Left side skirt zipper and zippered sleeve openings


This is for a zipper opening in the left side of a skirt. Make sure to mark the front and back sections, as you will be working from the inside. You are going to begin by basting the entire length of the left side seam. Throughout the text you might see the word “fastener”. This refers to the “slide fastener”, the original name for the zipper. Have also included instructions for sleeve openings as the method is similar. Refer to the diagrams at the top to follow along. I have transcribed this from an advert from 1936-37 for Talon by Slide Fastener, Inc.

Dress plackets and neck openings is on the other side of this advert and  I will type soon.

Skirt Plackets

Use a 7-inch or 8- inch zipper for the skirt placket—get the longer fastener if the hip measurement is large.

For facing the placket, prepare two selvage-edged strips of the skirt fabric, making one 1 ½ inches wide and the other 2 inches wide, and both 1 inch longer than the fastener.  Fold the 2 inch strip lengthwise through the center and stitch along the fold.

Step 1.  Turn the skirt inside out. Baste the left side seam of the skirt. To measure off the length required for the placket opening, lay the zipper on the basted seam, with the top of the zipper the seam allowance down from the top of the skirt, and mark the position of the metal bar at the end of the fastener with a pin. Then lay zipper aside, and stitch seam from the pin to the bottom of the skirt. Press seam open its full length. Remove basting. Lay the 1 1/2 inch wide facing strip along the front side of the opening, with the selvage edge along the seam edge of the skirt. Baste together, making the seam  ¼  inch wide on the facing strip and 1/8 inch wide on the skirt, and then stitch, as in Fig. 1.

Step 2.  Press the selvage edge of the strip back toward the skirt and stitch the strip along the selvage to stay the front edge of the placket, as in Fig. 2. This stitching comes on the seam allowance of the skirt, 1/8 inch in from the placket edge (as shown by crease), and so the stitching does not show on the outside of the skirt when the placket is finished. Fold the facing back against the skirt, and press it in place along the creased edge. On the other side of the placket opening, turn raw edge under 1/8 inch and baste, as shown.

Step 3.  Turn the skirt right side out. Lay the closed zipper under the basted edge, and pin in place, as in Fig. 3. Place the folded facing strip (or guard) under the fastener, with the selvage edge of the guard on top, toward the back of the skirt, and folded edge of the guard even with the left side of the fastener tape. Pin in place and baste. Then stitch from the top of the placket to the end on the right side of the skirt, stitching through the skirt, the fastener tape, and the guard.

Step 4.  Close placket perfectly, and baste in place on edge from the bottom up, as in Fig. 4.

Step 5. Turn the skirt inside out. Pin guard back, as shown in Fig. 5. Turn the raw edge of the facing strip under—even with the zipper tape edge—and stitch on the folded edge, through both the tape and the facing, but not through the skirt.

Step 6.  Turn skirt right side out. Baste placket as in Fig. 6. Stitch from A to B along the edge of the zipper, but so as to clear the metal part. Lift presser foot and needle, unpin guard and slide it into position, and then stitch across end of placket from B to C, and back again to B. Remove bastings. Pull thread ends through, tie the, and apply belt to skirt, concealing tape ends inside belt.

If the finished seams in the skirt are to be pressed open, clip the seam allowance at the bottom of the facing strip so that the seam will lie flat, as in Fig. 5. Overcast raw edges.

Sleeve Openings

When you apply a zipper to the seam of a fitted sleeve, follow practically the same method as for a dress placket. Use a zipper 4 or 5 inches long, omit the guard, and finish the sleeve at the bottom with a bias facing. When the closed zipper is in position, the top of the slider comes a seam’s width away from the bottom of the sleeve.

When you apply a zipper to a full sleeve with a cuff, follow the same method as for a neck opening, and use a narrow facing. (The zipper applied to the fitted sleeve comes on the inside of the arm, of course; the zipper applied to full sleeve comes in line with cuff.)

13 thoughts on “Left side skirt zipper and zippered sleeve openings

  1. Carol, This is perfect for the sew along I’m doing with Norma of She Sews You Know. We’re going to work on 1930s styles. I’m going to make a 6 gore skirt. I might try this application on the muslin. My challenge is that this gored skirt has curved side seams from waist to hipline. I’m wondering if I can use an application something like this and use snaps instead.

    Since you have an extensive reference library, have you ever seen 1930s skirts with side seams closed with snaps?


  2. I love the way the manufacturer explained how to fit this new invention. I have never seen a reference to zip fastenings in British 1930s needlework books but apparently they were very popular in manufactured clothing.


    • Hi Norma, I think the early instructions on how to apply a slide fastener (zipper) were based on time tested instructions for closures that used snaps or hooks and eyes. I will be looking through books for more instructions on various kinds of closures. Will post soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Through The Byzantine Gate and commented:
    For Norma and all interested in the 1930s Sew Along at She Sews You Know, Check out Carol of By Way of Thanks. She has a cool posting on 1930s zipper applications for skirts and sleeves. I’m not sure if I’ll use this but it’s good for reference. Carol has kinly offered to look up and see if she has any info on snap closures for skirts, too. Big Thank You, Carol.


      • Thank you, EmilyAnn I will continue to look for those instructions. I became interested in these types of closures while trying to solve the mystery of how you were going to insert the zipper in the skirt you are working on now. Imagine my surprise to find I had come up with the same solution–the zipper lays directly on the fabric on the right side of the back of the skirt. I fiddled around with paper instead of fabric and determined that the only way to ensure the structural integrity of the fabric would be if the zipper laid on top of the fabric, rather than concealed by a fold or inserted into a seam. Somewhere along the line I came upon a magazine article showing the same set-up so I was hoping I was on the right track. Then you posted about your solution here: https://retroglam.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/sheath-skirt-with-modesty-kickpleat-and-zipper-hidden-in-seam-pt-3-of-3/
        so I am feeling quite happy! I know I can find quite a few examples of closings that use snaps or hooks and eyes because prior to the invention of the zipper that is what was used. Will get to work on that soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I appreciate that so much! I have photos of the lining tutorial ready. I have to wait for my laptop to get fixed. Then have to reinstall all the software. The tech had to wipe it clean.


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