Tuesday, 22 April 2014

THE CASE OF THE SNICKETY ZIPPER...

It started with the zipper on my green skirt.  I wore it...um, once maybe?...and then the zipper got snickety at the point where the waistband meets the skirt.  Too many layers of fabric perhaps?  not. sure. don't. care. My attempts to close the zipper were unsuccessful to say the very least.   I ended up derailing the dang thing. I was not happy.  A new make, one I really quite like, with a hapless, broken zipper.  Lucky for me, I managed a save. I was able to cut the bottom stop off of the zipper and reattach...er...that's not the right word...what is the word for when you manage to get the zipper pull tab back onto both teeth evenly...oh, yes, miracle would be the word I'm looking for...yes, I experienced a small, yet significant miracle in reuniting zipper pull with zipper teeth. Not surprising however, is that in this whole arduous process, I ended up ripping out some stitches, and hand stitching was essential.  A re-assembled, partially hand-stitched invisible zipper..er...sounds sketchy even as I type. Will it hold?  Sheesh,  who knows...I sincerely hope so, but who knows.  End of story?  No, of course not! A few days later, this post shows up in my bloglovin' roll...




Sunni, of A Fashionable Stitch, has re-posted her tutorial on installing invisible zippers.  It is, in a word, excellent! However, right from the get-go, she admits to not being the biggest fan of the invisible zipper. Hmmm, sez me.  Well, it appears that invisible zippers aren't the strongest zips in the hood.  Not really a big surprise given my recent experience, and it was at this point in time that my wild and wonderful imagination surged into action. A series of vivid mental images, each illuminating the troubling possibility of a serious wardrobe malfunction, played, and replayed, on my personal movie screen.  I mean, sure, I love showing off the innards of my makes, but NOT when I'm actually wearing them.  Now to be fair, Sunni's post is not all doom and gloom. Quite the contrary. It's a straightforward 'how to' with some cautionary tips.  Yet...reading it so soon after my struggles was a lot like being asked to get on the ship that sailed after The Titanic.  You know? Everything suddenly started to sound risky and full of danger.  For example, one of Sunni's cautions is against ironing the zipper coils, don't.  just don't do it.  ever. err, 'k...my learnedness of invisible zippers was to cautiously iron the zipper tape flat before installing, so all's good, right?...no, not really. Now I'm starting to doubt myself...thinking back to my previous makes...how much did my iron touch the coils, what temp was the iron, blah-di-blah-di-blah-blah.

But, pulling myself back to the present, I know I'm nothing, if not a trooper, so I march forward with my latest make...my Dolly Clackett Dress.  I mean, I already have the invisible zipper, and thirteen million three hundred thousand invisible zippers installed can't be wrong...and...this zip, why hello, turns out this zip is a different brand than my previous zips...so it must be better.  Right? Yep!  I'm certain it's better, 'cause it's the only one I gots and I needs it now.  That's that. So, with great caution, I iron the zipper tape, and, this is was I get...






