Zippers are a fairly intimidating feature that kept me from making a wide range of clothing for years. It didn't help that I never, to this day, have found a pattern and tutorial which has had an extensive explanation of how to properly install a zip either.
Particulars such as zipper installations, and bias binding tend to put some seamstresses off. With the release of the Basics Line and my visual tutorials, it is my hope that I can offer you a challenge to conquer some of your garment construction fears.
This is why today, I want to focus on the Drop Skirt zipper and offer comprehensive instruction on its zipper installation. This tutorial is specific to the Drop Skirt, but you will be able to use this method on various skirts and bodices in your sewing future.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
5" - 8" zipper (invisible, coil, or trouser all work nicely and provide their own specific and unique look to the skirt. I will be using a 6" trouser zipper.)
zipper pressor foot
Drop Skirt Pattern and Tutorial
We are going to begin with the assumption that your skirt panel has been attached to one of your waistband panels, with the seam allowance pressed up towards the waistband panel. You will have also neatened the raw back ends, on each side, from the top of the waistband to the bottom of the skirt.
Align the zipper tape to the open edge on the back waistband/skirt, right sides facing. The top of the zipper tape should lay level with the top of the waistband. The loose side of the zipper tape should lay on the inside of the skirt with the zipper pull facing the right side of the fabric.
You may pin the zipper tape in place, but I recommend also applying a basting stitch along the length of the zipper tape to help keep everything in place as we continue to add more layers. To do this, you will need to install your zipper pressor foot before applying your basting stitch.
It will help to lower your zipper pull before beginning your basting stitch, and every stitch along the zipper tape from here on out.
When stitching along the tape, and finally reaching the zipper pull, lower your needle into the fabric/zipper tape, lift your pressor foot, and maneuver the zipper pull up and well out of the way of the stitch path. You may need to turn your project in a few directions to get the zipper pull past the pressor foot, but as long as your needle is down and securing the fabric in place, you can always get back on track when you've successfully moved the zipper pull.
It is now time to add the loose waistband panel. But first, fold the base of the panel 1 cm (3/8") from right side to wrong side and press in place.
Match the loose panel along the top and zipper tape edge of the waistband/skirt piece. The right sides of the panels should face each other with the zipper laying between panels. Maintain the fold at the base of the loose panel and, to make things easier for yourself, take the zipper pull to the bottom stop.
Stitch to join all pieces with a 1 cm (3/8") seam allowance. This seam allowance should take your stitch line very close to the zipper teeth. You will be able to feel the zipper teeth under the waistband panel and this will help you guide the fabric under the zipper foot. Best case scenario, the bump of the zipper teeth will be visible and should pass under the notch of the zipper pressor foot.
Stop your stitch just above the bottom stop of the zipper. You will have to manipulate the zipper pull out of the way to finish this stitch line.
Now, things will start to get a little tricky.
Turn the skirt wrong side out. Unzip the zipper.
Match the loose zipper tape to the remaining loose back waistband panel/skirt side. The zipper teeth should lay to the inside of the skirt, and the top of the zipper tape should meet with the top of the waistband. There should be no twists in the zipper tape as it spans both sides of this joint.
Pin, and apply a basting stitch to hold in place.
Match the remaining loose end of the waistband along the top and edge of the back waistband/panel which now holds the zipper. Make sure there are no twists in the waistband.
Stitch in place with a 1 cm (3/8") seam allowance to secure all pieces. Ensure the fold of the loose waistband has been maintained.
Now, let's close up that waistband.
Match the loose waistband to the top of the main waistband, right sides facing. Pin in place, and stitch around the circumference of the waistline with a 1 cm (3/8") seam allowance.
Trim the angles at the top of the back waistbands.
Turn the waistband right side out and press. Ensure the waistband seam lays along the top of the waistline and does not turn to either side. Press.
Time to close up the back of the skirt below the zipper.
This joint is tricky to perfect. You will want the joint to be centered on the same line as the zipper teeth. The best way to ensure the seam line doesn't "bend" to one side is to take a few precautions before beginning.
First you will want to ensure that the stitch lines which attach the zipper to the skirt end at the same point on both sides of the zipper tape. If you find that one side has a longer stitch line, use a seam ripper to remove excess from the longer side, or apply a few more stitches to the shorter side.
Second, you will want the zipper tape that falls below the bottom stop of the zipper to be up and out of the way.
Third, you may want to apply a few basting stitches by hand at the precise point where the back seam will join under the zipper. I find this to be an extremely efficient way to ensure no side of the seam line slips when I finally close back end together.
With that all said, move forward on this step with caution. Seemingly minor mistake here can really throw off the whole look of the back of the skirt.
Match back edges, with right sides facing, from below the zipper attachment to the base of the skirt.
Stitch with a 1 cm (3/8") seam allowance while carefully making sure any zipper tape is up and out of the way. Afterwards, press the seam open.
And there you have it. From this point, you can gracefully move forward with the rest of the Drop Skirt Tutorial. You'll finish up by securing the inner waistband to the skirt, and finishing the hem.
Fact : I now have more Drop Skirts in my wardrobe than any other piece of clothing. This is by far my favorite skirt design on the planet! I recommend making one in every color!
As always, if you have any concerns or questions about anything in the Drop Skirt Tutorial or our visual tutorial, please feel free to let me know!