Lapped zipper template

Continuing in the process review series of the faulty zipper insertion, I’ve finished drafting and sewing the correction for the lapped zipper application. The sample pattern uses a 7″ plastic coil. By the way, this pattern won’t work for separating zippers because those are different.

Before you can sew this up, you’ll need to download the pdf pattern templates. Print these out full size; they should fit neatly on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (you’ll need 3 sheets). Later today you’ll find the step by step sewing instructions once I finish editing the photos. For now, prepare your pattern.

You’ll need 2 file folders. Cut the folders apart on the fold lines and staple the pattern template print outs to them. By the way, file folders are made of what’s called “oak tag” paper, aka traditional pattern paper. It’s designed to be thin yet hold a hard edge. Poster board is inferior because it’s thicker and doesn’t hold a firm edge. You can buy pattern paper by the roll (48″ wide, 6″ diameter) from SouthStar Supply

I don’t want to launch into any kind of soap-box rant at this hour of the morning so humor me and cut all lines away. Always. No exceptions, ever. I’m always, always stunned at the number of people who’ve spent 4 years in a design school program who don’t know something I learned my very first day in design school and that’s all I’m going to say about it ;).

Once you’ve cut the pieces out, mark them according to the print out in black ink. Industrial patterns are color-coded. Shell/self pieces are always marked in black ink. Be sure to mark the correct side. You’ll need to notch the left back so if you don’t have a notcher (I recommend item no. 45N1/16), trim that out. Similarly, at the zipper bottom you’ll need to punch out a small hole. If you don’t have a screw punch you can get one at Southstar (same page as the notcher). The screw punch is my absolute favorite pattern tool. Hardly anyone has them so be the first among your friends to get one and hide it from the kids or grandkids ’cause you’ll never find it again (don’t ask how I know that). If you don’t have a screw punch, use a common nail. Then you’ll be ready to sew your own sample.

Process review: lapped zipper
Lapped zipper template
Lapped zipper construction
Lapped zipper specs
Centered zipper template
Centered zipper construction
Invisible zipper tutorial pt.1
Invisible zipper tutorial pt.2
Shorten a separating zipper
Zippered welt pocket tutorial
Deconstructing a zippered pouch
Zippered welt pockets

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  1. ken simmons says:

    Regarding “cut the lines away” when cutting out a pattern. I had a teacher who would say, ” your pencil line should end up in the trash can”…this somehow made this concept easy to remember for even the thickest headed of us.

  2. Lillibet says:

    YIKES! I am not a designer or anything close to the talents you all have here. I am jealous of so many talented garment developers, but I am really not a designer. I do sew for myself and modify virtually every pattern I use. I have made my own clothing for decades. I used to purchase one suit a year. Now, as an Intellectual Property lawyer, I watch the brand names for clients and make my own with great care and attention to detail. I know home sewing patterns aren’t nearly the same as your commercial designs, but I’ve learned so much here, so here goes my question.

    As a beginning sewer in my teens, I learned that if I want to do a proper finish on seams and such, I had to use one of Grandma’s favorites — hand overcast, or turned under and hand stitched. My grandmother, insisted I add on at least one full seam allowance, or even a full inch, everywhere possible to make sure the fitting comes out well and the seams can be finished elegantly. You can always trim, but never add on.

    So, if I am just chugging a garment through the serger for quick edge finish, I can see cutting inside the lines. Except, that is, where I might need a bit extra due to ‘unanticipated fabric performance issues,” also known as too many chocolate chip cookies for a princess seamed dress, fitted within a millimeter of whatever. (You can laugh at my addiction. I can and do often.) Am I wrong?

    I’ve also used the patterns and techniques for zipper insertion, and thanks for the templates Kathleen, they are wonderful.

    And, where possible, I try to avoid facings or modify the whole area to make them less likely to spill out of garments. I’d rather use some sort of underlining, backing, a half lining or full lining to eliminate the need for a facing, except on my 2-2-2 dresses –that is $2 for pattern, $2 fabric total cost, and 2 hours construction–always cotton, always for summer, and never anything truly good enough to even show my Grandma, if she were still with us.

    Am I totally nuts? Wrong? An idiot?

    My garments fit, look good, but there is ‘something’ that just isn’t there in the fine finish area.

    It’s not easy being a lawyer by day, and making my own suits, dresses and blouses by night. I do it because commercial garment construction is too often absolutely awful. I just can’t get my wallet open and pay any price for the up-market junk that falls apart due to shoddy construction methods. The affordable items showcased in stores are supposed to convince me I should part with a few hundred for the privilege of wearing the ill fitting and poorly made. Face it, my Scottish Grandmother spoiled me rotten.

