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MYOG Pit Zips
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Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
MYOG Pit Zips on 01/17/2010 15:22:59 MST Print View

I have long wished my ID eVent rain jacket had pit zips, and I finally decided to install some myself. First, I practiced on my cheapie Driducks rain jacket. It worked just fine, so I put them in my ID jacket.

It turns out it takes more courage than technical skill. The skills required are straightforward sewing. The courage is cutting into a $240 jacket! Here are the steps I used and pictures of the ID eVent jacket during surgery.

Step 1: I scotch-taped a standard polyester 16" zipper, with the zipper tab face down, onto the inside of the jacket, making sure the zipper teeth were aligned on top of the jacket seam. It doesn't matter that it's a separating zipper, because the installation takes care of that, as described below. I put the mid-point of the zipper at the intersection of the side seams and the sleeve seam. I also pulled the zipper tab down a little over an inch.

Zipper taped to jacket

Tape close up

Step 2: Using a zipper foot on the sewing machine, I stitched the zipper to the jacket, reinforcing the seams across the top and bottom of the zipper. Note that I stitched about an inch below the metal finishes on the zipper at each end, making the zipper shorter by about 2 inches than its original length. The needle has no trouble stitching across the scotch tape or across the zipper. This takes care of the fact that the zipper originally separated at the top. It's now stitched together at both ends. Peel off the tape after stitching. Here are 2 pictures of the stitching.

Close up of stitching top

close up of bottom

Here's a picture of the stitching from the right side.

Right side

Step 3: Cutting! First, trim the excess zipper off at both ends.

zipper scraps

Then, turn the jacket to the right side, take a deep breath, and using small, sharp scissors, start cutting along the seam. I began and ended the cutting about an inch inside the stitching across the ends of the zipper. Unzip the zipper! Pit zips!

Open zips

The jacket, formerly 9 oz, now weighs 9.4 oz with the trimmed zippers.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: MYOG Pit Zips on 01/17/2010 15:56:53 MST Print View


Your Pit Zips are way COOL! :-)

Warning! You, like me, appear to have been bitten by the MYOG Bug. Deet will not get rid of the MYOG bug. You now must resign yourself to the fact that you are destined to have really cool, relatively inexpesive, practical, useful and customized/custom made hiking gear.

There is no cure! The only thing that gives relief to one bitten by the MYOG bug is another visit to the sewing machine and another project. :-)

Seriously, your pit zips look very professionally done. Great work! Great pictures! Very clear and concise step by step how to do it text.

Party On ! 2010


todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: MYOG Pit Zips on 01/17/2010 19:47:09 MST Print View


What courage! I'm just learning to sew, myself.

Just today, while on a 14 mile day-hike, the wind picked up and I was getting a little cold so I reached for my windshirt. After I went further downhill the wind was mostly blocked and I was wishing for pit-zips!

Now I know what to do.


Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
MYOG Pit Zips on 01/17/2010 20:29:21 MST Print View

I have learned so much from this site, that I'm only too glad to pass along something that I hope is useful to others.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
MYOG Pit Zips on 01/18/2010 07:43:57 MST Print View

Personally I think all jackets should have pit zips in them.

I put zips in a heavy polarguard jacket back in the 70's. That was my first attempt at pit zips and after that I was sold.

Huge difference in comfort level.

Elizabeth Camp
(scamp_80) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
MYOG Pit zips on 01/18/2010 12:57:46 MST Print View

This was a timely post for me since I was considering the exact same modification for my jacket! I have one question though.

Might the fabric on the jacket that was cut fray at the ends? How could this fraying be prevented/addressed?

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
MYOG Pit Zips on 01/18/2010 13:21:24 MST Print View

Luckily, the jacket doesn't show any signs of fraying where I cut it. If it had, I would have tried heat sealing the edges by dragging the cut edges quickly and carefully along a candle flame. This could be tricky because the two cut edges are so close together and the zipper itself is polyester and could melt. I would fold the jacket along the zipper, getting as much out of the way as possible so that the little bit of cut seam sticks out. Then drag it through the flame.