Not good!  Not good at all!  I don't think I need to point this out, but zippers are supposed to be neither twisted, nor wonky-donkey and this one is all kinds of both.  And, as luck will have it, I'm right at the point in my project where I'm about to insert my zipper!!!!  I mean...hello!!!  A woman who sews does not like to be running off to the fabric store while up to her eyeballs in pins and needles.  Let's just leave that to the do-it-yourselfers and their three trips to the hardware store for a single project.  Sewers...we're different! We're like the boyscouts of the DIY world; we're prepared, we get what we need, and we make it work {Thanks Tim!} but. I. had. no. choice. Off I went to a local fabric store, only to find the same brand of zipper.  And yes, I was stupid desperate enough to buy it.  And, in hindsight, mentioning to the clerk about my zipper problem probably wasn't the smartest idea either.  I got a bit of the look, you know that look, and she asked me where on the {1" square of paper} label, does it say to iron, after all it is nylon and nylon should never be ironed.  At that point I explained how I was an almost finalist in an online sewing contest, didn't ya know, and I got me some serious skillz. {Okay, that I said in my head} And to be fair, she was right, you do not iron nylon, but I was so intent on following the directions that weren't there, was I. Once home, the adage to never iron a nylon zipper tape seared in my brain, I started thinking that the whole invisible zipper magic was much less magical than previously thought.  Yep, now in dread mode, my iron taunts me, my recent makes taunt me, and the zipper taunts me. But in the end, I persevere.  I kinda, sorta finger press the zipper open, and sew it using my regular zipper foot. The pattern lines up beautifully. It's not a disaster.  However, the zipper is not invisible.  It's actually highly visible; a very tidy, very neat, straight white line of visibility.  Is it what I intended? Nope. And yes, I do know what I did, or didn't do.  I didn't sew as close to the zipper teeth as I normally would, in part because it wasn't ironed open, and also in part because of a fear of another green skirt episode.  I could, but I can't, if you know what I mean, sew another row of stitching closer to the coils.

So, the burning question. Are invisible zippers in my sewing future?  Well, the bloom is definitely off the rose, but I'm not saying never.  I think I need You to give me me a boost and a wee bit of confidence.  I've got about a half a dozen garments that are sewn with an invisible zipper.  Do you sew with invisible zippers? Do you have an invisible zipper foot? What brand of invisible zipper do you use?  Have you had zipper disasters? Wardrobe malfunctions?  My non-sewing friends, if you have stoically made it to the end of this post, I applaud you.  I thank you.  And I ask of you, have you had ready-to-wear zipper failures?  As much as I want to read a gazillion comments all praising the invisible zipper, I really. honestly. need. to know the real goods.

As always, I love that you're here, and I love hearing your thoughts!


68 comments:

  1. Love that picture! Yes I had disasters....which included the zipper pull coming off not once but twice as I was finishing a dress and later a skirt!
    I invested in an invisible zipper foot (Bernina) and it has improved the result by at least 80%. I never ironed my zippers. I always baste my zippers or use wash away tape (can't remember the name) to ensure it doesn't move while I sew. That said...mistakes and sewing disasters happen every day...even when we pay loads of attention (I am talking about myself!)

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    1. Twice! Oh heavens, you were unfairly tortured with those projects! I have a Bernina machine, and 80% is sounding ever so sweet music to my ears right now! I think I'm gonna check out prices on the invisible foot. And you're so right...stuff happens...and we move on and get over it!

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  2. Yep, me too … could never make them work until I got the dedicated foot for my machine and these instructions … http://byhandlondon.com/blogs/by-hand-london/11628353-inserting-an-invisible-zipper-the-definitive-tutorial. Now I almost never use an ordinary zipper as I love that oh so neat perfecto finish an invisible zip gives.

    Do be careful with the iron though … the lowest heat and not on the teeth at all … or iron under a piece of greaseproof paper to diffuse the heat a little.

    Get back in the invisible zipper saddle and remember, many humans walk the earth who don't have an inkling what on earth an invisible zipper is. Sewers are smart, we learn quickly. Once or twice the sewing gods come and smack us in the mouth just to make sure we don't get too cocky. This was just one of those. :)

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    1. Oooh, I know..they look so, so delicious when they're done right...and ironically, it's my first few attempts that are the best! I'm definitely going to check out By Hand London's post! Thanks so much for making a note of it! Already, with your comment and the other fine gals here, I am feeling the desire to ride the horse again!

      When your garments are completed, do you iron over the zipper at all? Or is it always no-man's land?

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  3. I don't know about zippers but I know this is one clever idea for a post!

    blue hue wonderland

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    1. I would suspect that the majority of your clothing is a very well executed invisible zipper.

