Easy money-saving tricks the tailor won’t tell you

January 28, 2016

When it's a small job, sometimes you don't need to spend money at a tailor. Here's how to replace a zipper and hem a skirt the way the pros do.

Easy money-saving tricks the tailor won’t tell you

Before you begin...

Before you do anything else, you must first thread a needle. However, trying to get super-thin thread into a tiny eye of the needle can be frustrating! But not if you follow these 6 easy steps:

  1. Measure the thread you’ll need, double the length, then add a couple inches at the end for the knot.
  2. Use scissors to snip off the thread from the spool, so you’ll get a clean line that’ll make it easier to thread through the needle.
  3. Tie the ends of the thread together to form an anchoring knot that’ll prevent it from sliding through the eye.
  4. Twist the looped end together and wet it slightly so it keeps at a point.
  5. Hold up the needle close to your face and close one eye so you can focus on the small eye more efficiently.
  6. Gently poke the looped end through the eye, and pull it through the other side.

Replacing a zipper

Try to pick a replacement zipper that’s at least the same length as the broken one.

  • You can always cut a bit off the top if it’s too long.
  • Match the material (plastic or metal) to the one you had before.
  • Actually zip it up and down beforehand to make sure it works before sewing it on.

To get the old zipper off:

  • Use needle-nose pliers or small pointy scissors to remove the existing stitching. It's that simple!

To sew the new zipper on:

  • Put the new zipper on the right side of the material.
  • Insert pins every couple of inches to temporarily secure it in place.
  • Add about an eighth of an inch of clearance to make sure the zipper doesn’t catch in the fabric when you use it.
  • A denim weight needle will work for most fabrics, except leather. (You’ll need a special needle for that.)
  • Stitch on the inside of the material. You can use a sewing machine or do it by hand.
  • If you choose the latter, use a long length basting stitch for the best results.
  • Just be patient with whichever method you choose, and your zipper will soon be attached.

Hemming a skirt

Because of a skirt’s shape and line, sewing a hem is one of the most straightforward jobs. The most difficult part comes in deciding how much of a hem you want, then setting it in place. Most skirts look best with a hemline of an inch or less.

  • Use a ruler or measuring tape to carefully measure the hemline and mark it out with chalk.
  • Then insert pins every couple of inches to mark the line you’ll be sewing.
  • As with the zipper, you can choose between a sewing machine or doing it by hand.

However, there’s a bit more flexibility with the type of stitch you can use, with these four options being the best ones:

  • Blind stitch for near-invisibility.
  • Fell stitch for heavier fabrics so the thread only goes through half of the top layer.
  • Left-to-right catch stitch for elasticity and strength.
  • Slip stitch if you’ve got a double-fold hem and want to hide the stitch line.

Although it may take a bit of time, dedication and practice, soon you’ll be threading a needle, replacing a zipper and hemming a skirt like a pro before you know it!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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