Heyyyy, my friends! Lakeisha from Sincerely, Shantelle again with another hack for you. I wanna apologize to those of you who have been waiting a year for this one. Back in March last year, I had posted a half zip Puff Sleeve Top that I made and many asked for a tutorial. I said I'd do it...and well, here I am over a year later. My bad y'all! Let's get to it.
* Bodice pieces cut from whatever pattern you're using
* Neckband pattern piece
* 7-9" fashion/all purpose zippers work best
* knit interfacing
Before cutting the neckband out in fabric, I added 1" in height to the pattern. I wanted to have a little extra height, as well as make sure I had 1/2" to fold under instead of 1/4" as I find I'm better able to press with a larger seam allowance than smaller, especially with knit. If you don't want extra height, only add 1/4" so that you will have the 1/2" fold allowance. If you are not using the Puff Sleeve Turtleneck piece, my finished neckband height was 5.25" tall with the extra 1". Use the width of your pattern piece, noting that higher necklines will look better with a turtleneck.
If using a directional fabric, orient it so that the top of the design is at the top of the band. Fold the top half 1/2" toward the wrong side and press. While keeping that 1/2" folded, fold the entire band in half with wrong sides together and press very well. It is important to have a distinct crease because this will denote where your zipper starts at the top. Open your neckband. Apply 1" strips of knit interfacing along the sides, as shown (following the manufacturer's instructions). I chose to cut mine into 2 pieces for each side so that the crease wouldn't be affected.
Measure for Zipper
We are going to need to make markings on the bodice for accurate sewing. In order to do so, first, you will need to measure your zipper from the top tooth down to the bottom zipper stop. On mine, this number is 7.75". Next, you will need to measure the neckband from the crease down to the bottom minus 1/4" seam allowance. On mine, this number is 2". Subtract the two and I get 5.75". This is the amount of the zipper that will be attached to the bodice and can help you determine knit interfacing length. I cut an inch longer to ensure it was long enough.
Press the top portion of the bodice in half with wrong sides together to create a center crease. I pressed the top 6" or so, as I didn't want (or need) a crease down the whole bodice. On the wrong side, apply the strip of knit interfacing you cut from the previous measurement to the center. Draw a line down the center of the interfacing (along your crease). Now you need one more measurement from your zipper. Starting from the center of your zipper teeth...like smack dab in the middle of them, measure out toward the edge of the tape. Determine how much of the tape you want visible. I wanted 1/4" to show. I drew lines 1/4" away and parallel to the center line on each side of the interfacing. Use whatever measurement you decide on. We will add the bottom marking to this box later on when we can more accurately measure the end. Down your center line, cut the first 1-2" of your front bodice. Sew the front and back shoulders right sides together.
Neckband to Bodice
Fold the neckband in half and mark the center with a pin or clip. With right sides together, pin or clip the bottom (unfolded edge) of your neckband to the bodice, matching the ends of the neckband to the ends of the bodice. Sew and then press the neckband seam up toward the neckband.
Fold the top edges of the zipper tape back and baste the ends to hold them down. Working from the wrong side of the bodice, align the top zipper teeth with the crease line on your neckband. Directly at the bottom of your zipper stop, make a mark and then draw a line to connect your two outer lines. Sew a straight stitch from the top of one bodice, down to the bottom of your box, pivot, then come back up. Measure up 1/4" from your bottom stitch line and create a new line. Draw diagonal lines, as shown, from this new line to the corners. Cut down your center line, and into the diagonal lines of your stitch box. You're ready to add in the zipper!
Zipper to Bodice
Unzip your zipper. With right sides together, align one side of your zipper tape with your bodice, starting from the neckband crease down to the bottom of the stitch box. Make sure to keep your neckband seam allowance pressed up during the process. Using a zipper foot, sew along your zipper to bodice, making sure to sew along your stitch box (in my case, 1/4" from the edge of the tape). When you get to the bottom corner, backstitch and remove.
Zip the zipper and mark where the neckband seam is on the other side of the zipper. This will help to ensure you're lining it up nicely. Pin or clip the other side of the zipper right sides together with the other side of the bodice. Sew in the same way. Where you're done, there will be a little triangle of fabric at the bottom. Push it through to the wrong side. The stitch line should align directly below the zipper stop. Carefully sew this triangle to the zipper tape, backstitching on both ends. Your zipper will look like this so far! Give the zipper a press, making sure to use the appropriate heat and not to stay too long in one place if you're using a nylon/plastic zipper.
Keeping the top 1/2" of the neckband folded closed, fold the neckband with right sides together with your bodice. The zipper tape should be at the outermost edge. Align the side seam of the neckband with the zipper tape and trim any excess zipper tape even with this edge. The folded edge should meet or very slightly overlap the seam allowance from the neckband seam. Sew both sides of the neckband, making sure you use the same seam allowance you used with your zipper (again, in my case, 1/4"). Make sure the folded edge stays folded while sewing. Turn neckband edges right side out and see how neat it looks. Clip corners or trim seam allowance, if needed. Begin folding the folded edge of the neckband over the seam allowance and pinning in place. Do so across the whole neckline. From the right side of the top, topstitch the neckband closed. I used a 3.5 stitch length for this step.
The final step to this zipper hack is to topstitch around the zipper. It's not required, but I love the neat finish. Start at the top of one neckband, pivot to sew under then zipper stop, then back up to the other side of the neckband.
Finish out the rest of the steps to construct your top and you're all done! For both versions, I used the bodysuit pattern pieces from the Puff Sleeve pattern*, but cut them at the height adjustment line near the hip to make it a top length. On my blush pink one, I used the short sleeve from the pattern. It has a 9" zipper. On the black one, I used a regular puff top short sleeve I drafted for the Staycation Dress and blogged about here. It has the 7.75" zipper used in this tutorial. I hope you all love this much anticipated blog post, and I can't wait to see all the ways you add zippers to yours! As always, if you have questions, tag me in the Ellie and Mac Facebook group or contact me through my blog! Until next time...
*Any links used in this post containing asterisks are affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, but I earn a small commission when you purchase from them. Your support means the world to me and enables me to keep sewing and sharing. Thank you!
(Written by: Lakeisha Webb)