The Grey Lady, Part VII: Invisible Zipper and Lacing

For the back closure I’m opting for an invisible zipper instead of a regular one, since I feel like having a bulky zipper underneath lacing would just look weird. To install it, I used a Universal Invisible Zipper Foot and followed one of the many tutorials online to install the 22″ zipper. Sorry, not going to do a step-by-step accounting here, this tutorial explains it much more clearly than I could.

Suffice it to say that the process was surprisingly easy, though my Universal Foot fell apart more than once, so I’m not a huge fan of the plastic bits. Also, at a few points on my zipper I actually ended up sewing too close to the zipper teeth, preventing it from zipping up, and had to unpick and re-sew those sections. I thought the foot was supposed to keep things at the perfect distance? If I were going to make a habit of using invisible zippers I’d probably just buy a real metal foot designed to fit my machine.

Once the zipper was installed, it was time to do the lacing. I admit that despite my plans to put in the lacing loops before sewing the dress together, I forgot all about it and inadvertently sewed up the back seams on my first sewing pass. But it did help me get a feel for what the finished dress would look like, so it wasn’t all bad. Anyway, I ripped out the back side seams from the neck to the hip at the point where the gores are inserted, then started making the loops.

I didn’t want to use ribbon to make them (not sturdy enough), so I ordered some double-fold 1/4″ bias tape in “Oyster.” Unfortunately, while the single-fold tape in my local store was labelled “Oyster” and looked like the perfect color (a light gray), my tape it arrived looking completely different (a light tan). It turns out the tape at the store was mislabeled. I eventually discovered that the correct color name was “Shadow,” but that they apparently don’t make double-fold tape in that color, so I ended up buying the single-fold and ironing it in half before stitching it closed. Then I cut it into 2 1/2″ lengths, folded them into loops, and basted them into the unpicked side back seams before re-sewing everything on the machine. I used eight loops on each side, and they were spaced 1 1/2″ apart.

GL basted loops

GL back fastenings

Annoyingly, while I was extremely careful to line up the loops exactly based on the side back pieces, when everything was sewn in and zipped up it was apparent that the side back pieces themselves were not at the same height. This made the loops just a bit off from each other. I have no idea how that happened, honestly, but when the back is laced up the height differential is barely noticeable, so I’m going to just ignore that for now.

GL back laced

Of course, I haven’t pressed the zipper or done my intended topstitching yet, so the back looks kind of puffy and wrinkly right now, but you get the general idea. By the way, In this picture I’m using more sewn 1/4″ tape as the lacing itself, but I’m keeping an eye out for something better. Again, I don’t want to use ribbon, but I’m not sure what else would work. Thoughts, anyone?

As a side note, you know what the weirdest thing is about this step? I realized when trying on the zipped dress that I didn’t actually need to un-zip it to get it on after all. After adding the extra width for lacing adjustments I didn’t need the zipper, despite my calculations that it would be necessary. (sigh) I suppose that it’s still good to have in there, since it does make getting the dress onto the dress form a lot easier…

One thought on “The Grey Lady, Part VII: Invisible Zipper and Lacing

  1. Pingback: Upcycled Birthday Princess Dress, Part III: Revising the Design | It's All Frosting...

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