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  4. I LOVE THIS POST.

    i do love invisible zippers--i sew them in with a regular zipper foot, the cheapo kind you can buy at joann's. i never knew there was a special invisible foot, so that's what i learned on, and i can get closer to the teeth with the regular--and no ironing. that just always seemed wrong to me, and i have this little mantra: MY WAY IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

    there are better zips out there, tho, how i wish you could check out daytona or vardham or pacific trimmings (they of the mulitcolored horsehair), even if you get a dollar zip they're better than the packaged kinds at joanns. until then, may i suggest getting fancy with fabric markers on that latest white zip?

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    1. All of my previous invis zips were sewn with my regular zipper foot, and ancient thing that came with my BERNINA....just sayin' {wink}. And for the most part, they looked pretty good, as in you couldn't see them. Okay, so no ironing! Just kind of using the foot itself to nudge it's way close to the teeth. I've got two more fabrics store that I've not recently been to. I WILL be looking closely at their zippers.

      And...Mood and Pacific Trimming are high on the list of must visits...

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  5. That first picture is just too adorable!!! Invisible zippers are my favorites, garments look more polished that way.
    Xo
    Carelia
    Mysmallwardrobe.com

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    1. Thanks for your comment Carelia! They really DO look more polished and couture, and that kind of finish is important to me!

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  6. I love invisible zippers. I always iron them (I'm not even particularly careful with the heat) but have a high quality invisible zipper foot (not of the plastic variety) for installation. I've never had one break or open up unexpectedly (knock on wood!). However, having fewer layers definitely helps; at waistbands are where they can get stuck.

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    1. As you know, in our craftsy class, Deborah demonstrated ironing the zipper, which is what I have been doing since. A big sigh of relief hearing that you've been doing the same. Your point about the layers is important! I think many of us are sewing in the lining the 'bag' way, and even if we are using a lightweight lining, there are soooo many layers at the waistband. Exactly the spot my green skirt locked up. And now that I think about it...my zippers always test fine after insertion, but after sewing in the lining, they are sometimes fussy! I may have to rethink how I apply my lining...or maybe not so the lining so close to the teeth?

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  7. So cute! I LOVE invisible zippers! I use an invisible zipper foot to put them in and I don't iron them. I think the special foot is helpful and worth the cost, although I don't think mine was expensive. I just use the brand(Not sure what it is) that my local fabric store carries. I do always check them before I buy. Zipping them up and down a few times... It may take a bit of practice but you can totally master them and hopefully love them too!

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    1. Margo! Simple but brilliant idea...test the zipper before purchase. It's true, they're are going to be some that are not as smooth! Thanks, and with all these positive comments, I am definitely going to give it a go again!

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  8. Going to be useless here, but I've only ever sewn regular zips. Which I keep in place with normal sellotape whilst sewing with an adjustable foot. Always been afraid of those invisible zips. Going to re-read Sunni's post. Great post and pictures as always. x

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    1. Well, I hope I haven't scared you off Louise! My girls here, have got me raring to give another a go at them. Having said that, exposed zippers are on trend now, and there is nothing at all wrong with the standard lapped zipper! Love your hint about using regular sellotape!

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    2. No you haven't put me off. Inspired me really, going to keep practicing.

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  9. I've never bought a zip - I found a sack full of vintage metal ones at a car boot sale years ago and am still working through them. Love that first photo and need to research invisible zips for the scary day when i finally run out! x

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    1. Again, another great score Vix! I must be getting old, because I find myself grumbling that things aren't made like they used to be, LOL. So a sack of vintage metal zips sounds like a treasure haul! My local thrift store always has free zippers in their odds and sods sewing bin, but I've never seen an invisible one there.

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  10. Snakes, jalapeƱos, blood tests, Zippers. These are my phobias. This helps alleviate One of my fears. Thank you.

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    1. Eek....you're giving me heebie jeebies Connie! Yep, I'll take on an invisible zipper over a snake, or a blood test any day. Thanks for putting things in perspective...I'll have to think about my zipper skills when I'm flying next.

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  11. LOL This is a hilarious look into your mind Sue. I feel for you. Really I do. I'm not going to be any help I'm afraid.

