Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hard-won sewing tip #1: Quality Hardware

Good hardware and quality haberdashery won't solve your life's problems, but they will prevent a bit of heartache.

What happened?

I had a denim tragedy. I'd made a beautiful pair of jeans, which is a large investment of time (because I'm slow). As I tried them on to photograph them... the zip pull disintegrated. After some tears, I unpicked the zip. Then I hand-sewed in another higher quality zip. The fly will never look quite right.

It's just not the same.

The zip I originally used was a no-name special. It wasn't particularly cheap in price, but it also wasn't a YKK or RTW-style zip. Yes, other cheap zips have been successful. But would this one have failed, if I bought a proper brand to begin with? Less likely, I think.

What's the solution?

Using the powers of Google, I bought about 20 YKK zippers from ZipperStop for about $50 including shipping. Brilliant! This is both cheaper than Spotlight, and less likely to end in disaster.

In summary: quality hardware and haberdashery reduce the risk of failure.

This lesson is not limited to zips. If your thread keeps breaking or shredding, and getting messed up in your machine... try a higher quality thread. I have few problems with Gutermann or Metrosene. Cheap elastic tends to lose its stretch. And fabric with a high polyester percentage seems to pill and fray quicker.

Don't let your materials spoil your hard work! I think it's better to have one hard-wearing pair of jeans than two cheaper ones that fall apart. Your time is invested in that sewing, too.


  1. Sorry about your denim disaster. I am slowly working my way up to good quality everything. i am on a fabric fast but when I do buy fabric again it will be fewer pieces of better quality and the not-so-fabulous quality material I have will go on muslins.

    1. That's exactly where I'm at - using up the hastily/cheaply bought fabrics on muslins, and actually investing in proper fabric!

      Brilliant idea.

  2. I'm sorry about your zip disaster. I agree with you about high polyester mixes - I've got a few, and I'm going to make them up, but not with great investment of emotional energy and time. I think, like Valerie, it may be better, once a garment technique is mastered, to invest in better quality everything.

    1. Good idea, to not be too attached to the things you create from lower quality materials! Sometimes they turn out fine, and sometimes you can see why they were cheap.

      I even think beginners should buy nice fabric (on sale), instead of yuck fabric that's cheap. It can be really disheartening to work with cheap fabric - difficulties sewing/pressing, not to mention the end product. I wouldn't want a beginner to think their skills are the problem when it is actually the materials.


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