Couture With Claire
with Claire Shaeffer
There are dozens of ways to set a zipper into a fly placket, but this couture method delivers excellent results. I first discovered this application on a pair of Yves Saint Laurent pants, and you'll find that it belies any notion that couture techniques are difficult.
The Fly Zipper
In this couture method, the fly opening is machine stitched first. Then the zipper is sewn into the opening by hand. This procedure allows you to set the zipper into any type of opening (slot, lapped, bound or fly) with the control that hand sewing permits, but without sacrificing the integrity of the design. The stitching also reinforces the edges and holds the layers flat. In couture, fly plackets are usually finished with extended facings that are cut as a part of the front, instead of with a separate facing like men's trousers. The result is more flattering and less bulky.
Prepare the Placket
Mark the foldlines on the overlap and underlap pieces at the zipper opening with long hand-basting stitches.
If the opening has an interfacing pattern, fuse or sew the interfacing fly piece to the fly extensions on the fabric wrong side (1). If the pattern doesn't have an interfacing pattern, create one by tracing the fly extension section that will be folded to the fabric wrong side.
Cut a 1Ú2"-wide fabric strip from lightweight silk to create a stay for the fly opening of each pant piece. The stay length should be approximately that of the pattern fly opening. Moisten and press the strip to remove the fabric stretch.
Position the stays over the marked foldlines on the fabric wrong side of each pant front piece. Pin the stay ends in place; then pin toward the stay center, easing the pant fabric as needed. Use a long running stitch to sew the stay in place (2).
Stitch the pant front pieces together at the center front, beginning at the zipper opening lower edge and ending about 2" from the pant inseams (3).
Fold under the seam allowances on both sides of the placket; baste G" from the folded edge beginning at the opening lower edge. Baste the waist edge. Press the folded edges.
Prepare the Zipper
Press the zipper tape to remove any folds. If the zipper is longer than the opening, measure beginning at the upper edge and mark the finished length. At the marked length, stitch a thread bar over the zipper teeth.
Cut off the zipper H" to 1" below the thread bar.
Overcast-stitch or bind the zipper lower edge.
Set the Zipper
On the right pant front (overlap) piece, mark the fly stitching line using thread tracing or chalk. With the fabric right side up, stitch along the marked line, ending at the crotch seamline (4). Pull the threads through to the wrong side using a calyx-eyed needle. Knot and trim the thread ends.
On the left pant front (underlap), stitch close to the folded edge, keepin...