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1  Invisible zipper tutorial, WITHOUT the invisible zip foot! **VERY IMG HEAVY** in Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions by Chickey on: December 19, 2008 09:50:06 PM
By popular demand on another thread, I prespammed....a tutorial on invisible zippers WITHOUT using an invisible zip foot!   Cheesy  Yep, it can be done, and here's photographic proof!  I did make a Flickr set of these pictures, but Craftster posting guidelines require pics in the post, so here they are.  (People with slow connections, I'm sorry!)  However, there are more pics on the Flickr set, so please click the link at the bottom to see some more details, like notes and comments.  Smiley

So here we go.......before you start, make sure your zipper foot is in good condition, and you have some patience and maybe some calm music playing.   Grin  The gelatin time I did this, it took me 3 tries!  (And that was AFTER discovering that the plastic Coast & Clark invisible zipper foot didn't fit my machine!  Aarrgghhh.)  Also, it's VERY IMPORTANT that NO PART of the seam be stitched -- leave it completely open!!  This is very important.  You should be starting with just one invisible zipper and two unfinished raw edges of the seam.   Smiley

Step 1 -- Iron the zipper teeth.  This is kind of hard to explain, but if the top of this picture is North, iron the teeth North.   Wink  You can see the bottom set of teeth are not ironed yet, while the top are -- they are lying flat, while the other ones are still curled up.

Step 2 -- If the zip is a light color, I like to draw a line where I'm going to stitch as a guide.  I used water-erasable ink in this one, but I've also used permanent dark pen very lightly...because nobody will ever see the inside of the zipper teeth.   Tongue

Step 3 -- Sew a line of contrasting basting stitches on your fabric at 5/8" -- standard seam allowance.  These are just for guiding you when you pin the zip, you'll remove them later.  

(Just a close-up of the basting stitches -- I used green on my fabric so I could see them easily:

Step 4 -- Pin the zipper teeth on the line of basting stitches AS SHOW EXACTLY in this pic!!  Note the position of the zipper stop (upside-down on the bottom) and you are working on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric.  It's kinda weird -- the left side of the zip gets pinned to the open seam on the right.  This picture will help you!  Do it EXACTLY like this.   Wink

Here's a closeup of the bottom of the zip and how it is pinned:

Step 5 -- Make sure your regular zip foot is attached properly, and you'll need to adjust it accordingly -- without thread or fabric, turn your machine's handwheel and make sure that the needle just passes next to the presser foot in its down position -- you want it pretty close, but not too close as to hit the foot!  (That would be fairly diastrous!)  I have notes on the Flickr picture for this one, you might want to check out the set for more details!

Step 6 -- Position the presser foot on the zipper tape just like in this picture, the zip foot should be close to the zipper teeth, the foot will help the needle stay close to the teeth as you sew.


Step 7 -- Begin sewing, very carefully and slowly along the zipper teeth.  You should be able to see your stitching line (drawn in the beginning) clearly, but just make sure the needle is really butted up against the teeth!  But take care not to snag the thread or needle ON the teeth, that's a disaster too.  (Ask me how I know!)  Sew all the way up to the top of the zipper tape, and do some backstitching to hold it securely.


Step 8 -- Pin the other side just as you did the gelatin side -- this pic shows the left side all stitched and the right side is just pinned on and ready for sewing.  Note how the zip is stitched on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric -- if you can visualize it in your head, when everything is done, the zip will sort of turn in on itself and not show any of the teeth when it closes.  (Confusing yes, but it will make sense -- and if you want to make sure you're doing it right, close the zip before you pin the second side.  It should look pretty similar to how it will when it's finished, with no teeth visible on the stitched side and a little part of the seam covering the zip.  The point of an invisible zip is to be just that, which you are accomplishing by sewing really close to those teeth!)

