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Cutting existing stitches to install a zipper? Can it be done?


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Hello, not exactly a new member but new to the posting part so here goes nothin'

 

So I have some questions involving a vintage dress pattern I am making, In this pattern the dress is worked in one piece, meaning there is no sewing the pieces together afterwards which is great!

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One downside I've encountered is after finishing the bodice, it seems to be a way inelastic which makes getting in and out of it a 2 person job. I had the great idea of installing a zipper but since I've already finished the bodice I have no idea how to do so without possibly ruining the whole garment. I've thought of maybe cutting the stitches after securing them by machine stitching two parallel rows of zigzag stitches similar to how a button hole is sewn, then cutting and sewing over the stitches once more with a bias tape or something similar before attaching the zipper. 

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I've read a bunch about steeking which is done while making the garment, which I obviously didnt do. I guess all of my anguish is caused by my not thinking beforehand lol. The bodice isnt super complicated in its construction, its made of several rows of double crochets followed by a row of single crochets around the neckline, finished with two rows of slip stitches worked in back loops only.

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My main questions are, Is it possible to cut into the bodice without the whole thing coming unraveled? Are there any precautions I can take to ensure this doesnt happen? Is there any hope?

 

Any help is greatly appreciated!

 

Thank you in advance!

 

(I've attached pictures of the entire garment so far, the bodice section I would install the zipper into, and the neckline)

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I have never steeked anything, but had the impression that it was done after the item was complete.

 

If there is not much ease in the fit, I think it would be hard to steek and put in zipper without ruining the look of the fabric. You won't have any extra fabric to fold under and sew down to make a nice edge.

 

I assume the construction was top down?

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I thought steeking was done both during which is the prep work and after which is the real cutting part.

 

Yes the dress is crocheted top down for the most part, except on the bodice though as only the last row and below are top down, above that is bottom up.

 

I guess I could just leave the garment as is after some rather intense blocking in the shoulder area to help with the fit, only if all else fails.

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Eeeeek...I tried a crochet-steek-method-for-knitting (fortunately on just a swatch) and got an unraveled mess.  I'm sure it works and I just did something wrong, but it sort of traumatized me :lol and I haven't tried it or another method again.

 

I'm confident that what you described would work with hand knitted fabric, which tends to have more stitches per inch than crochet does (assuming plain stockinette and not lace).  I'd use a stretch stitch on the machine and probably multiple passes to secure the selvage.

 

My concerns -

(1) Sewing with knitted store-bought fabrics can be tricky to get the tension exactly right so you don't end up with a seam that looks wavy ~~~~ versus nice and flat.  By tension not just the machine tension of the bobbin and top thread, but guiding the fabric at the right speed as it's stitched.  I'm thinking it would be at least as tricky with hand knits/crochetwork.

(2) The bodice is DC, which is nearly as hole-y as it is yarn-y.  I think it's going to be really hard to stabilize.

(3) Assuming 0.5" seam allowance on each side of the cut, you are going to be making the dress 1" tighter in that area.

(4) I don't even know what to recommend how you deal with the fact that this will be an incomplete steek, not all the way to the bottom of the dress.  In other words, darning the bottom of the zipper where it meets the lace...not impossible, but it may not look ideal.

 

I hate to say this, but if this were my project I'd rip it out to just under the armholes (hopefully that area isn't too tight?) and re-do with a bigger hook or sneak some more stitches in there--do some swatching and try to figure out how much more ease you'd need so you don't have to hire a personal dresser ;)

 

If you do decide to steek - try it on a swatch first!

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Oh fudge, I just saw that the bodice was bottom up, I was assuming all top down.  Ripping from the bottom of the bodice will be a pain, you have to pull the yarn out of each stitch, one at a time, and you really can't save the yarn.   :(  Plus, the stitches will look different if you re-start in the other direction.

Edited by Granny Square
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If I understand correctly that the bodice is bottom up, I'd rip and redo. Agree with GrannySquare! I'd wager that actually recrocheting the whole garment in a bigger size would be easier than steeking and inserting a zipper.

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Hey GrannySquare! :-) we are chatterboxes lol

 

I thought if the bodice is bottom up, like starting from an empire waist, then it will have ended at the neckline and be easy to rip back. Not sure I understand the construction though.

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Thank you to everyone who contributed to this topic!!!

 

Although I did not end up redoing the garment due to a time limit or actually cutting and sewing a zipper, the dress fit perfectly. After finishing the piece I gently ironed and left as is, when it eventually came time to try it on, I was very nervous but lo and behold it fit PERFECTLY!

 

Not to say it isnt a two person job to get it on still, but it seems easier than it was before to get on and off.

 

For the most part it is finished, I just might go in and add a few more rows to the bottom edge, as my model is a tall girl.

 

(I attached some images of the finished product)

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Some other options for the future:

 

1. You could try wet blocking and stretching it to slightly larger dimensions.

 

2. If you wanted to install a zipper, I would recommend getting some water-soluble stabilizer and putting on top and bottom of the area where you want to cut. On either side of the cut line, I would make two lines of very tiny stitches, maybe even zig zag stitches, about an 1/8" apart. Stitch maybe an 1/8" on either side of the cut line for the first row of stitches. Then I would encase both edges in some bias tape. I would probably make my own bias tape in a decorative print to coordinate with the color of the garment.

 

I'd probably go with one of the heavier zippers that are currently being left exposed as a major decorative element. The width of the zipper, and showing a little bit of the zipper tape would give you just a little bit of extra room, too. I'd put the zipper on the back.

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