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All About Zippers | How to Apply Bottom Stops to Zippers  
How to Make a Non-Separating Zipper from a Separating Zippe

How to Shorten a Vislon Zipper | How to Apply Iron-On Reflective Tape | Applying Zip Clips 
Sewing with Insulation | Did You Know About Soap Residue? | Pattern Tips 


All About Zippers

  • There are two main types of zippers: coil and vislon. Vislon zippers look like a plastic tooth zipper but are really a very strong nylon. Coil zippers have a continuous coil that runs the length of the zipper.

  • Both vislon and coil zippers come in a variety of weights, lengths and closures. It is important to select the correct zipper for the type of garment or closure. Following is a guide you can use to help you select the proper zipper. I recommend YKK® zippers due to their high quality and strength.

  • Center Front Zippers: Use a size 5 vislon or coil zipper for center front closures. I tend to use the vislon zippers for insulated garments and the coil zippers for uninsulated garments. 

  • A one-way separating zipper works well for bomber length jackets or very full styles. Two-way separating zippers are very convenient for longer jackets, anorak style jackets and are a must for children's outerwear. 

  • Non-separating zippers are used where the zipper does not need to separate at the bottom edge - pockets, pullover styles, leg and armpit openings to name a few. The weight and style of zipper chosen for these areas can be for look or wear and tear.

  • Pocket zippers can be light weight. I like to use the coil fancy tab zippers for pockets on ladies' and some children's garments. Coil zippers are nice for their vibrant colours or to match your centre front zipper. Vislon zippers give a more rugged or masculine look, or can be used where you want to match the centre front zipper. 

  • Use a size 5 coil or vislon zipper for lower leg openings, armpit zippers, and pullovers. Don't overlook zipper by the meter. It is much more cost effective and perfect for areas where both ends of the zipper is enclosed or where colour is not critical, such as backpacks and tents. 

How to Apply Bottom Stops to Zippers

  • Apply bottom stops to zippers by pushing the prongs of the stop through the zipper and into a gum eraser, then bend the prongs flat using a pair of micro-tip pliers. 

How to Make a Non-Separating Zipper from a Separating Zipper

  • You can make a non-separating zipper from a separating zipper. Just make a thread stop or use a metal bottom stop where you want the zipper to end, and trim 1.5 cm (5/8") below the stop. If you have a long enough piece of zipper left over, turn it into another zipper by adding a zipper tab. 

How to Shorten a Vislon Separating Zipper

  • Supplies: zipper, pair of zipper top stops, glue stick, scissors, pliers, nail clippers, chalk or vanishing pen.

  • Mark in chalk where the last tooth on the zipper SHOULD be. 

  • Trim off excess zipper 2.5 cm (1") ABOVE this mark. 

  • Using nail clippers or diagonal cutter, clip and pull teeth off the end of the zipper above the marking. (Make sure you remove ALL of the plastic tabs above the mark and take care not to damage the zipper tape.) 

  • Place a dab of glue stick on the zipper tape just above the last tooth. 

  • Place zipper stop on tape over the dab of glue. 

  • Crimp zipper stop with pliers until it is firmly fastened to the zipper tape. 

  • Repeat for the other side. 

How to Apply Iron-On Reflective Tape

  • Work on a flat surface, avoid applying over seams or on very textured fabric such as polyester webbing. 

  • Remove plastic liner (brownish colour) to expose dry adhesive. 

  • Lay exposed adhesive side of tape to fabric. 

  • Place Magic Pressing Sheet over tape. You are looking at the white paper side of the tape. 

  • Using an iron at approximately 325-375 degrees F (163-190 degrees C). You may have to do a few tests to see if your iron is at the correct temperature. 

  • Press firmly on the tape, holding for 10-20 seconds. Pull off paper liner. 

Applying Zip Clips

  • It's so easy! Place about 10 cm (4") of cord through the eyelet of your zipper. (You can sear the raw ends of synthetic cording first to stop it from fraying.) 

  • Slip the sheath of the Zip Clip over the raw edges of cord. 

  • Place raw ends of cord on either side of the insert's legs and press into the centre of the legs. 

  • Push legs into the sheath until the two pieces are flush. 

Sewing with Insulation

  • Cut out your insulation to match your lining. 

  • Serge or zig zag the insulation and lining together as one piece, using a spray glue such as 505 to hold the pieces together as you work. 

  • Sew up the insulation/lining. Use this insulation garment to fit before you cut your outer pieces. 

Did You Know About Soap Residue?

  • Did you know that when you go out in the rain after washing your outerwear garments in regular soap, the soap residue left on your garment acts to draw water in to your outerwear? Soap also plugs the pores in waterproof fabrics, and your fabrics will fade much more quickly when washing in soap.  

Pattern Tips

  • Multi-sized patterns can be cut out or traced and re-used. To trace, use scrim and a roller tracer or a 2B pencil. Scrim has the advantages as a tracing material of being very see-through, and it also drapes well enough to be used for a fit. 

  • Measure. Measure. Measure. Remember that pattern sizes are like ready-to-wear. You wouldn't buy a jacket without trying it on, so don't cut out or trace your pattern until you have measured, measured, measured! 

  • If you are a different size at bust (chest), waist, and hips, blend though pattern sizes for a custom fit. 

  • Remember to add or subtract length to your paper or scrim pattern pieces before you cut the fabric. 

  • An omnigrid ruler is a fast, accurate tool to use when adjusting length and tracing. 

  • When using specialty fabrics such as outerwear, use a pattern that has been specifically drafted for these very stable fabrics. 

  • Match your fabric selection to your end use. For example, a pullover makes a fabulous outdoors jacket as you don't have to worry about the zipper as a heat loss area. They can be tricky to pull off though, so may not be the best choices for a car coat that you may want to remove frequently. 


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