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Adding a zipper
How to add a zipper to a dress.
Riversilt
Riversilt
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Alberta CANADA
Member since 11/12/09
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Date: 3/12/12 11:54 PM

I have Arthritis and have trouble pulling dresses over my head. I have a lovely summer dress that I want to add a zipper in the back to make sure I can take it off at the end of the day. The dress has long sleeves and no seam in the middle of the back. I think I will need to make an opening and add some kind of flap for lack of a better word. Or is it possible to insert on in the side, I can't imagine how that would work. Can you help me out with ideas on what I can do? I have material that matches, just not the know how.

sew2006
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sew2006
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Ontario CANADA
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In reply to Riversilt


Date: 3/13/12 0:23 AM

Easiest zipper to add to the back of the dress is an invizible zipper. From a distance you won't see the zipper as it's hiden inside. To make the pattern alteration, simply add 5/8" seam allowance to the back seam rather than cut on fold. A side zipper may also work if the style of the dress has a larger neckline to pull over your head. For an invizible zipper on the side seam no pattern alterations are needed, just at the sewing stage 1 side would have the zipper sewn in.

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Janome10001, Babylock ESG3, Brother ULT 2001, White 634D serger, Pfaff 1472, Singer featherweight, Singer 14T957Dc, Bernina FunLock 009DCC coverlock, Brother PQ1500S, Janome CP900.

SewinBrd
SewinBrd  Friend of PR
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Minnesota USA
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Date: 3/13/12 9:25 AM

Just a thought regarding your medical condition; you might want to consider inserting the invisible zipper in the front of your dress. The reason for this would be ease of use. I do not have arthritis, yet it is difficult to zip up a back zipper.

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Krissy

nicegirl
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nicegirl
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District of Columbia USA
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Date: 3/13/12 9:49 AM

Given range of motion issues, I would recommend putting the zip in the side seam (which avoids having to alter the back of the dress such that it might no longer fit).

If the neckline is large enough to go over the head, which it sounds like it is, simply open the side seam from about an inch down from the sleeve/armhole to the hip and insert the zipper as you would any other.

Do note, however, that you will still have to pull the dress over your head to get it off. If that is not possible, you will need to add a back zip. In that case, I would use a technique similar to bound buttonholes or welt pockets: place a strip of fabric about 3 inches wide over your marked opening and sew about 1/4 inch on either side of the marked opening. Slit along the marked opening line and turn your strip of fabric to the inside. You now have a slot where you can install the zipper. This will result in an exposed zip. Creating a flap to cover the zip will require a little more planning, as you must place the flap fabric underneath the strip of fabric.

I would test both invisible and regular zippers, to see which you find easier to use. Invisible zipper tabs are smaller and might be difficult to grasp. Regular zipper tabs are not only larger, but they have a hole in them. I have heard some people with arthritis find it easier to hook a hanger or other object through the hole and then use the hanger to pull down the zip.

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http://theslapdashsewist.blogspot.com
=================
2007: purchased 115+, sewed 105+
So close to parity, yet so far

Trying again in 2008
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CraftAddict
CraftAddict
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Ohio USA
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Date: 3/13/12 9:56 AM

I'm assuming you want to be able to step into the dress since you mentioned having trouble pulling dress over your head? I'm not sure if a side zip would give you that ability. But with arthritis being an issue, are you going to have trouble with a back zip?

To insert a back zipper, I am guessing you would have to cut down the entire center back. Is there any ease in the dress? Do you have an inch or so to spare?

PattiAnnJ
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PattiAnnJ
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In reply to CraftAddict


Date: 3/13/12 10:27 AM

Quote: CraftAddict
I'm assuming you want to be able to step into the dress since you mentioned having trouble pulling dress over your head? I'm not sure if a side zip would give you that ability. But with arthritis being an issue, are you going to have trouble with a back zip?



To insert a back zipper, I am guessing you would have to cut down the entire center back. Is there any ease in the dress? Do you have an inch or so to spare?

This is the only solution that makes sense.

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

a7yrstitch
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a7yrstitch  Friend of PR
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Texas USA
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In reply to Riversilt
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Date: 3/13/12 2:11 PM

Riversilt, I was unable to find a tutorial on adding a lapped zipper to an already constructed garment. Please look at this Welts Tutorial for inserting pocket welts since you have matching fabric. If you think of it sideways, you should be able to just add the welt on one side to have the appearance of a lapped zipper.

Another approach would be to treat the fabric down the center back as if it were a slit opening. Here is a sample tutorial, Faced slash/slit opening. You may want to practice a slit opening in a scrap piece of fabric. You'll note that, in your case, you would be able to use the facing as an extension of the finished garment fabric. You would lose minimal overall width to the back of your dress by inserting a zipper into a slit.

I almost forgot, I altered things for my mom by putting openings at either one or both sides of the neckline. Presuming buttons would be difficult, you could add in (as an example) a large button and a loop on either side of the neckline, set in a bit from the edge. Afix the button with a shank of elastic thread.

With the combination of the button and loop being set away from the neckline a bit and the stretchiness of the elastic shank, you should be able to ease the dress on a bit better. You could also use clear elastic for the loop securing the buttons. The idea being that there would be no need to unfasten the buttons. You would be extending the neck opening and making the ends of the neck opening stretchier.

You may want to consider a combination of something like this at each shoulder seam of the neckline and then a small slit at the back of the neck.

If you add a zipper, would you need to attach a decorative loop to it so it would be easier to catch it with something to pull it up or down?

Best wishes to you.

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I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

Riversilt
Riversilt
Intermediate
Alberta CANADA
Member since 11/12/09
Posts: 2
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Date: 3/18/12 11:18 PM

Thank you very much ladies for all your ideas. I can visualize how I can use each of them for different pieces of clothing I have and I need to alter so I can get then on and off. Thanks again

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