Zip it UP! Santa Fe Hack!

Today’s my birthday, and for my present to myself (anyone else get to the age where they’re making themselves presents?!) I made myself the perfect nursing-friendly fall top using the Hey June Santa Fe pattern. I’ve made the tank view before (see it here), but I have always drooled over the dolman version, and finally made the time to sew one up- with one important modification- a center zipper!

I’ve seen these on many ready to wear tops and was ready to try it for myself- both to make it nursing friendly and to add a little birthday pizzazz!

This was one of those projects I was afraid to share until after it was completed, as I didn’t know how exactly it would turn out, but I’m delighted to say that it worked out wonderfully, after a little unconventional fabric manipulation.

To start, I cut the smallest size (I often hear that this pattern runs large, but I like the swing and the built in ease as long as I’m wearing a more fitted pant- and since I’m on team #leggingsarerealpants, I figured it would work out just fine). I used the plum single brushed poly from Sly Fox Fabrics– I love this color for fall, and I was curious to see how the single brushed differed from the double brushed poly.

The verdict? I like the single brushed even better than the double brushed- the non-brushed side reminds me of a silk jersey, with a slight sheen and a beautiful drape (but for alot less $$!).This elevates it from “I’m wearing secret pajamas” to “work/date night duds” in a second, and after a few test sews I noticed that it also means that you don’t want to be unpicking any stitches in this fabric.

What did I do with this information? I decided to attempt an off-the-cuff zipper hack, with every chance that unpicking would be necessary. Maybe 36 is the year to try crazy things?

I made up my method as I went along, using some of the experience gleaned from my Midway Bomber Zipper Pocket Hack, a big dose of caffeine and some blind faith. At one point, it look as if all might be lost- but as I got my fabric wet to wash away the wonder tape and try again, I discovered something magical: this fabric was far better behaved wet than dry! Once wet, it stopped shifting around so much, and I was able to get a much cleaner top stitching effect around my zipper- winning!

I just love the cuffed sleeve method on this- they stay put and look really cute!

Since it’s my birthday, and I’m in the mood for presents, I’m sharing a little tutorial with you, in case you want to add a zipper to your Santa Fe (or any!) top.

You’ll need the following supplies:

Ready? Let’s go!

  1. Cut your front piece on the fold, and mark the center front line, about a half inch past your zipper opening with pins.

2. Cut a facing piece that is about 1-2″ longer than your zipper, and an inch or so wider on each side. Apply interfacing to the wrong side of the facing piece in the middle- it doesn’t have to extend to the side edges, but needs to be as long as your facing piece. Finish the edges of your facing piece if desired (I used pinking shears on mine, so it wouldn’t show through).

3. Mark sewing lines on your facing piece. Use your zipper to determine where to stop, and then mark a line in the middle, and 1/4″ out from the middle line on either side.

4. Pin facing piece to the top right sides together, matching the centers.

5. Sew a rectangle on the facing piece, following the outside lines and pivoting across at the bottom.

6. Cut into your rectangle (this is the scary part!), stopping 1/4″ from the bottom and angling toward the corners. Cut closely here- you don’t want to cut through your stitches but the closer  you can get the cleaner your corners will be. Turn facing to the inside and press.

7. Use wondertape to position the zipper in the opening. If you want to topstitch, go ahead and topstitch around the top of the zipper.

8. If you do not want any topstitching, sew the zipper to the facing only, one side at a time and across the bottom.

9. Finish the neckline with binding, turning the edges under at the center front.


You’re done! Enjoy your new zippered Santa Fe! In case you’re wondering….it’s baby approved!

Did you enjoy this tutorial? I’d love to see what you’ve made with it! Share it on my Facebook Page, or visit my Instagram!


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