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How to Hide the Zipper in a Dart

Two couture solutions offer closure without a seam
Threads #213, Feb./March 2021

Much of the time, a garment’s zipper opening is straightforward: The zipper is inserted into the center-back seam, or possibly along the side seam, or maybe at a center-front seam. It is a simple, predictable process.

Vogue Couturier Design 1676
A short dart below the waistline holds the zipper and maintains the design. Pattern: Vogue Couturier Design 1676, out of print. Fabric: Wool crepe and twill, the author’s stash.

Every now and then, however, it is a good idea, for reasons of design or engineering, to do something different. If a seam is unnecessary or unwanted, install a zipper in a dart instead.

Couture, at its best, combines form and function. My students have heard me say that a million times. The concept is at the heart of fine sewing. The two techniques I’m going to show you do just that. They do what they have to do from a technical standpoint—offer a place to install a zipper when there isn’t a seam handy— and alongside that are two lovely design solutions. The results from these methods are sturdy and aesthetically pleasing, too. One is a faced dart opening that provides shape and a closure for a fitted skirt. The other is a slashed dart opening that doesn’t disrupt the sweep of a full skirt.

Faced dart opening

What’s so clever about this technique is that there’s no danger of anything fraying or not lying flat; the opening is faced and it curves gently to the contour of the wearer’s hip. In fact, it incorporates the shape of the dart. Other than that, there’s barely any interruption of the side panel. There’s an opening in that short, shallow dart, but the area below it continues without interruption.

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  1. User avater
    missmarie | | #1

    Hullo Susan,

    I am making a many paneled skirt. Would it be correct to add the dart value to the side seams of the one panel which is having the dart centered in it? Otherwise I would lose 3cm from the waist measurement

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