How to shorten metal open ended zipper….

Very specific and what you could call “niche” post today. But I cannot be the only one to hit this obstacle so I’m sharing.  On a recent project  I hit a bit of a snag with this metal open ended zipper. (Who am I kidding. I hit a snag on EVERY project. Occupational hazard for a refashioner!) It was about an inch longer than I needed it to be. I’ve marked with chalk where I wanted the stoppers to be…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

 

Shortening a standard closed and plastic zipper is pretty straightforward.  With this zip though, I couldn’t shorten from the bottom. (Damn). That’s where the fittings are that make this an open ended zipper. It’s chunky and the design I had in mind called for the the zip stops (at the top of the zip) to still be visible on the finished garment.  So simply sewing thread stoppers wasn’t going to cut it.  (double damn).Shorten a metal open ended zipper

In some cases the fabric that encloses the end of the zipper at the top is sufficient to act as a stopper in itself. But in this instance that was not the case either….I couldn’t order another zip as the length I needed was not standard; and in any case, I much prefer to use what I have if I can. (Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn). So, in short (pun intended), I needed to shorten the zip from the top instead…

So if you ever find yourself in a similar position, here’s how to shorten an open ended metal zipper…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

I needed to move this little sucker (above) down to where that chalk mark is. And this is one chunky metal zipper, so there was some serious brute force involved in this.

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Before doing anything,  unzip the zip about halfway down and create some makeshift stoppers with pins. If you’re anything like me you may inadvertently pull the zip pull straight off the top after you’ve removed the stoppers. Yes I have done that. After the zip was sewn into a garment. (Face palm).

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’ll need some jewellery pliers and side cutters for this…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Using the side cutters, and starting with the zipper tooth in front of your chalk mark, snip the end of the zip tooth off… then cut away as much of the rest of it as you can…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Then use the pliers to wiggle and remove what’s left…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Remove 5 or 6 teeth in this way, on both sides of the zip….

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Cut away the excess zipper tape…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’re left with these zipper stops on the parts you cut away. Now you CAN buy zipper repair kits like these. And there will be replacement zipper stops included in those. If those meet your needs you can skip the next couple of steps. But  I didn’t have time to order and wait for a kit to arrive (I was on a deadline and everything is right down to the wire right now). Plus, you know, that “working with what I have” thing in me!

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

This was by far the trickiest step. It’s on there pretty firmly so this is where the brute force part comes in. Use the pliers (A second pair comes in handy if you have them) to wiggle/lever/coax the zipper stop off the zipper tape. Not shown in this pic, but I found cutting away the zipper tape as close to the stopper as possible, and then fraying it, aided the process of loosening it’s grip a little. As did swearing.

shorten a metal zipper - makery.uk

Eventually you’ll get the little sucker off. Open it up slightly (2 sets of pliers again)…

shorten a metal zipper - makery.uk

Slide it onto the zipper tape in the position of the first tooth you removed and use the pliers to clamp it firmly in place. (Repeat for both sides of the zip)

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Ta dah!

So yeah! Random I know. But someone, someday, is going to find this useful. You’re welcome 😉

 

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Refashion: Vintage Jersey Dress to Tunic Shirt

Finding time to blog my makes (or indeed sew much for myself) has been a struggle for the latter part of 2016. Since The Refashioners in fact. Many things last year took their toll on my sewjo ( What a bloody awful year it was!) and as a result I’ve neglected this blog for the last few months.  I think I’ve been having some kind of  existential blogging crisis. For a while I questioned whether I was just falling out of love with blogging and had my head turned by Social Media. Recently I’ve been more inclined to share on IG. It’s quick. And writing a blog post is not. But I don’t think it’s that….VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

It’s more to do with my sewing and me personally. Creatively I’ve been in a bit of a rut. Emotionally I’ve felt the need to go into my shell and hibernate for a while. I’m doing a gazillion things….but none of them “properly”.  (Which I hate). I have a gazillion ideas.  But precious little time or energy. And when presented with a time window I can use, I’m paralyzed by indecision and procrastination; or worse still, rushing and bodging! So none of them are reaching fruition. I think I just need to regroup.  Take a long deep breath.  How do you clear a creative log jam? Sometimes absorbing myself in simple, mindless tasks is enough for me. Things that occupy me just enough, but not too much. And as evidence of that, right after this little simple refashion, I sewed up something else, that I am really proud of and will share  with you, I promise. But in the meantime….here’s my little icebreaker…

