Olive Hack: Center Back Zip

Sometimes, adding a zipper to a garment just makes sense, especially if you are looking to achieve the perfect fit for your unique shape! This is especially true with pants and jumpsuits, at leas tin my own experience it has been. If you find that you have a significant bust to waist to hip ratio in any combination, you have probably experienced garments that fit you perfectly in one area only to turn out to be too large / too small in another. It's why finding those perfectly fitting jeans feels so elusive!

But how do you know if your jumpsuit pattern in particular needs a zipper added? Is there a way to determine that before you go through the entire process of sewing up your garment only to discover it is a challenge getting it on/ off? The answer is a resounding YES!

Determining if You Need a Zipper

To find out whether you need to add a zipper to your jumpsuit requires nothing more than your  Bust/ Waist/ Hip  measurements and the finished garment measurements of whatever jumpsuit you are getting ready to sew. For this post, I will be using the Olive Jumpsuit as our example, but this applies to any jumpsuit that doesn't already include some sort of closure to get in and out. 

First, using your personal Bust/ Waist/ Hip measurements, determine which size(s) you fall into for your intended jumpsuit. For example, let's say that your measurements are 43" B-Cup / 40" / 49" (109,2 cm B-Cup / 101, 6 cm/ 124,5 cm), which would put you in between a size E and F, grading from the Bust to the Waist. 

Grey and white digital image of the Olive Jumpsuit Body Measurement chart with 3 pink circles around the E B-cup Bust measurements and F Waist and HIp MeasurementsGrey and white digital image of the Olive Jumpsuit Body Measurement chart in centimetres with 3 pink circles around the E B-cup Bust measurements and F Waist and HIp Measurements

Once you have your size(s) picked out, it's time to look at the finished measurement chart. What we are looking for here is to see whether the Bust measurement is equal to or slightly larger than your hip measurement. If this measurement is smaller than your natural hip measurement, then adding a zipper is a must**

Grey and white digital image of the Olive Jumpsuit finished Measurement chart in Inches with 3 pink circles around the E B-cup Bust measurements and F Waist and HIp MeasurementsGrey and white digital image of the Olive Jumpsuit finished Measurement chart in centimetres with 3 pink circles around the E B-cup Bust measurements and F Waist and HIp Measurements

As you can see, the Finished Bust measurement is smaller than the natural hip measurement of 49" (124,5 cm) in this scenario. That is a difference of 2 5/8" (6,7 cm). Adding a zipper is the way to go in this instance!

** Note- If you are making a garment that has a very low back, a zipper is likely unnecessary as the garment is more flexible in measurement at the bust point. 

Adjusting your Pattern

For the Olive, the pattern adjustments necessary to add a zipper are quite minimal. In fact, there is only one that is necessary and that is adding 1/2" (1,3 cm) to the Center Back (CB) of your bodice pattern piece and cutting two of the back bodice rather than one on the fold. Everything else will remain the same!

A digital image of the bra-friendly back bodice piece of the Olive Jumpsuit with a dashed line marking the new center back seam at 1/2" (1,3 cm) from the original CB seam

Sewing Your Zippered Jumpsuit

All of the adjustments necessary for inserting a zipper into your jumpsuit will come from the sewing. There may be a bit of jumping back and forth from this blog post to the original instructions, so feel free to take each part slowly and take as many breaks as you need! 

Prep Work + Straps

For supplies, you will need all the same supplies as listed in the instruction booklet as well as a zipper (basic or invisible), zipper foot, and hook and eye. Make sure the length of your zipper is long enough to go from around the middle of  your back down through to the top of your bum. 

A flat lay of the supplies needed for this sewing project including scissors, hook and eye, zipper, pins, etc.

To start, go ahead and prep your bodice pieces, bodice linings, sew your straps and finish your darts.

Then, sew your front bodice to your back bodice pieces, leaving the center back (CB) seam open. Repeat with your bodice linings. 

