How To Sew A Fly Front Zipper

How To Sew A Fly Front Zipper


How to sew a fly front zipper. I;d always been intimidated but actually this looks easy!

I made some shorts last year, quite some time ago now, from a commercial pattern. A Simplicity I think it was. Not to speak ill of the large pattern companies, but well, they clearly assumed I knew how to sew a fly front zipper and that therefore they barely needed to bother showing it in the instructions.  This is all it said:

“Install fly front zipper to center front of shorts.”

I battled with that project and used my seam ripper more times than I care to remember. Their tiny illustrations were cryptic and the sewing pattern instructions far too brief.

I got there in the end, but it certainly put me off trying it again for a good long time.

Fast forward to today and I’m designing a skirt. I know exactly the sort of skirt I want to make. I had one just like it years ago and wore the thing until it fell apart, so I wanted to make a pattern just like it. Except it had a zipper at the center front – horror! My stomach turned over at the very thought of it.

How to sew a fly front zipper. I;d always been intimidated but actually this looks easy!

Not to be deterred, I pulled out those shorts, got back to work and have mastered this new skill at last. Looking back, I don’t know why I found it so hard – probably just the terrible instructions. I think its probably the easiest zipper to add if you are fairly new, because its hidden so if its a little wonky if your stitches aren’t as perfect as they should be – no one will even see it.

Not unless they have their face right next to your crotch – in which case they probably know you well enough not to worry about your uneven stitching!

How to sew a fly front zipper

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You can do it!

See – it’s just a series of a few very simple steps.  All easy enough to do, no need to sew absolutely perfectly. Just carry them out in the right order and you can easily sew a pretty neat fly front zipper in your pants, skirt or shorts.

Now I am confident in sewing this zipper, I need to get to work on that skirt.  That pattern’s not going to draw itself!  There will be a new skirt pattern coming up soon – the ‘On Safari Skirt’ and I think you’ll love it.  It was my favorite skirt of all time, and now it’s my favorite pattern too.

How to sew a fly front zipper. I;d always been intimidated but actually this looks easy!

And now there is no need to be deterred by that fly front zipper – you can do it.  Maybe practice first like I did and you’ll soon be confident enough to try out the pattern.  When learning a new skill, you can always practice on scraps first before using that new skill on your real project.  No one ever does it all right first time, and practice makes perfect!

There are lots more sewing tutorials and skills you can learn over on the Sewing Tutorials page.  Go take a look and try something new today!


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How to print a layered PDF file

How to print a layered PDF file


I'm going to save so much ink and paper now I know how to use a layered PDF sewing pattern and just print the size I want.

Software for creating sewing patterns is improving all the time. As I invest in some of the new and rather pricey software and the training that goes with it, I’m hoping to create better patterns for you.

One of the improvements you’ll see coming up is what’s known as a ‘layered PDF file’. In easy terms, this simply means that the different sizes are all within the same file but at the same time, they are separated onto different layers so you can choose to turn them on and off.

I have a new pattern coming out for you tomorrow and this will be the first with the new layered PDF design so it’s going to be helpful for me to show you how that works, as you might not have seen one before – and it’s cool!

How to print a layered PDF file

Firstly, make sure you are using the latest version of Adobe Reader so you can take advantage of all the super-cool tools. If you need to upgrade, you can do so here.

Then open your PDF file in Adobe Reader. Sometimes you can open a PDF file in your internet browser, but that might look ok on the screen, but usually, you’ll end up with some problems when you print – so stick to opening the PDF with Adobe Reader for best results.

page 2

This is what the file looks like. We are looking at page 2 here so you can see all of the pattern lines for the different sizes. Now this pattern has a lot of sizes and where they overlap it can be pretty crazy and hard to follow your right size.

The good news is that with this new improvement you can turn off the sizes you don’t need to print and just see the size you need. This saves you eye strain and printer ink and just makes the whole thing a lot easier to see.

To select the layers you want to see and print, go over to the menu with little icons on the left-hand side here.

layers

Pick the icon that looks like one sheet of paper on top of the other – that is the layers tool. Now you can see all of the separate layers in your pattern. These will usually correspond to your sizes.

