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:

Why Don’t Women Sew Anymore? Tips From a Long-Time Seamstress

When I see that people come to my blog because they want to know why women don’t sew anymore, I wish I could flag them down and that we could sit and have tea and discuss this. I would tell them how much I enjoy sewing and that if I didn’t have such a compulsion to write romance novels, I would be spending even more time in my little sewing room.

My favorite thing about sewing is that I can get my clothes to fit perfectly. My next favorite thing is that I can make clothes out of real fabric, like cotton. The next favorite is that I can keep making clothes in the styles that I like. Let’s face it, the designers keep changing styles on us so that we’ll buy new clothes. The clothes I make last forever and they are my favorites. My son teases me because I still like bell-bottoms. (Flair? Boot cut? What’s not to like? I find them slimming.) I have a box of old patterns from the sixties and seventies and I use them again and again.

What I don’t like is that there are not fabric stores any more. Not like there used to be. There are quilt making stores and there are a few fabric stores but much of the fabric is synthetic and I much prefer working with cotton. And I don’t like paying high prices for fabric that I don’t like anyway. I live in rural America so it’s harder for me. You should see the look on my face when I walk into a “real” fabric store. Wow. You too?

If you are new to sewing, let me give you one tip. If you work with cotton it “gives.” You have to pull it a little bit and kinda stretch it to fit. You have to make it work for you. For example, if you are sewing a sleeve to the main front and back of a blouse, you need to manipulate the sleeve to fit correctly with the notches. Even if it requires you to “gather” it a little, it still needs to be manipulated in place and that is done by kinda stretching. If you don’t feel like you’re cheating a little, you’re not doing it right. LOL. Cotton will let you do that. And last but not least, don’t be so hard on yourself and start simple.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Mississippi Wild Blue, a Civil War Era Romance. Available here: Mississippi Wild Blue: