Saturday, July 9, 2011

Invisible zipper tutorial

I'm sure there are tons of invisible zipper tutorials floating around the internet, but I sometimes get asked about how I install one, so thought I'd do a tutorial about it. I am a self-taught invisible zipper seamstress. I used regular zippers in all my garments for years and years, mostly using the lapped zipper method. A few years ago I had to use an invisible zipper in some long forgotten garment, and was so pleased with the results that I vowed never to go back!

I thought my recent yellow linen dress a good subject to document the process on, since it has numerous intersecting seams that come together at the zipper.

FIRST AND POSSIBLY MOST IMPORTANT - UNZIP YOUR ZIPPER AND IRON IT REALLY FLAT, PER THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT COME WITH IT. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT AS IT INSURES YOUR ZIPPER IS COMPLETELY INVISIBLE, AND NOT PEEKING OUT FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE SEAM. I took a picture of me doing this, but it unfortunately got deleted.

Next start pinning one side, starting from the top. I like to leave about 1/4" from the top seam to the top of the zipper stop. That way when the facing gets folded down it has plenty of room to lie flat.

Use one of these useful ruler gauges to make sure you're getting the correct seam allowance. They only cost a few dollars and are a sewing necessity, IMO.

Here I've got it pinned all the way down. Make sure not to stretch the fabric or zipper while you do this, or the fabric at the bottom of the zipper will pucker up.

Here it is all stitched. Check the other side to make sure no fabric got sewn folded the wrong direction.

Close the zipper and fold it away from the finished side.

Use a straight pin and poke it through the unsewn side of the zipper exactly at your first seam intersection.

Now fold the unsewn zipper back over the sewn side. Use a chalk pencil to make a dot at the pin hole. I used blue chalk for this dress, and have a white one for darker colors.

Repeat the process at each seam intersection. This one is for the top of the midriff band:

Here's the mark for the bottom of the midriff band:

And for the bottom of the zipper opening:

Now pin the unsewn zipper side to the other side of the garment, centering the blue dots over the intersecting seams on that side. Sometimes zippers move out of that spot, even when pinned. In order to save myself from inevitable frustration, I started sewing only a few stitches over each intersecting seam.

Here you can see where I only sewed a few stitches, then zipped it up to check my placement. That way if you are off, you can rip out just those few stitches and not the whole row. For this dress I started checking my placement stitches at the top midriff band, then continued to the bottom of the band and bottom of the zipper opening, and then went back to the top. But you can do it in any order you choose.

Here I am checking the intersection of the bottom band:

And here's the intersection of the bodice band. This one I did have to rip out and redo, if I remember correctly, because it didn't match up.

Now, after you get through sewing the top of the zipper in place, BE SURE TO FOLD YOUR FACINGS DOWN AND CHECK TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE NICE AND STRAIGHT ACROSS. Otherwise it will look very obviously homemade - and not in a good way.

And here is the finished zipper on the side of my dress, truly invisible with the top tab hidden under my arm.

I hope this helps someone! Leave a comment for any other tutorials you'd like to see me post.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you , thank you!!!

    As a returning sewer, invisible zippers have always being a bit scary :)

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  2. Very nice! It's always fun to see how fellow seamstresses do these things, and I like seeing everyone's different tricks for lining up seams. Thanks!

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  3. Thanks for an excellent tutorial - your pictures make it look very clear.. Personally I love to use invisible zippers but I do think that you are so right when you say that it is important to leave enough room to get the facing to lie flat and straight - for me that is the trickiest part and if you don't get it right the garment doesn't look good. Yours always look so perfect!

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  4. I agree with Eugenia. I think it is so important how it lays after the facings are folded to the inside.

    I also think your tip on lining up the seams is another good tip.

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  5. Thanks for the tutorial. You have some good tips for makeing it look very professional.

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  6. Great tips, thank you! I've done invisible zips many times, but with more careful pinning and chalk-marking and test-sewing your way I know I will be much happier with my future results.

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  7. Great tutorial. Your yellow dress is beautiful.

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  8. your photos and descriptions were spot on. Thanks for the tutorial. I bookmarked it for future need.

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  9. This definitely helps me! Thank you Amanada :-)

    I wonder why invisible zippers have to be ironed down, why don't they just sell them flat in the first place?

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  10. Thanks for the tutorial. I'm still in the 'scaredy cat' category, but you make it look easy. What kind of pressure foot do you use? A regular zipper foot or invisible zipper foot?

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  11. Hi Amanda - longtime lurker now un-lurking! :-)

    Thanks a lot for the tip about marking and only sewing af few stitches where seams meet. I had not considered doing that - at all! And have spent more than a few frustrated evenings trying to get the invisible beast to sit straight!

    Thanks again! :-)

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  12. Looks great! I too have learned that a few hand-stitches at the seam intersections save a lot of hassle. Love the straight pin tip for marking the spots.

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  13. Very nice photos - like eye candy. Yellow is such a great color and your zipper is sooooo perfect!

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  14. Thanks for the excellent tutorial--particularly on the matching at intersections. Very important.

    Your garments always are perfection. I've been away for a while and haven't had a chance to congratulate you on your lovely (and well dressed daughter). She's adorable!

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  15. This is very helpful and looks beautiful. I am doing a similar dress with a waistband and I am curious how you sewed the zipper to the lining? From your pictures it looks like it was done after sewing it to shell, or am I wrong? I'd love to figure out how to hide the zipper in the lining, too, but it seems complicated with the added inner waistband and skirt lining.

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