The Horror of Zippered Tops

For awhile I’ve been frustrated with my tops. Until this year, they were entirely store bought. I also hadn’t bought a new top in so long that most were aging & they made my closet feel like a snooze fest.

In pattern catalogs I’d be drawn to the designs that had more going on than your basic t-shirt. But those were invariably in wovens, not knits. And they were fitted. They called for dreaded zippers!

I have a great aversion to sewing zippers in tops- I still have yet to do one despite (let’s be honest) probably hours spent looking at zippered top patterns. And this makes absolutely no sense as I think of my zippered dresses as being super speedy to put on.

My recent closet inventory revealed that almost all of my tops are knits. They’re just so easy to take on & off. Pull, stretch, on! And they snap right back into shape. I’ve gotten so used to this easy on, easy off that having to sew & use a zipper seemed like some horrible task. Unzipping, wriggling into the top & zipping myself back up at an awkward angle would add so much time to my mornings that I would always miss my train to work & because I’d be always late my boss would fire me & I’d end up destitute, forced to live on the streets as I tried to peddle my immense fabric stash for a few pennies so I could eat a single meal a day at McDonald’s. I’d take up residence downtown by the greasy fried fish fast food place that’s next to an alley & sitting atop a milk crate I’d shout: pure silk $2 a yard! Button a penny, 15 for 10 cents! If you knew how averse I am to McDonald’s & fried fish stink you’d know what kind of a hell I’d be living in.

So what I’ve been meaning to ask you for awhile is what’s your stance on zippered tops? Would you be so kind as to fill out my little poll? Also let me know if you have a favorite zippered top pattern. I need one for my Foundation Garment Challenge.

To further expand the conversation, Steph at 3hourspast posted about how knits seem to be viewed as regular day-to-day clothing by most people (as in those who don’t sew), whereas wovens are seen as being more dressy. This helped me understand why I’ve been so drawn to woven top patterns.

It also made me realize that the few RTW wovens I do own are button down work shirts. Most of my knits are pretty casual & plainly constructed. Some knits can be fancy pants attire though. And funnily enough, those are the shirts in my wardrobe I’m consistently drawn to. I’ve even been entertaining ideas of remaking them.

The thing they have in common is that a tiny bit of extra time went into their construction. Here, you can see a nice contrast piping.knit top, piping

While I wouldn’t go to a grand ball in a t-shirt, these are the shirts I pair with my nicer skirts for a more dressed up & adult look. It seems the key to making knits look more dressy is taking the time to add minimalistic details, i.e. not a bunch of colorful DIY flowers. But, my assessment of this is limited to my own wardrobe. Do you think other elements can make knits look dressy?


19 thoughts on “The Horror of Zippered Tops

  1. Pingback: People Who Don’t Sew « Disparate Disciplines

  2. I don’t know if I’m a fan of woven tops, side zips or anything. BUT, I just figured out some more fitting fixes I can do on blouses, so I’m actually eager to try more. This is new. I’ve really only been sewing dresses lately.

  3. I think I may be contrary, but I do concealed/invisible zips as my first choice, never lapped or centred. Do you use them? If you use the special concealed zip foot for your machine, it rolls back the teeth and it sews in lovely and is hidden in what looks like a seam.

    Also upside down zips (open first at the bottom end) go in the side seams for less wriggling/swearing/late for work moments 😉

  4. I love your description of how zippered tops will make you late for work and then you’ll end up living on the streets =) I just recently omitted the zipper in a woven top, because i could pull it on overhead, but then decided it didn’t look good, too baggy. So eventually i plan to add the zipper back in and reshape the darts.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! It’s so hard trying to find non-knit tops that you can pull on without having to mess around with fasteners. Hope your new zipper doesn’t give you the same fate I fear may befall me.

  5. I don’t to zippered tops, but that’s because I don’t do tops in general. I’ve only recently started really making tops, and those are all knit because I like being able to pull them on and off without thinking. Agree with you on the minimalist details, though — I cringe when I think back to some of my early DIY top refashions, where handmade flower bunches ran rampant.

  6. Although I am not that great at inserting zippers, the fact that zippers in tops are often hidden down the side seam (and often covered up by an arm hanging about) means – I think – that you can get away with zipper imperfection pretty easily in a top (only other sewists notice). Much harder to fudge in a fly!

  7. Generally zippered tops call for a side zipper placement. Unless you go to the additional trouble of putting an inside lap to cover the zipper, I hate the feeling of a zipper against that soft, tender under arm skin. I think a side zipper also tends to take away the smooth drape and flow of the fabric in a place where you really want smooth drape and flow. Back zippers are tricky, if not impossible to close yourself. And front zippers can work on certain styles, but again, front zippers need a tab to protect the skin. All in all I generally avoid side zippers if I can:-/ I would happily replace a zipper with snaps or buttons.

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