Baste your straps to your front and back bodice strap openings.

A dual toned blue bodice is laid out on a wooden cutting table with a strap basted to it's strap openings.

Feel free to try on your bodice just to see how it is hitting you. This will help to determine if you might wish to adjust your straps which is easier to do now than when the entire garment has been put together. Once you are happy with your strap length, put your bodice + linings aside. 

Pocket + Pants Assembly

For the pocket and pants assembly, follow your instruction booklet until you have finished the step in which you have sewn your front crotch seam together and finished it. 

A dual toned blue pair of pants with patch pockets is laid out on a natural cutting board with light streaming from a window

Working with your back pant legs, we are going to do a few things differently from your instruction booklet. 

To start, finish both of the crotch seams of your back pant legs. 

Light blue pant leg with finished crotch seam lying on wooden cutting board

Next, with right sides together (RST), place your two back crotch seams together, pinning from the bottom of the crotch through to the double notches. Sew this seam making sure to stop at the double notches. 

A dark blue pant leg is on top of a light blue pant leg with the crotch seams pinned together stopping at the double notch. a pair of black scissors sits to the side

Press your crotch seam open. I like to do this on a pressing ham, especially for the curved portion as it's easier than trying to press it on a flat surface. 

The dual colored blue pants are sat on top of an ironing ham with the wrong side of the crotch facing upA white hand is pressing the dual colored pants crotch open on the ironing hamThe dual colored pants are facing upwards with the wrong side showing a freshly pressed crotch

Finish attaching your back pant legs to the front pant legs as your instructions say to. 

Attaching Bodice to Pants

Now it's time to attach the bodice! You will attach the bodice as normally instructed, the only difference is that there will be a center back opening. You will also not be finishing your seam as there is currently no bodice lining attached to your garment. Simply skip that part for now. 

A pair of white hands is attaching the bodice to the pants with right sides togetherA pair of white hands is attaching the bodice to the pants with right sides together. Dappled light hits the wooden cutting boardThe back opening of the jumpsuit is seen with the bodice and pants having been attached with pins. Dappled light hits the wooden cutting board

Feel free to take a quick break here -- you've accomplished a lot! Walking around, grabbing something refreshing to drink, or stretching are all good options to help refresh for the next little bit!

Once you have taken a quick break, feel free to try your jumpsuit on again just to see how it's fitting. If you need to, you can quickly adjust the straps now for the perfect fit!

Waist Ties + Casings

Now it's time for the waist ties and casing! Let's start with the waist ties. Instead of sewing the two pieces together to create one long waist tie, we will be creating two. To start, finish off one short end of each waist tie piece. 

Two different blue colored waist ties are lying on a wooden cutting board, each with a short end serged. A cup of tea sits in the upper left hand corner.

Now you can follow your instructions to finish off each of your waist ties separately. This includes folding your waist ties in half lengthwise and sewing along the long, raw edge. 

A light blue waist tie folded in half lengthwise and pinned into place. IT sits on a wooden chopping block with a candle and cup of tea in the upper left hand corner.

Then trimming your seam in half.

A light blue waist tie folded in half lengthwise with half of its seam trimmed and a pair of black scissors sitting under it. IT sits on a wooden chopping block with a candle and cup of tea in the upper left hand corner.

And finally turning your waist tie out with a chopstick, your fingers, or a safety pin before pressing it flat!

A pair of white hands is pulling the waist tie right side out using a rouleau turner. Underneath this action is a wooden chopping blockA pair of white hands is pulling the waist tie right side out using a rouleau turner. Underneath this action is a wooden chopping blockThe waist tie is completely turned right side out and is sitting on top of the wooden cutting board with a pair of black scissors in the upper left hand cornerA pair of white hands is ironing the waist tie on a makeshift ironing block that is brown with french writing all over it

Set your waist ties aside while you tackle the casings. Just like your waist ties, instead of sewing the two casing pieces together to create one long casing, we will be creating two. To start, finish off one short end of each casing piece. 