There will usually be one layer that has all of the ‘fixed’ information on it, such as the test square, size chart, pattern piece names, descriptions, and so on.  In our example, this is called ‘Print for all sizes‘.  Then there are the size layers, one layer for each size from 34-56 inches.  Next to the layers is a little icon that looks like an eye.  You can click here to turn each layer on and off, so you can see it, or not see it.

layers-2

Here is the same page 2.  I’ve kept on the standard layer and also the layer for size 40-inch hips and turned off all the other layers.  Look how much easier and cleaner that is!

size-40

It really comes into its own when you have lots of pattern grading lines close to each other.  This is page 9 before and after.  It would be difficult to follow all those close lines to find your correct size on the before, but it’s a breeze when you turn off the layers you don’t need.  A breath of fresh air.

phg 9

Now you don’t have to turn layers on and off, you can of course just print it as standard with all the layers if you want to.  But why waste ink and print out that maze of lines if you don’t need to!

How to print the layered pattern – only the layers you want

Once you have your layers selected and displayed or not displayed, it’s time to print. Up at the top menu, select File, then Print, and up comes the print preview box.  Let’s scroll through to that page 9 again and check what layers we can see.  Perfect, just the size we want and the standard layer with our test square, etc.

print-preview

Make sure you have selected Actual Size as the print option so that there isn’t any scaling of the pattern.  Don’t select Fit to page or Shrink Oversized Pages. You can use the arrows under the preview on the right to see all of the pages.  If you are printing a smaller size, you might scroll through and find that you don’t even need to print all of the pages.  See here that the size 40 doesn’t have any lines on page 6, although the larger sizes do.  So you can choose not to print any pages you don’t need, therefore saving you paper and ink.

pg-6

Hit print, check out the picture of what the assembled pattern should look like, and then trim or fold your edges so the pieces match up. This pattern has circles in the corners.  Four pieces of pie make a circle.

Moved-to-tiers-skirt---jpg

How to grade between sizes

What if you are printing a dress pattern and need to grade between sizes, maybe size  C at the bust and size D at the hip.  Well, that’s easy too.  When you select the layers, select the two sizes you need and only those will print off, allowing you to easily see where you need to transition between the sizes.

transition

And that’s it.  You can now print out the pattern just in the size you need.  Earlier patterns don’t have this feature, but the future ones should.  Every little bit helps.


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How to Add a Zipper Pocket to Any Purse Pattern

How to Add a Zipper Pocket to Any Purse Pattern


Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

So you have a basic purse pattern or have a pattern that includes a basic slip pocket and you would like a zipper pocket.  Not a problem – this sort of thing can usually be added to any bag.  You can add them on the outside like in the Nautical Expanding Tote Bag, or on the inside of the bag in the lining like this example from the Carry All Bag.  Or both if you want lots of pockets and storage.  The exposed zipper can really add a nice pop of color and an interesting design feature to any bag.

Zipper examples

Here are a few of my tips and tricks to help you insert your first zipper pocket, as part of the My First Bag series of patterns and tutorials.

Watch the video

Here is an extract from the Nautical Tote Bag video which shows step-by-step how to do this.  You could start here first.

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Step by step photos – how to add a zipper pocket

Prefer to see it in words and pictures?  No problem, I’ve got that too.  These are a combination of photos from the Nautical Tote Bag and the Carry All Bag to show you some of the variations you might use to get the job done or get a different look.

Start by imagining how the finished pocket is going to look.  Where on the bag will the zipper come? How deep will the pocket be inside?  What colors or fabrics do you want to use?

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

TIP – The fabric used to directly back the pocket will inevitably just peak through to the front side around the opening.  You have two choices – go with it and use a nice bright contrast to outline your zip, or use a matching fabric to blend in and disappear. The back of the pocket can be a separate piece for a pop of color, or the same – again, it’s up to you.

Consider which fabrics to use where.  You have two choices.  You can either use a single piece for your pocket lining and fold it in half, or you can use two different pieces if you prefer to use contrasting fabrics.

TIP – your pocket lining should ideally be at least 2 inches wider than your zipper.  3 inches wider is even better.  Give yourself plenty of room to work.

The rectangle

Place the piece of fabric for your pocket lining face down, right sides together over your outer piece.  Decide where the pocket opening will go.  From the top of your pocket lining draw a line across which is 1.5 inches down from the top.  Draw another line underneath which is 2 inches down from the top, making 1/2 inch between them.

Find the center and draw two small vertical lines to mark the length of your zipper from the end of the teeth to the outside of the zipper stop at the other end.  You have a long rectangular box in which the teeth of your zipper will fit inside.

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

Position the lining fabric correctly on the outer fabric and pin it in place to stop it from shifting.  Shorten the stitch length a little on your machine (I take mine from a 2.5 down to a 2) and then stitch exactly around the rectangle you just drew.

