Zipper Shortening, Tapered Pants Legs and Skirt Hems

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How do I shorten a zipper?

Most zippers can be shortened in one of two ways. If it’s an open-top zipper (like a separating jacket zipper), simply extend the excess length into the upper seamline, then trim after the zipper is inserted. Leave about 1/2″ of zipper tape beyond the upper seamline. To reinforce and be sure the slider doesn’t come off, bartack across the teeth on one or both sides at the upper seamline.

For a placket zipper, the above method works as well, or simply leave the excess length at the bottom of the zipper application, stitch across the tape several times and trim the additional length off about 1/2″ below the placket opening.

If you’re shortening the zipper from the top and you have a zipper with a removable stop, relocate it to the new length to prevent the slider from coming off.

How do I shorten tapered pant legs?

Shortening a tapered leg can be tricky because the area you’re turning back is smaller than the area you need to attach it to. If you simply hem it, the hemline will be puckered. Instead, reshape the hemline and the seam within the hem so the sizes match. For step-by-step details, see Guideline 14.120 Shortening Pants and Sleeves.

What’s a good edge finish for skirt hems?

Although this question is akin to “How big is the sky?” there are several right answers. The type of fabric and the style of the skirt will determine the edge finish. If it’s a non-ravelly type, perhaps a single line of stitching and a pinked edge will suffice. If it’s a raveller, cover the edge with seam tape or serge it to prevent further fraying. If the skirt is shaped, it will be necessary to ease in the extra fullness before hemming, so use a gathering line, pull it up and then apply seam tape to the eased edge. For a lined skirt, no edge finish may be needed if the lining covers the upper hem edge.

On straight skirts made from light- to medium-weight fabrics, it’s also feasible to simply turn under and stitch the upper hem edge 1/4″ to finish.