Step 9 -- After you have finished sewing the zip to both sides of the open seam, close the zip and pull the tail out the way completely -- pin the rest of the seam closed, and sew it up.  I usually use my zip foot for this too, as it lets me stay close to the stitching line.  I'm very sorry i don't have a better pic of this step.   Sad


And that's it!   Cheesy  At this point, I like to carefully sew the zipper tape to the seam allowance, because it kinda flops around (because you sewed so close to the teeth, there's a lot of extra zipper tape left) -- but if you use some Fray-Chek you could just cut off the remainder I guess.  (I've never tried it!)

This is a picture of what a finished invisible zip looks like using this method:

Far from perfection, but I think it looks pretty good.   Wink

Anyways, this is the link to the Flickr set -- click thru for more pictures, details and notes.  Smiley


Comments, questions, thoughts, constructive criticism very much welcome.  Smiley

And believe me, once you get the hang of this zip, you won't want to do anything else!  It's really a nice finishing touch and I find it easier now than lapped or regular zippers!  Good luck, everyone!

(P.S.  If anybody has seen this B&W floral fabric online or in person, pretty please let me know!  Smiley )
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2  New Look 6723 - Audrey Hepburn-esque dress (4 pics) in Sewing Pattern Reviews by Chickey on: September 07, 2008 12:51:08 AM
I made this to wear to a cocktail-attire wedding, and it turned out fantastically.  I used purple poly shantung and a black poly lining, and I love it.

(It just came out of the garment bag, please excuse the wrinkles!)

It took a few muslins to get the bodice just right -- a review on PR said the sweetheart neckline was really low, and the boatneck was a little prim, so I made a hybrid, and it worked great.   Smiley  I also made the back piece just a little wider, it wasn't quite matching up at the very bottom.

I used an invisible zipper for the first time, and I am totally sold on this now, it's such a nice finishing touch!  And I did it with a regular zip foot...carefully!  Smiley

It needs a hook and eye up top, but I didn't have time to add one in...I will soon!

All in all, this dress was very straightforward and simple to make.  After I got the bodice to fit perfectly, everything else was cake.  I will probably make a non-gathered-skirt version of this dress for next spring!
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3  Butterick 4443 - strapless dress (3 pics) in Sewing Pattern Reviews by Chickey on: September 07, 2008 12:39:58 AM
I started this pattern in spring '07 to wear to my sister's wedding brunch...but something got messed up and it didn't fit up top, and then I lost weight and it didn't fit anywhere!  So I ended up taking all of it apart and remaking it to fit me for a wedding party this year...with great success!   Smiley

This pattern was great -- pretty easy once I got the fit of the bodice just right with a muslin (no boning, yay!  Interfacing in the bodice and a lining helps it stay up!).  The princess seams are so flattering and easy to alter (tip: get a tailor's ham for pressing them, it's the best notion EVAH!), and the A-line skirt is fantastic.

The back of the dress is a tad wonky because I added the contrast banding after inserting the zipper, but a strategically placed button and hook and eye help conceal my error a little...wearing a cardigan over it helps too.   Wink

I added a full lining (cotton batiste) because it felt more finished with one...the green fabric is white cotton with a little stretch from Joann's and the pink banding is some kind of linen blend.

I'm very happy with this dress, it fits like a dream, and I'd definitely make it again.  I'm eyeing the v-neck version for next summer!   Smiley
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4  Re: Let's see your sewing machine!! in Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions by Chickey on: December 08, 2007 01:22:01 PM
First off, all the vintage machines are gorgeous!  I really love the old Singers with the golden inlays.  And the ones that look like they weigh pounds too!   Wink  My mom has an old Singer and I hope I get it someday...it's that gunmetal steel color and is very heavy.

But I digress...I own this awesome (blue!) Kenmore Mini-Ultra, and it is such a workhorse!  I've never sewed denim, but it has made quite a few a-line skirts and dresses.  Oh, and placemats too!   Wink  I was going to upgrade after the new year, but this baby does such a fine job, and is so cute I can't bear to part with her.  (Oh, and does anybody have suggestions for a name?!  She needs a name!)

