Hello and welcome to day four of our sew-along! Today we will be installing our back closure. For this entry, you will need:
1. Your constructed bodice shell
2. Your closure hardware (buttons or zipper)
3. An invisible zipper foot (for a zipper closure)
In our last entry we finished our bodice, minus the collars. Today we install our back closure, which can either take a few minutes (for a zipper) – or a lot longer, if you’ve opted for buttons.
Ready? LET’S DO THIS!
And as always: remember to direct any questions in the Facebook group associated with this sew-along.
I will showcase the invisible zipper first.
There are approximately one billion invisible zipper tutorials online; this one by Craftsy is quite serviceable. Please note hardly any of these tutorials address the bump at the bottom of most of these applications; and even when they do you can usually see a bump or a ripple anyway. Two points: first; practice makes perfect. Second? We have a belt, which – if the zipper extends the length of the bodice – will cover the bottom of your closure. Nothing wrong with that!
So when it comes to zipper installation, I won’t re-invent the wheel. That said, I have a few pointers before you start stitching.
The most helpful technique for most zipper installations, is to make sure the seam allowance is interfaced. For an invisible zipper, you will want an interfacing that is: [seam allowance + 1/8″ to 1/4″]. You notice in the below pictures my seam allowance is wider than the 3/8″ provided by Bootstrap. This is because – wayyyy back when I talked about preparing the pattern – I extended this seam allowance to 5/8″. But you can install the zipper with the 3/8″ – in fact, if you do so, you’ll have a seam allowance neatly hidden behind the zipper tape! It’s kind of a gorgeous inner finish.
I also want to point out that even an inexpensive invisible zipper foot is pretty fabulous. You can install an invisible zipper without one, but why? My invisible zipper foot is a plastic version I bought for fifty cents at the thrift store! One day I will buy the “real” one for my machine. Maybe. (Because… why would I need to?)
So – here we go, and invisible zipper. Shown below: pinning the zipper, and making sure the end is marked – about 1″ from the bottom tab. Note the zipper is installed on the right side of the garment, with the teeth along the seamline. This is a unique aspect of invisible zipper installation:
You can, of course, hand-baste the zipper before sewing (or install the zipper by hand entirely using a gorgeous and strong prick stitch) – but often as not, a simple pinning job suffices:
And believe it or not, it is possible to sew too close to the zipper teeth. Practice makes perfect. I recommend, in general, that your needle strikes 1/8″ from the teeth:
Shown below, pulling the silk fabric away from the teeth:
It’s really that easy!
The button-and-loop closure, is also easy – but a bit tedious. It’s a great idea to give yourself a fresh start and a few hours to get it right.
First, you want to be sure how deep down the dress you need to go. I’ve installed buttons down the entire back length of the bodice; this is because I loved the look of a long line of buttons:
However, there is every chance you will only want to extend the buttons a few inches. You need to make sure you’ve allowed enough of an opening you can close the dress over your head. Once you know where your button line will stop, mark these positions in the seam allowance of both center back pieces.
Now it is time to plan your button spacing with a paper template of the loops you’ll use. We will be affixing our loops to this template, then installing them. I used a sticky washaway stabilizer to help with even installation; you can also use double-sided tape. This process can be a bit fiddly, so be patient. You will be drawing a lines to represent your stitching line (the “bottom” of the loop, or where it anchors to the dress), the throw of the loop, and the vertical spacing of the loops:
Now it’s time to make your loops. Most everyone knows how to sew a tube, but I use the same method I use for super-strong bias straps:
First, I cut 1 1/4″ bias strips. I fold, sew at 2.0mm and stretch as much as I reasonably can while sewing, trim the seam allowance, and turn the tube. I then stretch the loop and pin to the ironing board, steam the heck out of it, and let it try. This results in a beautiful, smooth, strong, and supple strap (in this case, about 3/8″):
Then affix it to the dress, previously-stitched loop line against the stitching line of the back bodice:
And finally, I tear away the backing:
After you’ve stitched, double-check that you can easily slip the button through, before you proceed! If it’s all looking good, you can carefully clip those raw edges, or wait until we install the lining (in our next installation):
And now – sew on your four-hundred thousand buttons! Well… I’m sure you didn’t install as many as I did! My husband crafted my covered buttons for me – using a bit of superglue before pressing each one, to make sure they stand the test of time:
If you are unfamiliar with sewing invisible-knot buttons, I have some rather detailed photos in my flannel shirt sew-along (scroll to the bottom of this post).
So there we have it! Your dress is nearly finished! On the eighteenth of April we will install our collar and insert our lining. From there, we need to make our belt, install our belt carriers, and hem our dress. We’re nearly done!
Happy stitching! And we’ll see you in a couple days.