    She also never made me color inside the lines either, but that’s a matter for Uncle Sigmund (Freud)?

    So, for me as a non-commercial sewist, should I go with the inside the lines cutting, or stick to my slightly wasteful cutting wider seam allowances? And, though I am not a professional, I do also sew for friends from time to time. I want those garments to look and feel professional. I work hard at that too, which is why I like this site so much.

  3. Lillibet,

    Check out these posts:

    By adding the line width to your pattern you are changing its
    shape, not just its size.

    Let’s say you want to draft yourself a fez. You measure your head
    circumference: 22″.

    Top of the fez
    For the crown, you need a circle of 7″ (your head) + 1 1/4″ (seam
    allowance) = 8 1/4″ diameter. You get out a compass and draw a circle
    on manila folder paper, then cut out the circle outside the line. Your
    pattern is now a circle of 8 3/8″ diameter. You trace the circle onto
    fabric with tailor’s chalk and cut it outside the lines. Your circle
    is now 8 5/8″ diameter. If you sew it with a 5/8″ seam allowance the
    crown of your hat will be 23 3/16″ in circumference.


    For the sides you need a rectangle 22″ (head circumference) + 1 1/4″
    (seam allowances) = 23 1/4″ long. You draw it on manila cardstock and
    cut it out, leaving the pencil lines. You trace the pattern onto your
    fabric with tailor’s chalk and cut out the rectangle, which is now 23
    5/8″ long. If you sew the ends together with a 5/8″ seam allowance you
    end up with a 22 3/8″ loop.

    It no longer matches the top of the crown, which is almost an inch
    longer at 23 3/16″. You can’t sew them together any more! That is, not
    unless you use 13/16″ seam allowances, which are much harder to sew
    than the 3/8″ allowances used in industry. If you were going to make
    them the right size anyway, you might as well have just cut away the
    lines and used a standard seam allowance.

    If you want to be able to sew different shapes together, adding to the
    seam allowance will always distort.

    *** *** ***

    In industry, you aren’t going to adjust the size of the garment after
    it’s made. There is no need for forgiveness in seam allowances. The
    pattern has been engineered, it works, you use it.

    When making one-offs you may need to adjust a garment. If you think
    you’re going to need to do this, start by cutting the pattern to the
    larger size and sew it with standard seam allowances. If you need to
    take it in, you can – much easier than letting out and it won’t damage
    the fabric. For something like a collar and neckline though, where you
    are sewing curves together and you won’t be taking the finished piece
    in anyway, cut the pieces exactly. That means cutting away all
    the lines.

    Does this help?

  4. My garments fit, look good, but there is ’something’ that just isn’t there in the fine finish area.

    I have a couple ideas, one you’re working on already if you posted here. By way of explanation, I can definitively say that I’ve picked out a traditional homesewing zipper insertion from 30 feet away. DH and were at a Renaissance Fair and I saw it in a horrid (hard to sew, let’s be fair) cheap bridal satin backed gown so we paced off the distance. Typically tho, it’s very obvious at 10 feet. So, using a better insertion method is a solution.

    Generally, it’s not hard for me to pick out these garments and it’s exactly due to what you said, namely finishing. Or rather, detractors from a finished look. I think 95% of these would be solved by using more and or better interfacing. Homesewers don’t use it nearly enough imo. I don’t think they realize you can use more than one kind in a garment either. They latch onto one weight for their project and think it’s good for the main function but it’s overkill to put it elsewhere -being too heavy comparatively. One example, it’s not overkill to use it on your zipper insertions. Just use something really light.

    How to apply interfacing: Much may not apply but read the comments too. There’s bound to be something useful.
    Interfacing, 10 tips.

  5. Beatriz Agudo says:

    I discovered your world (wonderfull) one week ago.
    Since then, I am addicted to you. I love your sense of humor, and I really appreciate your knowledge.
    I’m starting to sew (I’m 50 years old, not a child really), and despite sometimes is difficult to me to understand the full meaning of every word (I’m Spanish, and I have not studied languages at school), I hurry up home every day after work to read a little of your blog.
    I love you Kathleen.

  6. Avatar photo

    Y por su puesto, te quiero mucho tambien!

    En serio, no tienes que batallar con el idioma. Si no entiendes algo que habia escrito, dejas un comentario con tu pregunta. No puedo escribir en Espanol muy bien, pero lo entiendo perfectamente. En mi taller, hablamos Espanol mas que ingles.

    Bienvenido a nuestro mundo!

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