Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Grand Zipper Exposé...and rhinestone zipper tutorial

During a recent trip to Salt Lake City (see this post: while visiting Tissue Fabrics, Mirjam, my exchange daughter caught site of a black zipper with rhinestones on it. Not having a project in mind at the moment, we didn't buy the zipper, but thoughts of that zipper didn't leave entirely. In fact, she mentioned how perfect a rhinestone zipper would look down the back of the crepe dress we were making for her homecoming dance. The zipper we saw was only 7" long, and we needed at least 14", so a quick search revealed a seller on Etsy, LollyGagsLLC, that had rhinestone zippers for a very reasonable price. There would be some hurdles: the zipper was separating, and a little longer than we needed (15"), and we had very little time for shipping. The seller was completely accommodating, and I decided that for the price, we could overcome any other obstacles, so we placed our order, and it came right on time.

The larger rhinestones were fabulous. No missing THIS detail! Intended for jackets, separating zippers are usually bigger, but the pull on this one was enormous, nearly the size of a quarter! Okay, so add one more hurdle to the list. I suggested that we could cover it with a bow. Mirjam agreed, so life was good again.

There are plenty of tutorials on exposed zippers, but this one is a little different. First, it needed to be fitted, and I didn't want to expose any of the tape, only the rhinestones. Here is a quick over view of how I did it:

First, add fusible interfacing to the fabric edge. This stabilizes the fabric and makes it easier to fold, press, and sew with a top stitch. Make sure you've measured your opening so that the opening will end at bottom of a rhinestone. You can see that the center back seam is also sewn at this point.

Next, do a fitting to mark the center back of your dress. This makes sure that your dress will fit perfectly once the zipper is installed.

Subtract half of the width of the zipper teeth from center back marking a fold line.

Square off the bottom of the zipper opening with a stay stitch.

Clip into the seam allowance to the stay stitching. Press the sides along the foldline and press the bottom down.

Pin the zipper to the pressed opening and top stitch the zipper to the dress, first one side then the other.
Since our zipper was too long, and being made of heavy plastic, we could not sew across the bottom of this zipper. We had to hand tack it.
While I was sewing in the zipper, Mirjam was inventing a bow to go across the back. We used heavy interfacing in the bow so that it would not be limp. Mirjam was very careful to make sure the dimples were perfect. Cute bow!
The next step was to pin the bow in the right location. We tacked it to the dress on one side and placed snaps on the other.

The bow really adds something to the zipper that it wouldn't have had otherwise. Together they turned out beautiful and make quite a statement!
I do want to mention that we had other problems with this pattern, besides the one I mention here:  . I found that the skirt hung badly.  The bodice waistline on the bodice dips to the back quite a bit more than the skirt pattern accounts for.  I had to reposition the skirt completely to keep the hem parallel to the floor.  I also took out the skirt front darts. It was so high on the body that the darts were unnecessary. I also lengthened the skirt by about 2 inches.

The other thing that might be helpful to your rhinestone zipper project is that these zippers are difficult to zip up and down. With patience, you will succeed! 

You can find LollyGags store here:

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love this zipper really does the trick! Thanks for sharing!!


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