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YOU GUYS!!! I finally did it! After staring at them for 3 months and viewing video after video and reading and re-reading instructions, and just generally procrastinating, I FINALLY bit the bullet and attached my zippers to my leaders!!! It was pretty easy. I cannot believe I put it off so long.

I know you all will understand, so I just had to share.

Also, since I was fiddling around with my leaders anyway, and mine have always sagged in the center, even after I bought and installed new leaders, and rolling back and forth with the leaders zipped together didn't really improve the sag much, I decided to work on that as well. With the leaders zipped together, pulled taut with the zipper centered, I spritzed lightly with water, then skimmed the surface with a hot iron to dry it. Still sagging, so I spritzed again, turned on the ceiling fan and walked away. I did that about 4 times and they are almost completely sag free! I think I may roll the zipper to each bar and do the same technique further in on the leader on each side to see if I can get it completely taut all the way across.

Still need to mark inches along the edges.

Tomorrow I will get the other parts of the zippers attached to canvas tabs about 5-6 inches wide so I don't have to worry about running into zippers while quilting. I also need to get grosgrain ribbon (I guess cheap bias tape or hem tape, anything like that should work, too) in different colors. I recall seeing a hint somewhere that some smart person sewed a different color ribbon on the top of each leader and then the same color ribbon on the top side of the matching half of the zipper to make it easier to get it right when pinning/stapling/stitching the quilt parts to the zippers. I think I'll appreciate all the help I can get, because I really don't want to waste my valuable quilting time removing and re-attaching a quilt back I attached wrong.

You can barely see the last little bit of sag near the center mark. (Picture was taken before I stitched the last couple inches of leader to zipper by hand...)

Would love to know if you see anything that should be or could be changed or any handy hints or tips.

LeaderZipper.JPG

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Valerie, CONGRATULATIONS and thanks for posting.  I ordered a set of zippers for my Millie two years ago when I bought my machine, and I STILL have not gotten up the courage to try attaching them to my leaders!  I just keep pinning and telling myself I'll get around to sewing those zippers on some other day that never comes.  I know I'm a total dork but there are so many other things I'm still learning; didn't want to throw a new variable into the mix and have to wonder if maybe I put the zippers on wrong and that was causing me trouble.  Would you mind posting a link to the video tutorial that was helpful to you?  All I know is that you use your longarm machine to sew the zipper to your canvas edge, but I don't get how you make sure the zipper is perfectly centered and aligned and straight all the way down as you're sewing it down.

Rebecca Grace

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Hello! Please forgive me. I am so sorry and I did not mean to seem rude. I have been overwhelmed with work this week and have not been back here.

Thanks for the kind words, Connie.

Rebecca, Thank you. I'm so glad my post is helpful to someone.

On 5/7/2019 at 4:13 PM, Cheeky Cognoscenti said:

All I know is that you use your longarm machine to sew the zipper to your canvas edge, but I don't get how you make sure the zipper is perfectly centered and aligned and straight all the way down as you're sewing it down.

I found the information at this site helpful, though I didn't follow it exactly. I read a few blog posts at various sites to become comfortable with the process.

http://quiltsnkaboodle.blogspot.com/2010/04/attatching-zippers-to-longarm-leaders.html

What I finally did was to mark the center of each zipper part; my leader's centers are already marked.

Next, starting at the center, I pinned the zipper to the take-up leader starting from the center and working out to each end. I faced the pins to point toward the center since I'd be removing them as the machine got close. I tried pinning part of it with the pins crossways/perpendicular to the zipper, but I don't think that made it any easier to pull them.

Then I pinned the other half of the zipper to the front leader. I did not have a strip of fabric pinned between the leaders as shown in the link above because my leaders are fairly new and the edges are the selvedges of the canvas so I knew they should be straight.  If you are not sure about yours, then the method shown at the site linked above may help. I just zipped mine together after pinning, so my leaders were zipped to each other. That way I knew that much was installed correctly.  LOL!

Finally, using my channel locks (My machine does not have them build in, so I use spring clamps to keep the wheels from moving.) so your machine will only move side-to-side with the zippers zipped together and the leaders taut between the bars -- probably one "click" firmer than I roll a quilt top for quilting -- I stitched from the center out to one end, then came back and stitched from the center out to the other end on first one leader, then the other leader. Because either your leaders are straight or you have pinned along a straight line created using the method at the link above,

If you are also attaching a zipper to the front bar for the quilt top, then unzip the two leaders, and zip the remaining half zipper to the take-up leader zipper. That way you know you've got the right one -- and pin that zipper half to the third leader, again starting at the center and working to the ends. Just as before, roll until the leaders are taut between the bars, and stitch from the center to each end.

Voila! Zippers attached and you standing there all proud and wondering why you waited. LOL!

Some notes: You can attach the quilt back to the zippers using whatever method you prefer, pinning, hand basting, or machine basting or chain stitching on a serger or chain stitch machine -- completely your choice.

Some people attach the quilt back and top directly to the zippers. Others, like me, choose to attach a leader to the zipper (mine are 6 inches wide) to keep from wearing out the zipper edge and because the zipper edges are a bit harder to pin through than the leaders I attached.

I read a great tip from someone here, I believe, and I am sorry I didn't make note of who that genius is, but you can save time and confusion if you color code your zipper and leader parts. Using strips of ribbon or permanent fabric marker, or whatever method you think of, mark the take-up leader with a color, say blue. Now also mark each of the zipper halves/leaders that will zip to that zipper with the same color. Mark the front leader as well of all the zippers/leaders that will zip to that one with a different color. Be sure to put the ribbon or whatever marking on the top side of each so that you would see each matching color when they are zipped together. In fact, zip them together before marking to be sure you've got it right. Now when you go to attach your quilt back to the zippers/leaders, you will know exactly what to attach where and to which side without any trouble. Thank you, thank you to whoever posted this idea.

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