We made it to the final day of the sewalong! Congrats on getting to the last few steps, I hope you are excited about your culottes!
Today is the big scary zipper day, but do not fear, we will make it through this. Sewing invisible zippers can be a bit tricky, and like anything, it gets easier with practice. An invisible zipper foot will help you immensely in the process, because it has a groove in it that holds the teeth in place while sewing right alongside them. A regular zipper foot will do the trick too, because it allows you to get up really close. Using a standard foot will not work, because you will not be able to get close to the edge of the zipper teeth.
Zipper feet photos from : Husqvarna
We are going to start by stabilizing the zipper area with interfacing. When sewing with lightweight or delicate fabrics, it is important to protect volatile areas like this. You will be zipping and unzipping with every wear, and you don’t want your fabric stretching or tearing over time. Cut 2 pieces of interfacing 10” x 3/4” (22.8cm x 2cm) and apply them to the wrong side of your fabric. There is a slight curve to this area, but you can gently curve your interfacing to match.
I forgot to take a picture of this next step, but it is crucial to invisible zipper success! This photo below is from an invisible zipper tutorial on Craftsy. There are a ton of invisible zipper tutorials out there, so if you are craving additional instruction on this, watch some youtube videos and read some other tutorials before getting started. There are also many different methods, so find one that works for you!
Using a low heat (You do not want to melt your zipper teeth and ruin your zip), press along the zipper on the backside of the zip. You should be pressing the teeth outward, opening up the fold. We want to sew right in this fold, so we need to press it open to get better access. It is not going to lie perfectly flat once pressed, and that is OK, we just want to encourage it to open up.
Lie your zipper with the right side down on the right side of the fabric. Line up the top of the zipper teeth (not the top of the zipper tape) with the notch in the center of your waistband. You want your zipper teeth to sit right at the 5/8″ (1.6cm) seam allowance. If it helps, you can draw a line in chalk or fabric pen so you can see where the seam allowance is. Pin down the length of the zipper.
Sew as close to the teeth as possible from the top of the teeth down to the zipper stop. If using a regular zipper foot, you can use your fingers to fold open the teeth and get a bit closer. Back stitch at both ends.
Fold down the top of the zipper tape and tack it in place so it is out of the way.
Zip up your zipper and using fabric chalk or other marking tool, mark where the waistband seam is. This is the crucial place to line up your zipper.
Repeat the pinning process down the other side of the zipper opening, lining up the zipper teeth with the center notch, and lining up the waistband marking with the waistband seam. Pin down to the zipper stop.
Sew as close to the teeth as possible from the top of the teeth down to the zipper stop. Back stitch at both ends.
Zip up your zip. If you are not able to zip it up, you have sewn over the teeth at some point (whoops!). Unpick the stitching that is over the teeth and sew over this spot again, close to the teeth, to fix the hole.
Using a regular zipper foot, close the gap at the bottom of the zipper by stitching along the crotch seam until you meet the zipper stitches.
Your zipper should look something like this!
Now, we are going to enclose the edge of the zipper at the top. With right sides together, fold the waistband in half at the center notch. The folded edge of the waistband should overlap the waistband seam by about 1/8″. Pin in place along the zip.
Sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance, from the top of the waistband down to the waistband seam. Trim the corner of the waistband, you may cut off some zipper tape too, that is OK. This helps to reduce the bulk in the corner and create a nice point.
Turn the waistband right side out.
Your zipper should be nicely enclosed at the top now. Try zipping it up again to make sure you didn’t sew over the teeth.
Fold and press the waistband in half with wrong sides facing this time. The folded edge of the waistband should overlap the waistband seam by about 1/8″.
Pin on the right side of the fabric, catching the folded edge of the waistband underneath. I like to insert my pin on the right side, right at the waistband seam, and check that it has caught the other side of the waistband by about 1/8″. Once positioned right, you can insert the pin back to the right side.
If this is your first time doing a stitch in the ditch, pin liberally! The more pins, the easier it is.
This is how it looks from the right side:
This is how it looks from the wrong side:
As the name implies, we are going to “stitch in the ditch” of our waistband seam. Sew slowly and try to keep your stitching in the ditch, not on top of the waistband. Feel the seam with your fingers as you sew. You should be able to feel the edge of the waistband on the underside and adjust the layers if needed. If you miss a spot or slip off a bit, adjust and keep on going. You can go back to fix missed areas by hand or by re-pinning and stitching in the ditch again.
Once finished, your waistband seam will be completely enclosed!
Here, I have highlighted my stitches in green so you can see them better:
Hurrah! The hard parts are over! I know that zippers and stitch-in-the-ditch can be stressful, so take a quick break here and breath deeply, you made it!
Next, we are going to finish off with the hem. Finish the bottom edge with a serger or other seam finishing method. You may also turn up the hem twice to hide the raw edges if preferred.
Press the finished edge up 1/2” (1.3cm).
Stitch the hem in place at 3/8” (1cm).
All done! Here is the front:
Here is the back:
Congrats on completing your Winslow Culottes!
Don’t forget to share them with me on instagram (#winslowculottes @helens__closet), or you can email me a picture at email@example.com – I would LOVE to see your makes! More pics of my final culottes will be on the blog on Monday 🙂
Thanks so much for sewing along with me!