When I took a sewing class in high school there were no zippers. And it’s funny that even though my mom sewed for other people my whole life I never paid attention to her zipper installation.
When I went to Pennsylvania in January I asked her to walk me through how she does it. I found out that she prefers a lapped zipper installation and also that she never follows the pattern instructions.
Most dress patterns I’ve made leave the zipper for last in the dress construction and so that’s how I’ve always done it. The zipper packaging doesn’t help really.
The other thing she told me was she always assembles the back pieces and then installs the zipper while the bits are flat. Since then I have been installing all of the skirt zippers that way and it’s been lovely. But this will be the first dress I made since she told me. This was a new pattern for me too so I generally pay attention to the instructions. Sew the darts, sew the shoulder seams of the front and back pieces, add the neck facing or the lining, sew the bodice side seams, sew the skirt pieces together, sew the skirt to the bodice, insert the sleeves and finally the zipper.
This time I sewed the center back seam of the skirt to the notch where the zipper sits and sewed the two back pieces to the top of the skirt. Press the waist seam up and the back seam open. And then I added the zipper. It was a wonderful thing. So easy, so much less fabric, no worrying about sewing the zipper accidentally on to the front bit of the skirt.
I am so grateful to my mom for this tip even though I feel like she told it to me 30 years later than I would have liked!
You can see her instructions here. It’s an unedited video I took of her giving me instruction.