    The one zipper in my life I ever sewed was basically a fake zipper meant to hide a bad pattern match-up, so it doesn't really count. I get far too stressed when sewing on fabric. I'm always worried I'm going to ruin the piece.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. I remember that rather brilliant skirt save! I never would have guessed that you weren't a pro at sewing zippers on. That and buttonholes seem to strike the most fear in sewers' hearts.

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  12. Dear Sue,
    you are not only a talented seamstress you are also a gifted storyteller.
    Have a wonderful day too!
    Sabine xxx

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  13. Heheee love that picture of you Sue! Invisible zippers, what a great idea.

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    1. I'm sure Granny Kiki would tell us exactly how to properly install an invisible zipper!

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  14. Why don't blasted things work the way they are supposed to? I have had a bypass of the patience gene & these type of things drive me around the twist!

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    1. hahaha...yes, patience is certainly a virtue when it comes to sewing zippers Rosemary!

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  15. Great post! Putting in zippers is my least favorite part of sewing by far. I think maybe I'd better learn how to sew with knits if I want to get away from them though ;)

    Jenny XoX

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    1. Zippers really do get easier with practice! And Jenny! You completely blow me away with all your fantastic makes. I can't believe you haven't been sewing for years!! Keep at those zippers...sew with knits 'cause you really want to, not to avoid zips, ;)

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  16. I love that picture of you!! Great way to grab my attention to a post that has no outfits. I'm afraid I can't give you any stories or sewing advice 'cause I ain't got no skillz like you fancy-schmancy contest almost finalist. I've actually been doing some sewing, but I'm not about to attempt a zipper. Good luck though! Maybe you'll have another miracle!

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    1. hahaha...and Yeah on the sewing bit for you. I read one of your comments somewhere that you were fighting and making up with your machine! All part of the relationship thing...happens with me too! Look forward to seeing some makes!

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  17. I'd only ever sewn 3 zippers before I made the Cambie for Sew Dolly Clackett. I was terrified of the invisible zipper - especially with fairly heavy material and a toddler who likes to pull on my skirts, so I ended up teaching myself how to put in a lapped zipper just to avoid it :)

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    1. Oh, that's right...Tasia does have an invisible zipper in her Cambie dress, and good instructions for a bag lining. I say, there's nothing at all wrong with a good lapped zipper. You did a great job on your Dolly Clackett dress, and to know you've only sewn 3 zips...I'm impressed! I can't begin to imagine what I'd think of the clothing I made forty years ago. We had to make smocks with zippers in them in grade eight!

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  18. I am a big fan of invisible zippers, I dislike the big visible ones... I use an invisible zipper foot and I never had any issues with zippers, although I never tried to iron them, never even crossed my mind. *^v^*
    I use some brands available in Polish shops but I'm pretty sure they're ALL made in China so there's no difference in quality.

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    1. Well, please don't start ironing them Brahdelt!!! You're right, oceans divide us, but we're probably all sewing with the same zippers!

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  19. You know how I feel about visible zippers already--but I haven't sewn a zipper in a clothing article in so long, I'm not much help in that department. However, I did have a zipper catastrophe not that long ago--you may remember the bag I made with the black cherry print fabric--I was almost finished with it, went to zip it closed and the zipper broke!!! I was so mad, and when I went to purchase another zipper for it, wanting a metal zipper instead of nylon, discovered that they didn't sell the right length in a color that would work in metal. Rather than taking the chance again, I just ripped the whole thing out and changed the way the bag closed. Annoying to say the least. I definitely don't think the zippers that are sold now are anywhere as high in quality as what used to be available. Grrr!!!

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    1. I do know and love that bag Flo! You being my original purse inspire-er, LOL! Wow...redesigning the bag because of faulty zipper! Grrrr, indeed!!! Zippers are never after-thoughts to clothing or accessories! They have to look good, and they have to function. I may start looking online for zippers and see what's available. Having said that, I'm off to a favourite store in a couple of days that has THE most ah-mazing zipper collection!

