Sunday, May 3, 2015

All Zipped Up

All of my sewing machine adventures point towards using these beautiful vintage models to actually sew. Every once in awhile I get the urge to make something from beginning to end without stopping, reminiscent of the days when I used an upstairs bedroom to sew all kinds of thing on a very limited budget. There were no demands on my time or how I wanted to spend the whole day, just as long as dinner was on the table by 5:30. My life isn't so simple now but I still get the urge to sew for hours at a time. This weekend I did just that by making a dress for myself as I was anxious to try out a new pattern. It was a Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern #1652:
I made view A with sleeves and front tabs
Of course, this all started when I found a dress from a popular label that had these great pockets but instead I found this dress with the princess bodice. It's an Amazing Fit because there are different pattern pieces for A,B,C, or D bra cup sizes for a better fit and they are right: it fit perfectly!

After I had this all cut out and ready to sew, I heard from one of you, my blog reading friends, that it would be nice to read about how to install a decent zipper. Well, I would like to know how to do that, too, but here is my best effort with tips along the way.

The back of this dress had a standard zipper so this should be easy, right? Here's how I started:
Back seam allowance pressed open

Zipper pinned close to zipper teeth
Basted in place, outside of stitching line for easy removal
Stitch first side from bottom to top (note zipper foot position)
Stitch across bottom of zipper and up the other side (zipper foot now moved to other side of the needle)
Done but not perfect! Bodice and skirt seams match (yea!)
I have had years and years of sewing and I still do not always get it right but I have found directional sewing is important: either top to bottom or bottom to top so do not start at the top and when you get to the bottom just go across and up the next side. This is a recipe for not having it come out straight! I know it's not as easy, neither is basting, but it will give you a better result. I've learn when basting to put your stitches pretty far to the outer edge and then it will hold but not get in the way of the machine stitching. You can see I have a bit of a gap where the edges of the dress don't quite meet to cover the zipper so now that's another little trick I didn't employ: when basting push the fabric closer to the zipper teeth; don't allow the fabric to pull towards the outside edge. I'm always learning something new-to-me. My recipe for success with zippers includes: press, pin, baste, bottom up on each side. Always be prepared to rip it out and start again and practice does make perfect but zippers are a challenge! Replacing zippers in jeans? Only if they are an all-time favorite (or I'm getting paid to do the job). Replacing zippers in coats? Not too difficult but you must baste and use matching thread and stitch length.

So how did my dress-in-a-day turn out? Wish the photos could show you the details but here are the photos we took:
Pockets and those tabs with buttons! I used bias tape on the neckline and sleeve hem (I hate facings!)

and here's your Sewing Machine Mavin in her new dress
I have another princess seam/line style dress with matching jacket cut out so I just might get to sew away another Saturday. Which sewing machine do you think I used? A Singer 401A, of course, but with all of that straight stitching I could have used my Singer 99, 201, or even a treadle. Next time, next time!


John Thomas said...

I really like the fit you achieved with your dress. I may try the pattern for my wife. I have only been sewing a year and a half - mainly granddaughter dresses (five of them less than three years old or less!), so I struggle with zippers. One tip I picked up from the blog for replacing zippers you may already know is to cut out the old zipper leaving the outer tabs and sewing the new zipper in on the old tabs. Her blog is about wedding dress alterations and the bridezillas who are her customers. The blog is both helpful and hilarious.

I really like straight stitching with a dedicated straight stitcher such as a Singer 201, but I have a Singer 500A set up for zigzagging/decorative/stretch stitching as well as another straight stitcher with a buttonholer attachment set up for buttonholes. It helps me speed up things a bit.

John Thomas in NC

Karen said...

Now I have another blog that is a must-read. Thanks for the tip!