For me, sewing is all about making things that are needed, recycling materials, and saving our family time and money. It's a fairly utilitarian view, but it is satisfying for me (and it doesn't hurt that I occasionally define 'things we need' as a monster coat or any dress-up clothes).
Still, straight out mending is the pits. Especially replacing zippers. Especially, especially zippers on winter coats. It's mending hell squared.
But how could you not replace a broken zipper on a perfectly good (expensive) jacket? When you know that the alternative is the landfill because no one else is going to fix it either. We crafty types are the last hope to extend the lives of good clothes that just need a bit of mending. In my mind, this justifies a bit of zipper-replacement discomfort.
Or does it? There is nothing quite like a dreaded chore to get the ol' mind ticking away. Knowing that Birdie Boy's hand-me-down jacket needs the zipper fixed NOW has been on mind for a week, but having no zipper to replace the old one with, plus a healthy dose of procrastination (laziness), has made this bit of mending positively loom.
Which was why I was tickled pink when an alternative solution to the broken zipper dilemma presented itself. In fact, it was not only a good way to duck having to replace the zipper, it was actually more environmentally friendly as there is no need for a new zipper and recycles part of an endlessly usable man's button down shirt. All in all, this is cheaper, faster, greener and doesn't require a drink to steady my nerves before I begin.
Ahhhh! I love getting out of mending!
With that huge build up, you all are going to be disappointed at this simple little fix. Here is Birdie Boy (with a stick, as always), with his jacket closed up snug:
Covering a broken zipper with a front placket
(or, what to do when you can't face replacing a zipper)
First, locate a button down shirt in a coordinating or contrasting material.
My shirt here, in addition to being a good-enough matching shade of blue, had already had it's arms removed to make sleevy pants, making it a good candidate for this project. I can see how some fun could be had, turning a boring jacket into something fantabulous with coordinating colours and patterns or contrasting top stitching.
Measure the length of the broken closure and determine an appropriate width for a placket. I chose 3" for my width.
Add 1" to the length measurement for 1/2" on top and bottom for a hem (add more if you require for a double fold hem).
Add 1/2" to the width for a 1/4" seam allowance on the sides.
With your shirt buttoned up and pressed if necessary, use your ruler and tailor's chalk to outline your placket. Keep in mind button placement as it will on the jacket - you want a button fairly close to the top, but not so close as to interfere with the presser foot as you hem the top.
Cut out your placket.
Hem the top and bottom edges (separately from each other - thanks Rachel R) with a 1/4" wide double fold. Finish the raw edges of the sides with either a zig-zag stitch (as shown below) or a serger.
With placket still buttoned, lay it down on top of the jacket with the buttons running down the length of the zipper. Fold under one side edge 1/4" to determine where to stitch on the placket. Turn over whole placket, with folded under edge held in place, and pin placket to jacket, right sides together.
Stitch placket side to jacket at 1/4"
Flip placket back over top zipper and orientate the other side in the appropriate place. Fold in other side edge and put in a couple pins to mark the correct place.
Undo the buttons, turn unsewn side back with right sides together, and pin the placket in place. Stitch side edge to jacket at 1/4".
If you are feeling up to it, top stitch the side edges to the jacket (which I didn't because I was feeling good-enoughness at this point, also see above comments on laziness).
And there it is, one once-again snuggly warm jacket.
I estimate that this bit of repair saved me $2.00 for a zipper, 20 minutes of seam ripping, 40 minutes of sewing in the zipper (including 20 minutes of breaks for deep breathing and centering), and half a bottle of wine (or $5, as I usually get what's on sale). Oh, and the whole cost of a new (previously loved) jacket.
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