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Using Zippers in Your Knitting

Dec 24, 2010

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Custom-Length Zippers

Zippers come in many lengths, but rarely are they exactly the length needed.


—To shorten a closed zipper, sew a new bottom stop by hand. Simply use a needle and thread and wrap the thread around the zipper section several times where you want the new stop to be. Snip the excess off the zipper about a half-inch below the new stop, and you're ready to use the zipper. .


—To shorten a separating zipper, sew a new stop at each top.

—When cutting nylon or polyester zipper tape, consider sealing the cut edges with a match. For safety, work over a sink with the water running in case the
tape flares.

—Fold any excess zipper tape out of the way and sew along the garment edge.


      
     

A note from Kathleen: Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you're all snuggled in with your families looking forward to a delicious dinnerand presents if you're a Christmas Eve opener! We're Christmas morning openers at my house, but we always open one or two gifts on Christmas Eve just to get the juices rolling.

Our present to you this year is a brand new way to put zippers in your sweaters! Interweave Knits contributor TECHknitter has come up with a wonderful way to knit in zippers. You read it right—Knit. In. Zippers. She's amazing.

I put a zipper in my Central Park Hoodie; I sewed it in by hand. I'm pretty happy with it but I might take it out and redo it TECHknitter's way. It'll be more stable, I think. As it is now, the zipper is a little fragile.

So here's Knits editor Eunny Jang to walk you through the process!

A New Way to Put in Zippers

Zippers and handknitting are famously bad playmates: the zipper puckers; sewing it in is nerve-wracking; the teeth buckle once zipped. There must be a better way!

Indeed there is. In the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits, the always-inventive TECHknitter introduced us to a clever new method for bridging the gap by turning the zipper into a knitable object. Check out the video how-to below:

Ideas for attaching your zipper once it's been "yarnified":

  • Bind off live loops and seam the tape to the front edges of your garment;
  • Work an attached I-cord using the zipper loops and garment edge loops as a base;
  • Use a three-needle bind-off with the zipper loops and garment edge loops;
  • Pick up new stitches, pulling each through both the garment edge and a single chained loop. Bind off right away or continue to work a band or other edging.
  • Chain loops on a zipper tape first and attach as you work the garment in the manner of a knitted-on edging.


For more information on this neat little technique, pick up a copy of Interweave Knits Winter 2010 and turn to "Beyond the Basics: The X, Y, and Z of Zippers." And keep an eye on TECHknitter's blog for more ideas and information.

At Interweave Knits, we love new techniques that solve old problems—subscribe now and make sure you don't miss the next "A ha!" moment.

Cheers,

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Comments

Lisa quilts wrote
on Mar 10, 2011 9:35 AM

This is one of those wonderful "why didn't we think of this sooner" ideas!  A couple of comments:  In the video she mentions that the dots are spaced according to stitch gauge.  Depending on which way the zipper is placed into the garment or item, wouldn't one use stitch OR row gauge?  Also, zippers can be pre-shrunk, that is, washed and dried before inserting.  Zipper tapes can be pressed flat too, to avoid the fold from packaging.

hatnitter wrote
on Mar 10, 2011 8:03 AM

I used this method for finishing my CPH, and love it!  I had trouble finding a zipper I liked, but found a website for a place in NYC's garment district.  I sent them a swatch and they found me the best color and even made it the exact length.  Now I'm looking for another reason to add a zipper.  Thanks!

on Jan 2, 2011 10:27 PM

Wow.  this video was super helpful! I had read the how-to in the magazine but was still clueless. This was great - especially since I am just finishing up a hoodie for my daughter and it requires a zipper sewn in!!!  I was not looking forward to hand sewing it in and I do not have a machine. This method appears to be perfect and easy.  

HazelL@4 wrote
on Jan 1, 2011 11:25 AM

For years I have been sewing zippers in on my sewing machine.  It is not hard to do; I baste it in by hand first.  The machine stitching does not show.  The method shown here looks too time consuming, although I'm sure the results are great.

Zoe wrote
on Dec 27, 2010 1:38 PM

I have friends and family who only use zippers in their knit sweaters instead of buttons and making the knit button hole.  Wash and dry your zipper.  Iron the fabric part if needed, pin, pin, pin the zipper to the sweater, slide the zipper/sweater under the sewing machine foot (having adjusted the stitch length) and sew it on!  Voila, nothing to putting in a zipper.

