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Auxiliary Reference Information | Drafting | Closures

Updated: Sep 13, 2018

Closures although not essential for every garment require noting on your draft.

I am thinking along the lines of;

  • Zips.

  • Buttons and Buttonholes and Loops.

  • Hook and Eye.


Mastering your zip insertions is a significant and essential part of creating a great quality garment and take it from being ‘home made’ to being ‘handmade’ or even couture quality made.

Whatever kind/colour or size of zip you are using, you will need to note on the draft where it is to be positioned. The other thing you need to consider is the Seam Allowance that will support the Zip.

Also you will need to decide on which zip method you would like to use which is mostly a cosmetic decision, are going to sew the zip in centrally on the seam with both of the seams butting up centrally on the zip and in this installation you would see a line of stitching going down one side of the zip across the bottom and then back up the other side of the zip (not a favourite of mine). Or you can bring one side across to create a lap over on top of the zip, where you would only see a line of stitching across the bottom and down one side which is the overlap side. The other zip option is to use an invisible zip where if done correctly you can’t even tell that there is a zip it just looks like a Seam (I do love an invisible Zip).

You may also like to add some extra comfort on the inside with a Zip Flap you would simply draft this as a small pattern piece rectangular in shape at least as long as the Zip and around 1 ½” wide, this is doubled in width as you will fold over the flap and you would sew it on the inside of the garment to protect the skin from the zip and when the Zip is opened you will see this flap. So you would draw a Fold Line down the centre of the piece and add Notches on the Fold Line. I would add a Seam Allowance of at least ½” all the way around and if you do stitch it inside out and turn it right side out like a bag you can always trim off ¼”. You would catch it into any Waistband or upper Seam finishing. You could use Fashion Fabric or Contrasting Fabric and this piece can be interfaced offering it more support.

Have a look at the Auxiliary Reference Information – Sewing – Closures, Zips to help determine what kind of zip installation you want to use and therefore what seam allowances you need to draft for your garment.

The Zip should be at least the length that you require, it is no good if it is too short, if it is two long you can always trim it down by stitching a bar tack where you want the Zip to end (three or four stitches on top of each other with double thread would secure it) then cut off the excess being careful where you cut so you don’t damage your scissors.

Here you can see an invisible zip and you can see that the side of it would comfortably fit in ½” Seam Allowance, but consider this every time you open the zip you put strain on the garment so a Zip needs lots of support. I would therefore never have a Seam Allowance less than ¾” on a Zip in fact on a more couture sewn garment I might even allow in anything around the 1 ½”. You should always interface a Zip and I would make the interfacing twice the Seam Allowance in width in order to support the Zip on the Seam Allowance but also on the garment. The only time I would not interface is if I have an underlining that I think is supportive enough or I may use a strip of silk organza instead.

If we consider a Top you might have a Zip positioned somewhere in the Centre Back or somewhere down the Side Seam. If you are not taking the Zip all the way up to the Neckline in the Back ensure that the Zip starts a couple of inches above the Base Armhole and is around 14” long to ensure that you can get the garment on. Also if you are going to have to pull the garment over your head the full Front Neckline + Back Neckline must add up to around 24” in order to get the garment on.

On this example I have drafted a Zip in the Centre Back starting at the top of the Neck and finishing with a Notch, the Seam Allowances have been added for the Zip and for the Seam below the Zip you can see how this causes the Seam Allowance to have a step in it as both Seam Allowances are different. Of course you can have the same Seam Allowance as long as it is sufficient to support the Zip and simply denote the start and end of the Zip with a Notch.

On this same example you can see that I have also drafted a Side Zip (which is usually positioned on the left as most people are Right Handed), obviously you would not need both. In the Side Seam the first inch or two is to be sewn then there is a Notch to denote the start of the Zip.

You would also mark the same detail on the Front Side Seam so that you can match up the other side when sewing.

If you are going to create a lapped Zip I would extend the Zip Seam Allowance down 2” below the end of the zip (which is marked with a notch) as you will want to recess the Seam on one side in order to sew the overlap on the other side but this will become clearer when you review the instructions for sewing a lapped Zip).

You would use the same method of drafting on a Skirt. Here is a Zip drafted on the Side of the Skirt Back Draft.

Buttons, Button Holes and Loops

Buttons are added as closures as well as decoration. They are usually used at the Centre Back in a Bodice to close up a Neckline or on a Waistband in a Skirt or on a Shirt Placket.

Here is a tip, always buy at least one more button than you need, if you lose one you always have a replacement and won’t have to replace the whole lot.

On a draft you mark the position of a Button with an Awl Mark which is simple enough.

Button Holes are marked onto the draft using this shape a line with two ends to show the end of the Button Hole, I have also placed an Awl Mark on here to show the corresponding position of where the button is attached for the other side of the garment. You don't want to sew the Button Central because then the fastening would not be tight enough as the Button would drift to the end of the Button hole and also you can make a feature of a Buttonhole. Depending on the requirement and the style of button Buttonholes are either the same size as the button diameter or 1/8” to ¼” bigger than the button diameter.

Button holes are usually placed vertically on a garment with a placket any other buttonhole is placed horizontally so that any strain on the buttonhole is controlled by the end of the Buttonhole stitching. They are usually placed away from the edge of the fabric from ¼” up to the width of the button away from the edge.

If you don’t positon your button and buttonholes correctly your garment may be too tight or not tight enough.

On the back of a Top or a Skirt you can always change the position of a Button but once you have stitched and cut a Buttonhole you can’t alter it.

I would recommend then for a Top or Waistband that you leave the position of the Buttonhole and Button until the whole of the garment has been made then you can decide its placement perhaps in a final fitting.

I you wanted to not use a Buttonhole and to make use of a fabric Loop instead you would draft up a very small rectangular pattern piece that is 1” wide and the length would equal the length from where the loop is attached on one side + 1/4” to get it around the button + the length to get back to where the loop is attached + twice the Seam Allowance. The loop folded like a Double Bias Binding and stitched down. Don’t forget to decide on a Grainline.

Hook and Eye

These are used usually at the top of a Zip to secure the closure.

I might also use the Bar from a Hook and Eye set at the top of a Skirt Split on the posterior side for a little reinforcement.

You don’t need to place position on your draft for a Hook and Eye but if you would like to then just use a simple Awl Mark. You can reassess the position of these after the Garment is made.

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