Two different blue colored  casings are lying on a wooden cutting board, each with a short end serged.

Then, following the instructions in your booklet, you will create two separate casing pieces. These steps include ironing the unfinished short ends of your tie casings towards the wrong side by 1/2" (1,3 cm) and then another 1/2" (1,3 cm). Stitch the inner folded edge.

A close up of one end of a blue casing with the short end folded back twice and pinned into place. It sits on a light brown ironing board covered in dark brown french writing

With RST, press the long edges of your casing in by 3/8" (1 cm) just as you might do if you were making bias tape. 

 A white hand folds the two long ends of a dark blue casing in towards itself in preparation for ironing what looks like bias tapeThe finished dark blue casing that has just been ironed to look like bias tape sits with an iron in the upper right corner on top of a light brown ironing board with french writing all over it.

It's time to officially sew your casing onto your jumpsuit! Starting with the finished end of your casing, line it up with the CB opening of your jumpsuit. Place your casing so that it is straddling the waist seam. 

A pair of white hands places a dark blue casing with the finished edge against the CB opening of the Jumpsuit and begins to pin the casing into place

Pin your casing into place until you reach the edge of your patch pocket OR your waist notch if you opted for inseam pockets. 

A pair of white hands continues pinning the dark blue casing into place until it reaches the front patch pocket edge

Both casings have been pinned to the jumpsuit as it lies on the wooden cutting block with the CB facing up

Edgestitch the top and bottom edge of your casings into place. Make sure you leave both short ends of your casing open for the waist tie. 

To finish up your casing + waist tie you'll need to pull each waist tie through one of the casings using a safety pin. 

A white hand holds up one end of a waist tie that has a small safety pin attached to it. In the background is the jumpsuit lying on the cutting boardA pair of white hands guides the safety pin and waist tie through one of the casingsA pair of white hands guides the safety pin and waist tie through one of the casingsA pair of white hands guides the safety pin and waist tie through one of the casings

Pin your waist tie at the CB seam and baste into place so that it doesn't slip through the entire casing. 

A white hand holds up on of the CB seams showing a pin holding the waist tie and casing into place

Finish the ends of each waist tie by tying them into knots. 

A white hand showcases both ends of the waist ties tied into small knots. The blue jumpsuit is seen in the background.

WHEW! That was quite a bit, wasn't it? I think it's possibly time for one more break before tackling the zipper, lining and finishing touches of your jumpsuit! This kind of jumpsuit takes a lot more time than normal, so I hope you are taking care of yourself throughout this process!

Inserting Your Zipper!

Lay your jumpsuit in front of you so that the CB seam opening is facing you. With your zipper open, place one edge of the zipper tape along the finished CB seam edge. 

A pair of white hands places an invisible black zipper into place along the CB opening of the blue jumpsuit

Pin your zipper into place.

A pair of white hands pins an invisible black zipper into place along the CB opening of the blue jumpsuitAn invisible black zipper has been pinned to one side of the CB opening of the dual blue colored jumpsuit

Make sure that you leave a small opening from the bottom of your zipper to where you stopped sewing your jumpsuit crotch closed. We need this opening for now to ensure a smooth finish at the end of the zipper. 

A white hand shows the end of the black zipper and how it has not been pinned all the way to where the double notches of the crotch are located.

With your zipper foot, sew your zipper in place as close to the zipper teeth as you can possibly get!

Before moving to the other side of the zipper, we want to make sure that your waist seams are matching perfectly. Close your zipper. On the unsewn zipper half, snip a tiny notch where the top edge of your casing hits the zipper tape. 

A white hand spreads the unsewn side of the zipper to show a tiny notch located right at the top edge of the casing.

Now you can pin your unsewn zipper half to the other side of your jumpsuit and sew it into place. Make sure you don't accidentally twist the zipper before attaching it (this part honestly always takes me a few minutes to ensure I don't do just that!). 

