Hand Picking


Hello there!

So, if any of y’all follow me on Twitter you may have heard about a little incident that may have caused some frustration this past Saturday night. I thankfully was able to save it for the most part, but I will be having to reinforce most of the seams and maybe add an extra length of fabric along the inside of the zipper bed so I can redo the stitching on the Hummingbird Dress.

Anywho, this prompted me to kick into gear and bang out another dress out of some red tag fabric I had picked up from Jo Anns a while back! This pretty neat print with some lotus blossoms and the like.

Koto Grid

     As this was an on-the-fly-I-can’t-even-find-the-pattern-instructions-anymore dress, I decided the say screw it and wing quite a bit of it. This presented itself mostly in way of inserting the zipper.

Now, I have a supreme and utter crippling fear of inserting zippers. I’m as jumpy as a grasshopper in May. Stories of needles breaking, needles breaking people, and bobbin cases cracking have all played a part. So when I came upon Tasia’s tutorial on how to Hand-pick a zipper into a dress a few weeks ago, I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

It is actually very simple as long as you know how to perform a back stitch! I also learned this technique from my favorite Designer and DIY…er from YouTube, SecretLifeOfABionerd thanks to her many sewing tutorials.

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     All it took for me to figure it out was to think as I naturally do, which is backwards. I am constantly translating things to being read or perceived in the manner they should rather than backwards or jumbled. To complete a back stitch just take your (hand sewing) needle and bring through from the underside of the fabric about a 1/4″ from where you actually would normally start. Then, take your needle and make a stitch back at the point where you would normally start your sewing. Thus a backwards stitch. Supposedly this is a much more sturdy stitch and if you were hand sewing a garment from start to finish, this is the stitch you should use.

And a prick stitch is just a back stitch that is teensy weensy on the actual back stitch part.

…. By no means is this a tutorial! I would be much more clear minded and provided pictures of the process.

So, please forgive my rambling and crappy explanations. 😀

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        There was so much more control and ease in inserting this zipper that I actually found it quite calming and relaxing. I am looking forward to the next zipper I have to install! It was very easy for me to adjust the tape really just take my time with it. When I am using a machine, I am so terrified I just want it done with! So, I zip whoop pun! through it and I am not too happy with the results.

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     As you can see there is quite a bit of tangled thread, uneven application and the top of the tape was not done is such good taste. I found even using the universal invisible zipper foot I found, it just wasn’t easy! It may have also been because of my feed dogs. They started to actually feed the fabric… sideways. I kid you not. Kinda like testing the alignment of your car.

     “Look, Ma! No hands!” And if you your car is like any of the ones I have had in my possession, they will almost always slide to the right or left. Beauty of living down country dirt roads. Lotsa, lotsa sugar sand.

     And that is exactly what my machine did. I always thought perhaps it was just the table I was using since it is slightly wobbly and unstable. I would always have to have a firm hand and feel like I was feeding a line through a reel.

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     Even down towards the end here you can see that it was indeed rough. But with the hand-picked zipper, this prick stitch is barely visible and still adds this cute little dotted detail. …I also have a weird eye for things.

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     I don’t know exactly how I am going to fix this raveling issue for the poor Hummingbird Dress, but hopefully I will. Cause I love this dress. Lots. We have this special bond, ya know?

     How would you guys fix something like this? Have you ever tried a prick stitch or hand-picked zipper?

     ….I really shouldn’t be asking this for my own sake but I want to know! Do you have any zipper horror stories?

          Til next time!


10 thoughts on “Hand Picking

  1. Ahhh, nice repair job! I hope it’s totally back to wearable now. Fabric is gorgeous! I don’t have any zipper horror stories, yet, but, I’ve only ever inserted 3 of them! And, they were all railroad style, have not done an invisible zip yet. Plan to on a pencil skirt I’m going to whip up!

    • Good luck on your pencil skirt! I have yet to successfully make one of those, but I also was attempting to self draft and always screwed up my math. >.<
      And the dress is wearable for the most part, I am just terrified that stitches have secretly been popped every where and I missed them. Next time, I am teaching myself French seams! I don't think I have any extra bias binding.

      P.S. Keyword, "yet". No horror stories "yet"!

  2. I love that print. Can’t wait to see the dress.
    I am not an expert on zippers but I do have some suggestions.
    Mastering-Zipper Techniques: http://www.craftsy.com/class/mastering-zipper-techniques/178 should help with getting better at sewing zippers. It is a free class on Craftsy
    I would also suggest treating yourself to an invisible zipper foot made for your machine (not the generic ones), best thing ever. The back of my dress looks like just a seam, gets so close.

    Suggestions for finishing the edge near the zipper.
    Serge the fabric
    Make a bound edge finish or
    Cut with Pinking Shears (not the zipper tape, just fabric underneath

    Hope that is helpful

    • Thanks, Trice!
      It is from the same pattern as the hummingbird dress since I had all the pattern pieces close by, but it is still nice, I think. Haha.
      I have thought about buying new “feet” for my sewing machine but I don’t even know what kind it is! My mom got it from an auction and I haven’t been able to find a label of any sort anywhere.

      And the seams of the hummingbird dress I finished off the raw edges with a zigzag stitch. I was told that would work, but apparently not! Haha. I’m thinking perhaps teaching myself French Seams?

      Thanks Trice! It was. 😀

  3. I didn’t mean on the zipper! haha!!!! No, I meant on all the other seams! >.< I am so sorry, my mind slips and I tend to forget the important details when talking! And nope. There is a plate with a serial number but nothing else. I looked on the bottom, behind the light case and the door to the bobbin casing. No where to be found!
    And we do have a pair but they are very old and hard to use. I have been trying to make due with whatever I can find in the house since there really isn't any money at all at the moment.

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