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zipper insertion in 4 way stretch fabric

CarrieR | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I need some help in how to successfully insert a center lapped zipper into a 4 way stretch fabric.  I am making colorguard uniforms for my daughters band, and this is the only stumbling block I’ve hit.  I put one in, but the fabric ripples and doesn’t lay flat, like “ordinary” fabric.  I can’t use interfacing because there’s power net as well as a spandex fabric with a silver foil finish on the face.  How do I do the top stitching without it buckling?  I inserted it similar to an invisible zipper thinking that the zipper tape would stabilize the area enough, but the top layer buckled anyway. 


  1. cafms | | #1

    I wonder if a product called Steam-a-Seam 2 might work.  It is sticky on one side and has a paper backing on the other.  If you put the sticky side on the inside of the seam allowance, then remove the paper and press the seam allowance down just with your fingers it might stablize it enough to sew through.  It is intended to be ironed in for a permanent placement but since you can't iron it maybe just the sticky would hold it to sew.  I think there is also one that is wash away but I can't think of the name just now. 

    I just looked on down the messages and saw one under machine embroidery - liquid stablizer.  Take a look at it and that might be an option also.

    Edited 9/22/2007 11:20 pm by cafms

    Edited 9/22/2007 11:21 pm by cafms

    1. CarrieR | | #3

      Thanks for your idea...not sure that it would be safe to use a sticky substance, plus it doesn't account for the stretch.  I ended up calling The Fabric Depot in TX and spoke to Susan there and she gave me some pointers.  Sew the zipper in like you normally would, but sew with the fabric against the feed dogs, place in a lightweight fusible and stretch as you sew.  It worked and my zipper "flaps" look great.  Sometimes it's not good to try to take a short cut!

  2. suesew | | #2

    I once made a set of dance dresses out of a very heavy stretch velour. I hung the dresses for a couple of days and pinned the zipper in them as they were hanging and then stitched them in by hand - which really doesn't take that much time considering if you sew them in by machine you will be tearing them out several times because they will not hang correctly. Now with any stretchy fabric that requires a zipper, I will pin it in as it hangs. If you stabilize the fabric before putting the zipper in the fabric right next to where you stabilized will still stretch - you simply transfer the problem to a different place.

    1. CarrieR | | #4

      Thank you for your feedback.  If I had more time, I might actually try this way.  But I'm under a time crunch. I guess I'm a little fearful of sewing them in by hand, knowing how rough the girls can be trying to get in and out of the uniforms.  If I have a chance to make some more, I will definitely try out your suggestion! 

  3. user-51823 | | #5

    are you stabilizing before or after you cut the fabric? if stretching first is backfiring, try the opposite and lay down some wide tape over the zip area before cutting out the pieces. do a straight stay-stitch through the tape, then cut pattern.

    1. CarrieR | | #6

      I'm stabilizing after I cut out.  If I wasn't making ten of these uniforms, then maybe I could stabilize before I cut out!!

      1. user-51823 | | #7

        well then, you might be making 10 uniforms with wavy zippers :-S
        Try it once and if it works, i'm sure you can come up with an easier method. possibly you don't need to stay-stitch at all, but use a strong masking or duct tape out of the way on either side of the zip stitching lines and just pull off after the zip's been inserted.
        If you do all the zips (and other stages) assembly-line style, you might find you can make up the extra time lost on the zippers.

      2. Teaf5 | | #8

        Another thing to try is to lighten the pressure foot tension as much as possible when you're stitching the zippers in. You need just enough pressure to feed the fabric through but not press down on it or stretch while securing it with the seam.

        1. CarrieR | | #9

          Yeah, I know, that would have solved my problem....but my machine doesn't have that adjustment....I wish it did!

          1. Teaf5 | | #10

            The pressure foot tension adjustment isn't always obvious; sometimes, if you check all the way up the column from the needle, you'll find a collar, a dial, or a screw that will lighten the tension. I think there are spring-tension zipper feet that can also work the same way. On the single machine I used that didn't seem to have that adjustment, I simply left the foot in the "up" position and moved the fabric with my fingers instead. Sounds weird, but it works!

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