A flat lay of the back of the dual toned jumpsuit showing a perfectly sewn invisible zipper and matching casings

Close up that little opening we left just below the zipper. Join the remainder of the CB opening, starting a smidgen below the end of the zipper and ending when you reach the stitches you made near the double notches.

A white hand shows the little opening beneath the zipper and above the double notches pinned closed, ready to be sewn together

**Quick Tip: I like to keep my zipper foot on my sewing machine to finish this bit up. I set my needle all the way to the right hand side and with my zipper foot attached, I am able to get REALLY close to the bottom edge of my zip without yelling at my machine for sewing together little puckers!

Now you can turn your garment right side out and admire your work for a bit. Go on, I won’t judge if you give yourself a high five!

Close up of the dual toned jumpsuit with the invisible zipper zipped all the way up

We are nearly done! To finish up the jumpsuit, you need to add in the lining.

Adding the Bodice Lining

First, iron the bottom edge of your lining towards the wrong side by 1/2" (1,3 cm).

With RST, attach your bodice lining to your main bodice along the neckline, strap opening, under arm seams, and down the length of the zipper. 

A flat lay of a black bodice lining pinned along the front neckline, strap opening and underarm of the jumpsuit bodice. A pair of scissors and pins is in the right hand corner

A black lining pinned to the CB opening of the jumpsuit along with the Back Neckline and underarms. Scissors and pins are in the upper right hand cornerClose up of the lining being pinned along the edge of the zipper tape with the bottom edge of the lining being turned up 1/2" (1,3 cm)

Note that you will be sandwiching your straps between the lining and main bodice and may have to wriggle it about when you sew that area.

Once the lining and the main fabrics have been sewn together, it is time to clip, clip, clip! Clip little triangles out around any curves, the strap points, and your neckline points. Be careful not to clip through your stitching line!

A pair of white hands clipping the back neckline with little triangles of fabric to allow the garment to lie flat when turned right side outA pair of white hands clipping the back neckline with little triangles of fabric to allow the garment to lie flat when turned right side outA flat lay of the black lining with loads of little triangles cut out from the front neckline. The scraps of the fabric cut out are sitting in the upper right corner with a pair of black scissors just below them

Turn your bodice right side out and understitch your necklines and underarms as far as you can. 

A flat lay of the inside of the jumpsuit bodice showing the understitched necklines

Press your necklines and underarms for a crisp finish. 

To finish attaching your lining, pin the pressed edge to the waist seam making sure you match up all the side seams with one another. 

A white hand is putting the lower edge of the bodice lining into place while one hand reaches for a pin to secure it. A pair of white hands are pinning the lower ironed edge of the black lining into place

Carefully hand stitch your lining into place. You want to make extra certain that you don't accidentally sew through your casing and catch your waist ties in your stitches. If you do, you won't be able to pull your waist ties to use them!

A close up of the hand sewn lining at the CB edge near the invisible zipper. There are visible whip stitches where the lining was delicately attached to the inner jumpsuit

Finishing Touches

We have officially made it to the end of this hack! To finish up your jumpsuit, hand sew a hook and eye to the top of your CB bodice opening. This isn't always necessary, but I always feel it adds a polished finish to the garment which I love!

A white hand holds up a small silver hook that has been sewn with blue thread to one side of the inner jumpsuits black lining.

All that’s left is to hem your garment and add an optional cuff if you would like. For instructions on these, refer to the Finishing Touches section of your instruction booklet

Et Voila! You have officially completed your zippered back Olive! I think that deserves a serious high five - you did it!

A white woman's back is shown as she puts up her hair. She is wearing a dual blue colored jumpsuit with an invisible zipper down the backA super close up of white woman's back is shown. She is wearing a dual blue colored jumpsuit with an invisible zipper down the backA white woman's back and part of her face is shown as she rests her arms on a white bakers rack filled with plants. She is wearing a dual blue colored jumpsuit with an invisible zipper down the back

 

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