|RACHEL Rachel Roy dress with an exposed back zipper, available at Macy's.|
Trust me when I say that sewing an exposed zipper is not much more complicated than installing an invisible zipper. And since the exposed zipper trend shows no signs of dying down, now's the time to try one on a top or dress. Here are the simple steps:
1. Purchase a separating zipper with metal teeth in the appropriate length for your dress or top. Using a wire cutter, snip the zipper tape just above the metal zipper stop. (Note: You can leave the metal stop in place if you don't think it will feel uncomfortable to wear. I opted to take it off.)
2. Make your own stop by taking several stitches across the teeth (just like you’d do if you were shortening an invisible zipper). This will keep the zipper from separating.
3. Cover the end of the zipper so your new stitched stop does not show. I used a piece of ribbon for my dress, but you could also use self-fabric. Just fold it around the zipper ends and stitch in place. (You may find it easier to attach this cover-up after you stitch the zipper in place; that’s what I did.) See photo A below.
4. You will be sewing your zipper in place before you attach the neck facing or lining. First, stitch the seam below the zipper. Next, either loosely hand-baste the part of the seam where the zipper will be placed, or just press it open. Do not machine baste the zipper seam as you'll just have to remove these stitches to set in your zipper.
5. Press the zipper seam open. Working from the right side, lay your zipper in place and pin it or use basting glue. Don't go crazy pinning or gluing here; this step is only to get the placement down for your zipper. Make sure the zipper starts right at the top of your garment.
6. Now, working from the inside (wrong side) of your garment, separate the seam so the zipper teeth are exposed from the wrong side—you want to be able to see the zipper teeth. Hand-baste the zipper in place from the wrong side. See photo B.
7. Check that you can easily open and close your zipper without any fabric getting caught. And make sure all intersecting seams match, like bodice to skirt, for example.
8. Machine-stitch your zipper in place from the right side using a thread that matches the zipper. Topstitching thread would be nice but not necessary. Stitch two rows on each side of the zipper: the first row should be about 3-4cm from the teeth; the second row should fall at the outside edge of the zipper tape. (Photo C.)
9. Remove any basting stitches and you’re done! If your top or dress is lined, fell-stitch the lining in place so it covers the zipper stitching (see photo B below). If you aren't using a lining you could probably pretty-up the underside of the zipper with ribbon or bias tape, or leave it as is, like I did with the skirt portion of my dress.
|Photo A: In this type of exposed zipper, the teeth and tape are sewn on top of the garment. In another type of exposed zipper only the zipper teeth are exposed. You can see in this photo how I covered the ends of the zipper tape with ribbon.|
|Photo C: The exposed zipper can open right at the top of a garment. Some RTW clothes include a hook-and-eye with an exposed zipper, some don't.|