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how do you change from zipper to button?

fabricholic | Posted in General Discussion on

On the dress I want to make for dgd, how do I change from a zipper to a button placket in the back? It’s not heirloom or anything like that, I would just like to put buttons on it for a change.


  1. starzoe | | #1

    From the centre back add an extension twice the width of the buttons you want to use and then add about two inches for a facing. Look at a buttoned blouse pattern and you will see what I mean.

    If the dress has a separate skirt, you will overlap the additions with the centre backs matching.

    1. WandaJ | | #2

      What if the dress has already been cut out and sewn? Can an extension be added to the right side of the dress, and a placket for the buttons be added to the left side, or just place a seam binding on the left side? And, then what happens to the bottom opening if an extension is added? Should it be finished (i.e., stitched, pressed, and turned to the right side before adding it to the dress?

      Please know that it is really fun learning here. I just wish we could add drawings like books to illustrate what we discuss. 

      1. starzoe | | #4

        At this stage, if the whole thing has already been sewn, the easiest thing to do is to put a zipper in THIS garment and next time prepare the pattern for buttons. I have no idea if this opening just goes to the waistline or further down so explicit instructions are rather difficult.Yes, drawings would certainly help - some of the posts have had drawings, so it is possible.

        1. WandaJ | | #5

          Thanks, for now I'll go with your directions for zipper insertion.

      2. Teaf5 | | #11

        Yes, you can add plackets to either side after the dress is sewn (have done so frequently on costumes that were a wee bit small...)  The easiest and most attractive way to do so at this point is to make the plackets first, and then topstitch them to each side of the back.  A coordinating/contrasting fabric placket can become a design detail.

        Cut a length of fabric twice the length of one placket, add seam allowances, and sew them as a tube, then turn and press.  Cut in half lengthwise, turn under the ends of each placket, and apply to the dress.

    2. fabricholic | | #3

      Do I add the extension and facing to the other side of the back, as well, or is the facing you are talking of, for the other side of the center back?

      1. MaryinColorado | | #6

        I would make wider facings for both with interfacing inside so it will support both the buttons and the buttonholes.  The underlap will still need to be deeper than for a zipper. 

        It's great to challenge ourselves and alter and embellish patterns.  It also saves alot of money so you can spend it on materials!  Enjoy!  It will be cute! 

        1. fabricholic | | #7

          Just thought I would try it, since, oh, I can't think of her name, said that it isn't really heirloom unless it uses buttons instead of a zipper. What is her name. She does all of the heirloom sewing on here. Very smart and does smocking? I thank you for your suggestions.

          1. MaryinColorado | | #8

            Is it VKstitcher? 

          2. fabricholic | | #12

            No, it's Solosmocker. I looked it up on my friends. Has anyone heard from her?

          3. Josefly | | #23

            "No, it's Solosmocker. I looked it up on my friends. Has anyone heard from her?"

            Check out this blog.


            Be sure to scroll down the page 'til you see some photos of finished smocked dress on the right side. I think this is our solosmocker!

            Her blog entries on completing a beautiful cashmere jacket are especially fun to read.

          4. fabricholic | | #25

            That is Solosmocker. Did you look at the little slip. Shell edging would be cute on mine, if I had more time. I wanted her to wear the dress to church tomorrow, but to do that, she needs a slip. Oh, why do I procrastinate? Thanks for showing me the blog. I love to look at sewing blogs.Marcy

          5. MaryinColorado | | #9

            They did use buttons or ribbons for closures, sometimes made like an eyelet on both sides and ran ribbon through it.  (I saw a show the other day and someone was using one of  those shoe buttoners!  I'd like to own one to hang up on the wall. )

            You say potatoe/I say potato...beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

            It's like some hand quilters don't consider machine quilting to be "real" or artquilts or quilted clothing, etc.  It depends on what you really want to do.  If you need it to be "true heirloom" then do buttonholes and buttons....but then one could say "true heirloom would mean making the heirloom lace, handstitching, etc....so do what is right for you!!!  It will be an heirloom because you made it with love for your special little darling.

          6. fabricholic | | #13

            That's true. I just wondered how to do it, since I do have some buttons for the black material I bought. I won't consider these dresses heirloom, though. I just love dressing her up and the fabrics I found are so pretty. I think I have pictures. I'll go look.

          7. fabricholic | | #14

            Here are pictures of my new stash. I am working on the red with the tiny yellow flowers on it right now.

          8. MaryinColorado | | #15

            She must be the best dressed little girl in town!  Those fabrics are darling with those patterns.  You did well!  Now you can have a sewing spree!!!  Mary

          9. fabricholic | | #16

            Yes, but I am back at work today and I didn't get any sewing done Wed. and yesterday. I cooked all Wed. and part of yesterday, plus I needed to play with her and her new toys yesterday. She didn't have any little ones to play with and she needed me. lol

          10. MaryinColorado | | #17

            Oh, I bet that it was so much fun to play with her and her new toys!  She's such a sweet blessing!  They grow up so fast, I can't believe my grandchildren are teenagers!  The years flew by right before my eyes!  They were so much help this year with Christmas preparations, it was great.  I'm hoping to get them all into the studio while they are on winter break from school.  (If I can get them away from the electronic wonders Santa brought them.)  Mary

          11. fabricholic | | #18

            It was fun. She is like the Energizer Bunny though, she never slows down. She was supposed to take a nap. She hopped up with me on the recliner and we watched Arthur cartoon. I fell asleep, but she didn't. She got a Leap Frog electronic game. Too funny.

          12. MaryinColorado | | #19

            Those Leap Frog games are great learning tools, I know you both had a great time.   I'm going offline now, I just went through two pages of emails and still have so many left.  I need to get something else done, ha ha.  It's too easy to sit and do this instead, and fun.....have a great day!  Mary

          13. Ceeayche | | #20

            thanks for sharing your stash and your upcoming projects!!!!  Inspirational.

          14. fabricholic | | #21

            I finished the first dress, but dd says that it is too plain and to put a white satin ribbon around the waist. I don't know, for one thing, I didn't put belt loops to hold it on with. I made some fabric yo-yo's and thought I might add them. Hubby said to add some lace to the sleeves and neck edges. That might work. I can't decide.

          15. Josefly | | #22

            I got as excited looking at your fabric stash as I do going into the fabric store. How fun, to have a granddaughter to sew for! It's a fairly quick process to add some hand-sewn thread-loops for a ribbon belt to your gd's dress, just one at each side seam, and maybe one at center back. Or, you could tack the ribbon belt to the dress at the side seams, securing with buttons at the tack points. If you think the dress is "too plain" - inexpensive seam tape in a coordinating color can be centered and stitched onto wider grosgrain ribbon to make a pretty bicolor ribbon "sash" and some of the ribbon could be stitched around the skirt, near the hem, in the way we used to use rickrack. Or, the ribbon trim could be used on the sleeves.In fact, seam tape used as ribbon trim decorated an expensive rtw skirt I had a few years ago. Three different colors were used. I loved that skirt.Sorry if I've gone crazy with possibilities for your dress - You chose such great fabrics for a little girl!

          16. fabricholic | | #24

            Thanks for all the ideas. I am finished with the one and put yo-yo's on it. The next one, I might put a ribbon around the waist. Thimbles, where I bought the fabric, is a dangerous place. I can't hit it very often. They were having a sale, not a great sale, but a sale. lolMarcy

          17. MaryinColorado | | #10

            oops, it was solosmocker....haven't heard much from her lately, she is probably busy at her machine instead of "chatting" like us...ha ha ha

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