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    2. I saw your post on my blog Sue--I think this is the post you are looking for:
      http://www.flouswa.blogspot.com/2013/04/busy-busy.html

      And yes, the zipper should look good and function! I bought a bag yesterday and before I even checked out, I made sure all the zippers worked. Good luck with your zipper search, if you find a good online source, please share :)

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  20. I almost always use invisible zippers -- just the standard packaged Coats ones that Joann carries -- and they don't give me any trouble. I love the things! For years I ironed them (once I was a bit too aggressive and ruined one, but after that I just used a lighter touch) and then inserted them with my regular zipper foot. But I recently bought an invisible zipper foot, and it really does make things easier -- I don't have to iron them any more. I usually hand-baste them in before I put them on the machine. And here's a trick: if it has to cross a seam line (like at the waist) I machine sew in the first side, and then I line up the second side at the seam and machine sew just a short distance right there -- maybe about an inch. That way, if it doesn't line up perfectly (and I'm obsessive) I don't have much to rip out. Then I baste that whole side in, and then stitch it. Sounds time-consuming, but it's really not. It works perfectly every time and it's MUCH better than ripping it out and doing it again.

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    1. Now THAT is a good idea! Thanks so much for sharing the tip about sewing the zipper at the seams first! It makes perfect sense to me. I have been machine basting my zips in, but I'm going to follow your tips with sewing at the seam, then hand baste the side, then stitch! Definitely going to look at invisible zipper foots! Ah....I'm definitely in make up mode with my invisible zippers!

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  21. I definitely think miracle was the right word! Or it would be for me. Debbie @ ilovemylemonadelife.com

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  22. I use a dedicated invisible zipper foot. In my sewing class they have one which is different to mine and I find more difficult to use as last time I had to resew closer to the teeth. On a dress I couldn't find a 24" invisible zipper at first - I did find one in the end but it was way more expensive but BEAUTIFUL to insert and it glides so smoothly. Well worth the extra. I read a blog said to carefully iron teeth. My tutor doesn't do that. Your choice - whatever works. But I've found the invisible zipper foot to be great and better than the Barrow zipper foot though obviously you don't need one. I love your blog. sewanneuk@blogspot.co.uk

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  23. Thank you for your post! So helpful to me at this point... well, at least bolstering of spirit, since I'm currently very, very angry at an invisible zipper. It of course went in beautifully... probably the most beautiful zipper I've ever installed, smooth, and aligned and /invisible/. And at first it worked perfectly fine. It's in the back of a very fitted pair of pants, which I am currently constructing other pieces that go with the outfit. Therefore I've tried on these pants about a dozen times, and the last few times the zipper started to stick. The last time it hit a snag and refused to zip past that point no matter how I coaxed or applied brute force (stopping just short of ripping the slide off). It makes no sense. While I did put in that second line of stitching close to the coils/teeth (I don't iron them open, just do the preliminary stitch and then stitch again while pulling it open gently -of course, with a zipper foot), I was careful my needle did not even graze the bits of plastic. There's not a particular amount of stress on the zipper, since the fabric is sateen and has a stretch to it and it zipped easily to start off with. And the fabric isn't too close or too thick at the sticking point. So frustrating! Because replacing this zipper with a new one will never turn out as beautiful as the initial installation. Grrr... I'm not sure whether it's heartening that other experienced sewers (and those of your skill level) have the same problem... or if it's depressing. I guess it means it's not just me, feeling like a novice even after sewing hundreds of garments.

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    1. Nooooo!!!! Not you too! It sounds a lot like my skirt issue. It's weird isn't it?! The zipper looks fine in the spot that it stops, but it stops there!! I did find that unpicking a few stitches seemed to help, but not sure why! And for you, sewing with sateen, you don't want to mess around with the stitches too much, for fear of damaging the fabric! Sending you the very best zipper Karma!

