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Need Your Advice

sewitfits | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi everyone!

Haven’t written in a long time but I keep up with most of the discussions.  Very interesting stuff!  Now I need your professional / experienced advice.  I value and would appreciate any input from you girls towards my dilemma. 

Several years ago I purchased and cut out a New Look pattern (#6040) – a dress pattern with several views.  Anyway, I really loved the style but it’s been hanging in the closet unfinished because I am stumped as to what’s making the dress hang funny when I put the zipper in.

The pattern layout shows all pieces cut on the bias.  The seam always puckers and curves out at the bottom of the zipper.  I have cut it out twice because I thought my fabric may have been off grain or flawed.  Now after the same thing happened on the second try, I am suspicious that the pattern design is flawed instead.  I have never had this problem before but was wondering if any of you know anything specific about these New Look patterns by Simplicity or have any suggestions before I just give up on this one.  I can’t go on until I finish this dress! (smile)

Thanks for your help.


p.s. – I have emailed Simplicity to see if they had any record of complaints on this pattern…a long-shot I think. 


  1. KathleenFasanella | | #1

    I recommend fusing that zipper inset area before setting the zip. The fusible should extend past the end of it, be generous. I'm partial to that lightweight knit tricot fusible for jobs like this.

    1. sewitfits | | #2

      Thanks for the advice but I'm not sure I understand how to do what you are suggesting.  The fabric is a very light batiste and unfortunately, the zipper tape is thicker than I would like.  This part of the dress is an underdress that is to be used under the sheer overdress.  By the way, the bodice on the overdress did not fit properly and I had to make some makeshift adjustments.  I've never had these types of problems.  I really think this pattern is flawed.

      Anyway, can you explain in more detail? 


  2. solosmocker | | #3

    I just finished reading Roberta Carr's "Couture...The Fine Art of Sewing" for the third time. She dealt with this. I hope I can explain. When you cut out bias pattern pieces they must mirror image. So you cut one layer at a time for starters. I will use a sleeve as an example. You cut out the left sleeve in one layer with the bottom of the sleeve tilting to the left and the sleeve cap tilted to the right. Now for the right sleeve. This will be laid out with the bottom of the sleeve toward the right and the sleeve cap toward the left, the exact opposite and a mirror image of the left sleeve. If you cut both sleeves tilted in the same direction it will skew and twist the grain as it hangs out. The pieces need to be mirror images. Hope this is understood and it helps for the next time.ETA: The zipper suggestions are definitely to be heeded. Also, most pattern layouts do not layout the bias as Roberta Carr suggests. So beware!

    Edited 8/27/2007 6:33 pm ET by solosmocker

    1. sewitfits | | #4

      Wow, that could be it but I will have to do a breakdown of the layout to see if in fact, these two back pieces were not placed correctly.  Heres' what I have:  the two pieces were cut out separately and I followed the layout exactly as shown (single thickness).  One cut of the back pattern piece is placed right side up with the top of the dress piece going diagonally to the right.  The other cut of the same pattern piece is placed right side down and the top of the piece is going diagonally to the right but upside down in the layout.  I can't really tell if this is getting Roberta Carr's suggested results or not.   If I can determine the answer to that question, then it will reveal the error.

      Thanks Solosmocker! 

      1. Teaf5 | | #8

        I agree with other posters that putting a zipper (rigid tape, no stretch) into a bias seam is problematic. I would hang the dress for a day or two, and then pin or baste the zipper into it while it is still hanging. Lighten the pressure foot tension on your machine to the least possible to stitch the zipper. If that doesn't work, maybe handstitching the zipper would be worthwhile, again, having basted it into place while the whole garment is hanging.

        1. sewitfits | | #12

          Thanks to all of you for your advice.  You all sound like pros and I feel very comfortable trying your ideas.

          Happy Sewing!


          1. user-51823 | | #15

            "The fabric is a very light batiste"--- i think this is what makes a zipper unsatisfactory, whether on the bias or not. IMHO, delicate fabric calls for special, classic fasteners.
            somewhere in the attic, in one of a zillion boxes, i have a mid-1920's dress handkerchief-weight cotton dress that would illustrate the closure i am talking about perfectly. if i knew exactly where it was, i'd go photograph it and post a pic for you. alas, i'm not up for a safari so i'll try to describe, best as i recall.it's super lightweight cotton, but not visibly sheer (it appears opaque despite how thin it is)
            the seams, IIRC, are normal depth. a very thin folded plquette is added along the opening at natural waist on back side only, maybe 6" long. quite simply, there are 3 or 4 sets of snaps (or on this particular garment, it might be hook and eye... it's been about 6 years since i've worn it). the plaquette is attached to the side seam back piece, and slips under side seam front, so the opening faces subtly towards the back.
            i didn't describe this too well, and will try to post a photo or sketch later now that i've downloaded the camera software.Edited 8/28/2007 11:31 pm ET by msm-s

            Edited 8/30/2007 2:13 pm ET by msm-s

          2. sewitfits | | #17

            MSM -s,

            You've almost decribed how I was thinking I would fix this!  I get the picture and hearing from you just confirmed to me that this could work.

            thanks for putting so much thought into this for me


          3. user-51823 | | #18


          4. Josefly | | #19

            Following msm-s suggestion, there's a video tip on the Thread forum about using vintage sewing techniques, which shows how to insert a placket (plaquette) into the side seam. It's an online-supplement to the vintage sewing articles in Threads #132. Good luck; it sounds like your two-layer dress will be a beauty. Reminds me of my daughter's wedding dress, which consisted of an under-dress of linen cut on the bias, and then an over-dress of silk organza, also on the bias. Both dresses were pull-overs, though, no closures at all.