(Please excuse the beer if you are under 21.   Cheesy )

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5  Re: Favorite skirt patterns? in Clothing: Discussion and Questions by Chickey on: March 30, 2007 08:55:20 PM
Wow, I'm surprised someone dug this out of the dregs of Craftster!   Cheesy

And I just re-read the thread and noticed that I never put up my favorite A-line skirt pattern!

It's actually McCall's 3999, which seems to have disappeared off the face of the Intar-web, and it's basically a long ruffly hippie skirt that my mom and I chopped off at the knee (so it has no ruffles).  It has front and back darts, a faced waistband, and a side zipper.  Easy-peasy, and I've made it twice so far...

Here's the first version I attempted -- the zipper is a bit wonky but oh well.  Since it's on the side not a lot of people see it!

I plan on making this for fall/winter in some awesome black and white herringbone with a lining....stay tuned!
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6  Re: Simplicity 4581 -- beautiful, if you're patient! in Sewing Pattern Reviews by Chickey on: March 01, 2007 02:40:56 PM
Hey all -- and thanks for the kind words!!   Cheesy

So here are two pictures of the Hong Kong seam finish I used -- you basically sew a strip of bias tape down the unfinished seam, and then flip it over and sew the other side.  And then you sew the other half of the seam.  So basically you're sewing a complete seam four times!!  It was a ton of work...and this is how it turned out.

This first picture is of the zipper and the lining (where I messed up a little and they didn't quite meet -- oh well!).

And this second one is just a more close-up shot of the binding around the seams.

Please excuse the messy insides...I don't usually count on people seeing the lining!!   Wink

Ask more questions if you've got 'em!!
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7  Simplicity 4581 -- beautiful, if you're patient! in Sewing Pattern Reviews by Chickey on: February 23, 2007 11:46:55 PM
I sort of started this last August as part of a sewalong with Simplicity 4998, and after thinking about it for a long time, I ultimately decided to go with Simplicity 4581, which is really similar.  4581 has a curved midriff band though, which I felt would be more flattering to my very thin waist and pear-shaped body.

I used a really beautiful soft pink embroidered fabric (I thought it was rayon but a burn test revealed it to be polyester...) and ivory-colored Bemberg rayon for the lining.

I made quite a few modifications to the pattern, including cutting the bodice piece on the fold to eliminate the center front seam -- my fabric design was kind of intricate and I was worried that a seam there might look ridiculous and homemade.  (My boyfriend had to help me with the math to eliminate the seam allowance on the one side, but it turned out great.)

I also ended up lining the entire dress, although the directions call for just the bodice to be lined.  The fabric I used was kind of see-through and I wanted it to drape properly, and the Bemberg was great for that.  However, Bemberg is SOOOO slippery and it was hard to sew at first.  I used small stitches and sewed carefully though, which I highly recommend if you're using a slippery fabric for the first time!   Wink

I wanted this dress to be a keeper, so along with the full lining, I used a Hong Kong seam finish, which in retrospect may have been a rather ridiculous undertaking!  A Hong Kong finish is really sturdy for a fabric that frays, but it's one of those double-sew things, like French seams -- sew it once, flip it over, sew it again!  I used white bias tape for the Hong Kong finish and although it turned out very nice (and as my boyfriend says, it kind of makes the dress indestructible!) it was a freakin LOT of work.  I had to wear the dress on a Sunday, and I spent all of the day beforehand -- from 11am until 2am that night! -- working on that darn seam finish.  But it was totally worth it.

This pattern instructions were pretty helpful and easy to follow, except for the part about gathers on the bust.  I was lucky to find some good directions online on how to do it easily, so it went together pretty well.  Thank goodness for water-erasable fabric marking pens!   Wink

The absolute hardest part for me about this dress was making a size 12 on top and a size 18 on bottom match up!  I really had to fuss with the midriff back pieces to make them all match up -- I finally ended up using a French curve (or whatever those plastic curved drawing rulers are called!) to make the seam lines match from a 12 on top to an 18 on bottom, and it was okay after that.

