Updated: Sep 14, 2020
I have a fear of sewing in crooked zippers. One of the tests for garment quality is by inspecting the quality of its zipper installation. Yet, it can be challenging to achieve a designer quality zipper installation. Talk about nerves!
Even though zippers may not be my favorite, I have a thing for YKK. They have become my favorite brand. YKK metal zippers feel high-quality and strong, which is very important for body hugging corselets - you know, just in case the wearer wants to eat or breathe freely!
Some Chanel ready to wear use YKK zippers. If it’s good enough for Chanel, it’s good for my needs too.
Don’t fret if you decide to use vinyl zippers. Vinyl invisible zips are very commonly used, even in expensive designer ready to wear.
For example, take a look at this Valentino Techno Couture dress: it has a vinyl, generic, invisible zipper! This type of generic zipper can also be found in a $8,000 Chanel dress, or a $5,000 Alaia dress. This makes sense to me since, really, how much more can you design something that’s meant to be invisible? Vinyl is likely chosen to keep the line of the seam soft and supple, compared to metal or plastic zippers. Don’t feel bad for using vinyl in your couture or designer makes, and as you see, they can serve a purpose.
Some designers like Dolce and Gabbana leave no detail unnoticed, imprinting their logo on the zipper pull.
SJK is famous for their use of luxurious zipper pulls. Boy, do I have a crush on SJK zipper pulls!
Arming yourself with a variety of zippers readily available in the marketplace will, at the very least, provide confidence to design as you please, with just the right effect.
The zipper you want to use will eventually determine how you’ll sew it in your garment. Invisible zippers are usually sewn in by machine with a special machine foot. Visible zips are sewn in by machine too, but in couture, they are often sewn in by hand, and lapped, to make visible zippers invisible!
In vintage couture and some designer garments, visible metal zippers are frequently used. A lap serves as a little placket or a “flap,” to cover up and hide the zipper.
Can you imagine that something as simple as the zipper selection and the placement of the zipper can be a significant decision in haute couture?
In some couture circles, a lapped zipper continues to be all the rage. The lap covers up the zipper teeth, but it’s often asymmetrical, since only the left side “laps” over the teeth while the right side of the zipper is sewn in on the seam line.
Patou Zipper Insertion Method
In the Patou dress, we will compromise and cover only one half of the zipper. Both sides meet in the middle. No asymmetry! Yet, the zipper teeth will still remain covered. This is important because we still have a chiffon dress to build on top of this underbodice and slip. We don’t want a placket showing, or one side wider than the other, in order to cover up the zipper placket.
I’ve never tried this method before so it didn’t surprise me that, with my first attempt, I created too much “lap.”
Time to rip it out, rebaste the zipper, and prick stitch the zipper into place.
Success! The “visible” metal zipper is now hidden with a centered, partially lapped zipper.
Here’s what the dress looks like inside out.
The understructure of the dress is finished and I’m ready to cut chiffon. Here’s a little preview for you.
Zippers are a lengthy topic and I can only touch on it slightly here. We can see how zipper installation contributes greatly to the appearance, function, and symmetry of a well designed dress.