In this post we’ll be showing you how to sew the zipper for the Blanca Flight Suit. Some people may be intimidated about installing a zipper, but the construction steps are pretty straightforward! All you need to do is sew a straight line and take it step by step.
Right sides together, match left and right fronts along the center front seam. Align the zipper stop circle markings and the notches at the crotch seam.(My zipper stop circle is marked with a tailor’s tack.) Please note the seam allowance at center front is 3/4″ (19mm). Starting at the neckline, sew a lonh basting stitch along this 3/4″ seam allowance down to the zipper stop circle marking (we’ll be removing the basting later). At the circle, switch to a regular stitch length. Sew a few stitches and backstitch to the circle marking to secure, then continue stitching to the end of the crotch seam. Ensure the waist seam on both sides matches up.
Clip into the seam allowance at the notch below the zipper stop marking. be careful not to cut into your stitch line.
Finish the seam allowances above the clipped notch separately with either a serged or zig zag stitch. To prevent your serving from unravelling, thread your tails back into your stitching.
Finish the seam allowances below the clipped notch together, trimming it down to 3/8″ (10mm).
Press the crotch seam to the left leg (as you would be wearing it) and press the center front seam open. If your fabric is very thick, you may find it helpful to hammer down the waist seam at center front now to reduce bulk. We’ll be topstitching the zipper in place, and there are several layers of fabric to sew through at that area. Here’s what your garment should look like so far:
We recommend standard zipper lengths for each size in the instruction booklet, but you may need to customize the length of your zipper by shortening it from the bottom. With the wrong side of the front face up, place the zipper face down and centered over the basted center front seam to determine the correct length. The top zipper stop should rest just below the circle marking near the neckline, which is 5/8″ (16mm) from the raw edge. The bottom zipper stop will end just above the circle mark near the crotch (marked by a tailor’s tack in my photo). Mark the desired location of the new bottom zipper stop. I’ve marked my new zipper stop location with a yellow pin.
There are a few different ways to shorten a zipper, but the easiest and most accessible way is by sewing a new zipper stop with thread. At your machine, place the zipper face up and centered under your regular foot. Choose a wide zig zag stitch, and shorten the length of the stitch. Using the handwheel, carefully drop your needle and walk a few stitches to make sure the zig zag stitch is wide enough to cover the zipper teeth without breaking your needle. Once the stitch width has been confirmed, stitch back and forth over the teeth to make a solid bartack. If you’ve chosen a zipper with really wide teeth and you find your machine’s zig zag stitch is not wide enough, you may have to do this by hand.
Once you’ve made your new zipper stop, trim down the zipped tape below the new stop. Pull off any extra teeth with pliers. If you don’t have pliers, you can also carefully trim the teeth away below your bar tack.
I neatened the end of my zipper by zigzagging the end closed and using some fray stop on the trimmed ends of the tape. This isn’t absolutely necessary because the end of the zipper will be 100% concealed once it’s installed.
With the front of the flight suit wrong side up, re-position the zipper over the center front seam. The zipper teeth should be perfectly centered over the basted seam, and the top and bottom zipper stops should be exactly in between the circle markings. Baste, pin, or tape the zipper in place along both sides of the tape. As we’ve mentioned, we strongly recommend hand basting the zipper in place for the most control. We’ll be topstitching the zipper in place from the right side of the garment, so if you use pins you risk sewing over them. Hand basting allows for the most precision and control over the placement of the zipper.
Ensure both sides of the zipper are securely basted in place.
On the right side, trace a horizontal line just below where the zipper stop is.
To secure the zipper in place, we’ll sew two parallel lines 1/4″ (6mm) apart on either side of the basted center front seam. The key to achieving a professional-looking finish for this type of zipper installation is perfectly spaced rows of topstitching, especially if you are using a contrasting thread color. You can trace your stitch lines with a ruler and removable marking tool like we did for the zippered breast pockets. I happened to find some special quilter’s tape in my stash which was the perfect width for my rows of topstitching. If you have 1/4″ draping tape or whiteboard tape, this would work too. I had trouble marking the denim with a sharp and clear chalk line because of the twill weave, so I was so glad to discover this little trick! The tape was sticky enough to stay in place while I sewed, but I could also reposition it several times.