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

Unmistakable vintage M&S label. Back when it was called St Michael! Oh yeah, and pre vanity sizing! This dress dates from the late 70’s I’d say. LOVE the geometric print and thick jersey fabric.  Love the button placket and mandarin collar. Not so keen on the frumpy bottom half. A younger sewist with better legs than I, may choose to modernise this little beauty by going down the mini dress route. On the right person that would look ace. I am not that person 😉

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

So I altered the bottom section to reflect one of my favourite details. A shirt tail hem. Very simple alteration. Lay the garment flat with side seams (in the centre of this pic) pinned on top of eachother.  (Doing this ensures any alteration cuts you make will be even & centred) Draw out your curves in chalk making sure the lines are at 90 degree angles at the folded edges that are the CF and CB (this prevents a peak or wedge in the centre of your curved line when you open the garment out after cutting). The curves meet at the side seam.

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

I pinned along my chalk lines to stop anything shifting as I cut. Cut just underneath the line of pins. I eyeballed an approximate hem allowance. I wasn’t feeling the need to be precise, but you could always mark one in. To finish the hem I simply serged the raw edge, turned under and stitched in place. (Where the curves meet at the side seams, it helps to unpick a little of the side seams to give you room to manoeuvre and turn under neatly).

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

This pic better shows the effect before and after cutting. Apologies for the poor quality. A) It’s winter. B) I totally neglected to take a proper before photo.

VINTAGE JERSEY DRESS REFASHION (5)

A simple alteration which makes this garment much more wearable for me. It’s super warm and cosy too! It’s bugging me a little that I didn’t swap to black thread to sew this hem. It didn’t seem as obvious in the gloomy light I was sewing in at the time.  I may go back and change that I think. I have a “sewlution” this year. I don’t normally do resolutions. But if I have one sewing related one this year it’s this: ” Sew less, just sew it better”.  If I’m going to fully break out of my rut, niggles like that are not going to help. Best I go back and sort that hem out then!

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I’ve been nominated!

british-craft-awards-500It seems I may have neglected to write an actual blog post about this and, tardy as ever (because voting closes as midnight tonight! Oooops!) here it is….I’ve been nominated for Best Sewing Blog in the 2017 British Craft awards! Cool huh?! In any case, if you feel like voting for me (and that would be lovely!) Then you can do so here. Just click on the Sewing category. (You’ll be entered into a draw for to win a chunk of Amazon vouchers just for voting). But there are plenty of other awesome blogs to vote for so pick your favourite. I’ll still love ya whoever you vote for 😉

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What to give a sewist for Christmas….

I’m relatively easy to please when it comes to Christmas presents. I’m always happy with vouchers, perfume or booze to be fair. However, when it comes to sewing related gifts, not so much. I’m pretty particular. And I don’t think I’m alone. I don’t need another sewing kit let’s face it. And it occured to me that for non sewists, who might be thinking of buying a sewing related gift for their loved one, it must be pretty tricky to know what to buy. Unless they are steered in the right direction of course 😉 So I’ve curated a few items together that I think are guaranteed to bring a smile to any sewists face on Christmas morning.

So if you are a non sewist…gift buying for a sewist…take note 😉 (Sewists, feel free to subtly leave this post open on your device) 😉

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These scissors from Merchant & Mills (1,2 and 3) are not at the top of this post by accident, oh no no! I have fallen hard for the sleek styling on these., and I think my fellow sewists would agree with me! They’re not cheap to be fair. But what all sewists know, is that scissors, decent scissors, are King in the sewing room. A lifetime investment. They are the tools of our trade, and next to a sewing machine and an iron, the single most important part of our toolkit. If you want to understand how a sewist feels about scissors…just try and use them for anything other than fabric and see what happens…go on…I dare ya!

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For a bit more bling and pretty…rose gold scissors?!! I mean…seriously…what’s not to love? If your sewist is into vintage, feminine or bling….buy these and you’ll be in their good books on Christmas morning for sure.

