Learn to Sew – Sewing Beyond Basics – Invisible Zipper
Does sewing an invisible zipper scare you? It shouldn’t. They are super easy to sew, it just takes a few new techniques. Once you have mastered inserting an invisible zipper, you will never go back to a lapped or centered zip again. In this Sewing Beyond Basics – Invisible Zipper how to, you will learn to sew beautiful zippers.
Every high-end ready to wear garment you see in high fashion uses invisible zippers. Unless you are putting in a front fly zipper — a class for another day — you can use the these beautiful zippers in any project. They are beautiful, they are invisible, they are the best zip for your garments.
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Invisible Zipper Placements
Invisible zippers will make your garment sewing look current and fashionable. Some of the places you can use an invisible zip in are:
- Back seam on a dress, top, or pants
- Side seam on a dress or pants
- Placket seam on a dress, top, jumpsuit
- Front seam on a jacket or sweater
Sew An Invisible Zipper Video
I have highlighted how to sew an invisible zipper step by step below. I have also imbedded a Youtube video if you prefer to view and sew.
Standard Zipper Foot Vs Invisible Zipper Foot
You need to use your standard zipper foot to insert a beautiful invisible zipper. The standard zipper foot for your machine should be in your tool kit. It is one of the feet most manufacturers include with your extra feet.
I have seen several students purchase an invisible zipper foot. I haven’t used one, it isn’t necessary to put in a beautiful zipper. But, as with the zipper tape, if it makes you more confident, then go ahead and purchase an one. (I do not include instructions on how to use the invisible zipper foot since I find them unnecessary).
Invisible Zipper Vs Traditional Zipper
The main difference between an invisible zipper and a traditional zipper is the teeth.
With a traditional zip, the teeth are in the front of the zipper.
With an invisible zip, the teeth are in the back of the zipper. This is what makes it invisible. The teeth roll to the back when you close the zip.
Getting Your Invisible Zipper Ready
Since the teeth roll to the back on an invisible zip, you want to straighten them out temporarily so you can sew it to your seam allowance with ease.
Unzip and roll the teeth back while running an iron over the teeth. Don’t use one that is too hot, keep in mind while pressing the teeth — they are plastic.
Setting Up Your Sewing Machine
Check your sewing machine manual for instructions on changing your machine’s feet. You want to attach the zipper foot made for your equipment.
The purpose of the narrow zipper foot is to allow the machine needle to get very close to the zipper. With a general purpose foot, your foot will ride up on the zipper teeth and you won’t be able to get the close stitching necessary for a beautiful invisible zipper.
You may need to slide your foot from left to right depending on the type of zipper foot you have, this will allow you to sew a proper zipper seam. You may also need to toggle your sewing needle. Be sure to practice these moving parts on a fabric scrap before you attempt to sew your invisible zip to your fashion fabric. No one wants to un-pick a zipper.
Lining Up Your Garment Pieces
I have been sewing for many, many years and I still lay out my fabric so I can see what I am planning to sew together. Not only does it prevent mistakes, it gives me an opportunity to assess my progress.
I start with my garment – right side up – lining up the seam that will hold the zipper.
Next, I lay the invisible zipper — right side up — inbetween my raw seams. Now I can see how the finished garment will look once the zip is sewin in.
Before you start to sew, you need to consider how the raw edge at the top of the zipper will be finished. Do you have a facing, binding, waistband, etc. Another consideration is your seam allowances. Most American patterns have a 5/8 inch seam allowance, and many Independent patters have a 3/8 inch seam allowance.
Once you have made your decision of finishings, you can decide where the pinked end of the zip should lay vs your garment edge.
Let’s Get Started
Turn the invisible zipper to the right garment seam allowance taking care to match pinked zipper to the raw edge of your piece (or other appropriate placement based on your finish edge).
Unzip the zipper and take it to the machine.
Finally Sewing Your Invisible Zipper
With your zipper foot and machine needle set to the correct placement. Stitch the pinned side of the invisible zip to the fashion fabric. Try to get as close to the zipper teeth as possible without catching them in the stitching line.
Don’t worry about being perfect the first time. This technique is very forgiving, you can go back and sew the seam closer if the zip is not “invisible” enough.
Stop stitching when you get close to the zipper pull. You don’t need to sew all the way to the bottom. Where you stop stitching, backtack a few stitches to keep the zip in place.
Ready The Second Side
Close up your zipper and make sure you can move the tab up and down. Bring your sewn piece back to the table and aline it with the left side of your garment — both pieces right side up.
Align the top edges making sure they are even — this will effect your finishing.
Flip the right side of your garment (with the zip attached) to the left of your garment, right sides together. Pin the zipper.
Mark where you stopped on the previously sewn side — you want to stop at the same spot on this side. I use a pin, but chalk or other marking tool will work.
Stitch The Second Side
Stitch this side to the stopping pin or mark. Backtack a few stitches. Keep in mind you may nee to reset your zipper foot and/or needle to accommodate this side of the zipper.
Zip and unzip your zipper to make sure you didn’t catch any teeth.
Since this is an invisible zipper, you want it to be invisible. When the zipper tab is pulled to the top, you shouldn’t be able to see the zipper. It simply looks like a finished seam.
If you can see your zip, go back and restitch closer to the zipper teeth. Be sure to sew only the seam allowances and zipper tape like you did in the previous steps.
You are almost done! You should be very impressed with your invisible zip sewing skills.
To finish the zipper insertion. you need to sew the rest of the seam. This requires attention to detail.
At the end of the zipper, you want to bring the seams together and close up the seam. Now you know why ending at the same spot is critical.
You can accomplish this two ways.
- Take a few handstitches to close up the bottom of the zipper. Then, finish the seam after switching to your general purpose foot. I think this method is easier and more accurate.
- Use the zipper foot to close this section (an 1 or so). Then, finish the seam after switching to your general purpose foot.
If you don’t match up the bottom of the zip perfectly, you will have a bump at the end of your zipper — not a good look!
NOTE: If you have a lot of zipper left over inside your piece, you can whip stitch the zipper teeth closed below your stitched seam, then cut off the tail of the zipper. Be sure to securely stitch the teeth together or the zip will separate – probably at an inopportune moment.
Where To Find Invisible Zippers And Tools
You can find invisible zippers at most fabic and craft stores. I’ve listed some of my favorites below:
Read all about the Brother cs6000i to see if it’s the right machine for your needs.
Sewing Invisible Zips
Beautiful garments require beautiful finishes. I hope you will give sewing an invisible zip a try. You will love the high end finished look you can achieve with just a little bit of practice. Mastering this technique is easy and you will love the results. If you want to master one sewist skill, inserting an invisible zip properly is it. It will take your garments from home made to high end!