That’s better, or how to fix a crappy zip

Anyone who has watched the final of The Great British Sewing Bee will probably know that I had more than a little trouble with the (bloody) zip in the back of my (sodding) evening gown. That damn thing reduced me to a sweating mass of gibbering tearfulness, all of which was totally unnecessary had I just taken a step back and thought for a minute.

But, you know, time pressure yada yada yada.

Excitingly, all the clothes I made on the show were sent back to me last week, so I finally had a chance to redeem myself. Also, to use the pintuck shirt as a fire starter (but that’s another story).

Here is the back of the dress with the original zip. Pretty terrible, right?


I didn’t take into account how lightweight the silk fabric was, mainly because I had practiced the dress using cheap poly satin that was much more robust. The first order of business was to remove the bling from the waistband, unpick the lining, and rip out the zip (gently, of course).


kill it with fire

I then fused a strip of very lightweight woven interfacing to the wrong side of the silk, either side of the zip opening. This adds just enough support for the weight of the zip, and would have been SO BLOODY EASY to do in the sewing room *slaps self*.


Next, for a new zip – invisible this time, sewn in by hand to avoid stretching the silk. Stitch the lining to the zip tape, reattach the bling, and that’s it. A not-crap zip insertion.




  1. Jacky

    Hind sight is such a wonderful thing! Congratulations on winning GBSB and even more so for putting the (bloody) zip in again 🙂

  2. Monique

    Charlotte – it looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing the wonderful tip! I was thrilled when they announced you as the winner! As the mother to young female scientists (graduate school) it was delightful to show that women with a science bent are just as creative and crafty as others. Well done! I am a knitter as well so I will have to check out the pattern for the lovely green cardigan that you wore on the Bee. Congratulations again on a very well deserved victory!

  3. Andee Novotny McKeown

    So (sew) easy when you have time, no cameras etc. Beautiful dress and wonderful finish by the way. Annihilation for the old zip!

  4. Janet Clark

    I wondered if they even had fusible tape in the haberdashery!? Hand sewn, great way to go. Congrats on the Bee! It must feel great to be able to make it right. 🙂

  5. Ann

    You’ve redeemed yourself ( in your eyes only. No redemption necessary from most/all of the rest of us). This is brilliant.

  6. Looks fabulous! I agree on the hindsight thing! Always easy to think of something when there’s no time pressure. That’s the ‘buggeration factor’ at work! You’re probably still being quite hard on yourself tho. If you’d handed me a zip in that sewing room with cameras on me and judges watching and a clock ticking I would probably have tried to sew it to my own face in panic!

    Sacrificing the old zip to the fire gods would probably be very satisfying all the same!

  7. Lynsey

    It’s amazing what a difference adding the interfacing has made, something I overlook a lot so hopefully will now remember. It’s a stunning frock!!

  8. I’m glad to know the clothes go back to you! Here in the states on project runway (closest thing we have to the sewing bee and not nearly as awesome) I believe the show owns/keeps the garments. Also, I was rooting for you and am so proud of you! Love the new tattoo.

  9. Kathy

    well do e for going back to the (bloody) zip I would have been tempted the throw the whole ot in the bin! great to get your tips x

  10. peppermintpenguin

    I don’t sew with silk, or slippy, or bling. but in general interfacing is likely to be part of any sewing. so I should have thought of that when I saw the trouble you had! Glad it worked.

    the biggest problem with that whole programme concept is disallowing thinking and fixing mistakes because they think pressure is entertaining.

    Loved that podcast interview you did – very enlightening.

  11. Erin

    Just listened to the Crafty Planner episode (and now I have a new podcast that I love, yay!), and NO – your model was NOT FIFTY….Dude.

    Great interview. (:

  12. Sam

    I’m so happy you fixed that zip, it was giving me nightmares! Congratulations on the well deserved win, I look forward to following your blog x

  13. Speattle from Ravelry

    Wow, what a world of difference! You showed that zipper who is the Queen Bee! I knew you could do it. Would it be possible to see a picture of the inside with the lining too?

    I just had a fight with a zipper insertion on a dress for my little granddaughter. Took a re-do, but I won in the end!

  14. Estelle

    Morning Charlotte

    Honoré, my 10 yr old daughter, finally watched the final last night. When I told her about this post she wanted to know “did she do it under the same amount of hours?” (i think i may need to work on her grammar). So how long did it take to redo that flipping bloody zip

  15. Mem

    I was sending you messages telepathically but ah well. The dress was very well made considering the horrible conditions

  16. Julie Pauley

    You won! Please stop beating yourself up! I do love that you went back and fixed what you were not happy about and shared your lesson learned with us. Other than my sewing machine, my most used tool in my sewing room is my seam ripper. 🙂 Well done. I am so happy for you.

  17. Claire

    That looks amazing the second time around. Congratulations on winning GBSB you thoroughly deserved it. I must admit I watched the whole thing not knowing who would win at all. It was so close.

  18. I’m impressed that you went back and fixed it, rather than shoving the offending thing in a bag where it could ponder its misdeeds forever.

    Though, it’s pretty cool that they let you keep all the things you made during the show. Even if some of them aren’t quite what you wanted them to be.

  19. Kathy G.

    Wow that dress looks so much better now! Hindsight is great. Under the pressure of time constraints and just being in the room with others in a competition will unnerve the best person. Congratulations on your winning the Great British Sewing Bee! yay! Thank you for posting this – it’s really helpful! Kathy from Arizona, USA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *