Sunday, 28 August 2011

How I get an invisible zipper looking neat at the top!

I know I have mentioned this before, but I hate hooks and eyes. They are pesky little things to be avoided at (almost) all costs. Usually I just leave them off and nothing terrible happens - my garments don't inconveniently unzip themselves! However, doing this does mean that you can sometimes get a little (or large!) ‘V’ shape at the top of the zipper where the opening doesn't quite close. In a tireless quest for perfection I have been working on ways to avoid this.

You might remember that the last dress I made (featured in my last post) has a low back neckline so the zipper closing is very visible. But, if I say so myself, I think I was quite successful in getting it to look acceptable without having to resort to a hook and eye.

Close-up of back zipper

As it is a rainy bank holiday Sunday and I am nursing a miserable cold I thought I would occupy myself by sharing my secret technique with you. Firstly, however, a warning! I have never seen it done this way in a book so it is probably VERY WRONG. If you want to do things properly, maybe you shouldn't try this.

As I didn't take photos when I made my dress, I have made, from scrap fabrics, a mock-up of one side of a back bodice to illustrate what I am talking about.

At the back of the zipper, with the zipper closed, put a chalk mark on the zipper tape where the top of the slider finishes.

Open the zipper and pin it to the right side of the back bodice, in the usual way, so that the zipper teeth are along the centre back seam line and the chalk mark you have made is just below the seam line of the neckline. How much below depends on the thickness of the fabric - if it is thin 1/8" will be ok, thicker fabric needs about 1/4" - you are allowing for the turn of the fabric.

If you are making a dress with an edge to edge lining that has already been attached it will be placed below the already sewn neckline seam that joins the bodice and the lining. If you are going to be attaching a facing after inserting the zipper it will look like this photo, (I have chalk marked the seam-line for the purposes of clarity - I wouldn't normally do this.)

Start sewing from chalk mark on zipper tape
Sew the zipper in the usual way, with an invisible zipper foot, But DON'T start sewing from the top of the zipper tape (which is how books usually demonstrate it is done). Instead you should start sewing from the chalk mark down to the end (I use the lockstitch on my machine at the start point). Do the same on both sides.

The top of the zipper tape, above the slider, will be loose. Then, if you are attaching a facing, you should pull the tape out of the way and sew the facing to the bodice WITHOUT sandwiching the zipper i.e. like this (pretend the yellow fabric is the facing)

DO sew zipper like this
and NOT like this.

DON'T sew zipper like this

Leaving the top of the zipper tape free means that when you close the zipper and sew the lining or facing to the zipper you can pull the bits of the zipper tape that are above the slider well inside the garment and out of the way. I find that this way it is easier to get it looking neat, it helps avoid nasty lumps and you can get much less of a ‘V’ at the top of the opening.

After much experimentation this is my preferred (if unorthodox!) way of dealing with invisible zippers. It works for me on skirts as well as dresses. I hope that you find it helpful to see how I do it.

Do you have a tried and tested way of getting invisible zippers to look how you want or do you struggle with them? I'd love to know .......

Friday, 19 August 2011

Vogue 8555 made from Oscar de la Renta fabric!

I wanted to make a new dress to go to the Proms - something pretty and flowery, but a little bit sophisticated, would be just right for a classical concert on a summer evening. Some beautiful silk fabric, designed by Oscar de la Renta, jumped from my stash saying "make me into Vogue 8555".  So I did.

Vogue + Oscar!

I like the low back neckline!

This is my second version of this pattern, I love the pleated and gathered bodice.

Vogue 8555
I have worn the first one (blogged about here) many times, so I was keen to make another. It also meant that I wouldn't be taking too many risks with my expensive piece of designer fabric!

Last time I followed the pattern instructions exactly but I wasn't entirely happy with the zipper/lining construction, I thought it looked a little messy inside the dress. The pattern tells you to sew the zipper to both the fabric and the lining at the same time so that the zipper is outside of the lining. This time I did it differently. When I attached the lining to the dress I left a few inches of the lining for the bodice, the midriff and the skirt at the centre back unattached. I inserted the invisible zipper to the outer fabric only, then hand stitched the lining so that it enclosed the zipper. It is a bit fiddly but I think that it looks much neater if you do it this way.

Inside the dress

Anyway, here is the dress in action at the Royal Albert Hall, in Kensington, where the Proms concerts are held

Arriving at the Royal Albert Hall

In front of Kensington Gardens and the Albert Memorial

I'm hoping that Oscar would approve of what I've done with his fabric!

Monday, 15 August 2011

When wearing ill-fitting clothes really is a crime!

I want to say thank you to all of the very kind commenters who, after my last post, expressed concern for my safety during the riots that we experienced in London and other parts of England last week.

I am happy to tell you that the riots didn't reach my street although last Tuesday afternoon it was very strange to see our local high street heavily guarded by police. A large proportion of the stores were closed throughout the afternoon and many were protected by iron shutters or boarded up. Thankfully, things returned to normal the next day.

So far 1,401 people have been arrested and 808 charged in connection with the riots. Amongst them was a young man, aged 17, apprehended wearing luxury clothing stolen from a store called Zee and Co, in east London. How was his crime detected? Police were suspicious when they noticed that his pricey designer clothes didn't fit him. "They were very expensive and if someone spends that sort of money they would at least get clothes that fit" noted a prosecuting lawyer. (Reported by Tom Coghlan in today's The Times).

So, this young man is happy to walk around looking a complete idiot in ill-fitting clothes just as long as they have the right designer label. Priceless!

My advice to him would be, learn to sew. It will keep you out of trouble and you will then be able to wear clothes that fit, make you look good and keep you out of jail!

Anyway, as every post needs a picture, here is a photograph of my very own brush with law and order. Actually I mean Law & Order

Eugenia at the desk of ADA John J. McCoy!
This was taken a few years ago when I was lucky enough to visit the filming of my very favourite crime show, in New York City. Pretty cool eh?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Burda Style skirt + top = tropical madness!

For approximately 360 days of the year my latest sewn outfit looks crazily optimistic when worn in my home city of London. But last week we just happened on a few 'heatwave' days that made me glad I hadn't totally lost faith in the sun ever shining on us again.

I'll have a Tequila Sunrise please!

Both the skirt and top are made from Burda Style magazine patterns that are easy to make. The skirt is pattern no. 114 from July 2008.

Burda Style #114, July 2008
I have made the pattern before (blogged about here) but this time I left out the eyelets and tie on the front yoke because I wanted a slightly more streamlined, less sporty look (and, yes, I was being lazy!). The fabric I used is 100% cotton.

The top is taken from an even older issue of Burda, it's pattern no. 119 from the July 2007 issue.  

Burda Style #119, July 2007
This is also an old favourite revisited because I first made a version of the top over two years ago. I kept meaning to make another one and I'm happy that I finally have. I like the style a lot - the gathers that go into the button band add some interest and nice shaping. The fabric I used is a silk that I have had in my stash for ages. 

Top out, more casual!

I hope that my choice of fabrics hasn't put you off these two really nice patterns. A dazzling sunshine yellow skirt paired with a bright and splashy flower print top is not everyone's cup of tea. I know that it's not really 'city chic' but sometimes I just can't help myself. I find I am irresistibly drawn to colours and prints that make me look like I have just stepped off a cruise ship. Is your wardrobe firmly rooted in your home climate or do you, like me, sometimes sew as if you are on a semi-permanent tropical vacation? Or, perhaps you actually do live in a hot-spot, in which case, do you sew as if you are hoping for snow?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...