The mystery of the fly closure


After successfully making a pair of BurdaStyle shorts at the weekend (and thanks for all the lovely comments!) I decided to forge recklessly ahead and make trousers from a BurdaStyle pattern. Only to come up against the mystery of the fly closure. I’m sure part of the problem here is that Burda’s instructions are not the clearest. They probably make perfect sense if you’ve made trousers before. But right now I am not even sure where to add seam allowance to the pattern (Burda magazine patterns come without any built in), never mind how to actually construct the fly. The one in the picture above is from an old pair of RTW shorts I have.

My usual standby reference book, The Dressmaker’s Dictionary, only covers constructing the fly for mens’ trousers using a very complicated method. The word silesia was mentioned. That didn’t sound good.

Vogue Sewing‘s instructions don’t seem to match up with my pattern pieces. It’s implied the two front pieces aren’t the same shape, but mine are.

Next I reached for Sew U (a brilliantly simple book that cuts straight to the chase) and found excellent instructions there…but for a fly that’s a mirror-image of the usual womens’ version. What’s going on there?

I finally found some clear instructions of the correct handedness in The Dressmaker’s Technique Bible. But I’ll definitely be following Elizabeth in making a few samples before trying this in my good fabric!

22 Responses to “The mystery of the fly closure”

  1. Sandra Betzina has a good method. I use it each time I do a fly front. Here’s the link to the video:

    I like to be generous with the extensions – having them extra wide doesn’t hurt anything, but having them be too skimpy makes it difficult.

    Good luck!

    • That’s a great tip, thanks. I will bear that in mind.Better to have to trim a bit off later than cut it too small to start.

  2. 3 BeccaA

    My favorite method of fly insertion is by Sandra Betzina:
    She makes it very clear and simple. If you have already cut your fabric without the fly extensions, you can sew them in and then follow her method.

    • Ah right – I wonder if that’s the ‘two piece fly’ I have seen some references to. Useful to know, thank-you.

  3. 5 scooter

    Here’s another really clear (and widely used) tutorial:

  4. Ohh, I am looking forward to seeing your progress on this front. And thanks for the shout out!

  5. 8 Jennifer

    I’ve never made Burda pants, so I’m no help with their fly instructions. One thing to keep in mind with various instructions, is they do make some assumptions about how deep the zipper is set beneath the lap, etc. This may be why they are harder to find seperate from the actual pattern. Men’s flys and even some women’s ready-to-wear are the mirror image, but if you found instructions you like in that version, you can just reverse them and use them for the orientation you want. If it’s any help, I did take pictures of installing a fly by Ottobre’s instructions here:
    I really like their technique, probably because I’ve done it so many times, but it may be slightly different from what you need.

  6. Take a look at the method I descried in my blog here . I hope it helps

  7. Ditto with Jennifer’s comment – Ottobre’s instructions are the best! Happy to scan and email if you want.

    • Thanks! I really must give Ottobre a try, I keep hearing such good things about them.

      • ‘kay. Scanned them in. Please email me so I can send them in response. Or direct me to an email link or something (didn’t find one in your ‘about’ section).

  8. Fly’s are intimidating, and every time I make a pair of pants I’m always careful to borrow a Vogue patterns Claire Schaeffer set of instructions. I cannot imagine putting in a fly zip following Burda’s cryptic writing. Good luck to you! I’ve never used any of the links others have suggested, but once you put this first fly in, it’ll be like any other zipper – just a bit more fiddly because of the topstitching.

  9. 17 SueN

    Sandra Betzina’s instructions are the best ones I have ever used (and I am very old, so that’s a lot). Definitely follow the links others have given you. Good luck. (oh and practise first on some scraps, but you probably know to do that already!).

  10. I found this so confusing as well when I made my first pair of trousers–I used a mix of following Sandra Betzina, my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing and The Easy Guide to Sewing Pants. It took me three days to figure it out nonetheless.

  11. Hi there
    I found your blog this week and I am in awe of your projects. I have just started trying to remember how to sew after a 20-year hiatus!

    I cannot help with the zip insertion, but Silesia is the name of a historical region of Prussia, split between Czech Republic, Germany and Poland today. It is also the name of a lining fabric of years gone by, which I guess is more to the point!

    Yes, I am a nerd!

  12. Indeed, it is quite sturdy and twill-like.

  13. 22 PendleStitches

    I can recommend Anna Zapps method for fly zippers.

    I used it for my denim skirt and got an amazing result.

    It’s my go-to method for fly zips now.

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