Buttonholes AND (not versus) Zips

Last year I made 21 items of clothing for myself. A staggering 76% of them either had buttonholes or didn't require a closure...meaning just 24% of them had zips! Out of the three things I've already made this year, my Granny Chic Hawthorn has buttonholes and the other two are knits without closures. 


This isn't necessarily a problem, because I enjoy working with knits and I adore buttons. To be fair, the one-step buttonhole function on my Brother Innovis 10A (generously gifted to me by Bamber Sewing Machines) is amazing to work with, but that's another post entirely!

What IS a problem though is my reluctance to work with zips...pretty restrictive, no? It's not that I don't like them. It's that I suck at installing them - with the exception only of hand-picked and exposed zips. I don't think I've ever successfully installed an invisible or regular machine-sewn zip first time round. Nope, it always takes multiple tries, loads of unpicking, plenty of irritation and a questionable result!

So when I saw Lladybird Lauren's invisible zip tutorial today, it reminded me that I really need to work on my zip-stitching skills. I've got a whole load of tutorials pinned on my Sewing Tips & Tutorials Pinterest board that I should practice and I MUST make time to watch Craftsy's free Mastering Zipper Techniques class that I signed up to ages ago.

I want to be good at buttonholes AND zips, rather than constantly pitching the two against each other. Wish me luck please, because my next two projects require zips!

Do you have a stitching nemesis? 

42 comments:

  1. I stopped machine setting zippers ages ago. I only ever hand pick them and never use invisible zips. You just have so much more control with hand picking it's much easier to make them look nice. You can't beat a good buttonholer either!

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    1. Yep, hand picking zips is the surest way...but can you handpick an invisible zip?! I love buttonholes, but I do think that's because my machine does such a brilliant job!

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  2. I love doing handpicked zips, but I've never done a successful buttonhole! I've avoided them after a couple disastrous attempts, but mastering the buttonhole is one of my goals for 2014. :)

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  3. Sunni's Craftsy zip class is really worth watching. I only ever do invisible zips because I know how to do them. I really need to learn to do lapped zippers. I think my sewing nemesis is knits. I am forcing myself to branch out to knits this year (combination of getting my forts overlocker and being pregnant). TBH, the cutting out frightens me as much as anything else. I never manage to get the grain to lie straight! I much prefer cutting cotton! It stays where you put it!

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  4. Ah, for me it is the opposite! Zips are fine, I have not yet managed a single successful buttonhole :( good luck!

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    1. I'm with you! I have a fancy one-step buttonhole feature, but do you think I can get a decent buttonhole out of it?!

      Although, my practice buttonholes are perfect, every time, without fail. It's just the ones on the actual garment that are a disaster.

      One of my goals this year is to master the buttonhole!

      Zips though? No worries.

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  5. I really don't like zips either. Don't like sewing them, don't like wearing them. So I'm quite happy to avoid them where at all possible :) Stretch fabrics and buttons all the way!

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  6. I can't install a regular or invisible zip but the lapped zip and I are best buddies! I use Casey's lapped zip tutorial and I am successful every time!

    http://blog.caseybrowndesigns.com/2011/02/sdsa-side-seam-zipper-40s-style/

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    1. Thanks for this Sarah! The first time I tried Casey's tutorial I was a complete novice and it was a complete fail...I'm going to give it another go though because Casey's tutorials are brilliant!

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  7. I only have issues with lapped zippers and I don't even like the way they look so unsure why I keep tprturing myself!

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    1. Haha! I say just stick to what makes you happy!

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  8. I promise, they're not that bad! Just go slow and be sure to mark any match points once you've sewn in one side. Or go for a half picked lapped zipper! Winnie has a great tutorial, I just handpick the last step.

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    1. Thanks for this, really good advice!

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  9. Marie, conquer zips and you'll be free!! Try practising whilst using your zips to make little zip up pouches and bags or cushion covers so you don't waste them.
    This is how my mum taught me to sew a zip, it's sooo easy, I couldn't believe that it was a hallowed 'lapped zipper' until following sewing blogs- it's just the way we sew zips!! See what you think.

    http://scruffybadgertime.co.uk/tutorials/

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    1. Thank you Winnie, I know you're totally right! I'll be sure to check out your tutorial asap!xx

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  10. This is so funny because I don't mind putting zips in but I actually avoid buttonholes like the plague! I have a machine that also has a one step buttonhole function, but my past experiences have for some reason always (ALWAYS) led to a perfect practice buttonhole follwed by the machine eating my fabric up on the actual garment! I honestly have no idea why it keeps happening as I follow the exact same steps and use the same thread/fabric as the actual garment....so I have no idea! I really need to try again I suppose, I can't go through the rest of life never sewing things with buttonholes!

