the Lapped Zipper

The lapped zipper on my Red Vixen Dress

This post is dedicated to my sister, who just last night sent me this very amusing but seriously painful email (please pardon the expletives, however I’m sure you can relate):

Hi Sun,
I was just writing to tell you that I remembered the reason I stopped sewing today. Zippers. I finished my skirt today and got it all ironed and ready to try on. Mind you, I had worked very hard putting the zipper in, hand basted twice even because it wasn’t perfectly even the first time. It really looked perfect I have to say. For me that NEVER happens. Anyway, I tried it on and had a little bit of trouble zipping it up. (you know, when the zipper derails and gets caught up in all the surrounding fabric? Love that.) Anyway, I admired my work in the mirror and then went to take it off by unzipping the zipper and it would. not. un. ZIP! I have a blister on my fingers from trying so hard! I notice around this time that there is a problem with the zipper in the middle where the teeth are separated a little bit. I can’t really solve the problem until I can get the slider down there, so I keep trying and keep trying until suddenly the zipper pulls out of the skirt completely on one side. PS, this is a high waisted skirt so I couldn’t get it off without getting the seam ripper and unpicking the whole damn thing. Then, I had to go to the store through the snow ridden, 40 degree tundra to get another invisible zipper, and go through the whole process again. NOT FUN I’m telling you. I just finished it again. I had to do it tonight because I was afraid that I would never try again if I let it go for the night. It looks like a shit sandwich from being unpicked and redone so many times, but I really don’t care right now. I’ll post pictures on my blog later, so watch. (It looks kind of old ladyish because the fabric I picked is neither cute or sophisticated, but maybe I can pair it with some cute stuff.)
Just needed to let someone in on how much I hate zippers.
Talk to you later,

The lapped zipper on my Naughty Secretary Dress

Let me also add that I talked to my sister the very next morning and she had to unpick herself out of the skirt to get it off! Need I even ask if this has happened to you, because I know it has. It’s happened to me, many times. Zippers are things that haunt my nightmares. Since completing my Red Vixen Dress and my Naughty Secretary Dress, I have decided that a pickstitched lapped zipper is my favorite zipper of all time. Not only because it eliminates the use of a dumb invisible zipper (which, by the way, my sister used in her zipper conundrum), but also because it looks so good. I have the hardest time with zippers. To be quite frank, they are my weakest technique in sewing.  It’s interesting to note here that when I finished my Red Vixen Dress, I was most happiest with the zipper. And that’s the part that no one noticed. Everyone whose seen it is enamoured of the triangular bound buttonholes. That’s the thing isn’t it? Having a zipper placed so perfectly in a garment that it’s not noticeable, because it shouldn’t be the focal point, unless, of course, you are actually trying to make it a focal point. That’s what I’m trying to convince you of here. Unless you are already convinced. Give a lapped zipper a try. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much you LOVE it.

A few notes before you have a peek:

  • This is a time saving technique because its more than likely you won’t have to unpick the zipper even once! Yay!
  • I’ve only shown one step here that isn’t machine stitched, mostly for the sake of the photography aspect. But you, you can do this entire insertion by machine if you choose.
  • I’m a firm believer that all zipper openings should be stabilized, but I conveniently forgot to add that step in my tutorial here. Just interface the zipper opening, on the wrong side of the fabric, with strips of fusible tricot, silk organza or stay tape (my favorite is the 1 1/4″ knit variety!).

Without further adieu, click here for the tutorial. Please let me know if you have troubles and I will do my best to answer questions and what nots.


19 thoughts on “the Lapped Zipper

  1. Thanks for the tutorial – I will definitely give this a try! I fear zippers, and by the time I get done with the ridiculous amount of hand basting I do, this would be just as easy!

  2. Thank you for this!! I was just working on some trousers and was having some issues with my zipper. Hopefully I will be able to accomplish this! Thanks again.

  3. This is going to be helpful! I’ll take a close look next time a zipper is coming my way. I have a love/hate relationship with invisible zippers, and my idea was to give the lapped one a try! So thanks!

  4. Perfect! I’m just about to sew up some pants, and I was dreading putting in the zipper, because it’s been ages since I actually put one in properly!
    This is a lifesaver.

  5. I rarely use an invisible zipper, for this very reason. Any sort of uneven stress will cause it to fail; a regular zipper is more robust.

  6. There’s a trick i learned when dealing with dumb invisible zippers…open the zipper and press the teeth away from the zipper tape. Then try to stitch a little away from the teeth. I find it done best with an invisible zipper foot because it stitches about 1/8″-1/16″ away from the zipper teeth.
    Since I don’t own an invisible zipper foot and believe that invisible zippers were created to torment those who sew; I use a regular zipper and insert it like this×709.jpg
    You can find a tutorial here

  7. Yes, I’ve tried to iron out the teeth and it can still end up cruddy. I use an invisible zipper foot and the biggest problem I’ve found is that sometimes it gets too close to the teeth and then the silly thing won’t even zip. I might try them again soon. We’ll see. For now, they’ve been completely banned from my sewing area. Ha ha ha. Thank you for the links!

  8. Yay! Thanks for this, I’m so glad you shared your secrets. Invisible zippers have worked OK for me so far, but they’re not strong enough to last, and never quite lie flat at the bottom of the zipper no matter how careful I am.
    I will definitely use this technique on my next dress project when I want it to look perfect AND last forever!

  9. Thank you so much for this. I am definitely going to use it on frocks soon – it looks so nice on your finished products – I am actually looking forward to putting in a zip! I may go and lie down – clearly I am not feeling well 🙂

  10. I have been told that the only good invisible zipper is the YKK. Others are brittle and tend to break and separate as your sister’s did. Look for the Islander Sewing Class on Zippers — they do a fabulous job, and make all kinds of zipper insertion easy.

  11. So nice to not be the only one against such horrid things. I will be giving this new technique a try. It would have to be an improvement on the invisible zipper in the high waisted skirt experience. Haha!

  12. You know when i used the invisible zipper foot it almost always went a bit too far to the point where I just left it alone could because it could zip up and down but a grinning zipper is not a well done zipper so now i only use regular ones. An ladies prick at intervals say 1 inch ones

  13. Would this technique work for a skirt with the zipper going up to the waistband as well as for a dress? It seems like it would (especially with a hook and eye at the top to secure things), but I can never really figure these things out until I just experiment, so I thought I’d ask!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s