Lapped zipper tutorial, part 1

Thank you, Louise Cutting. She wrote a great article for Threads on inserting a lapped zipper into a garment with a facing for Threads magazine (issue 145). If you have the Threads Archive DVD you can easily find it…but if not….here is my slightly altered version of her process. For this process I am using my faced skirt as an example, but you could apply the same technique to a garment with a neckline facing.

Best practices:

  1. Cut the seam allowances where the zipper will be inserted at least 3/4 of an inch –  and 1 inch is better.
  2. Interface the underlap seam allowance with a strip of interfacing 1/4 inch wider than the seam allowance you have allowed (for a 3/4 inch seam allowance cut a 1 inch strip of interfacing).
  3. If you are going to handpick the overlap side of the zipper, interface the overlap seam allowance with a strip of interfacing equal to the seam allowance cut. (So a 3/4 inch seam allowance would have a 3/4 inch strip of interfacing applied.)
  4. If you are going to machine stitch the overlap side of the zipper, interface the overlap seam allowance with a strip of interfacing equal to the seam allowance cut plus 1/2 inch. (So a 3/4 inch seam allowance would have a 1 1/4 inch strip of interfacing applied.)
  5. Use 1/4 inch Steam-a-seam (or similar product) to “glue” the zipper into place prior to stitching.

OK, let’s do it. Start by sewing the seam allowance up to the point where the bottom of the zipper will be placed. Press open. Apply your interfacing strips following “best practices” above. So far so good! Now press the underlap side of the zipper so seam allowance is 1/8 of an inch smaller than the seam allowance you cut, and press the overlap seam allowance equal to the cut seam allowance. For example, if you allowed a 3/4 inch seam allowances, press back the underlap seam allowance 5/8 of an inch and the overlap seam allowance 3/4 of an inch.  The white pin head in the photo below shows where the bottom of the zipper will be placed on my skirt, and how the underlap will be 1/8 of an inch under the overlap. The whole point is to make the zipper teeth fit completely under the overlap , and by pressing the underlap seam allowance a bit narrower than the overlap side, it guarantees complete zipper coverage. Sweet!

Pressed_underlap

Now stitch your facing pieces together. Turn the underlap side of the facing to the inside 5/8 of an inch and press. Turn the overlap side of the facing to the inside 1 inch and press. (This 1 inch turnback is brilliant, as you will see later!!) 

Facing_prep

Pin or baste your facing to your garment, turning the garment seam allowances over the turned back facing allowances (1 inch for overlap side and 5/8 for your underlap side) and stitch. It is a little hard to see in the photo below because my black skirt is underlined with black silk organza, but the little green strip of paper shows you the “gap” where the overlap facing that was turned back 1 inch does not butt up against the turned back skirt seam allowance – there is a gap that is about 3/8 of an inch or a bit less. 

Facing_stitched

Stitch the facing to the garment. Trim the seam allowances, press them open, and then press the facing to the inside of the garment. Understitching is always good. 🙂  In my next post I will cover the actual zipper insertion, now that all the prep work has been done.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

One Response to Lapped zipper tutorial, part 1

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