Sheath Skirt with Modesty Kickpleat and Zipper Hidden in Seam Pt. 2 of 3

The zipper application is the basic lapped zipper type but the sewing method is based on instructions from “Couture Sewing Techniques” by Claire Shaeffer.  The zipper is sewn using tiny running stitches.  To secure the zipper further, fell stitches are hand sewn from the edge of the zipper tape to the inside seam.  Since the running stitch is more flexible than a pick or back stitch the sewing is barely noticeable under ordinary lighting.  This is why I call the zipper “hidden in the seam.”


Instructions on hand sewing a zipper from “Courture Sewing Techniques” by Claire Shaeffer.  This diagram shows a slot zipper application I have adapted to a lapped zipper application.

Getting your notions and equipment ready



Regular straight pins or pins with glass heads may be used for pinning the zipper in place.  I prefer longer pins with glass heads when pinning the zipper into place because they are easier to handle and also stronger.  Use the type that works best for you.


Press your zipper so it lies flat.  Then select your thread and needles for basting.  A seam ripper and small scissor are used to remove the basting stitches along the zipper seam.  To condition basting and sewing thread I use a new dryer strip.

Not shown is the thread for sewing the zipper.  I use Guttermans poly thread because it works well with all fibers.


For hand sewing the tiny running stitches I found #6 Betweens worked just right.  Of course with hand sewing there will be differences between which needle works best for the seamstress.  Experiment with different types until you find one that produces the tiniest stitches easily for you.

Sewing the Center Back Seam

The zipper is applied after sewing Center Back seam and before sewing front of skirt to back skirt at the side seams.

The extra fabric you see is the extension for the kick pleat.


Use basting stitches from waist to end of zipper.


Basting stitches are also used from beginning of kick pleat to hem.

1.   Machine sew using basting stitched from waistline to point that marks zipper’s end.  From that point stitch using a medium stitch length until reaching the marking for the beginning of the kick pleat.  From the kick pleat beginning to the hem, sew with machine basting stitches.


Kick pleat extensions.

2.   The kick pleat extensions were finished using a zig-zag stitch and then were pinked.  I am using a poly-gabardine that shreds a lot.  This type of finishing minimizes the shredding.  The way the kick pleat extensions work are as follows:

*****At the right hand side of Center Back the extension is open and lies flat.  This is the extension that is wide enough not to show much leg when the wearer is walking.

*****At the left hand side of Center Back the extension is folded on the Center Back line and stitched in place along the waistline. The weight created by the fold ensures that the kick pleat hangs nicely.


3.   After steam pressing the kick pleat open let the fabric cool and dry.  Then use your seam ripper to remove the basting stitches along center back where the zipper will be inserted.  A micro tweezer helps remove stray threads.


4.   Lay the skirt right side up with the waistline away from you.  The right kick pleat extension is opened to full width.  The left kick pleat extension is folded back.  Pin and baste the left pleat extension along the waistline of the skirt.


5.   If necessary shorten your zipper to fit the opening.  Always end the zipper at the measurement where your hips are the widest.  The standard is 7″ down from the waistline but you might have to select a zipper that is slightly lower than that from the waistline.  Mark the place on the zipper where the seam ends.  With another pin mark 1/2″ further down.


5a. Use a whipstitch at the point where the zipper will be shortened.


5b. Sew an eye below the place where you whip stitched the zipper tape.


5c. Cut the zipper tape and finish end with hem tape.


6.  Pin the zipper’s right tape along the Center Back line of the right extension of the kickpleat.  The pressed seam acts as the guideline.  Baste in place.

Continued in the next posting.