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    1. Oh no, that's not good! With my old Janome I had to reset the buttonhole settings for each individual buttonhole...if I didn't it would eat my fabric, but if I did it would work just fine. It's a bit time-consuming for sure, but might be worth trying it that way?

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  11. My nemisis is knits. I find it hard to distinguish different weights and I'm not good at finishes of knits. I hope I can work with this in the upcoming year.

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    1. Definitely keep trying, once you master them you won't go back ;o)

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  12. Hi Marie, I detailed the invisible zip method I used in a recent post which I think you might find helpful. I find it fairly foolproof! http://charityshopchic.net/2013/12/03/gorgeous-georgia/

    Funnily enough, my nemesis is buttonholes. It may be my machine or it may be me, but I just can't seem to get them right.

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    1. Thanks for this Sally! Hope you get to grips with buttonholes, they're ace ;o)

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  13. I feel exactly the opposite! I don't have a button hole option on my machine so they have to be done manually, it worked ok on a coat where the holes are a decent size but I doubt I'll ever be able to take a shirt with it. Time to save for that new machine :)

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    1. Oh my...I wouldn't know where to begin with manual buttonholes!!!

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  14. If you want to improve your zipper installing techniques, I definitely recommend Sunni's Craftsy class. It's free and she really does a great job there! I learned to sew a perfect invisible zipper watching this class :)

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  15. You are the opposite of me. I love invisible zippers and design EVERYTHING with them. Buttons??? not so much. I used two last year but now that I have a new sewing machine that's better on buttonholes, I am going to try again

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    1. Oh dear, I seem to be the odd one out on this subject!

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  16. I use zips all the time, but agree with you about sewing them in. I always seem to have trouble getting them just right. I have done loads of research recently and the method I'm using is the one that is always recommended anyway (sewing the seam together, opening it out and then sewing the zip on and unpicking the basted stitches). I guess I just need to really perfect it! I found an invisible zip fine to do though (I was expecting it to be really challenging, but it wasn't).

    Good luck with the zips, hope all goes to plan.

    Hannah.
    http://surfjewels.tumblr.com/

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    1. Oooh, that's an interesting idea...although I don't think that would work for invisible zips...would it? I'm definitely trying this method for regular zips though, that would you can line up the waistline nicely beforehand!

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  17. Like a few others, my nemesis is buttonholes. It's not that I can't do them, but like Suzanna, the automatic bottonhole feature on my machine throws a wobbly on me every time! It's really annoying!

    I second the recommendations for Sunni's Craftsy zip class, also By Hand London have a wonderful invisible zip tutorial on their blog - I would post a link, but I am typing this on my phone! It's how I do my invisible zips, and they always turn out well (even if I say so myself!). I think the key is to sew as close as possible to the teeth, but not too close. For me it was just trial and error to get the needle setting right on my machine. Good luck with conquering zips!

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    1. Thanks Lynne, this is really helpful! I don't get why buttonholes are so easy for me, yet everyone else hates them!?

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  18. I swear everything I make has an invisible zip.
    Even if it doesn't need one, BAM, invisible zip.

    I managed to branch out last year in lapped zippers, and I made Tilly Picnic Blanket Skirt the year before, but it was somewhat of a catastrophe, I'm awful at lining everything up!!

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    1. You must be excellent at them!!!

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  19. Funny I'm the opposite. I've only ever done invisible zips and have only done a button once. They are a mystery and that was under the guidance of a sewing tutor years ago. Lapped zippers are another one time only insertion. One side ended up an inch higher than the other.

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  20. Button holes and lapped zips are a mystery to me. I only ever do concealed zips. I'm determined to try making something with buttons this year.

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    1. I guess practice is the best remedy for our problems, eh!?

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  21. I love zippers! Mainly because I hate marking buttonholes-- I'm always stressed out that I'm not going to have them in the right spot. Do you have an invisible zipper foot? That REALLY makes it simple to install them.

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    1. See, marking them doesn't bother me one bit...what stresses me out is when I install a zip and the waistline doesn't match up etc...argh! Funny you should ask about an invisible zip foot, I do have one...but yesterday I realised I was using the one for my old machine. D'oh!!!

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  22. I'm in the " yes to zips, no to buttonholes " gang. After many wavy zips I started interfacing the seamlines and sewing the zip by hand first. No hunch backs ever since.

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