Since the invention of the “slide fastener” in the 1890’s, the seemingly humble zipper has easily earned it’s place as an important closure device. And, although it’s practicality is well-known, as sewists we know and love the decorative value of the all-important zipper, too. When Italian designer, Elsa Schiaparelli used zippers as a design element in her 1930’s fashion collections, she unzipped a whole new world for those of us who sew!
Decorative Stitching on Zipper Tape
We’ve all learned zipper stitching techniques and even how to insert an invisible zipper, but do they have to be hidden? I found wonderful techniques for “show off” zips in a past Coats blog post that uses the decorative stitches on our sewing machines. The limited edition Coats Fashion Print zippers shown in the post are no longer available, but we can create our own “print” zippers! This is a very helpful post that’s full of tips for making sure your decorative zip stitching is successful. You’ll appreciate learning how to make sure your machine can “grab” the zipper tape while you’re embellishing! Plus there are inspiring pictures that illustrate using different threads. Use a bright color for accent or a metallic thread to coordinate with metal zip teeth. There’s loads of fun to be had with this technique! Click here for the Decorative Zipper Stitching post.
Sewing Exposed Zippers
Once you’ve embellished your zippers, you’ll want to stitch them into a garment or bag so that all your hard work shows! In another past Coats post, you’ll learn to insert a zipper so that it’s decorative beauty is well displayed. This is a marvelous step-by-step tutorial that you’ll want to keep on file for future use. The instructions are clear and confidence inspiring. Although it focuses on the limited edition print zips mentioned above, you’ll be proudly using your self-created decorative zips! Click here for the Exposed Zipper Tutorial.
T-Shirt Zipper Neckline Upcycle
Beyond embellishing the tape of a zipper, it can also be used unembellished as a super-creative upcycling tool. Laura of the Trash to Couture blog is a master of refashioning and she knows the value of a zipper. Her trendy T-Shirt Upcycle uses a zipper to finish the neckline of a self-made or thrift store sourced tee. It would be a great look for a sweater, too! Laura’s instructions are nicely laid out with photo illustrations you’ll enjoy using for your refashioning. It’s a fairly quick and easy project that would be fun for an evening or a weekend. Click here for the T-Shirt Neckline Upcycle post.
Low Back Dress Zipper Embellishment
With inspiration from the Schiaparelli embellishments of the 30’s, zippers can also dress up a casual dress or top. Hanna of the Pearls & Scissors blog loved the thrift store dress she purchased, but found the low back neck slipped off her shoulders just a little too often. Isn’t this stunning?! Hanna used just two zippers for her decorative back neck styling and shares clear steps to create this gorgeous look. You’ll appreciate her instructions for neckline measurements that determine the length of zippers you’ll purchase! Click here for the Zipper Embellishment tutorial.
Zipper Flower Bracelet
Linda of the Craftaholics Anonymous blog loves the potential of a zipper and used a single black zip to create a “jewel” for her wrist. You’ll need just one 7” zipper, scissors, a bit of hot glue and a small piece of felt to create a 2″ flower. I’m all for hot glue for temporary projects, but I suggest adding hand stitching to secure your posy for longer use. It would be beautiful as a brooch, too! Linda includes great photo steps for this quick project so it can be done by anyone. Click here for the Zipper Flower tutorial.
Zippers in Your Sewing Future
Let’s think beyond the teeth and tape of these wonderful tutorials! Zippers can be added as embellishment in so many ways and they’re widely used in ready-to-wear clothing, purses and totes. Keep your eyes unzipped and wide open and you’ll find them in princess seams on jackets, front and side seams of skirts, at the ankles of pants and leggings and down the center of sleeves. Do a little shopping and planning and add zippers to your creative sewing “tool box” for the future. Elsa would be so proud!