But here is a picture of the finished product -- and yes, I'm slouching so the dress makes me look, eerrrmmm, a little bit thick around the middle.  Note to self: stand up straight in pictures!!

And if you can see it -- my added personal touch was that I used leftover fabric to make my boyfriend a pocket square for his suit!   Cheesy

I will probably add a picture of the inside of the dress so you can appreciate all the hard work I put into those Hong Kong seam finishes.   Cheesy

In short, I would highly recommend this pattern if you're willing to work with it a little bit to make it fit you correctly.  I think the curved midriff piece is very flattering to a small waistline and the A-line of the skirt is perfect for camouflaging a larger hip area.  Such as I have.   Wink 

Anyways....mucho apologies for the long-winded post, but I thought heck, all or nothing, right!  Feel free to reply or PM me if you have other questions that I haven't answered here!!
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8  Re: Anyone up for an EASY and CHEAP A-Line skirt? in Clothing Sewalongs by Chickey on: May 14, 2006 01:04:21 AM
I'm FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the final product, hem AND zipper AND hook-and-eye in place!  (Excuse my uber-messy living room.)



I am so happy with how it turned out!  I'm taking it to Arizona on vacation with me FO SHUH.  I used the pattern picture in the last post, but I just omitted the ruffles and hemmed to mid-knee.

Hooray for easy A-line skirts!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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9  Re: Anyone up for an EASY and CHEAP A-Line skirt? in Clothing Sewalongs by Chickey on: April 28, 2006 11:27:39 PM
I am totally in for this!  But I'll be using a slightly modified version of McCall's 3999 (which unfortunately seems to have disappeared off the face of the Internet!) -- it's got front and back darts, side zipper, and a faced waistband that folds into the skirt.  (The pattern is really for a long hippie-ish skirt with gathers and ruffles -- we just chopped the pattern off to my preferred length -- as you can now see in the picture!  I cut it off right about mid-knee length.)

My mom made a skirt for me with it first (so the pieces fit for sure), and I just ordered some of this delicious mod fabric (link here: http://www.tonicliving.com/details.asp?productid=235&currentpage=1), and as soon as it comes, I'm going to start.

Will definitely post pics!  A-line skirts rock.   Cheesy

EDIT 5/8/06: Okay, here is a picture of the fabric and the actual pattern:

I cut it out yesterday and sewed the side seams, and then tonight I did the zipper (woooooooo!!!) and put together the waist facings.  Tomorrow, hemming and sewing the facings on, and then I'm done!  Will post another pic tomorrow -- an action shot!   Grin Cheesy Grin Cheesy
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10  Boring old pink button-down? Not anymore! in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by Chickey on: April 18, 2006 10:06:34 PM
So I had this pink Gap button-down.  Don't ask me why I bought it.  I hate button-downs!   Undecided  Whoops.

Anyways, after doing some searching, I decided it needed an overhaul in the form of a corset shirt!  I don't have a tutorial because I didn't take pictures of the process (I was on sort of a deadline -- a par-tay!)...but I can describe some steps I did.   Smiley

I don't have a before picture, but it was just a plain button-down: long sleeves, darts, front chest pockets, boring collar.

And this is what I turned it into -- sorry the pics are different sizes (darn Photobucket!):



Modifications I made:

-- I cut the sleeves off completely, then took in the side seams so it wouldn't be so loose as a sleeveless garment.

-- I faced the sleeveless part with some old white sheeting fabric.  This took the longest part!  Ugh.

-- I took the collar off and then sewed it so it looked like a mandarin collar (which I love).

-- Instead of cutting the back up completely, I cut it into a sort of triangle and then double-folded the seams, interfaced them, and sewed them.  (The upper part looks really wonky so I'm going to make a dart there later...).

-- I shortened it a LOT -- hence the white tank underneath.  Wink

Hope ya like it!  Comments and questions are most welcome.  Thanks for taking a peek!   Cheesy
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