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Holly Jumpsuit Sewalong #10: Zippers, waistlines & waistbands

We're sooooo close, Sewalongers! This week will see the end of the Holly Sewalong, but have no fear - the best part is just beginning. As we wrap things up, we're so excited to see pictures of your Holly's start rolling in... And let's not forget that there are prizes to be had! 

At the end of the sewalong we'll be rounding up everyone's fabulous Holly's for you to vote on. One superstar winner will get 3m of custom or gallery printed fabric, plus a BHL pattern of their choice and a super exclusive BHL goodie bag to boot, while the two runner-up sewists hot on the winners heels will also be snapping themselves up a goodie bag each.

Here's how to enter the Holly Sewalong comp:

  • Show us your Holly! Tag us in your tweets and Instagrams @byhandlondon including the hashtag #hollysewalong
  • Share your picrels on our Facebook page for all the fans to see
  • Email us your snapshots to
  • Please make sure your pictures are light, bright and clear
  • Only one entry per person, so if you've already made a gazillion Holly's, please just submit your favourite one
  • All entries need to be in by midnight GMT on Sunday 17th November

*To be taken to all the posts in the Holly Jumpsuit Sewalong, please click here!*

Today we will be:

  • Joining the trousers to the bodice at the waistline - Variations 1 & 2
  • Inserting the invisible zipper - all Variations
  • Closing the remainder of the open side seam - all Variations
  • Assembling and attaching the waistband - Variation 3

The waistline seam - Variations 1 & 2 only

*Before you begin - if you're sewing up the button-down Variation 1, double check that you've basted your centre front before you attempt closing the waistline seam!*

With right sides together, or right side out trousers slotted into your wrong side out bodice (whatever is easiest for you to visualise), pin your bodice and trousers together at the raw waistline edges. 

Make sure that you match the open side seam, the other side seam and the back darts.

For the cowl neck Variation 2, you may find that the waistline at the bodice front seems a little too long for the trouser front's waistline. Don't worry - it's on purpose! This extra bit of ease simply makes for a floatier, drapier bodice. Gently ease this fullness in as you pin, and go slowly as you stitch.

Once it's stitched into place - with the usual 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance - press the seam open and finish. You should have something a bit like this...

...or this:

The invisible zipper - all Variations

If this is your first time inserting an invisible zipper, please don't fret! It's actually very straightforward, and once you've conquered your fear with a little practice, just think of all the things you could make...!

Before you begin, you’ll need to change the foot on your machine to the invisible zipper foot. The invisible zipper foot is unique in that it has two grooves along either side of where the needle goes up and down and in an out of the fabric. These grooves, or tunnels, are what we need to feed the zipper teeth through in order to get our stitching as close to the teeth and as straight as possible.

If you are using an overlocker/serger to finish your seams, it’s a good idea to apply that to your open side seam now, as overlocking a seam once the zipper has been inserted is a nightmare. Just make sure you don’t trim away any excess as you go, as this will mess around with your 5/8” or 15mm seam allowance for your zipper and back seam.

Open the zipper as far as it will go, lay it face down and press the teeth away from the tape. Do this on a low heat, as the zippers are largely plastic after all and have been known to melt.

Place the right side of your zipper facing down and the right side of your fabric facing you. Then, place the right-hand side of the tape down the left-hand opening of your jumpsuit/trousers and pin into place. Bear in mind that zipper tape is not 5/8” or 15mm wide, so you will have to come a little further in from the raw edge in order to achieve the right amount of seam allowance. Double check this with a measuring tape if you’re unsure.

TIP - If you are unsure as to how/where your zipper should be placed, follow these rules as per the variation you are making:

  • Variation 1 - 16" zipper; teeth start from the bust dart
  • Variation 2 - 18" zipper; teeth start the bias binding at the underarm
  • Variation 3 - 8" zipper; tape starts at raw waistline edge

Starting from the top, position the raised teeth in the left hand tunnel of the foot, so that you are stitching to the right of the teeth.

Stitch until the foot meets the zipper pull (which should still be all the way down).

Gently press the fabric to reveal the side you have just stitched. Halfway there!

Now in order to be sure that the waistlines meet perfectly either side of the zipper, zip up your zipper and place a pin on the unstitched side of the zipper tape to mark the waistline.

Unzip your zipper and flip it over so it is lying face down onto the right-hand side open centre back of your jumpsuit, right sides together. Just as you did before, position and pin the loose zipper tape in place down the right-hand edge of your garment, starting with the pin you used to mark the waistline.

Position the teeth in the right hand tunnel of your zipper foot and stitch down the length of the zip.

Now zip up your zipper and gently press from the right side. Done! And woulddya look at that beautifully matched waistline seam?! #score

Closing the remainder of the side seam - all Variations

To close the remainder of the open side seam, we need to swap to a regular zipper foot:

With right sides together pin the remainder of the side seam down to the hem.

Start your line of stitching as close as possible to where the stitching finished on your zip, and just a little bit up from where it ends, and continue to the hem. It may not align perfectly at first, and will certainly be a bit fiddly as the bulk of the zipper gets in the way – so don’t worry!

Once you're done with that, press the seam open, being especially careful when pressing over the zipper - turn down the heat!

The waistband - Variation 3 only

Take your waistband piece and fold it in half lengthways, right sides together. 

Stitch one end shut, 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance as usual. Stitch the other end (as indicated on your pattern piece) in a reverse L shape, starting at the folded edge and ending at the notch on the waistline's raw edge.

Trim away the excess as shown below:

Turn your waistband out to the right side and press. I like to use a chunky crochet hook or something similar to help push out the points.

Pin the waistband to your trousers' waistline so that the waistband's overlap end is pinned to the trouser front.

Stitch the waistband into place, going through all layers. Finish the excess seam allowance to neaten. 

This is the faster, easier way to finish the waistband. For a flawless finish, just seam the right side of the waistband to the trousers' waistline, leaving the raw edge that will be on the inside free. Then press in that unstitched waistband's edge and hand sew it with a blind slip stitch from the inside, thereby perfectly encasing the excess seam allowance at the waistline.

Trouser waistband all done!! Well, almost all done... 

The end of the Holly Jumpsuit Sewalong is nigh, sewists - only one more post to go in which we'll be putting the finishing touches to our Holly's. We can't wait to see all of yours!

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