I’ve heard lots of people shy away from adding zippers to their knits. Those that have done it, know it’s like steeking (but without the need for a stiff drink). Once you’ve tackled it once, you can do it again and again.
So you have your sweater knit and you have your zipper. You’ve got most of the work done. Make sure your sweater is blocked well. You don’t want to be dealing with curling edges. Unless a curly edge is what you want. In the case of a desired curly edge, I recomend tacking down the edge with a few stitches to keep it in the right place along the whole front. You can’t really just forget about it because sometimes the curled edge will be more or less than in other places. You want a good even straight front edge to put in the zipper.
I start by safety pinning the 2 halves together.
This is the quick way. If the sweater had stripes that needed to be aligned I would tack the front together with a series of stitches, using yarn instead of safety pinning. Tacking should be done with contrasting colors to the sweater so it’s easy to remove later. It is more foolproof than the safety pinning and preferable if you’ve not done this before or you have a sweater that has a pattern that needs to line up. Don’t make wide sweeping stitches, just stitch the edge along the whole front opening.
You only need to grab the first stitch or 2 all the way along the opening.
Next you will pin in the zipper. I pin on both sides of the sweater up and down the length of the zipper. Then I remove the safety pins because I like to sew the sweater when it’s opened. If you did the Tacking stitches instead of safety pins, and you want to sew with the Tacking in place (which can be a good idea with stripes/patterns), you can do that too. Just try not to sew over the Tacking yarn or you’ll be doing a lot more work in the end when you try to remove it.
When I open up the zipper, I add more pins to be assured that it’s in there good. I don’t want the zipper slipping on me when I’m sewing. Sweaters also have a tendency to stretch under that heavy foot and a zipper doesn’t, so pinning tons helps assure that it’s not going to do that. Even if you’re hand stitching, a few extra pins can save you a bit of trouble in the end.
I baste the zipper in before I sew the final stitches. Basting helps to hold it all in place better than pins and I usually have to redo at least one side when I baste, basting stitches are much easier to remove than the final titght stitches I will use when I sew the zipper in place. If you left in your tacking yarn to keep your sweater closed, you want to be sure NOT to sew those stitches in. After you’ve basted the zipper you want to make sure to remove that tacking yarn that held the sweater shut.
If your basting comes out good, remove the pins and you can do the final sewing of the zipper. Once you’ve done the final sewing trim all ends of threads and take a look at it. Does your original basting of the zipper to the cardi show, does it look awful? Sometimes the stitches and good thread matching the colors will mean that the basting doesn’t show. You can leave it in, what are a few extra stitches going to hurt right? If it looks awful or you used a really wide stitch to baste the zipper, you need to remove that as part of your finishing.
My model here is a lot smaller than I am so unfortunately the sweater looks a little sloppy on her but very fitted on me.
Happy little Zipper Cardi
Yarn: Spunky Eclectic Big Ball Chunky in Walkabout colorway – 2 Skeins!
Pattern: Boogie – Free with a purchase of this yarn at SPA this weekend.
Size: 40 inch chest with a 22 inch zipper – the back measures at 24 inches
Special Features: Raglan shaping. Short row neck. Waist shaping.
I could make this sweater again and again. It took me 2 weeks to make it. Not bad for a good sized sweater.
I’m sure there are several tutorials like this out on the web. Do a search if this one doesn’t feel right to you. As in knitting the pieces itself, there are many ways to tackle a zipper. Don’t ignore the zipper just because the tutotial doesn’t make sense, you can do it, you just need to find the right path for you