Annette Petavy Design – Newsletter August 2008

logofilled pepperscannonmoosebarbecuecity hallsunsetAugust 2008: Zip in a zipper

I’m back from my Swedish holiday – a pretty productive one crochetwise, but alas, there is nothing I can share right now. 

While I was away, my local sewing store received the zipper I had ordered. So now « the great plan » for this newsletter can be revealed: I’m going to show you how I sew a zipper into a crocheted garment.

Many times, a zipper is the perfect closure for a garment. However, many crocheters feel a bit intimidated when it comes to sewing it in. I used to feel that way myself, until I discovered it is not difficult at all.

There are, of course, several ways to sew in a zipper. The method I share here is the one I use. It works for me!

The garment used as an example is a child’s jacket. The pattern will be published shortly in my pattern shop. It’s mainly a crocheted garment, with knitted ribbing. In some of these pictures the garment looks more or less pink, but that’s the camera picking up the wrong colour. In real life, it’s a dark red. Otherwise my son would never wear it.

The sleeves are not sewn to the garment shown. To be totally honest, they were not finished when I took the pictures. However, even if they had been, I would have sewn in the zipper before sewing in the sleeves. The smaller the garment is when you do your seaming, the easier it is to manage.

Start by lining up the two edges where you will sew in the zipper – in this case, the two fronts, right sides facing up. Here, the fronts and back are assembled, and the neckline, hem and front edges are finished. I tend to finish my front edges with a row of sc. It makes for a nice and regular edge, which is easy to sew into.

crocheted jacket

Now start pinning in your closed zipper. Keeping the zipper closed for now is very important to achieve a good result. You can put a magazine, folder or something else that’s firm inside the garment to avoid pinning the front and back together.

Pin the edge of the fabric close to the zipper teeth, but not so close that the zipper can snag on the fabric. I tend to leave 1-2 mm between the edge of my fabric and the zipper teeth.

Start pinning one side, then the other. When pinning crocheted fabric (and really, any fabric), it is often a good idea to start by placing a pin at each end, then one centered between those two. Continue by centering a new pin between two fixed ones  until the whole edge is securely held in place. Make sure that any reference points like edges, changes of stitch patterns and such are aligned.

crocheted jacket with pinned zipper

The pinning is the most important step, so spend some time on this.  I put my pins lengthwise, in the same direction as the zipper runs, since this is the way I feel the fabric is most securely held into place. However, as you can see in the picture, this makes the zipper pucker a little bit. The zipper can also pucker if you have stretched the fabric. If you have any doubt whether it’s the pinning that makes the fabric pucker, pull out a few pins to check that the fabric lies smoothly against the zipper. Pinning puckers will disappear when you sew – stretching puckers will stay there forever and disgrace your beautiful garment.

It’s really worth making sure that the zipper is well pinned to the fabric. If you start to loose patience during this process, think of those poor knitters who have to put in a rigid zipper in an extremely stretchy fabric. I personally consider it at least a hundred times easier to sew a zipper to a crocheted fabric than to a knitted one.

zipper close up

When your zipper looks something like the picture above and you are satisfied with your pinning, you can open the zipper for easier seaming.

Your work should look something like this:

open pinned zipper

Can you see how neatly the sc’s at the edge line up along the zipper teeth? You are going to rely on these neat stitches to sew in your zipper.

Use a sewing needle and a matching sewing thread. Often zippers are reinforced at the bottom and/or top. It can be very hard to sew through these reinforced parts to start with – so just leave them. 

Secure your thread and seam with small, simple stitches, putting your needle through the zipper tape and through the back loop of the sc on the edge. To make the stitches as invisible as possible, I try to put my needle through the strand of yarn in the back loop of the sc, instead of around it.

sewing in zipper

Try to keep the edge of the fabric at the same distance from the zipper teeth all along the seam. 

start of seam

Now, you simply continue along your edge, putting a stitch or two in every sc. I generally think one stitch per sc works well, but if your garment is worked in a large gauge, two stitches may be required.

Once both edges have been seamed to the zipper, close the zipper again for a final check. The edges should align neatly, and no puckering should occur. If you are happy with the result, proceed. If not – rip and start over. You will be so happy you did.

Turn the garment over to the inside, and sew the opposite edge of the zipper tape to the crocheted fabric.  Your needle should never pick up more than one strand of yarn. As before, putting the needle through the strand instead of around it is a good idea.

sewing zipper back

Finally, try to sew the ends of the zipper to the fabric. Generally, you will be able to do this by putting your needle at a right angle through the zipper tape at the reinforced part. If this is impossible to manage, leave the ends as they are. The tape is never reinforced for more than a couple of centimeters (less than an inch), and the loose end will not be a problem when wearing the garment.

sewing zipper end

You’re done!

zipper finished

See you soon!


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