fit issues, which is great! I just wish I had a buddy taking the class with me who could objectively show me what’s wrong with my pants. Her explanations are fantastic. She shows the fitting problem, then goes over what corrections it will take to eliminate it. I know I’ll never retain everything, so I’ll probably refer back to this section of the class for years as I’m doing work for people with various body shapes.

I was never aware of just how used to seeing (and wearing) bad fitting pants I was. People just sort of wear whatever they can squeeze into or belt onto themselves, and the fit and hang is typically pretty bad. I’ve always complained about finding pants that fit, particularly since I need to buy mine in “Long” so that narrows down my selection (and ups the price) even further. Watching this really makes me want to take the altering ready to wear class! (I’ll have to restrain myself from purchasing it until I KNOW I’ll be able to complete it, but OOOH, there’s a MAJOR sale right now. Oh, wait, I’m actually enrolled in the first alterations class. Looks like that’s one of the classes I bout a year ago and haven’t got around to.)

She shows a pair of pants she made with the princess seam that she put piping down the front of the pant and I really like the look. Maybe I’ll do something like that!

 

I ended up tracing the patterns. I timed myself so I would know just how long it takes and wound up spending 42 minutes on it. Now, is 42 minutes quite a long time? Sure. Is it too long? Not for this project. I’m glad I did it. If I were making something for myself and had no intentions of using the pattern for anyone else, I definitely wouldn’t do it. I don’t do it for my $2.97 patterns and I don’t do it if I’m in a hurry to finish a garment. But for this, I’m going to spend so many hours on the class anyway that the 40 extra minutes isn’t that much time in the grand scheme of things.  And if the pants come out great and anyone likes the idea of custom made slacks, I still have the pattern.

Original Pattern Pieces

Pattern pieces

Traced Pattern Pieces for WaistbandTraced Waistband