Beloved Emcee and costume goddess Cora Vette, owner of Denver’s one stop burlesque shop VaVa Vette, gives us the lowdown on how to create your own custom fashions.
Zip Your Lip! – Cora Vette’s secret (well not anymore) way of making zippers easy!
Zippers are a mainstay in any burlesque dancer’s wardrobe. Hidden zippers for that surprise removal or a separating zipper for that easy, sexy dress. We use them in a million different ways. Also, vintage clothing has more than its fair share of zippers. As a matter of fact, a “simple to make” vintage pattern that I recently replicated had not one, but two zippers for a simple sleeveless top! Spandex was invented in 1959, so before this date, in order to get that close fit, a zipper was frequently used at both the neck and the side of a bodice. A little sewing history for you…
I hear so many people say “I hate zippers”. So for this DIY column I am going to let you in on my zipper trick. Shhhh…It’s fast and easy and will have you loving zippers once again.
First of all, I don’t put zippers in the way they instruct you to on the package. I cheat. I am proud to admit it. As a matter of fact, I thought I invented my way to put in a zipper until yesterday. I was sewing from an early 1940’s pattern and the directions for how to put the zipper in was EXACTLY how I do it. (I think the zipper foot was actually invented in the late 40’s, so this makes sense). The truth is, I lost my zipper foot somewhere in my costume room. I may never find it again.
So, here is how I do it. It’s simple and easy.
Use a long basting stich. (My machine setting is 4. You want the longest straight stich on your machine) Sew the seam closed where you intend to place your zipper.
Press your seam open. I encase my edges in bias tape for neatness.
Place your zipper with the pull facing DOWN and the teeth directly over the seam. Pin into place. I use dressmaker pins that you can sew over and I put them at a 90-degree angle so they don’t get caught in the machine when you sew.
Carefully turn the garment over and stitch roughly 1/8”-1/4” from the seam, squaring it up at the bottom and coming back up the other side.
Use a seam ripper to CAREFULLY open the seam. Don’t go too fast or it may slide off track and cut your fabric. Trust me…
Pull out the loose threads so the zipper doesn’t get caught. Pour a glass of wine, and enjoy your finished zipper. Heck, zip and unzip at will.
This garment is for the fashion show at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend in March. I am excited to have the opportunity for VaVaVette to be featured in the show! Here is the finished product. I hope to see you in Vegas!
Until next time – Zip your lip about my secret zipper method! Shhhh…
xoxo – Cora Vette