1930s Sew-along with Norma: Zipper installation completed

Update on my progress in the 1930s Sew-along with Norma…Hello everyone!  Here’s the latest development in my 1930s inspired dress.  While the construction details do not always reflect 1930s techniques, the end goal of a comfortable garment that can  be put on and off easily is working out.  I used an old fashioned slot application for the zipper that worked very well with the rayon challis.  Some of this is due to the preliminary work I did which includes:

  1. Sewing lace hem tape to the wrong side of the fabric inside the seam allowance on each side of center back for the entire length of the zipper.
  2. Allowing 3/4″ seam allowance because rayon challis shreds.
  3. Finishing the seam allowances off with hand overcasting that begins slightly deeper inside the seam allowance than is usually used.
  4. Using Claire Shaeffer’s recommendation to apply a couture touch by using a small running stitch instead of a pick stitch.  The result is a softer appearance in the finished welts on each size of the zipper opening.
  5. I hand overcast the edge of the zipper to the edge of the seam.  This has greatly reduced shredding and gives the zipper a secure anchor on this very shifty fabric.
  6. I found a size 9 sharp hand sewing needle worked well for the hand overcasting stitches.  I used a size 6 sharp in sewing the running stitches for the zipper.  I’m still in the process of learning which size is best for which kind of stitch.  This dress is a learn-as-you-go experience.

The most time consuming part of the construction is the hand overcasting of seams which was used by home sewistas in the 1930s.  This finish is also used in haute couture so in some ways this experience is taking me closer to the spirit of couture.  Hand overcasting doesn’t come easily to me but I think I want to develop this skill.  The finish works well for fabrics like rayon challis.  So it will be in my interests to make it work–I like the look rayon challis creates so I must treat it in ways that bring out the best characteristics of the fabric.

Progress shown in photos…

Sharps and Betweens are turning out to be the kinds of hand sewing needles that work best for me.  Having the thread conditioned makes threading the tiny eye of these needles much easier.

Here you can see the hand overcasting stitches and the running stitch used for the zipper installation.

This is a close-up of the couture slot application zipper.  The stitches are run 1/4″ in from the seam on both sides.  The welt is visible but the stitches aren’t.  Invisible zippers tend to be stiff so I’m not sure they’d work with a delicate and moveable fabric like rayon challis.  I’m very pleased that the 22″ nylon zipper I used has worked out well.










10 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Zipper installation completed

  1. Your zip looks great.
    I confess to finding it almost impossible to get a well inserted zip by machine. These days I usually stick to hand stitching unless I’m changing a broken zip in a coat – oddly, very easy to do.

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