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Separating Zipper questions

junctioncats | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I have four matching jackets to make (yep, family…sheesh). All four are in the style of warm-up jackets, and they are being sewn of soft velour. Luckily I started on mine first, so that I can get all of the problems taken care of.

I’m using a metal separating zipper, but regardless of how long I allow the fabric to hang, or how carefully I stretch it as I’m sewing the zipper, this fabric and the zipper aren’t working well together. I’m getting areas in the middle of the zipper where it is bowing in or out. I thought stretching the fabric slightly as I’m sewing the zipper would take care of this, but no such luck. I chose a metal zipper over a synthetic just because I wanted to avoid this problem.

Any ideas at all about what I’m doing wrong? At the moment, I’m removing the zipper carefully and will begin again.



  1. creategreen | | #1

    Try using a little stabilizer on the fabric and sew each side of the zipper in the same direction even if it seems  a little awkward. The synthetic Zipper might have been easier to put in. Oh also baste the zipper in first and lengthen your stitch length to 3.

    Good Luck

  2. starzoe | | #2

    Yes. stabilize the opening and make sure it is the same length as the pattern indicates = very important. Or mark the zipper the exact length of the opening, with markings matching about four spots along both zipper and velour.The first option would be the easiest. I'd cut a piece of pellon the exact length of the opening, mark that and mark the zipper in four spots so that they will match up, then hand-baste it to the velour. I have also found with soft fabrics or with knitted fabrics, a hand-sewn zipper works best, no stretching allowed.

  3. sewelegant | | #3

    It seems to me that stretching the fabric slightly as you sew in the zipper would cause it to bow out.  20 years ago I made a bathrobe out of a soft velour type fabric and like you I redid the zipper several times without success and finally sewed it in by hand.  The hand sewn zipper is really quite easy to do, my problem with it is having the stitches look straight and even, but with this fabric my stitches were hidden.  It is navy blue and I have worn it every winter for the last 20 years and the zip has never needed re-sewing.

    It also seems to me that the stiffness of a metal zipper would not flow with the velour fabric so I might have chosen a synthetic one.

  4. Teaf5 | | #4

    I agree that you don't want to stretch the fabric, and one way that velour gets stretched is just from the presser foot.  If you can lighten that up as far as possible, it will stop squeezing the velour against the zipper (which won't stretch at all) and the throat plate/feed dogs.  Others have reported using walking or roller feet on velour with good success.

    Hand basting the zipper in helps, too,  no matter how you do the final stitching.  If it still bows, the zipper may be too heavy for the fabric.  On a velour warm-up jacket, I needed to use a regular dress-weight polyester separating zipper; the sport ones were too heavy for the fabric to support.

  5. Tatsy | | #5

    Have you pre-treated the zippers? I'd hate for you to go to all that trouble and then have them shrink. The easiest way is to throw them in the sink in hot water, then iron (press) them while they're still wet with a pressing cloth and the hottest iron the fabric can stand. One thing about sewing long seams like that with two very different fabrics is that the softer, stretchier fabric tends to pull into a curve. You might try pinning the two fabrics together with a little ease in the very center of the seam--just scrunch in an extra inch or so of the fashion fabric at the very center of the seam line to counteract this tendency. You can also sew the seam in halves, coming from each end of the seam toward the center. Good luck.

    1. junctioncats | | #6

      Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you. First, sorry I didn't get back to this sooner. I was suffering from the "company that wouldn't leave" today.I hadn't thought about pre-shrinking the zipper, nor had I realized that I was using the wrong foot on the machine. Makes sense to use a walking foot (which I have). I'd already considered sewing it by hand, and I don't mind doing that, as long as it will look good when it is done.The reason I didn't choose the synthetic zippers is that a jacket I made previously used a zipper with plastic teeth, and the zipper did not launder well. This is washable velour, which is the reason it was chosen for the four suits to begin with. I think I was trying too hard to "think ahead".I've switch the foot to a walking foot and will let you know tomorrow how it has turned out. I like the idea of stabilizer and I have some very nice non-sticky here, so will add that when sewing.]Is there a reason to sew the zipper in the same direction? Yes, it would be awkward, but definitely doable, but I guess I don't understand the "whys". Thanks so much for the advice though. It was one of those problems where I needed another set of eyes (and a few more brains, lol).Susan

      1. Teaf5 | | #7

        You need to sew the zipper in the same direction on both sides because there's always a little bit of tugging by the feed dogs when you're stitching.  If you stitch in opposite directions, the left front is pulled one way, while the right front is pulled the other, likely to result in twisted laps of fabric over the zipper.

        Although I normally insert separating zippers into a basted-shut seam, sometimes on knits, it's easier to insert each half separately, after carefully lining up the top and bottoms to match.  I use clear tape or masking tape rather than pins to hold tricky zipper/fabric combinations.

        Fold each seam allowance back, press carefully and use stabilizer or fusible web on the lap.  Then line up one half of the zipper on one lap, and tape it to the fabric on the inside.  After stitching one side, close the zipper and line up the other lap over the center, and tape it on the inside.  At this point, you can re-open the zipper to stitch the second lap.

        Let us know what works out best for your project!

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