          5. user-51823 | | #20

            that sounds gorgeous! can you post a photo? pull-over is definitely the best way to go with bias if at all possible.

          6. sewitfits | | #21

            Okay!  I will have to get my husband to show me how to use the camera but it might be a while as I have become disinterested in this garment. 

            I really like the fabric...so I think I will get it done soon and show it to everyone.

            Thanks for the motivation.

          7. Josefly | | #24

            I'm going to try to attach a photo I have on computer-file. I didn't make the dress - my stress-limit is lower than many, I think, and I was too cowardly to try even this short garden-wedding style dress. It was just the sort of comfortable thing my daughter wanted for her mountain-top wedding.

          8. user-51823 | | #25

            that is absolutely one of the lovliest wedding dresses i have ever seen. the combination of linen and silk chiffon or organza is inspired. really simple, elegant and beautiful. thanks for sharing!

          9. Josefly | | #26

            Thank you for the nice remarks about the dress. My daughter found it (on sale) in a local boutique; it was manufactured by a California designer whose name I don't remember. We thought the combination of linen and silk organza was unusual, too. There was an ankle-length version of the same dress, which I sooooooo wanted my daughter to get, but she preferred the short one.

          10. solosmocker | | #27

            That dress is just lovely. Simple elegance!solo

          11. moira | | #28

            I love to see that little yellow icon in a post, and so enjoy seeing other people's work. I know this is a purchased dress but it's still a pleasure to see it - it really is lovely, so understated for a wedding, but I do believe 'less is more'. The linen/silk organza combination is beautiful, and seeing the detail makes me wish I'd a reason to try something like this!

          12. sewitfits | | #22

            Thanks!  I will try and finish it and get a picture up for show.


          13. Teaf5 | | #16

            I'm not a pro by any means; I've just made every possible sewing mistake in the book and then some! It's a wonder that I still love sewing--must be the neverending challenges that appeal to me....

      2. User avater
        Becky-book | | #13

        Mirror image... reading the layout you described... sounds like it is not mirror image.  If the first piece is diagonal to the right, the other should be 'headed' left.

        I agree with those who advise an alternative to the zip...loops and buttons maybe? like an old fashion wedding gown?


  3. user-51823 | | #5

    i have never successful put in a zipper on the bias. it might work better on a heavier fabric, but i suspect it is a combination of bias and the zipper being too stiff for your fabric. bonding some tricot would help, if it was possible.
    my lightweight vintage garments from the 20's and 30's pre-date zippers, and instead close up the side with a narrow plaquette and snaps. you might try converting to snaps if zipper just won't hang right.

    1. sewitfits | | #9

      You know, that was something I was considering!  Do you have any suggestions as to how I should do that?  I was thinking about adding some facing to the side seams and either inserting a shorter zipper or some other type of closing.

      Thanks MSM-s,

      I will let you know if I do this procedure.

  4. moira | | #6

    I'd suggest two things: first, fuse strips of lightweight interfacing to the seam allowance where the zip is to go. It should extend a little also into the garment just inside the seamline and also be a few inches longer than the zip. This should be done on a flat surface without stretching the seam.Secondly I would hand-baste the zip in place with the person wearing the garment, basting below the zip as well. That's the best way I know to make sure it doesn't buckle once it's sewn in place. It mightn't look right when you're sewing it or looking at it just as a garment, but will then correct itself once the wearer is inside again.But it is a tricky challenge - hope you have success!

    1. sewitfits | | #10

      Thank you moira.  Unfortunately...or maybe it is fortunate that the dress is for me!  I will certainly share with everyone if it is a success or failure...maybe I should move on.


  5. BernaWeaves | | #7

    I'm wondering if the zipper seam puckers and pokes out because the bias isn't stretched enough when you sew the zipper in.  Then when you put on the dress, gravity pulls the fabric down, but the zipper area can't stretch the way it should.

    Perhaps you should hang the garment on a dress form and then pin the zipper in place on the dress form?

    Although, to be honest, I think the idea about using snaps or hooks is best. That would keep the seam fluid and smooth and you wouldn't have to deal with the zipper tape showing.


    1. sewitfits | | #11

      Yes, I am beginning to agree about not using a zipper and try a side entry with snaps or hooks...something instead of a zipper.

  6. DONNAKAYE | | #14

    I don't know, I may be a little dim-witted this evening, but it just seems to me that stabilizing the seam prior to the zipper insertion should do the trick...I've set plenty of zippers into off-grain and even true bias seams, but I've always stabilized them first....If the fabric is a little sheer and that is an issue, you can install the zipper wrong side of zipper to right side of fabric, then overlay the zipper tape with a pretty piece of ribbon or whatnot.  (I think Nancy Zieman has demonstrated this technique before.  I know I saw it done somewhere.)....Am I just thick tonight?

  7. sewelegant | | #23

    In the past whenever I had difficulty with the zipper behaving the way it should, I would resort to hand sewing it in place.  It's almost invisible if you just prick the fabric when you do the stitching.  Even if it is not... you did say it was going to be under another layer.

    This really works and it is quite simple.  The technique should be found in any good sewing book and certainly in the couture ones.  Just baste the zipper in as though you will be machine sewing it in.  Starting at the bottom, bring the knotted thread up through all layers.  Take a very small prick of the fashion fabric and go back down through all the layers and come up about 1/2 inch away (toward the neckline) take another prick stitch (toward the starting point) and continue all the way up.  Start again on the opposite side... at the bottom.  Both stitching should go in the same direction.  I believe this is called backstitching.  After I perfected getting the stitches even I loved using this technique on lots of my clothes.  Especially if I didn't have a good thread color match or the sewn in zipper looked too "homemade".  Even if your stitces aren't perfect I think it would look elegant.

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