Maybe someone else has more experience/ideas?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: MYOG Pit zips on 01/18/2010 14:12:40 MST Print View

> Might the fabric on the jacket that was cut fray at the ends? How could this
> fraying be prevented/addressed?
It did occur to me that maybe the seam could have been undone rather than cut. That might have given enough material to allow a turn-under. But there might have been a seam-seal strip in the way.

Otherwise, coated fabric does not fray very easily, and should not be too much of a problem. You can always sew a zig-zag over the edge as well.


Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
MYOG Pit Zips on 01/18/2010 19:26:12 MST Print View

The seam did indeed have tape over it, so even though I was able to carefully snip the threads in the seam, I still had to cut through the tape. Done carefully enough, you shouldn't have to acually cut the fabric.

Zigzagging the opened seam is a good idea, but if you sew the zipper to the jacket before cutting open the seam (highly recommended to keep everything aligned), then you won't be able to zigzag the seam close to the ends of the zipper very well. You could do it by hand, I suppose, sort of like a blanket stitch. But as Roger says, coated rain jacket fabric probably isn't going to fray anyway.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Pitzips on 01/19/2010 06:40:23 MST Print View

Using a thin soldering iron works like the candle but can be much more accurate without worry of melting adjacent areas. Depending on how much fraying there is the tip can get a big gunky, but nothing that can't be smeared/cleaned off.

Eric Beaudry
(itbvolks) - F
Hot cutting. on 01/19/2010 09:47:57 MST Print View

I'd recommend hot cutting the seam.

How I'd recommend doing it is by the following:

- Sew the entire zipper in place (as shown above).
- Unzip the zipper folding the area back complete and fasten edged back (taping usually works).
- Using a heavy blade (think utility knife) heat the blade until it's hot (I use my canister stove on low). The blade doesn't need to be red hot.
- Then cut through the seam area between the zippered area.

This should cut/melt through the material like a warm knife through butter. This leaves a very nice clean cut edge that won't fray on you.

Looks really nicely done. Congrats!

Edited by itbvolks on 01/19/2010 09:53:59 MST.

Eric Smith
(ES) - F
Button Hole on 01/22/2010 17:32:53 MST Print View

If your sewing machine has an automatic button hole feature, it could be useful for adding vents. Instead of using a button to set the size, just tap the reverse lever manually, so you can make a "button hole" as long as you want. Then install the zipper & slit the button hole open. It will be strong & not fray. It's just two parallel rows of tight zig zag stiches with full width zig zag stiches at the ends, so you could do it manually on just about any machine.

Kevin Beeden
(captain_paranoia) - F

Locale: UK
Fraying edges on 01/27/2010 12:20:45 MST Print View

Nicely done, Kathleen.

> Might the fabric on the jacket that was cut fray at the ends?

Since Kathleen cut through the seam seal tape, I think it's unlikely that there will be much fraying; the seam seal tape is likely to hold everything together. And, as Roger says, the coating will do a similar job, too. Of course, a hot knife will make a nice job.

In theory, there should always be enough spare fabric to insert a zipper in a simple cut opening; I've certainly done this in fleece pullovers. It does take a little care to put the first (hidden) seam in the right place, before you fold it all back for the second (fixing) seam. The zipper teeth and some of the backing tape will be visible, though, so Kathleen's method will act a bit like a fancy 'waterproof zip'.

The secret to inserting a zip 'properly' is to fold the fabric in half along the zip opening, and place the zip on the edge of the face side of the fabric, with the zipper teeth and other half of the zip 'inside' the fabric outline, i.e. sitting over the body of the fabric. Then when you fold the fabric over to sew the second, fixing seam, the zip is now in the middle of the opening where it's meant to be...

I think, re-reading that description, I'd recommend looking at a good sewing book...

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
Waterproof zippers on 04/29/2010 17:50:39 MDT Print View

any source for waterproof zippers that could be used to do this project?

David Franzen
(dfranzen) - F

Locale: Germany
Re: Waterproof zippers on 04/29/2010 18:40:14 MDT Print View

any online store selling fabric probably sells waterproof zippers. here are 4. , scroll down a bit to about half of the page