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

If you haven’t already done so, draw another line through the center of the rectangle right across.  This is your cutting line.  At each end, draw a triangle from the corners to that center line.  Carefully cut along the center line until your reach the triangle, and then snip into the corners, close to, but not through, your line of stitching.

Turn the lining fabric through the hole you just cut and out to the back.  Press the opening neatly.  Concentrate on getting the front neat.  The inside may be a little puckered at the corners, but don’t worry, no one will ever see that part.

TIP – pinning the zip can create ripples and puckers.  Use double-sided adhesive tape to keep the zipper flat while sewing.

Tape and zippers

Time now to place our zipper.  You can use pins at this point, but I find it hard to get everything to lie flat that way, so I like to temporarily ‘glue’  the zipper in place before I sew.  I use a product called Wonder Tape, which is a double-sided temporary adhesive specially designed for sewing.  Add some strips of the Wonder Tape to the reverse of the pocket opening and then pop your zipper over the top and press it in place.  Check placement from the front and you can easily reposition it if you need to.

Sew the zip

Sewing with the front uppermost, stitch around the opening to secure the zipper in place.

If using a single-piece pocket lining, fold up the pocket lining and pin along the 3 open sides.  This is where having plenty of space to work will be important.   Stitch the 3 sides of the pocket lining, making sure to only sew the lining, not through the outer fabric as well.

pop

If using a two-piece lining to showcase a different fabric inside the pocket, pin and stitch this on all 4 sides.

And you are done.  Congratulations, you did it! That’s another bag-making skill you’ve got under your belt.  Check out some of the options again.

Tips and video on how to add a zipper pocket to the inside or outside of a bag pattern.

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How to Sew a Recessed Zipper on a Bag

How to Sew a Recessed Zipper on a Bag


sewing recessed zipper bag

I’ve been working on some new bag ideas and one of the areas of bag-making that has been a bit of a puzzle to me until recently is how to close the top of the bag. Of course, not all bags need to be closed. Some simple tote bags are left open, and that’s just fine.

With these examples of the Expanding Nautical Tote Bag and the Turning Japanese Purse, in each case simply holding the handles keeps the bag closed.

How to add a recessed zipper to a bag pattern

The Zipper Top Tote bag as a zipper right across the top and isn’t very deep.  Other bags I’ve made have either had magnetic closures and snaps or zippers at the top, like the Easy Cosmetics Bag.  So I was up for a challenge and looking forward to learning something new so I’ve got a video for you today on how to add a recessed zipper to a bag.

You can pretty much add this to the top of any bag which has a lining, so even if the pattern doesn’t call for it, you can split the lining and add in the recessed zipper.  Just remember to place any inside pockets accordingly.

Here’s how to sew a recessed zipper on a bag

In the video, I show how to sew the recessed zipper and then add it to a simple tote bag. At the same time, I’m trying out supporting the bag with headliner fabric too.  It’s all of a bit of an experiment, and not everything goes to plan!

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And here’s what it looks like – pretty easy and it gives a very nice result.  This would work on any bag that has a lining and space to slightly drop the zipper down inside.

sewing recessed zipper bag

Step by step

(See all these steps demonstrated in the video.)

  1. Look at your bag pattern and see where and how volume is added to the bag.  Are the bottom corners cut out or boxed?  What is the finished width and depth of the bag? In this example, I’m just working on a small tote bag and assume that it’s 3 inches deep and 12 inches wide when finished.
  2. Use a zipper a couple of inches longer than the finished width of the bag.  You can always use a longer zipper and shorten it if needed.
  3. Neaten the end of the zipper with a fabric tab.
  4. Cut 4 pieces of fabric.  My length will be 12 inches.  For the width, take the finished depth of the bag, divide it in half and then add on 1/2 of an inch.  My bag is 3 inches deep, so divide that in half to get 1.5 inches, add on 1/2 of an inch to get 2  inches.  So I cut 4 pieces each 12 inches long by 2  inches wide.  Apply interfacing to all 4 strips.
  5. Fold under the ends of the zip tape and pin them or hold in place.  Turn under 1/2 inch on each end of the long pieces and press.  Layer the zipper between two of the long pieces with right sides facing in.  Turn the end of the upper piece back over to the underside, and then stitch using a zipper foot from one end of the fabric to the other, keeping everything even.  Repeat the same on the other edge of the zipper tape.Great video on how to sew a recessed zipper for a bag. This is the easiest & clearest way I've seen to do it.
  6. Fold the fabric right sides out and push out the corners.  Press the fabric top and bottom away from the zipper and topstitch on all 3 sewn edges.
  7. Your recessed zipper is now completed.  Now we just have to add it to the lining of the bag.
  8. If your lining is already split into an upper and lower section, then you are good to go.  If not, split your lining a couple of inches down from the top and remember to add in a half-inch seam allowance to each pattern section.
  9. Mark the middle of the lining pieces and the middle of the zipper section and match them up.  Make sure the zipper is facing the right way up, towards the top of the bag.  Stitch the zipper section in between the lining pieces and press.
  10. Then add the lining pieces to the bag in the usual way, and sit back and enjoy your recessed zipper.
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Great video on how to sew a recessed zipper for a bag. This is the easiest & clearest way I've seen to do it.