LouiseP wrote
on Dec 27, 2010 12:28 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  What a perfect technique, and still so versatile, too!

pokyshopper wrote
on Dec 27, 2010 10:20 AM

Thanks for the great tip.  I'm in the process of finishing the Spanish Dress pattern from Debbie Bliss, where you have to sew a knitted bodice on to a fabric skirt.  I plan to use bias tape on the top of the skirt gathers and then use this tip to knit the two pieces together, rather than sew them.  This came just in time!  

LydiadG wrote
on Dec 25, 2010 10:40 AM

What absolute genius!  I will never insert a zipper in my future garments any other way.  Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou so very much.

Halfpint wrote
on Dec 25, 2010 6:46 AM

Thank you for the video on inserting zippers. I found it very instructive.

jetmuis wrote
on Dec 25, 2010 1:37 AM

Thank you for your great tute and this smart great idea of yours.

Love it , it's simple and i think will work much better then other ones.

wish you a merry xmas time and have an fun fine good great creative crafting new year as well;-D

bobbinalong wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 4:40 PM

Why not use your sewing machine with a unthreaded topstitch needle for even hole spacng and prepunching, as well as a consistent distancefrom the edge of the zipper tape?  You may match your knitting gauge by sewing on a piece of plain paper (again with no thread in the needle) and adjusting the stitch length until it matches your gauge.

ValSew on Ravelry    

Phyllis Jane wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 10:35 AM

The video will help with adding a zipper.  I tried to put a zipper in just after reading the instructions in the magazine, but gave up because I couldn't match the number of loops to the number of stitches of the finished front borders.  Now, I guess I'll just go with what my gauge is supposed to be and pick up that number of loops per inch on the zipper first.  I'd like to use the three needle bind off to attach the zipper to the sweater front.  I'm going to try this on a sample piece the next time first.  I gave up and just sewed the zipper in by hand.  Hope I can do it this new way the next time.

LaurieS@3 wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 9:17 AM

Nice to have another option, but it seems like a lot of monkey business. I just thread a darning needle with a compatible yarn (nor necessarily the same gauge as my piece) and either whip  stitch or back stitch a line of stitches into the zipper. I must admit, marking the gauge beforehand is a good trick I hadn't thought of!

CarolynT@6 wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 8:17 AM

This is fantastic!!  Thanks for sharing it with us.  What a great holiday gift.

SusanG wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 8:16 AM

Everyone seems to be able to visualize how to attach the zipper to your garmet - except me!  I understand the process to make the zipper "knittable"  but how do you "knit" the zipper in place?  

Lisa68 wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 7:44 AM

What a great tutorial! Would this work for felted purses?

RobinD@15 wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 7:42 AM

I love the TECHknitter! She always has a great solution to perfect knitting's imperfections! Keep up the great work!

AuntiePam wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 7:32 AM

This is a great technique! I found a pattern that I really like for a sleeveless hoodie that has a zipper closure. My biggest hesitation was the zipper; but not any more. I appreciate the tips about pre-washing / pre-dry cleaning the zipper to avoid problems later. Thanks!

UpInSmokkke wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 6:48 AM

Washing & drying or dry cleaning (depending on the yarn used and how the finished garment will be cleaned) the zipper prior to using this wonderful technique for insertion will also help eliminate any puckering or waviness due to new zipper tape "shrinkage."

bobbysox wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 6:40 AM

It might be helpful to pre-shrink your zipper.  Even though the tapes are polyester, (and especially if your zipper has a cotton tape, like some heavier separating zippers) my years of sewing experience with puckered zipper closures after laundering, tells me this extra step is warranted.

lilylady19 wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 6:36 AM

I am a crocheter and stumbling along knitter.....I am so glad I watched this!  I am

sure it is crochet adaptable if I can just get the gauge worked properly!  Thanks a million!

Janyz wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 6:20 AM

What a great idea!  Thank you so much for having such a clear and organized video to explain the procedure so well.

I can see myself using this technique again and again.

McKennaO wrote
on Dec 24, 2010 6:11 AM

Oh, how very cool. As my husband has gotten older, and a bit rounder, he's become dismayed at the fit of his formerly favourite, buttoned cardigans. I've taken to inserting zippers, the kindest closure for the more robust amongst us, and this little piece of advice will serve me very well.