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back zipper alternative???

Ocrafty1 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I need to pick your collective brains….Please.

I have several elderly clients that have trouble pulling up a back zipper in a dress. Most of them want a simple A-line dress, with either long or short sleeves…looks nice on their body type.  I’ve thought about putting in a side zip, but that wouldn’t allow enough room for them to put their head in the neck opening.  They also have difficulty hooking the hook & eye at the neckline.  Any suggestions????  



  1. Ralphetta | | #1

    Invisible zipper down the front?

  2. starzoe | | #2

    You could make the A-line dress with all the features they want and either use buttons and buttonholes down the front or design an asymetric opening for the top part. The buttoned front need not be all buttons and buttonholes, the waist-up ones could be functional, the rest are "fakes".

    What about buttoning on the shoulder(s).

  3. joyfulneedles | | #3

    You could give them the choice of buttons, zipper, Velcro squares, or the larger snaps.  The zip could be in a placket.  If they they have trouble with zippers the sporty ones are heavier with a larger tab.  And plackets for any of the options could have decorative buttons. 

    I am brain-storming and hope to be of assistance.  I am getting to the age I don't like fasteners in the back any more.

  4. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #4

    My mother had this problem. Her arthritis prevented her from reaching behind her back and gripping a zipper tab. Her shaky hands didn't help, either. We solved her dilemma with front and shoulder openings as Starzoe suggested. All the suggestions have been good viable ones. I do think you'll need to move the opening from the back, depending upon their dexterity. There may be a way to rig up a hook for them to use -- ala back scratcher fashion. Something they could put on the zipper tab prior to putting on the dress and be able to reach once it was on, and then remove easily when the zipper reached the top.

    Please post the solutions you and your customers agreed upon for us.

    1. KharminJ | | #5

      I remember seeing a product to solve exactly this problem in one of those "crafty/gadget" catalogs years ago - essentially a 3 foot chain with a hook on one end and a pull tab on the other... attach to the zipper pull, pass the chain over the shoulder, and pull it up. Then disengage the hook, and carefully put it in a Safe Place where you never find it again! LOL

      1. sewfar | | #6

        Exactly and then plan on wearing the dress for a long long time as getting the zipper down unaided is almost as hard for some as getting it up !

        1. Palady | | #7

          The suggestion on the gadget from KharminJ & the comment from sewfar have merit. 

          The issue for connecting the "hook" is workable because it can be done before the dress is put on, and the chain being reachable with hands to the back.   Proviso being the tab has a hole in it. 

          The challenge, MO,  is getting the chain unhooked once the zipper is up.  Then placing the hook in the zipper tab hole, if there is one, to pull the zipper down.

          Likely a shoulder zipper would be the more workable.

          :-) 's

    2. Ocrafty1 | | #9

      This client is actually one of my aunts.  I had to replace the zip because it stuck...something wrong with the zip.  But then she complained about having it being too difficult to pull up by herself.  I have an extensive collection of vintage costume jewelry that I inherited, and among that stuff was exactly what you have described. 

      In a little gold toned box, with a zipper tab on the front, is a chain with a hook at the end.  The chain is attached to the inside of the box and it fits neatly inside.  I took it to her last week, and it seems to work pretty well, but I need to come up with a solution for her.  She's pretty picky, and isn't the sized 8 she was until 3 yrs. ago, but still wants to wear the same styles.  I'm going to try to convince her that separates may work better for her...button down blouses, skirts, etc.  I'll let you know what we come up with.  She's quickly becoming one of my busiest clients.  Nice, because we get to spend much more time together!  I took her shopping for fabric for the first time, and she's hooked! 


      1. MaryinColorado | | #10

        I think there was a bridal gown in one of Threads issues that showed buttons on the shoulder area that also closed the neckline.  I will look for it.  A side zip combined with the shoulder buttons would also work well.  But I have difficulty with buttons! 

        1. starzoe | | #11

          Snaps or velcro can be used on the shoulder(s). Ball buttons are easier to handle than flat ones. I would think that just cutting the neckline large enough to pull the dress over the wearer's head would work as well as anything---scarves are in vogue now.

          1. Sancin | | #12

            Just a comment about side zippers. I have difficulty with my spine. A side zipper would be difficult as I would have to turn, even if slightly, to open or close the zipper. I have taken to wearing tunic style dresses that I can belt or not belt as these are easier to get in and out of. Ties oould be attached to the sides of a dress that could be tied at the front or back of an Aline dress depending upon the abilities of the wearer. I have to think about shoulder joints. May work.

          2. Ralphetta | | #13

            I agree about side zips. Even when I was young, skinny and agile they were difficult to get over the head and zip. What about wrapping?

  5. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #8

    I would try incorporating some of the nifty decorative zippers available today as design elements into the front of the garment....for example a 6" or 8" zip that closes up a raglan sleeve seam. or several zippers of varying lengths that open up the front neckline for easy in/out dressing. Also, you can buy nice decorative zipper pulls that hook on to the zipper (pretty and easy to grab) which can be removed for laundering (or left in place if they are all metal or plastic). Or, maybe you can create a decorative front opening that closes with velcro if your clients are quite elderly or physically impaired. And, as others have said....what's wrong with good old buttons...today there is a trend for using BIG buttons as design elements.

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