Unexpected discovery: Using a running stitch to hand sew a slot zipper application!

This weekend provided yet another example to me of why my late Mother and Grandmother were so correct in telling me that a good book is like a good friend.

It was time to hand stitch the slot zipper application for The Dirndle Dress. I used a prick stitch and thought everything was going very well. But when I was finished I had to admit the results were not visually appealing. I had failed to match up the prick stitches on both sides of the zipper. Despite the thread being a good match to the fabric it was very obvious that the stitches were not running down each side of the zipper in an even sequence.

I’d learned from past mistakes that it’s no use trying to cover them up. Sometimes the cover-up only distorts the fabric more and makes the fit or drape worse. This time I was fortunate because quilting cotton has proven to be very forgiving. I carefully ripped out the prick stitches and started again from scratch.

I wasn’t sure how to remedy the situation so I took a break and had a cup of the delicious Starbucks Casi Cielo blend coffee. The rich aroma of its chocolately notes and the little butter cookies I had with the coffee gave my eyes, hands and mind a much needed break.

After that, I spent some time in my Inspiration Room going through my dressmaker and sewing reference books. In Claire Shaeffer’s “Couture Sewing Techniques” I found instructions for inserting a zipper in a slot application by using tiny running stitches. Shaeffer said the running stitch is more flexible and allows the zipper to move easily on the body. There is extra work involved but I decided to give it a try. The close-ups of the couture dresses in the book which had such an application did not have show any obvious stitching from the outside. There was a hint of stitching but none as noticeable as is the case with a zipper inserted with a prick stitch.

The zipper is inserted using an open seam. After pinning and basting the zipper into place a small running stitch is used about 1/4″ from the seam line. I found the running stitch easier to do. Using a #5 Sharp Needle and Guttermans thread I took very tiny stitches from the outside. This stitching sews the zipper to the garment.

A second row of running stitches is then done just on the seam and zipper tape about 1/8″ away. After this the edges of the zipper are fell stitched just to the seam.

It was about 1 1/2 hours to do because I hand sew best when I’m relaxed. When I was finished all I could think was WOW! what a beautiful technique I’d just learned.

The welts of the zipper were almost equal which was a big improvement from the prick stitched version of the slot application. Also, although the welt is noticeable the stitches are not. From a distance one cannot discern the stitches and the eye only sees the vertical seam.

Even at the waistline there is no gapping or irregularity using this sewing technique. I plan to use this type of application when I do a slot zipper application on my next project. At that time I will detail the process in photos.


2 thoughts on “Unexpected discovery: Using a running stitch to hand sew a slot zipper application!

    • I’m glad you came back! I think the new format will be more focused and help others. There are many ways to do a zipper so I support you in whatever method brings the best results.


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