Inserting A Zip Into Lace

back zipWhen I think of zip insertions, I recall the lyrics to a Beatles song: The long and winding road … I probably inserted, ripped out and re-inserted this zip about five times. Thank goodness that these days I at least have the sense to baste first.

This was a particular challenge because of the single layer of lace in the upper back bodice. I first inserted the zip with no reinforcing of the seams. Big mistake. Every time I did up the zip, I could feel the lace pulling and stretching. This was a ruined dress waiting to happen and I wasn’t having that.

I did a bit of thinking. I know! I’ll reinforce those raw seams with selvedges from some silk organza. A great theory, but in practice the cream silk organza was very visible through the lace. Not good enough. Not good enough at all.

Organza selvedge Collage

I ripped out the zip (again) and racked my brains. What could I do instead? Selvedges, selvedges… I knew my instincts were moving in the right direction. After all, selvedges provide great stability. The lace! I could rescue a selvedge from the lace. So, that’s what I did.


I hope you can see in the photo below, where a strip of lace selvedge has been basted to the raw seam on one side. On the other side, you can see the inserted zip.

lace selvedgeThis worked! My zip insertion felt much more stable and I no longer had to worry about the back bodice stretching out of shape or my zip tearing free of the seam. A bit of lateral thinking did just the trick.

So what is it for you? Selvage or selvedge?

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35 Responses to Inserting A Zip Into Lace

  1. Chris says:

    Of course as a non- native speaker I don’t qualify at all. But I had always thought it was selvedge.
    Very timely zip tip as I want to make an unlined lace bomber jacket next. Thank you!

  2. Maria says:

    Either spelling is acceptable according to the OED. I prefer ‘selvedge’ as it’s closer to its origin ‘self edge’.

  3. Mary Anne says:

    Love lateral thinking to get round a problem, for me it is selvedge!

  4. Beth says:

    So you did salvage your dress with a selvedge 😀

  5. what a brilliant solution!

  6. Alison says:

    My thoughts entirely Beth! Really neat “zip work”

  7. Sue Lawson says:

    Great tip however you’re spelling it – I’m understanding and digesting! Thanks

  8. sew2pro says:

    A great tip: I won’t forget this one. A Boden-style lace dress for the summer is definitely on the to do list; just need to find the right colour lace.

  9. Ruth says:

    Impressive! That dress is GORGEOUS!

  10. Oh, that’s so clever. At the moment I’m just trying to build up zip skills by inserting them in skirts and zippy bags. Selvedge for me.

  11. jennifersews says:

    such a timely tip! I have been going round in circles trying to put a neat side zip in as I was worried about a centre back lace zip…problem solved! thanks 🙂

  12. Lizzy says:

    This is seriously clueful, plus I can’t believe how stunning this dress is – literally the colour of happiness! I might try this technique when putting a zip into knit fabrics – I’ve had so many disasters because the fabric moves all over the place and then stretches at the wrong moment.

  13. Ros says:

    Selvedge! I think selvage might be the US spelling?

  14. Angela says:

    Beautiful – I will definitely use this idea!

  15. Elisabeth says:

    Both spellings look right to me. I like the idea of using selvedges to stabilize seams, etc. rather than seam tape. It always bothers me that I can’t use that little bit of fabric.

  16. jay says:

    Pretty nifty! I hope I remember this tip next time I’m wrestling with lace.

  17. Definitely “selvedge” and a very nice use thereof. Really like this dress. The lace is beautiful. Xx

  18. Ros says:

    I wonder if another solution might be to use the selvedge from the lining fabric, or some red silk organza. Might add a little less bulk than the lace?

  19. Gail says:

    Good piece of lateral thinking. Zips and lace aren’t natural friends.

  20. I use both interchangeably…lovely bit of work missus. I’d have done it by hand and saved all that stress!

  21. LinB says:

    In this case, “selvage” is close to “salvage,” so that seems appropriate.

    Me, myself, and I prefer “selvedge.”

  22. Berte says:

    Another solution would be to use skin coloured fabric (perhaps dyeing your salvaged selvedge the right colour) as stabilizer, to make the seam allowance disappear. Like Kenneth D. King did in his sheer jeans some years ago (Threads magazine). Good job anyway!

    • Geo P says:

      I was going to suggest the same thing, cream organza would disappear against the skin.
      Sheer jeans?! Where would one wear them?

  23. shoes15 says:

    Very resourceful!

  24. Drew says:

    Wow this is really tough, but you made it look so easy. Great idea, thanks for posting!

  25. Congrats on getting that zipper in! I always visit ‘Mastering Zipper Techniques’ on Craftsy before inserting any zipper. It’s a free class and works like a charm 🙂

  26. New Capel Street: Fabric Division says:

    First time commenter, but I’ve been reading (and envying!) for some time. That looks fantastic! I like the tiny bit of extra bulk that using the selvedge provides, it looks solidly constructed and stable while not actually being too bulky or unsightly.

  27. Sue says:

    Very tricky zip insertion! It’s tough working with lace. Well done!

  28. What a clever tip! Now that I know to properly insert a zipper into lace, maybe I can find a pattern to use with the lace remnant I’ve been hoarding. 😉

  29. danvillegirl says:

    I think I use selvage-American slang. I am familiar with bales of textiles that are sold to Salvage Dealers. I like selvedge as well. What is important is how you inserted the zipper and this information was most helpful as I am currently working on a lace overlay skirt and was not sure how I would work with the zipper. Your post has given me a great option on what to do!!

  30. Nedoux says:


    I enjoyed reading this. Lace is such an elegant fabric, but can be tricky to sew sometimes.

    Ah! I learned my lesson a long time ago, I first hand-baste before machine sewing a zip. Ripping seam after seam can be so frustrating. XD

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