Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zipper feet


In my younger days (in sewing terms), I used to question everything. Why must I sew something this way and not that way. Is that the best way? Is there a tool available to help me sew better? Then I got so used to sewing in a certain way that I stopped looking for better ways.

Recently I said out loud to hubs that I wished someone would come up with an app to do XXX. For the life of me I can't recall what XXX was. Anyway hubs said there was such an app and he was right! It got me thinking that the little irritations I face daily when I sew with zippers can be solved by better tools.

Let me explain. I sew a lot of zip pouches and it's possible I've made at least 500 by now. So you can believe me when I say I know how to sew zippers. I have to say, despite having sewn so many zippers, I still have issues with the zipper foot.

ignore the lint!
See this zipper foot? It comes with the sewing machine. I hardly ever use it. Know why?

See how close the needle is to the zipper? That's desirable if you sew clothing but for zip pouches, I like to sew further away from the zipper teeth. I don't know about other sewers if they mind sewing so close to the teeth because in real life I don't go around asking people that sort of question. Of course you're probably thinking why don't I sew more to the right but if I do that there's nothing to anchor my zipper foot on. (underneath the zipper foot there is a groove) In fact, that's what I did in the old days - using the zipper foot like you would a regular foot - but it always felt a little unstable.

For a few years now, I've been using an adjustable zipper foot. Most of my zip pouches have been made using this zipper foot.

I love using this zipper foot because I can sew anywhere on the zipper. I could place it snug next to the zipper teeth which I'll never do or I could just follow a drawn line and use the line to guide me. This foot is great for making piping, by the way!

So, like I said. I made most of my zipper pouch using this adjustable zipper foot. And honestly it did a good job. But I never found it perfect. There was just one big issue I had with it. The zipper foot did not have enough grip. I always felt it was too slippery when I sew as I'm not anchoring onto anything. Because of that I need to go slowly. If I have to go slowly for 500 zip pouches, you can imagine my frustration.

Yesterday I was at my sewing machine dealer's office and I casually told the good folks there my zipper foot problem. Okay, who am I kidding? I poured out my problems to them. When I bought my adjustable zipper foot from Brother a few years ago, I was told that was the best zipper foot available which was why I bought it. My dealer brought out this other adjustable zipper foot.

Janome adjustable zipper foot

the orange one is my first one

Honestly, I couldn't tell based on the look if it would be better but I bought it. Yesterday night I immediately sewed a zip pouch to test the new adjustable zipper foot.

This was what I sewed. Is it pretty? Oh never mind, let me show you the problem...

After assembling the foot (it's not clip on, sadly) I realised with horror that I could only sew with the fabric on the right hand side. I have adjustable needle but this was as far it could go. I know it's just a matter of getting used to always sewing with the fabric on the right but I really felt quite angry because this probably meant my dealer had sold me a zipper foot not meant for my sewing machine. They knew the model number I owned. I mean, wtf, rite? Despite everything, I managed to complete the zip pouch. Btw, the grip was soooooo much better. I contemplated calling up the dealer immediately asking for a refund or exchange it for another zipper foot which looked exactly like the one I already had. But the office was closed and I thought about shooting an email to the dealer. I was already forming the angry email in my head. Grr!

Then I had a feeling... an overwhelming deja vu. Wait, wait. It's there. Something. What is it? I can't quite grasp it yet. It's close. I can almost feel it.Then it hit me.


This has happened before. When I bought my first adjustable zipper foot, I too struggled with it until I realised the keyword is ADJUSTABLE.

Yep, I see the screw now and I can move the position of the foot. I'm just so glad I never emailed that angry letter or stormed down demanding a refund. Previously I too wanted to storm down to my Brother dealer to demand a refund.

the needle is in the center of the foot
This morning I discovered something even more wonderful. I managed to adjust the position of my needle and the zipper foot such that I am able to sew in the center of the zipper foot. You know what that means? Firstly, I no longer need to mark a line to follow. Secondly, the distance from the zipper teeth to the sewn line is exactly where I like to sew.

See how much space there is between the teeth and the fabric? I think I'm going to bitch so much less when I sew with zippers from now on.


Sandy said...

I use my regular zipper foot, but would love to try this one. I too have a Brother machine, I am going to check this out!

Bethany said...

So glad you posted this! I shy away from my zipper foot as it's too close to the teeth for my bag-sewing liking. I have bought an adjustable foot but haven't used it yet. For bags I usually use a regular foot and it works well, but I do like tools that make zippers easier.

Projects By Jane said...

Just wanted to be clear. My current machine is a Janome. My previous machine was a Brother. Both machines could use the same adjustable zipper foot. You probably need to check for compatibility before buying an additional zipper foot.

Queenie De Jesus said...

Aloha Jane,

I own a Janome machine and use the zipper foot alot. I did not know janome has a adjustable zipper foot. Seeing this I must get one and try it out. Thanks!

Sharon said...

Love your site! I am glad to know that there are zipper feet that do grip better. I will look. Yesterday, I was trying to do a decent satin stitch around a letter & went through every foot I have. What would be great is if the blind hem foot's bar extended up next to the needle. Oh well, just griping. Thanks.

Projects By Jane said...

@Queenie de Jesus,
Do you ever ask yourself why the sewing machine people don't make life easier for us sewers by making a complete list of feet your machine is compatible with? And is it so hard to make everything a standard size?

Dee said...

My old machine is a Janome and I loved the narrow zipper foot. My new machine is a Husqvarna and it came with a wide zipper foot and it was driving me crazy. I went into the dealer to to see what other options there were. She said that the wide zipper foot has better grip and that because the needle adjust to 16 points either side of central position, that all I needed to do was move the needle across in the desired direction. Now I have the best of both worlds; great grip and I can select exactly where I want that needle to land on the zipper.

pennydog said...

Yey for new feet! I find the ones that come with the machine are a bit naff too, especially the free-motion ones.

Linda said...

Great advice, Jane! i also have a Janome. I don't put many zippers in since I mainly do quilts, but I'll have to check out the zipper foot now. I recently helped my granddaughter put a zipper in a dress and I moved the needle over.

punkychewster said...

You know what? I never use a zipper foot!!! maybe i should try one from now on, and perhaps i will cuss less.

Chris H said...

Well done!
You inspire me to try doing zippers! Maybe I will one day just to say I have done it! lol

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