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Unlined patch pocket tutorial – how to make the perfect pocket

Unlined patch pocket tutorial – how to make the perfect pocket


unlined patch pocket tutorial

We are going to be learning how to sew an unlined patch pocket or “applied pocket” as they are professionally known.  This is the third tutorial in our pockets series.

As I have mentioned before, pockets are classified into three categories: inseam, slashed, and applied pockets and of course, there are variations and combinations of them all so it can be confusing.  This series of tutorials is designed to help.

We have seen an example of a slashed pocket in the two previous tutorials.  The links are below.

The double welt pocket by the 5 lines method and the double welt pocket with a piped flapped by the butterfly method.

A patch pocket, as the name implies, is a separate piece of fabric that is applied to the right side of the fabric.  Done properly it will give your garment a look of professionalism and of course practicality. The patch pocket is also an excellent way to separate your design from the rest.  Have a look at the picture below for just a few examples of patch pockets variations.

unlined patch pocket tutorial

Where to use a patch pocket

unlined patch pocket tutorial

The first or most common use, of course, would have to be on a man’s shirt.  From the geeky-looking dude to almost every office worker in the country, a man’s shirt feels incomplete without a pocket on the shirt.  And, yet the patch pocket is only noticed when it is missing or when it is badly made.

unlined patch pocket tutorial
unlined patch pocket tutorial

The unlined patch pocket is also found on man’s pajamas and aprons.  (Although I can understand the apron, I really do not get why men’s pajamas have pockets..)Our preferred place for unlined patch pockets is, of course, the back of denim jeans

In this tutorial, I will be showing you the most basic of the applied pockets.  The following tutorial is for cotton fabric, linen, canvas, and denim or a combination of them.  This type of pocket is not for loosely woven fabrics because the pocket will gape at the opening.

Download the free template

Download the free patch pocket template from over on our sister site at sewing4free.com.  While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for the email list!

Print the pocket pattern using Adobe Reader in a Landscape setting.

Opt In Image

Download the Free Template

You can download the free template for this Patch Pocket tutorial from our sister site at sewing4free.com.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

How to make an unlined patch pocket tutorial with a template

The seam allowance for this template is 1/2″.  This seam allowance can change depending on the pattern, but the following instructions are the same for any shape patched pocket.

unlined patch pocket tutorial

Trace the template on a piece of cardboard or thick paper.

unlined patch pocket tutorial

Cut the pocket using the pattern.

unlined patch pocket tutorial

Fold the top 1/4″ to the wrong side of the fabric and iron.  

unlined patch pocket tutorial

Fold the top 3/8″ back to the right side of the fabric.

unlined patch pocket tutorial
unlined patch pocket tutorial

Sew the sides of the pocket at 1/2″.  Stop after the fold.  In this case and when using this pattern, I only have to stitch about 3/8″.Fold the top back around and iron.

unlined patch pocket tutorial
unlined patch pocket tutorial
unlined patch pocket tutorial

Working on the wrong side of the pocket, place the cardboard pattern inside the folded top. And using an iron fold the edges using the cardboard. Remove the cardboard and iron the front of the pocket.

unlined patch pocket tutorial

We will make a double stitch on the top.   Sew the top of the pocket at 3/8″ from the edge.  Then again at 1/8.

unlined patch pocket tutorial

There are two things you can decide to do now.  If you have a twin needle, you can sew the patch pocket straight to the garment you are making.   Or, sew around the pocket at 3/8″ and then sew the pocket to the garment. 

As you can see, making an unlined patch pocket can be both simple and complicated.  Feel free to experiment with the design of the template for your different creations.

I hope you have found this short tutorial useful.  As always, I really welcome your questions and comments in the comment section below.  Until next time, Happy Sewing!


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