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For heritage, history, quality and British made you simply cannot beat Ernest Wright & Sons. They’ve been making scissors in Sheffield since 1902 and are widely regarded as THE scissors to have. Their tailors shears come in a range of colors, sizes and also left handed options. Pinking shears and duck bill scissors are useful additions to any sewists tool kit. Their stork embroidery scissors have achieved near iconic status; and it’s pretty safe to say that those thread snips are probably the best you can buy!

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Sewists tend to be very proud of our art. We’ll talk to anyone that will listen about sewing. Even if it bores them shitless. So little accessories like these from Wendy Ward, that mark us out as sewists, and identify us as sewists to our sewing kin, we will wear like a badge of honour! And a means of identifying a fellow sewist in a crowd of strangers. With whom we will immediately strike up a long protracted conversation (“Oh do you sew??”) as if we are old friends (which we are because we quickly establish we have alread met on IG) while you (as a non sewist) are left ignored, tapping your foot and looking at your watch (How long IS left on that car parking ticket). But hey….at least we’re not boring you shitless with our sewing talk anymore…so be grateful.

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These sewing pins from Beyond Measure would do the job too 😉

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People who make also appreciate handmade. BIG time. And if it’s handmade and sewing related? Well….bingo, frankly. Leather wrist rulers (yes they’re a thing), button earrings, gorgeous turned wood pincushions, and tape measure cuffs would all make more unusual (and lovely) gifts….makery-what-to-give-a-sewist-for-christmas-10
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If you absolutely have to buy a sewing kit then make it a good one! A framed sewing print will likely be well received too…us sewists love to fill our sewing dens with that kind of stuff. This one is particularly good because it validates our view that sewing is more important than housework. (Even if we often can’t sew unless we know the housework is taken care of because, well, sewists are just nice people. But you already knew that).makery-what-to-give-a-sewist-for-christmas-10

When a sewist isn’t sewing…then they are likely plotting in their head what they want to sew next, (if only they weren’t constantly interrupted by pesky interruptions like work, housework and life outside of sewing). Don’t try talking to a sewist when they are thinking about sewing (which is like, always). While their head space is taken up planning, they have no room for trivial things like conversation…or dinner. (There’s usually room for wine however). The longer they go without sewing btw, the more ideas will build up in their head; and they may well get irritable as a result. This is normal so don’t panic. It is a result of both a lack of time to sew, and how crowded their head space is with plans on what to sew…(if only they had the time). Gifting your sewist a sewing planner shows you recognise this impasse and gives them the tools to clear some of that head space so you can at least have a conversation. Accompany this gift with a bottle of wine and an IOU for a clear weekend and you’ll get maximum brownie points. (BTW, that could possibly be the best gift ever for a sewist. Sewing time. Priceless. Take the kids out, cook the dinner and do the housework all weekend, and let your sewist just sew. Best present ever.)makery-what-to-give-a-sewist-for-christmas-10

 

If your sewist is a dressmaker, then a mannequin that can be adjusted to their size will be a godsend for them and you! Them because pin fitting clothes on yourself is near impossible unless you are a double jointed olympic grade contortionist. And you because you will no longer be needed to do said pinning for them because, let’s face it, you probably won’t do it “right” anyway. You know that sense of pressure followed by impending doom when your sewist says “just pin out the excess on that dart for me please”? Gone. With one of these. You’re welcome

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Storage. Sewists can never have too much storage as their stash and supplies will grow exponentially to fill the space they have. Scientific fact. Minimalist does not apply to a sewing space. Sometimes that sewing space may spill over into other parts of the home, (as your sewist tries to multi task and fit their sewing in around other activities). You might as well develop an acceptance of that and work with them to help them manage the overspill with a gorgeous sewing box. (1 & 2)This will benefit you as much as your sewist. No more using the arm of the sofa as a makeshift pincushion or sharp implements strewn across the coffee table. Pins lost in the deep pile of the living room rug?  Your sewist may even grace you with their presence on the sofa of an evening, if they can sew in comfort with all their supplies coralled neatly by their side….

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And if you want to supercharge the sewing box brownie points, look for vintage/mid century examples on ebay or Gumtree etc. (Search term “vintage sewing box” should get you started) I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who would squeal with delight at one of these beauties on Christmas morning. (Yes, gifting something that is second hand is ok as long as it is super cool/vintage/antique. )

So there you have it. A few little ideas should you be struggling to get into the mind (and the good books) of a sewist. But get your skates on. You haven’t got long!

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