Zip right up

by Erin on September 24, 2007

Advance 7712

This dress (from the eBay store The Lyoness's Den) has got a center front zipper closing, which is a feature I always enjoy on purchased vintage dresses, but not something I've ever sewn myself.

I love looking at the design trajectory of center zippers: it seems to me (and I haven't done any real research on this, so be sure to read the comments where it is entirely likely I will be contradicted by someone who has Real Knowledge of this subject) that early on in the days of 'zip fasteners' they were exotic, interesting, expensive … and thus they were featured prominently in designs — front and center as it were. (I have a late 1930s-early 1940s black crepe dress which would have been very expensive, new, that has a center front zipper.) As zippers became more widespread and ordinary, even quotidian, they moved from the front to the side and then the back — out of sight, out of mind — and visible zippers, front-closure zippers, became a sportif or even déclassé thing. Front zippers were for play clothes, coveralls, and housedresses, like this one.

(It's almost like what happened to Velcro: if you are as old as I am, you probably remember when Velcro sneakers had that early-adopter cool, before becoming at first dorky and then unremarkable. I am afraid I've always hated Velcro, though, because I can't stand that horrible noise it makes!)

Anyway, this dress, with its center front zipper, is $9.95 Buy-It-Now and a bust 38. It's advertised as a housedress that's pretty enough to wear out of the house (to the grocery store or whatnot). If I were going to make it, I'd make it in a gray-and-red geometric-print quilting cotton with a bright red, large-toothed, plastic zipper up the front. Fun!

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