Start stitching at the neckline with a zipper foot, 1/4″ from the center front seam(depending on how your zipper foot works, you may have to shift your needle position). If you have a wide zipper pull, you may have to undo some of your basting stitches to move the pull out of the way so you can get started. Once you’ve sewn an inch or so, leave your needle down, raise your presser foot and pull the zipper closed and out of the way.
Continue stitching down the garment. Stop precisely at the line you traced to indicate the end of the zipper stop and backstitch.
Sew the second row of topstitching, 1/4″ (6mm) from the center front seam on the left side of the garment. Stop at the traced zipper stop line at the bottom and backstitch.
On the left side only, sew another row of topstitching spaced 1/4″ (6mm) away from the first row. This will secure the zipper tape in place on the left side. You have now sewn three rows of topstitching. We’ll sew the fourth row on the right side of the garment in the next step, when we attach the zipper facing.
Right sides together, fold the right zipper facing (F) in half, matching the long edges. Sew the short ends together at 5/8″ (16mm). Trim the seam allowances down to 3/8″ (10mm) and clip the corners.
Turn the right zipper facing right side out and press. Finish the long raw edge with a serged or zig zag stitch. The purpose of this zipper facing is to protect your body from the zipper on the inside of the garment. We’ve drafted it to be long enough to extend the whole length of the zipper, and wide enough to conceal the zipper tape on the left side. This means when the zipper is opened at the neckline, the facing will be visible. If you don’t want to see the facing when you’re wearing it unzipped, you have a few options. You can narrow the facing so it just covers the zipper teeth and not the adjacent seam allowance (this would mean narrowing the width by about 1/2″), or you can shorten it so it ends lower down on the bodice. This means you still get some protection from the zipper against your body but won’t see the facing when it’s unzipped. Alternatively, you can skip the facing altogether. This will mean less layers of fabric at this area, but you will feel the zipper teeth against your tummy if that seems like something that might bug you.
Here’s what the facing looks like when it’s assembled:
Turn the garment to the wrong side and position the zipper facing over center front. The serged edge of the facing will align with the edge of the seam allowance on the right side of the garment (as you are wearing it). The long folded edge of the facing will align with the left side. The bottom of the zipper facing will extend past the ends of the zipper tape. Again, we strongly recommend hand basting the facing in place here for the best control, but you can also try to pin it in place from the right side of the garment.
The top of the zipper facing rests just below the circle marking at the 5/8″ (16mm) neckline seam, covering the top zipper stop. It’s really important you properly align the facing here since the collar will be sewn in at 5/8″ along this seam and you want everything to meet nicely.
From the right side of the front, trace the line for the fourth line of topstitching, 1/4″ (6mm) away from the first line on the right side of the garment (as you’re wearing it) t. I was able to reposition the piece of quilter’s tape to mark this line.
Topstitch along the line, ensuring your stitching catches the zipper facing underneath to secure it in place. I started sewing from the bottom at the traced zipper stop line, shifting my needle to follow my tape guide. When I got to the top, I moved the zipper pull out of the way so I could continue sewing all the way to the top.
You should have four parallel lines of topstitching along center front, each ending precisely at the traced zipper stop line at the bottom. Remove the basting stitches for the zipper facing.
Next, sew a line of topstitching 1/4″ (6mm) from the crotch seam on the left leg, securing the seam allowance in place underneath. This row of topstitching should also catch the zipper facing underneath. The stitch line should match the end of the inner row of topstitching on the left of center front.
Sew a straight horizontal row of topstitching at the traced zipper stop line, connecting the rows of topstitching on each side. Sew a bartack at each end of this line of topstitching to secure. I switched to regular thread and used my handwheel to drop my needle exactly in position to start stitching.
This is what your front should look like from the wrong side. The zipper facing is secured at the bottom with the crotch seam topstitching and the bartacks.
Unpick the remaining basting stitches along center front and give your zipper a test drive! The front and back of the flight suit is now fully assembled.
Next up: attaching the collar!