tips tricks and techniques
Good morning … 46 and heavy rain on and off … ahhhh, spring in the Old Dominion! But, hey, at least it’s not snowing and it really is perfect weather for knitting and reading and watching cozy mysteries while knitting …

Ever Cozy ... Ever Warm ... Ever Green Jacket

Ever Cozy … Ever Warm … Ever Green Jacket

Today I’m going to talk about inserting a zipper into a knitted garment. A couple of my designs are closed with a zipper (Ever Warm, Ever Cozy Ever Green Jacket and one I did for Cast On called “Lovin’ Winter Walks”).

You can add zippers to any cardi-style sweater, but pre-planning makes it so much easier. For instance, when you go to do the edging of the cardigan opening, work an i-cord edge (worked as you work the cardigan) or a few rows of garter stitch (worked perpendicular to the cardigan afterwards). This edge will allow you a “guide” for sewing the zipper after the sweater is finished, blocked and dried. [Never try and put in the zipper BEFORE blocking as the edge will change but the zipper placement won’t!]

Lovin' Winter Walks - a member exclusive from Cast-On

Lovin’ Winter Walks – a member exclusive from Cast-On

While the sweater is drying, pre-wash the zipper to ensure any shrinkage occurs BEFORE sewing into place. Once you have the sweater finished, blocked and dried (and the zipper is completely dried), you can begin to put in the zipper:

  1. using contrast scraps of yarn, baste in yarn (about 2″ pieces) every inch along the opening edges (make sure to get an exact measure as you’ll mimic these markers on the zipper). Make sure there are the same number of rows/stitches between the markers and that the left and right edges are even.
  2. making sure the zipper is closed, repeat the spacing every inch on the zipper (easier to use contrast sewing thread … I use white on a dark zipper)
  3. placing the opened zipper along one edge of the front opening, making sure the bottom is flush with the hem of the garment, baste into place (using the i-cord or garter ridge as a guide) – I use a contrast colored sewing thread so I can see exactly where the basting stitches have been place
  4. zip the zipper and baste the zipper into place on the opposite opening. Make sure everything lines up properly and that the zipper is straight, zipper teeth are clear of any knitting (trust me, you don’t want to catch the knitting in a zipper … don’t ask how I know).
  5. once you are satisfied with the placement/basting of the zipper and using a doubled-thread that MATCHES the knitted garment, back-stitch the zipper permanently into place. Make sure to take little stitches, placing the stitches close to the teeth of the zipper, and then secure top and bottom of the zipper.
  6. if your garment is a heavy knit (like mine), work a second row of stitches away from the teeth to ensure the zipper-tape is secure
  7. remove all bits of the contrast thread used for basting and you’re good to go!

Some other tips:

  • to get the right length zipper, measure the garment AFTER blocking and drying to ensure you have a long enough zipper; too long is fine as you can trim the top of the zipper, making sure to whip-stitch the trimmed edges to keep the zipper pull from coming right off
  • use the knitted-edge stitches and the woven pattern on the zipper to help keep things all lined up
  • there are different weights of separating zippers … if you have a light sweater, put in a light zipper. Heavy sweaters must use a heavy-weight zipper (usually an all nylon zipper)
  • contrast colored zippers can add a sporty-look to the jacket while coordinating colored zippers are more sophisticated

Using zippers in your knitting can be a fun, personalized addition to a design … let me know if you have any questions once you try this technique!sig block

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