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  24. ;-) I know absolutely nothing about zippers, but , as far as I know, to sew one in an appropriate way, is not so easy!
    My only experience is about a nice skirt which I wore once before its zip got broken! I tried to repair it but at the end I had to take to a tailor ( and I had some problems to find one! )

    You must be a really special person if can write a very amusing post on that subject!

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    1. Only once! It's so frustrating, isn't it Dan! And I KNOW you buy good quality clothing, so it must have just been that particular zipper that decided not to work.

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  25. I can't sew for anything. I just bought a faux-leather jacket and the zipper drives me crazy, it always gets and it takes me forever to zip it up. You are so funny!

    www.saucysiciliana.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Francesca, thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and comment! I find it's the zippers on jackets that can be the WORST. Especially, getting them to start zipping up!

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  26. I love this post!!! I always have trouble with zippers, invisible or otherwise, so I cannot be of help, but sure I know how you feel!

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    1. Aw, thanks Merche! I think as sewers, we are doing the right things, and it's more the zippers themselves that are causing the problems!

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  27. First of all, just discovered your blog and LOVE it. I just hemmed a denim skirt today. I'm not quite skilled enough to install a zipper yet!

    Cheers (and happily following),

    L A

    .Ravishing-Ruby.blogspot.com.

    .follow
    RAVISHING on Bloglovin’ here.


    .follow
    RAVISHING on Facebook here.


    .follow
    RAVISHING on Twitter here.

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    1. Hi L A! Thanks so much for your comment. Hemming a skirt takes skill, so congratulations on that! I'll be heading over to visit your blog soon!

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  28. I hope you don't mind, but I will pass on this one. I have a seamstress who does these difficult things for me. She is the one with your questions. She is the one who sewed an invisible zipper at the back of my trousers with the same problem of not wanting to work at the point where there is a lot of material. After running it a few times back and forth (without me in it), it became better and now it works. She warned me never to put candle wax on the zipper. A no-no she said.
    Good luck my lovely.
    Greetje

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    1. It's comforting to know that the pros have challenges too Greetje! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  29. Amazing!)) I’m following you with GFC, hope you’ll do the same <3
    http://zhannakessel.blogspot.ru/

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    1. Hi Zhanna! Thank you so much for popping by and saying hello! You have a wonderfully creative blog! I don't use my GFC much at all anymore though.

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  30. Oh, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one having trouble with the invisible zipper. I notice that they are delicate, easy breaking or melting by ironing.
    Give me the good old fashion nylon zipper.

    Catherine
    Joly Look

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    1. Yes, isn't it comforting knowing we are not alone Catherine! Thanks so much for commenting!

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  31. This had me in stitches! Opps, sorry, I couldn't resist. I never learned how to put in an invisible zipper. Once I discovered those lovely stretchy wide waistbands, it was all over for zippers, period. I like the old school metal ones for the most part, even though they can get sticky. (Brush a pencil lead down them to free them up) The regular nylon ones aren't bad, of course. Good luck with your projects!! XXOO

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    1. THANKS Jean! I will definitely give this a try. I often find it's my jackets, the ones with the metal zippers, that get sticky!

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  32. Just another note to tell you that I mentioned your blog today in my Sunshine/Shine On blog awards post. Just wanted you to know in case you want to play along. Debbie @ ilovemylemonadelife.com

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    1. Thank you so much Debbie for the award! Thanks for spreading the sunshine!

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  33. You made ​​me laugh, dear Sue ... and I was in need of laughs today .... thanks for that, dear friend.

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    1. Yeah! We can always do with a chuckle and a smile!

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  34. Someone else has probably already given you this link for an invisible zip foot.
    http://www.joann.com/invisible-zipper-foot-for-ykk-invisible-zippers/1999408.html#start=22
    It works very well, but then you won't have any funny zipper stories to write about!

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    1. Thanks Susan. We don't have Joann's in Canada, but I will be checking out my local fabric stores! Have a great day!

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