The Pattern Says Zipper… Can I Skip It?

Take a look at the dress on the front of this pattern. See how low cut it is? I made it out of a stretchy knit. There was no reason for me to bother putting in a zipper. It fits right over my head. Another option I could have used, would be to leave a five-inch opening in the back where the zipper should go and add a button and a loop. The same goes for bothering with buttonholes. If a blouse pattern is low-cut, the neck opening is huge. You can sew buttons onto the front, skipping the buttonholes and just slip it over your head. If the neckline opening is huge AND the fabric is stretchy, it lends itself well to being a slip-on. If you’re making a skirt and the pattern says zipper, you can instead, stitch a long sash along the waistline, leaving two long ties and tie it. If you’ve ever bought clothes from third-world countries, you will see that they improvise ways to avoid installing zippers. Sarongs wrap around the neck or tie around the waist. These short cuts are especially easy to accept when we’re making casual clothes. Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

Too Little Fabric? Here’s a Sewing Tip

The bias of the fabric is important. Study which way the fabric “gives.” Pull and stretch on it and remember which way it stretches the most. That’s the bias. Once you understand what the bias is, you can make your own bias tape by cutting fabric into strips. Cut the strips diagonally (with the bias) so that the bias tape stretches and gives. You can also substitute bias tape for facings. That’s kinda easy. Facings can take a lot of extra fabric. If you have a small piece of fabric that you’re anxious to use but it’s short for the pattern you have in mind, you can use bias tape in place of the facings. It won’t have quite the thickness and support as facings but in many cases, it works just fine. You can also save two or three inches of fabric by using bias tape on the bottom of pants, instead of folding the fabric and having a typical hem.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: